Issue 42 The Prison Workout Ryne Gioviano Join the Conversation Getting Yoked Doesn’t Always Require a Gym Membership Sure, you can have your excuses for not getting into shape, but is prison one of them? We doubt it. Hopefully, you’re not behind bars, but believe it or not, you can certainly draw some motivation from many of the people who are and still seem to find time (and equipment) to stay in phenomenal shape. Take a lesson or two from convicts and build a great physique regardless of your equipment or circumstances. Let’s Get a Workout, Prison-Style Back in the 1990s, many prisons began eliminating weightlifting equipment, making fitness just a little bit harder for inmates, but they’ve certainly made do. Bodyweight is always an option when you’re low on equipment. The benefits of (mostly) bodyweight training are numerous. You can workout anywhere, like a hotel, your office, or even in prison. Secondly, the combinations are nearly endless. You have the freedom to workout however you want. If you want to focus on more strength or more cardiovascular training, you can do that. Lastly, it costs nothing — no gym membership, dumbbells, treadmills, or medicine balls. Prisoners are known to make makeshift weapons like shivs, knives, and even guns. However, that’s not the only thing they can get creative with. They can certainly also fashion heavy things to lift. Examples include objects you may have lying around like garbage bags filled with water, heavy books, gallon jugs with water or sand, and laundry bags with assorted things in them. This should give you some ideas to increase the possibilities of loading strategies to workout anywhere. The Exercises Goblet Squat The squat is one of the most basic exercises for the lower body. Variations have been around forever, and we certainly wouldn’t skip it. – Start with a foot width a little wider than your hips. Turn your toes slightly out. – Hold a moderate weight at your chest, such as a few thick books or a gallon jug filled with sand. Alternatively, this can be a simple bodyweight exercise. – Keeping your weight in the entire foot (not just your heels), slowly lower yourself like you’re trying to sit between your knees. – Exhale as you press your feet through the floor to return to the starting position. Goblet Squat Goblet Split Squat Split squats are similar to a lunge as far as foot position, but they allow you to work your legs more individually, and it’s a stable enough exercise to load quite heavily. – Begin kneeling with one knee down and the other out in front of you. There should be about a 90-degree angle and both knees. – Similar to the goblet squat, you can either hold a weight at your chest or complete this with bodyweight. – Keeping your weight mostly in the front foot, press your whole foot through the floor. Both knees should be about straight. – Slowly lower yourself until your back knee touches the floor. Goblet Split Squat Push-Up You had to have known push-ups would make it into this article. Push-ups are one of the best upper body exercises you can do for your shoulders and core. Because it involves your arms fixed on the floor and your body moving, it can really help the stabilizer muscles in your shoulders to function better. – Start in push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Make sure your hands aren’t further forward than your shoulders. – Slowly lower yourself until your elbows are at about a 45-degree angle to your body and not past it. Make a double-chin to keep your head from poking forward. – Exhale and reach your body away from the floor. Push-Up Need something more challenging? Elevate your feet on a small box or chair. Chin-Up Anytime you do mostly bodyweight exercises, the pulling portion is always harder unless you have some heavy objects. But, if you have somewhere to hang, the chin-up is a fantastic exercise for the upper body, and it’s certainly a good option to balance all of the pressing you’ll probably be doing. – Hold the bar with an underhand grip and your shoulders pulled down away from your ears. Think about it as doing the opposite of a shrug. – While crushing the bar with your hands, push your feet together to create tension throughout your body to make it easier. – Drive your elbows to your sides and bring your chest to the bar. – Slowly return to the starting position, and stop just short of letting your shoulders creep up to your ears at the bottom. Chin-Up Plank The great thing about the plank exercise is that it’s pretty versatile without much equipment. They can be modified to be very challenging or regressed to accommodate sore backs, knees, or someone who’s just very out of shape. – Start by lying face down on your elbows. – Push your body off the floor with just your toes and forearms on the floor. Keep your back flat, butt squeezed, and reach your upper back to the ceiling. – Hold for as long as you can. Plank Need something more challenging? Simply elevate your feet on something like a stair or small stool. 3-Point DB Row If you have something on the heavier side like a gallon jug filled with sand or perhaps a laundry bag filled with books, you can get a quality row done. – Bend forward and place one hand on a sturdy object like a chair or table. Make sure your back is flat and feet are wider. – Let a moderately heavy weight hang directly beneath your shoulder. This could be something like a small sandbag or backpack filled with stones. – While pulling back through your shoulder blade, drive your elbow back until it’s about in-line with your body. You should feel this in your upper back on the rowing side. – Slowly return to the starting position. 3-Point DB Row Loaded Carry Let’s look at a slightly different core exercise that’s deceptively simple and therefore easy to do. The suitcase carry requires one piece of equipment: something heavy you can hold in one hand. – Hold a heavy object in one hand, both hands, or over the shoulder. A heavy bag filled with stones, a large sandbag, or even a garbage bag filled with water would work well here. – Hold for time or go for a short walk. That’s it. Loaded Carry Let’s See it in a Program When putting this together into a workout, there are a few points of consideration. The great thing about the exercises listed here is that they can be alternated both to save time and to get a cardiovascular effect. To do this properly, it’s best to alternate the upper and lower body exercises to allow the region not being worked to rest. A good example of this would be to pair the squat and push-up. When you’re working your legs, the upper body is allowed to rest and vice versa. When we’re talking about building strength, we work with heavier weights or more challenging exercises with fewer repetitions. This would ideally be in the one-to-five repetition range, but based on our constraints, let’s say repetitions of 10 or fewer would be a great range with rest periods of one to two minutes. If we want endurance, 15 to 20 is a good repetition range with a rest of about 45 seconds to one minute. And, if we want to work on our conditioning, repetitions anywhere from 10 to 15 is great with shorter rest periods around 30 seconds. Here’s what that would look like in a program for someone interested in building strength. Alternate between the A1 and A2 exercises for four rounds before moving on to the B1, B2, and B3. Perform the B exercises in circuit-fashion, completing one after the other for three total rounds. Conversely, a conditioning workout might look something like this. Here, complete all five exercises in a row before starting back at the top with A1. Wrapping It Up As you can see, you don’t need much to get a great workout. All you need is some motivation and a shred of creativity. Hopefully, this article will give you a great starting point from which to progress into other exercises and combinations to get your desired result. About the Author Ryne Gioviano is the owner of Achieve Personal Training & Lifestyle Design located in Aurora, Illinois. He earned his master’s degree in exercise physiology and is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. You can find more information at www.Achieve-PersonalTraining.com or reach him on Twitter and Instagram at @rgioviano. 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