Most Efficient Prison Workouts During Quarantine

It's seemingly apparent that individuals who end up going to prison oftentimes come out way more fit than when they went in as. Just like the rest of the world, they're isolated inside and without much to do. Okay that is an exaggeration . . . they have a lot less to do than most people still, but that's besides the point. \

The most important thing to remember about any prison styled workout is the need for consistency. Many people in prisons really don't have a lot of other things to do, and several workout all day long. That is how they're able to achieve a very specific type of fit. Most prison workouts focus on many different muscle groups at the same time, and most who are consistent go with a "do as many reps as you can until you can no longer do them" method. These individuals are capable of insane workouts of 100s of reps per exercise a day. But the most important thing is consistency.

Here's the best and most efficient workouts to do without weights, equipment or anything really.

Note: I'm a small person so I'm heavily biased (and in love) with body weight exercises anyway

Prison Push Ups


I'm pretty sure this one was obvious. Push Ups are the most basic exercise one can perform without weights, equipment or anything really. The prototype and standard for body weight exercises, and the best starting point. The best part about them is the number of push up variations there are. In the image above, there are 100 variations listed and only about 4 of them actually require equipment other than a ledge or bench or chair. All of the decline and elevated forms utilize things that are definitely around your house. Any stable ledge can be used to perform the more difficult push ups.

Between all of these variations of push ups, one can focus on almost any muscle group from the obvious triceps and chest, to even your biceps, back, core and legs. There's a reason why the push up is considered the quintessential exercise. The number of variations and difficulties of it allow for incredible diversity and potential.

My personal favorites are pike shoulder press (invented in prison actually) for that extra shoulder workout, elevated decline for the challenge and extra pressure on the arms, and the walking gecko for that extra need for flexibility and coordination.

Here's a great basic push up progression workout on reddit.


Burpees are a phenomenal workouts that are incredibly exhausting and amazing for both strength regimens and cardio workouts. The burpee is the king. It requires no equipment but works out every single muscle group in the body from hips to calves to chest and shoulders. Some workout routines revolve around this exercise. It's difficult for those just beginning to do them, and poses a great challenge at home.

Here's a short and simple video of a routine using the standard burpee.

Bored of the normal burpee? Have already been drilled to doing them to the point of complete boredome? Here's 25 variations that'll surely keep you on your toes (and fingers). My favorite is the skater jump single leg burpee, it absolutely kills me.

Pull Up Variations

Commando Pull Up on iStock by Fresh Blast

A simple google search will lead to millions of results on the standard pull up, but what's a workout without a goal?

I remember in high school there was this kid named Pablo and every week he would come into the school gym having learned a new variation of a pull up or anything else really. But he had a goal, and that was what set him apart from everyone else in the room usually. Being amazingly consistent and striving for the next hardest variation on the bar.

Though obviously you need some bar. So this is the only workout that really requires "equipment"

The Commando Pull Up

The Commando Pull Up is hard. But it's definitely a goal to work towards. Mastering this pull up will bring the amazing benefits of a full upper body workout. The reason why commando pull ups work is the necessity for stability. The biggest mistake you can make with this workout is if you DON'T keep your body straight. For this to work your entire body must be as straight as you can NO TWISTS. NO BODY SCRUNCHING.

The Commando Pull Up works out both biceps and triceps, chest and lats and most importantly your core. Your core is what prevents you from turning and will definitely be burning after 15 of these.

The Typewriter Pull Up

For the final upper body focused exercise, the typewriter pull up is a major challenge. Especially since with a normal bilateral pull up, you're not really focusing a lot on one specific side and its strength.

This is a pull up for people who have really gotten the normal bilateral pull ups down. The typewriter enhances what you may already have. It trains your weaker side too. With a standard pull up you're splitting your body weight between two arms. With the typewriter, you're putting most of your body weight on one side and switching between. Additionally, it puts an extra workout on your rotator and shoulders.

Prisoner Get Ups

This one is a burn. I prefer these to squats, as the prisoner get up works out almost the entirety of the lower body from the glutes to inner thighs and hips. And boy is it hard, but incredibly rewarding. Here's a video showing exactly what you need to do.

The benefit of the prisoner get up over other exercises similar to it is the balance and coordination that goes with it. The weaker you get and the harder it becomes to do, the harder it is to even keep yourself balanced, so you're enhancing your balance while doing an almost full lower body workout. It's incredibly efficient and very effective (and equally as painful). I absolutely LOVE doing these to the point where I cannot walk.

I also totally wish I had an image but all the ones I found were incorrect/incomplete SO WATCH THAT VIDEO.

Prison Squat and Pistol Squat

Photo by Pavigym Prama on Unsplash

I think by this point it's pretty obvious these workouts aren't for the faint of heart. The pistol squat is considered one of the hardest squat variations that requires great strength from your butt to your ankle, and amazing flexibility. So let's start with the prison squat instead.

The Prison Squat

It's quite simple and follows the same form as a normal squat, but with the addition of having one's hands behind their head with elbows pointed outwards like a bird. This helps stabilize your core and adds a little bit more of a workout to your lower back. The biggest importance is to remember to PRESS YOUR ELBOWS BACK. That is the only way this form will actually work. The emphasis of this squat is on the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. An example is in the following video. Consider adding a jump between squats to add more cardio to the mix.

The Pistol Squat

This one is hard. Very hard. And there is a lot of progression from squat to pistol squat. But using my friend Pablo from earlier as a role model, it's a goal to work towards and will motivate you to remain consistent. Here is a pretty detailed video on getting to the point to do a pistol squat, and the benefit of the pistol squat is it is a full lower body workout. It works out everything from inner and outer thigh, butt, hamstrings, quads, calf and even ankle and sartorial muscles. It will also increase your flexibility in your hamstrings and calves a ton due to the need for the leg to be parallel to the floor and perpendicular to your body.

This obviously isn't a workout routine actually. I decided to choose what I thought were the most efficient "do till you drop" exercises that cover as many muscle groups as possible. Specifically with two upper body focused, two lower body focused and one full body head to toe exercises. Do some more individual research yourself to begin putting together your prison workout routine. And remember the most important thing: consistency.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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