The Prison Workout Plan: How to Train Like a Convict

The Prison Workout Plan: How to Train Like a Convict

Remember when rapper Gucci Mane came out of prison in 2016 looking like a total beast after shedding 100 pounds? Or maybe you're familiar with "Kali Muscle" who transformed himself from a convict at San Quentin prison into a YouTube fitness mogul. These two dudes are textbook examples of how powerful a prison workout plan can be.

Think about it: There are no high-tech machines, personal trainers, or fancy equipment in a penitentiary. So how the hell are these dudes packing on pounds of lean muscle if they're locked in a box with basically nothing? Keep reading because we're breaking down the ultimate prison workout plan so you can get the results without serving the time.

Use Your Bodyweight, Bro

Let's say you get arrested for pooping in public. You're bored out of your mind, so you decide you're gonna build bulging biceps, get six-pack abs, and do some cardio. But wait—there's not a machine in sight, and the dude on the bench press looks like he could snap you in half and eat you for lunch.

That leaves you with one option: bodyweight exercises. These are a staple in any prison workout plan, but if you thought bodyweight exercises were limited to the standard push-up/sit-up routine, think again. Depending on how hard you push yourself, a full-body bodyweight workout routine can leave you begging for mercy in a pool of your own sweat.

Bottom line: if a prisoner can get ripped with nothing besides his own bodyweight, so can you.

Upper Body Prison Exercises

In his book, Solitary Fitness, Charles Bronson, aka "Britain's most notorious prisoner," has made some insane claims about the gains he's made with his personal prison workout plan. Allegedly, he can do 172 push-ups in one minute, pick up a pool table by himself, and bend steel with his bare hands.

Good luck getting on his level.

If you're stuck in a rut at the gym, these upper body prison workouts will conquer your plateau (and your arms).

Push-Ups: Push-ups work several muscle groups, including your chest, anterior deltoids, triceps, and abs. But the best part about the push-up is that you can modify it to increase the difficulty and work different muscle groups.

For example, narrow-handed push-ups emphasize your triceps while placing your hands further apart emphasizes your chest. If you think push-ups are easy, try some one-handed push-ups or this deadly prison chest workout from hell:

  1. Do as many push-ups as you can with no rest
  2. Once you can't perform another rep, hold yourself in a push-up position five inches above the floor for as long as you can.
  3. Again, do as many push-ups as you can with no rest.

Did you hear that? That's the sound of your soul dying. After one circuit, your pecs will feel like they're about to explode.

Pull-Ups: Pull-ups complement the push motion of push-ups by working another set of muscles, including the biceps, lats, traps, and forearms. It doesn't matter whether you're in a prison cell or an overpriced gym—pull-ups are one of the most badass exercises any dude can do.

This jailhouse pull-up workout will give you an insane pump and leave your arms feeling like jello:

  1. Start with one rep
  2. Progress to two rep, then three, all the way until ten
  3. Descend the pyramid back to one rep

By the end, you'll have cranked out 100 pull-ups. Pull-ups can also be modified to make the exercises more difficult. If you want to switch things up, reverse your grip or move your hands closer together or further apart.

Lower Body Prison Exercises

Can't move your arms? Good. It's time for a break—and by that, we mean it's time to work your legs. That's right, dude, nobody's allowed to skip leg day in prison. And as you'll see, you can build legs of steel without a single piece of equipment, much less a gym membership.

Bodyweight squats:

  1. Place your hands behind your head and squat down until your thighs are below parallel.
  2. Come up.
  3. Repeat until you can't walk.


  1. Place your back against the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Squat down with your legs out in front of you and hold the position until you start to tremble.


  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a big step forward.
  2. Bend your front knee until your other knee taps the floor.
  3. Drive your front heel to return to the starting position.

You can create your own combination of these exercises for a full workout, or try Mike Tyson's squat workout, which he did for three years when he was behind bars:

  1. Line up ten cards on the ground with four inches between each card.
  2. Do one bodyweight squat.
  3. Squat down again to place the first card on top of the second card.
  4. Perform one squat for each card in the growing pile (two cards equals two reps)
  5. Squat down to pick up the third card, add it to the pile, then do three reps.
  6. Keep going until you reach the end of the line, where you'll have done 100 total squats.

Tyson came out of prison with tree trunks for legs, proof that making gains requires nothing but time and a killer work ethic.

Badass Exercises: Be King of the Prison (Or Local Rec Center)

Some exercises automatically tell onlookers, "Don't mess with this dude." If you can pull these off with decent form, you'll be certifiably prison fit.

Muscle-ups: This is like a pull-up on steroids. You start in a hanging position, then explode up to the point where your upper body is hoisted above the bar.

Handstand push-ups: Who needs a shoulder press when you can press your entire body? Start in a handstand position up against a wall. Slowly lower your body until your head taps the floor and push yourself back up.

The Human Flag: You've definitely seen this on a YouTube thumbnail before and wondered if it's real. Well, in prison, it definitely is, and it's arguably the hardest bodybuilding feat to pull off. It starts with gripping a vertical bar (such as a prison cell bar) and hoisting your body up, so it's parallel to the ground.

Whether you're broke, on the road with no equipment, or want the physique of a convict, go for the prison workout plan. You'll build a hard body without doing hard time.

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