CT Fletcher Workout: How to Train Penitentiary Style

CT Fletcher, dubbed “the strongest man you never heard of” started lifting weights at the age of 22. He’s originally from Little Rock, Arkansas but has been in Southern California for 50 years.

Powerlifter turned bodybuilder, CT is a 6 time world champion; 3 time drug tested world bench champion and 3 time world strict curl champion. He’s a top over-50 competitor in bodybuilding and strives to be the undisputed number one champion.

CT feels his greatest accomplishment is his 705lb shirtless bench press attempt at the baddest bench press in America contest because he did it drug free against the best powerlifters in the world. His motivation comes from his mother for all of her support and his cousin for being such a badass. Fletcher touts a 705lb bench press in the gym, 650lb bench press at competition, a 725 pound squat, and more muscle than you can shake a stick at.

CT describes the Penitentiary Style Workout as not worrying about set and rep numbers, but putting the most focus and energy into every last rep. Give it all you have and act like it’s the last rep you will ever complete. Penitentiary Style form is admittedly not going to satisfy the form sticklers and some may wave a bullcrap flag, but they are some of the biggest guys you will ever see.

Half of CT’s workout still consists of a powerlifter training model to increase strength. Couple that with bodybuilding parameters and you have an amazing physique that is extremely strong. He said he has no intentions to compete again; he has accomplished everything he has set out to do.

Supplements that Fletcher suggests:

Ripped Abs
Related: How to get ripped abs

A sample arm workout would include:

5 to 6 sets of a minimum of 10 reps

  • Single Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curls
  • EZ Bar Preacher Curls
  • Incline Bench Hammer Curls
  • Concentration or Cable Curls

Other exercises that CT Fletcher uses:


  • Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press
  • Standing Barbell Lateral Raise
  • Seated Smith Overhead Press


  • Flat Barbell Bench
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench
  • Flat Barbell Pyramid Bench
  • Smith Bench
  • Incline Barbell Bench
  • Pushups


  • Incline Bench Hammer Curls
  • Dumbbell Preacher Curls
  • EZ Curl Bar Preacher Curls
  • Barbell Preacher Curls
  • Straight Bar Cable Curls
  • Concentration Curls


  • W Bar Tricep Extensions
  • Straight Bar Tricep Extensions


  • Dumbbell Rows
  • Lying Machine Rows
  • Deadlifts
  • Lat Pulldowns
  • T-Bar Rows
  • Pullups


  • Squats
  • Hack Squats
  • Box Squat
  • Leg Press

Check out this article for a workout routine.

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If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a message below!

83 thoughts on “CT Fletcher Workout: How to Train Penitentiary Style”

    1. He’s pretty booked, try to message him through YouTube. I know a lot of people so I was fortunate.

      Good luck!

  1. Im lookkng for a routine to start from scratch. Im an endomorph whats best to start with and are there any good meal plans to follow?

    1. Check out any of the workout routines I’ve written here. They all would be great for you to run. As to meal plans, I do not have any since people are so vastly different. I have quite a few articles on weight loss and foods to eat.

      The basics are eat less to lose weight, eat a little more to start gaining lean mass. Stack up the protein, have dietary fats and fill in the rest with carbs. Eat whole foods that you have to cook like chicken, beef, fish and eat lots of vegetables, brown rice and potatoes.

      Small changes in diet can make a difference, so stop drinking soda if you drink it, eat whole foods, and lift weights and your body will adapt.

  2. Hello Cutty, im 16 years old and have been lifting for two years now and have gotten good gains in both size and strength and I am a mesomorph. My friend and I saw CT’s overtraining video with Mike Rashid and i absolutely loved it because when i first started out lifting, i over trained with just the basic lifts. Bench, Incline, Squats, etc. I know that in that video, Mike said to overtrain the chest, but what about the other body parts? does he over train every body part with his dropset routine? It would be much appreciated if this could be answered!! Thanks!

  3. Hey cutty thanks again. I’ve been getting gains due to ct fletcher and you. But how and what should I do for cardio. I try so hard to lose weight but I can’t. I eat veggies chicken eggs protein powder from gnc wheybolic 60. I do aleast an hour of cardio 2-3 Times a week. …one thing that might hinder me is lack of sleep. 4-6 hours. Or could it be the protein I’m using? Im 27 years old. Any ideas. I used to be a Muay Thai fighter so any grueling routine I will be willing to adapt to

    1. I’m glad to hear you are making gains, keep up the good work. I would recommend you keeping a log if you don’t already of everything you eat so you can see where you are going wrong. Some people have slower metabolisms than others, so using a generalized “eat 2000 calories” may not work well.. I am the same way. Sleep is a huge factor in weight loss and muscle gains, I don’t have the scientific answer, but there are different hormones that are released during sleep to help control leptin and other hormones that cause weight gain or lack of weight loss.

      I would invite you to start logging every piece of food and drink that goes into your mouth so we can see if there is a problem somewhere that you may not be aware of. I’m working on an e-book right now about mistakes made when trying to lose weight which won’t be out for a little bit. Log everything for a week and get back with me and I’ll see if we can come up with a plan to start losing weight. What is your current weight and what is your goal weight?

    2. Okay wowv thanks again. You really do appreciate the traffic flow on here thanks. I’m 220 looking to get to 160. That’s the weight I fought at 6-7 years ago. Would you recommend thermogenics? Or anything else? I would prefer to stay as natural as possible but if you recommend anything ill consider it. Im just really sensitive to caffeine. So I tend to avoid it. But if it’ll help me ill listen. Ya that weight I got fat as f. But I want to get in shape by next summer. Thanks again man. Rock on

    3. Honestly a pad and paper is what I recommend logging with. I find that a lot of people get too distracted when they use their phones or pads at the gym. If you don’t want to use pen and paper, using memo or something very lightweight will help keep the distractions down. I will look into different programs and apps and if I have to I’ll get one made.

      But honestly, go buy a little book of paper and a pen and carry it.

    4. There really isn’t any supplement that necessarily “helps” you lose weight. I’ve tried many different supplements, all I’ve reviewed I’ve used and I have more to review. I would not recommend any supplements until you can get your diet dialed in.

      Check out the healthy living section on how to eat healthier, muscle building foods, etc and try to see where you are going wrong. Log your food intake so you can see what’s going wrong. The only time I would recommend any type of supplement for weight loss is if you’re experiencing a loss of energy from being on a caloric deficit.

      As always, watch your carbs, the more you eat the more water you will hold. Cut the soda and juices out and start drinking a lot of water to help flush everything out and keep you hydrated. I don’t know how you eat, but the more meals you cook and prepare from fresh foods the better. You can either go to taco bell and get a couple burritos and a soda or you can eat a couple pounds of chicken and broccoli.. You make the choice :)

      So, log what you eat, cut soda/juice, cook fresh foods. No need for supplements, save that money for the fresh foods.

  4. Hi, Cutty?
    I have not got it yet. Does it matter how many sets and reps you do? Because I want to get big, ripped and strong. So I really need some help, I’am a noob at this. It would be much appreciated if this could be answered!! Thanks!

    1. Welcome to the site! I did this article to explain who CT was and his philosophies and exercises he does. I recommend to check out my workout routines section to find a routine you would be able to do. All routines are going to help you build muscle and build strength. I have plenty of articles on how to eat for weight loss and building muscle so I invite you to check those out as well.

      If you have specific questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get to them as soon as I can!

  5. Is this workout CT’s full workout or just part? Also which workout is the best to build muscle this one or the bodybuilding penitentiary routine one?

    1. This is CT’s philosophy and some of the exercises he uses to build his physique. Any workout when using progression will help you build muscle if you eat enough and get enough sleep. Check out some of the routines I’ve written.


    2. Hello,

      You are fortunate in that you are starting at a young age and your testosterone is high. Any of the routines I’ve written here will work the best.

      I specialize in strength training but I will start adding in specialized bodybuilding type workouts. Build a strong base and reap the benefits.

      As long as you get in the gym, lift some weights and progress in lifting heavier or more weight you are going to grow lots of muscle.

      Good luck,


    3. Thanks and sorry to keep asking questions but would you recommend creatine and shoudl i take protein shakes if so what brands do you recommend? Also if i stop taking creatine will the gains I’ve benefited form taking it be gone?

    4. Edwin, ask all of the questions you want. It actually gives me some more article ideas to write on.

      Creatine is a well tested supplement that is proven to work. Although you can get plenty of creatine in the meat you eat, supplementing with a creatine monohydrate is fine. It is relatively cheap and goes a long way.

      If you stop, you will just lose some water weight. The only reason you may look more muscular or feel stronger is because cells in your muscles retain extra water which gives you a fuller look and technically more muscle mass to move the weight. I’ve missed taking creatine off and on and I haven’t seen any significant difference.

      If you are picking eating healthy foods versus supplements I would recommend healthy foods. Check out some of the product reviews I’ve written on protein, pretty much anything is good, I personally prefer Optimum Nutrition but all of my friends and athletes I talk to all use different brands so it’s not so much of an issue. Once again, if you have to give up healthy foods to get protein, get the healthy foods.


  6. I’m 18 fresh out of high school and wanted to start lifting. I’ve lifted prior, playing sports in high school like football wrestling and swimming but never gained nothing out of this world. I know it takes time hard work and dedication. I’ve seen quite a few CT films and couldn’t get enough. I just don’t know where to start. How many days out the week should I workout & what do I do on each day.

    1. Check out any of my routines here and find one that can fit your schedule. I’m writing new ones all of the time so keep checking back.

  7. Cutty,
    I’m very interested in this workout but I don’t know what days or what workouts to pair together. What do you reccommend?

  8. Hey Cutty, I used to workout but I stopped for about 2 years and i gained some weight,i started trainingagain a few days ago and now I need a workout plan that can help me build muscle, loose the fat or do both at the same time,can you help?

    1. Check out any of my routines here and find one that fits your schedule and something you can stick with for at least 12 weeks. Some include conditioning, some do not, I would invite you to add in some conditioning whether it’s walking, playing your favorite sport, or hitting up some cardio equipment. Something to keep your heart rate elevated will help burn extra calories.

      Eat good whole foods, get plenty of protein intake and train hard and you’re going to be happy with your results. You will burn fat and maintain as much muscle as you can, but when you lose the weight you are going to look like you have bigger muscles.

      Stick with it and let me know if you have any other questions.


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