Working out behind bars

Hands Behind Bars

Image source: WilleeCole Photography
Tips for staying ripped inside

You might think you’ll never need to workout in jail, but who knows what the future holds, right? Seriously, we know there are times when you just won’t be able to get to the gym, but that doesn’t mean you have to let all your hard work go to waste.

We also know that we live in frugal times, but just because your gym membership falls victim to personal budget cuts doesn’t mean you can afford to let your fitness suffer.

With all this in mind – we’ve decided to take a look prison workout regimes – because they’re free, even for those who aren’t free.


Oats in bowl with spoon.

Image source: Minadezhda
Favour cheap basics that get the job done.

No matter how stretched your finances, it’s essential you maintain a healthy balanced diet, and while there are no protein bars behind bars, there are on the outside. So make sure you get the right balance of carbs, fats and protein, because you are what you eat.

The current lunch budget for those held at Her Maj’s pleasure is a miserly 88 pence per meal (2012) – but it’s reasonably healthy fare, so there can be no excuses for not eating properly. Buy fresh, buy local and take supplements in moderation.


Prison cell with filtered light.

Image source: Doomu
Make the most of your limited space.

Your cell is a hotel room – it’s also your gym. The basics of prison workout training are centred around push – pull dynamics. We’re talking pull ups, push ups, crunches, squats, burpees – nothing complicated – in fact all you need to get ripped is a portable chinning bar, or for that matter, the one luxury a convict never has access to – an open doorway!

Here’s how to get fit, jailbird style.


Dirty white trainers

Image source: Sethislav
Hate cardio? HIIT is your new best friend.

Let’s call this, “convict speed pacing”, otherwise known as running on the spot. First warm up by jogging in place for 2 – 3 minutes. Now run as fast as you can for 30 seconds, walk on the spot for 30 seconds. Repeat five times. That’ll get your heart pumping.

It’s HIIT training, one of the best and most time efficient ways of working on base fitness – not that you’ve got a shortage of time of course…

Lower body

Man in workout clothes squatting in a dark gym

Image source: Jasminko Ibrakovic
Get down low and make those quads work.

Spend too long lying in your bunk with nowhere to go and your legs will atrophy. Same goes for anyone who spends time on the road, or staying in hotels. So don’t let it happen! Instead turn off the TV and get ready to squat like you’ve never squatted before.

Bodyweight Squats – 5 x 20 reps
One-Legged Squats – 5 x 5 reps
Lunges – 5 x 10 reps
Burpees – 3 x 15 reps

Got it down? Up the reps, slow the tempo. Too hard? Reduce the reps and build your capabilities.

Upper body

Man doing press up in dark gym.

Image source: Jasminko Ibrakovic
Keep your chest strong with basic pull and push movements.

Not all prisoners have access to weights, but that doesn’t stop them building explosive power and endurance in their upper bodies. How? Press ups, pull ups and dips.

Pull Ups  2 – 3 sets at maximum reps
Press Ups 2 -3 sets at maximum reps
Dips – 2 sets to failure


Man doing crunches on gym mat.

Image source: Wavebreak Media Ltd.
Bye bye blubber, hello abs.

Get rid of your prison jelly belly by hitting our core workout hard. Remember, a healthy body equals a healthy mind – very important when you’re locked up in the office all day!

Crunches 1 x 20, 1 x 25, 1x 30 and back down with 1 minute rest between sets
Oblique Crunches 2 x 40 (20 on each side), rinse and repeat.
Leg Raises 2 x 20
Plank – 1 x to failure

So there you have it. You’re ripped, you’re fit, you’re ready for life on the outside – no all you’ve got to do is work out how to escape!

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