Prison Workout: Penitentiary Style Training Routine

We’ve all seen or heard about how big and muscular inmates in the penitentiary are. How do these guys get so big and what is this “penitentiary style training?”

What is penitentiary style training?

Penitentiary style training has been popularized lately by a man named CT Fletcher. This style of training has been described as using “poor form, broscience, and partial reps.”

Having men like Fletcher and others coming out looking so massive, you have to wonder what they could possibly be doing.

Like most gyms, most inmates spend their time working their upper bodies. Half squats, partial reps, and arm work seem to be popular amongst the inmates.

There is a misconception that all inmates turn into these massive monsters. Just like at your regular gym, there are the people who train counter productively and never make any progress.

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Types of lifters:

Generally there are 4 types of lifters you find in the penitentiary, they have similarities to the people you find in your own gym.

Fresh Meat

These lifters are new in the ‘system’ and they all want to talk a bunch of crap to the other lifters and inmates. These guys spend more time talking and causing problems than lifting.

‘Fitness Freaks’

For a lack of a better term, these guys focus more on bodyweight exercises and conditioning. Their training includes bodyweight exercises such as dips on their toilets, push-ups, and pull-ups in the door frame.

If they go out to the yard to train, they will do a lot of conditioning work such as wind sprints, sparring, speed bag, heavy bag, jumping rope, and running stairs. These guys would be similar to people who do aerobic classes and other things that rely on conditioning and speed more than strength or aesthetics.

Below are two sample ‘fitness freak’ workout routines. They is done in a circuit with 25-30 second rest between circuits. Usually these circuits are done throughout the day, but I would recommend doing as many circuits as you can for 10 minutes. Once your conditioning improves, you will be able to do more circuits in your 10 minute block.

‘Fitness Freak’ Sample Routine 1
Exercise Reps
Push Ups 10
Jumping Jacks 20
Dips 10
Body Weight Squats 10
Pull Ups 10
Lunges 10
Sprints 2


‘Fitness Freak’ Sample Routine 2
Exercise Reps
Shadow Boxing (with or without light dumbbells) 3 minutes
Sprints 1 Way
Push Ups 10
Sprints 1 Way



Bodybuilders in the penitentiary have to utilize unorthodox training methods to try to get the same results as machines do for people who visit regular gyms. The bodybuilders do mostly utilize a high rep scheme and do high volume routines.

Unorthodox methods and partial reps are used to simulate isolation or help build specific parts of the muscle. The poor form and partial reps could be considered using “broscience” to get the results they are working towards, but if it works it works.

Related: Bodybuilding for Beginners

Below are some sample bodybuilder workout routines.

Bodybuilder Sample Chest Workout Routine
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Bench Press 4 15
Dumbbell Inline Bench Press 4 15
Dumbbell Incline Flyes 3 15
Close Grip Bench Press 3 15
Dumbbell Curls 3 15
Skull Crushers 3 15


Bodybuilder Sample Shoulder Workout Routine
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Overhead Press 5 15
Barbell Lateral Raises 4 15
Dumbbell Shrugs 4 15
Skull Crushers 3 15
Cross Body Hammer Curls 3 15


Bodybuilder Sample Back Workout Routine
Exercise Sets Reps
Bent Over Barbell Rows 4 15
Deadlifts 4 15
Pull Ups 4 15
Straight Arm Lat Pull Down 3 15
Dumbbell Curls 3 15


Bodybuilder Sample Leg Workout Routine
Exercise Sets Reps
Back Squats 4 15
Front Squats 4 15
Lunges 3 15
Straight Leg Deadlift 3 15
Standing Calf Raises 3 15



Traditional powerlifters train exactly like you would expect; heavy compound lifts. These guys know the importance of lifting heavy weight and using the big compound lifts. The big compound lifts are squat, deadlift, bench press, barbell row, and overhead press.

Most of these lifters train using heavy weights and only the main compound lifts. They generally don’t do “accessory” lifts or anything other than progressing in the 3 main lifts.

Below are some sample powerlifter routines. Recommended at least 1 day of rest in between each exercise.

Powerlifter Sample Push Pull Routine 1
Exercise Sets Reps
Back Squat 5 5
Barbell Bench Press 5 5
Bent Over Barbell Rows 5 5
Close Grip Bench Press 3 8
Weighted Pull Ups 3 8


Powerlifter Sample Push Pull Routine 2
Exercise Sets Reps
Light Back Squat 4 5
Deadlift 5 5
Dumbbell Overhead Press 5 5
Romanian Deadlifts 3 8
Bent Over Lateral Raises 3 8


Powerlifter Sample Push Pull Routine 3
Exercise Sets Reps
Back Squat 5 5
Barbell Bench Press 5 5
Bent Over Barbell Rows 5 5
Skull Crushers 3 8
Weighted Pull Ups 3 8



Food in the penitentiary is not very nutrient dense for someone trying to gain mass and build strength. Commissary is where inmates can purchase nutrient dense foods such as packs of tuna, sardines, roast beef, green tea, and even protein powder and bars.

Commissary is expensive, so if an inmate does not have a job or anybody who will bring money for commissary, it is hard to buy this food. Commissary also has many calorie dense highly processed foods such as chips, Doritos, Ramen Noodles, and honey buns are available for people who are trying to bulk.

Recommended Supplements

Without a good diet, supplementation is mostly a waste of money. I will be the first to tell you to spend money on some good meats than a jug of protein.

For those who have their diets in check, here are the supplements I would use with this routine.


MTS Nutrition Clash

I personally like apple mango, but all flavors are good.

This is a great blend without too many stimulants.


MTS Machine Whey Protein: 5lbs

This is in my opinion the best tasting protein on the market. Period.

Great blend with no secrets, no amino spiking, and it is some of the best in the industry.

So far I’ve had Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, and Key Lime. All are A+.

MTS Nutrition Protein


MTS Nutrition Machine Fuel

Marc Lobliner has his sweetening on point with these supplements.

I’ve used mixed berry and grape and I love them both.


Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine

I have a review of Optimum Nutrition’s Creatine and it’s a tried and true supplement. It will help with performance and recovery. I highly recommend this.

Why it Works

How can inmates get so massive with limited resources and equipment?

When you look at people who don’t progress with all of the food and equipment you can ask for, you have to wonder how these guys get so large. It is true that anabolic steroids do make their way into the facilities, but there is more to it than just claiming steroids.

When building muscle or strength, your nervous system is taxed. If you factor in a stressful job, financial hardships, school, and other stressors that can affect weight loss, muscle gain, and strength gain. Your nervous system can only support so much stress before it starts to shut down or take longer to recover. This is where overtraining comes from; not enough sleep, stressed about life, and adding a heavy workout in the mix can overwork your nervous system and make you sick or weaker.

In the penitentiary, you have an environment that encourages training, access to calorie dense foods, endless conditioning possibilities, an endless supply of iron, and virtually no distractions, you have a formula for success. The only stress you have in the penitentiary is making sure you aren’t attacked. There are no comforts in there and you adapt to your situation and environment which makes you tough.

136 thoughts on “Prison Workout: Penitentiary Style Training Routine”

  1. I am starting the Bodybuilders workout routines posted on this site, for 90 days. I was wondering if you can add more biceps to any given sessions? Or should I leave the routines as is?

    • If you would like to add more bicep work, I would recommend eating an extra 150 calories a day for recovery. Adding in bicep work is fine, just make sure you eat enough so you can recover and build as much muscle as possible.

      Good luck!

  2. Thank you for your quick response. One last question, when should you add more weight? When you meet all reps and sets? Or when it feels too easy?

    • If you hit the sets and reps you decide, go up 5 pounds. Once you cannot achieve the sets and reps, you keep trying to increase the reps until you hit your rep goal scheme. Then add 5 pounds and work up from there. Good luck!

  3. Wich workout would add more muscle ? The body building routine which has higher reps or the powerlifting routine that has lower reps ? I’m skinny fat and I want to add some good muscle size? And I don’t like doing cardio . Any help or advice would be great thanks .

    • The bodybuilding routine is what you see most guys doing, it builds larger muscles if you progress. The powerlifting routine is more to build strength, which builds muscle. For instance if I am doing a bodybuilding routine, I’ll deadlift 4 sets of 12 at 365 or for powerlifting I’ll do 3 sets of 5 at 455. I would suggest the bodybuilding routine and eat lots of whole foods, you should start to gain muscle and burn some fat and you will start to fill out quickly. 6 months of working hard and progressing you will see a noticeable difference.

      Good luck!

  4. Thanks for the advise and for responding so quickly . You’re web. Page is great . Keep up the good work. I like that it gets straight to the point .

    • This workout or this workout would be great for you. Add in cardio every day you workout for added active recovery and extra fat loss.

      Check out all of the articles in healthy living on how to cut calories and eat healthier. It will be a journey to lose weight, do it slow and steady, doing a crash diet will just crash your metabolism and end up putting more fat back on.

      Keep in touch if you need more help!

    • Of course. Listen to your body and learn what you are able to do. If you can’t do the full routine, do a couple of sets and build your way up. It is a rigorous routine and many will need to “work their way up” if you will.

      Take notes of what you complete and strive to do better the next time β€” even if it’s just by one more rep.

    • Either one will help you bulk up if you eat enough whole foods. It is more of a decision on which one do you find more appealing and fun? I enjoy lifting heavy ass weight, but some enjoy higher reps and really feeling the burn and pump in your muscles. Both will help you bulk up if you eat and recover enough and progress. Find whatever you will enjoy. Check out the workouts section, I add new routines all of the time!

  5. This article is based upon what C. T. Fletcher “did” while in prison, something that has become very popular these days because of his viral videos on YouTube. The main problem I have with THIS article is that nothing the OP mentions is even close to what C. T. Fletcher did to achieve his size (all you have to do is watch ANY of his videos and you can see as much for yourself).

    C. T. Fletcher was a world recognized powerlifter with accomplished records and weighing 250+lbs BEFORE this whole “C. T. Fletcher prison style training” blew up all over the ‘net.

    NONE of the routines listed in this article are even close to what C. T. Fletcher did nor recommends. If you want a TRUE C. T. Fletcher routine, and don’t wish to take the time to watch his videos and write it down for yourself, then know this: C. T. Fletcher trained just like every other powerlifter on the planet: heavy Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Presses, Chin-Ups, Standing Military Presses, Barbell Curls. He did NOT do the typical Bullshit routines of 3 exercises per body part 3 times per week for 3 sets of 10.

    Choose from those 6 exercises, splitting them up in push/pull fashion or upper/lower, and train monday-wednesday-friday alternating the two routines each workout.

    Sets & reps and rests? You rest as long as it takes for you to ‘think’ you can get all of the reps on the next set, even if you don’t actually get them. 3-5 work sets or heavy and medium weights for reps. Yes, it’s really that simple.

    • Thanks I guess I didn’t make it clear in the article. Checking out my other routines I write in the workouts section shows that I was providing information about CT Fletcher and things that he has done to keep strength in prison.

    • Creatine won’t make you gain too much fat. It sounds like you are doing too aggressive of a bulk. Find out your base calories to maintain weight and see how many more you’re eating. My guess is 500+ which will put on some unwanted fat. Try to cut it down to 200 to 300 calories over to help control the fat gain. If you’re seeing great gains, try to eat cleaner foods which will help lower calories and do some cardio for active recovery. Creatine may make you a little bloated which is normal, I think you’re just eating too aggressively.

      Hit me up if you have more questions, let me know how that works for you.

  6. I’m plannin on doing the bodybuilding routine. And my question is what’s the week routine on it. 4 days 5 days a week. I’m asuming 4 days but I go crazy having three days off. I’m 193 10% body fat. I’m trying to break 200 in the teens. Any suggestions.


    • Yes, this is a routine for four days a week. Slowly add in calories, try to add in 200-300 calories a day and watch your results for a month. If you’ve been maintaining weight off of what you’ve been eating now, just supplement with some protein shakes to get 200-300 calories and you should start seeing an increase in muscle mass without getting too fat.

      Keep working hard and progress every work out and you are going to get the results you want man, it takes time so don’t get upset if you aren’t there in a couple of months.

  7. Man Cutty, I see you know your Shitttt, I vebeen getting the fuckin run around with these bullshit trainers at LA fitness and thier $100 down & $135 monthly bullshit… Im 36, 273 and need something basic to loose fat, gain muscle normally. My message may seem rather long but I workout chest & shoulders and legs 3 times a week 1 day for each. if you can fill me in thanks Boss man..

    • Thanks for the compliment. I know enough to help people out :).

      Being bigger like me, you need to start cutting calories and eating plenty of protein in your diet. I can go over a lot of things with you but if you haven’t yet, read this article on diet that will give you some idea of the foods to eat instead of eating out (if you do).

      If you like to work out 3 days a week, I wrote a few routines for 3 day splits, this one is one I’d advise you to look at.

      Doing cardio will help with recovery, conditioning, and burning calories. Don’t rely on cardio to lose the fat, lose the fat with having a good diet and progress with your weight training.

      If you need anything else, hit me up.

    • Man, I appreciate you bruh, and I also grew up in Compton 130th st between Wilmington & willowbrook

      thank Man

  8. Hey cutty, what up. I’m looking for a routine that will help me build a great amounts of muscle while cutting fat as well. I am 175 pounds, and I do lift already but I want a routine that will really kick my ass. Thanks.

    • Check out any of the workouts listed here. They are all going to challenge you and help you build muscle. Pick one that will fit your schedule best.

  9. hey man, im a 15 year old teen and im 5″9 and weigh about 170 no im trying to lose fat and get toned instead of big so i was wondering if the fitness freak would be my best bet? or am i too young?

    • Clean up your diet and eat healthier foods, do something like the fitness freaks do. Anything conditioning wise is going to be great to do for you. Maybe check out circuit training or if you enjoy some sort of track and field that would be great. Anything to get your heart racing will be good to help you lose fat. Doing resistance training is going to get you toned, anyone who says lifting weights makes you big and bulky and aren’t jacked don’t know what they are talking about.

      You’re young so be active and quit eating McDonalds so much and you’ll lose some fat man.

  10. Thanks for the compliments. Good job on building up your strength. You are on the right track.

    With calisthenics and bodyweight type workouts, you are going to be able to use a circuit style training to help keep heart rate elevated. Work on different rep ranges on your circuits and work on progressing some how by either adding reps, doing the circuit faster or with less rest, or more circuits. Beer is just like soda, know how much you are drinking calorie and carbohydrate wise and fix your diet accordingly. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy things in life, but if you are trying to lose the weight, know that you have to give up on one thing so you can enjoy something else.

    Check out this article, it has some good info that I think might benefit you reading. This article also has some cardio and diet tips. Add in some more conditioning work like sports or some activity you enjoy. I used to be big on “gym gym gym” but what use is running on a treadmill if you enjoy balling with your friends or swimming? Do things you enjoy and it seems less like work.

    Keep up the work and I think you will be very happy with the results man.

    • Man… you ARE THE REAL DEAL!
      I have been doing my research and just haven’t gotten any positive feedback about calisthenics!
      I am going to rest less between sets and see how that goes for a couple weeks and get back to you!
      I’m already soaking my floor from sweat so i thought I was THE MAN! Obviously gotta do more!
      Chest looks good, can see the vein in my bicep again but that BELLY WONT BUDGE!
      I have a wicked jump shot! So off to the court I go!


    • Some go to failure and then a few forced reps with a spotter and others go just before failure. You have to see what works best for your body and circumstances.

  11. Hey Cutty,
    First of all, great article. I’m planning on doing the fitness freak routine to tighten things up a bit. I recently got the advice to replace pushups with burpees in any exercise calling for pushups, with the idea being you get the pushup reps, work your legs and core, plus a little cardio in each burpee. What are your thoughts on this?

    • πŸ™‚ No problem.

      Burpees are a great exercise to do and is actually very popular to do. Push yourself hard and you will see great results!

  12. Gday cutty, definitely enjoying your website with plenty of helpful info that’s well written. Mate im about to start a 3wk on 3wk off work roster. im keen for a new program to add more muscle mass whilst blasting the core region for abs.
    I will have access to the gym everyday and all types of food. I was hoping you could suggest one of your workouts that includes cardio, abs, and weight training to achieve muscle and strength growth. I am currently 78kgs (171 pds) and want to reach 82kgs (180pds). i am currently eating approx 6meals a day, no carbs after 2pm and atleast 30g of protein per meal. sorry for long msg just haven’t come across an appropiate gym/cardio routine and hoping you could help. Will spread the word about your site, keep up the good work. cheers pearce

    • Pearce, thank you for the kind words. Check out any of the workouts listed here that I’ve written, they are geared towards building muscle and strength. If you are wanting to reach 82kgs, it sounds like you are working on the right path in regards to diet and training.

      This article is good for tips on slowly increasing your weight which will add the muscle you want with minimal body fat.

      If you have more questions I can email you and answer some of your questions with more detail.

      Good luck,


  13. Hey Cutty
    I’m interested in trying the bodybuilder routine. Is this routine a four day in a row workout then rest? Rest a day in between each workout? I noticed you stated to rest a day between the power lifter routine but what do you suggest for bodybuilder?


    • Dylan,

      Usually something like a Monday/Tuesday, Off, Thursday/Friday is a good 4 day split. Check out the other routines here, there are a lot of them I’ve written so far.

      Good luck!

  14. hi there just wanna ask a quick question about the bodybuiling routine when using shud te weight increse every time and shud each set be to failure on the last rep

    • There’s a lot of advocates on training until failure and training until almost failure. I am an advocate of training until almost failure, so try to add weight to the bar every session and you should be giving everything you have on the last rep to complete it.


  16. Hey Cutty,

    I workout at home, no access to a gym. I’m 46 & just getting back into training after several years of not working out. I’m still strong as hell, I need to drop about 30lbs.

    What do you suggest?

    • I apologize for the delay in a response William. I would invite you to check out this routine. It is a full body, at home body weight exercise routine that is doable with minimal equipment. I would highly suggest checking this routine out. If you have any equipment or are interested in buying any equipment, let me know and I can help create a routine that would be better suited for your needs.

      Good luck with your goals!


    • Hey Cutty,

      No worries. I appreciate you getting back to me.

      I have a smith machine w/ lat pulldown and low row attachment, weights (300#), and DB’s ranging from 20-100#. No leg ext/curl on the bench.

      Thanks for your help

    • I have a dumbbell only workout that I wrote that would work well with what you have. I don’t necessarily like to advocate using a smith machine due to the unnatural bar path, but can work in a pinch. I would highly recommend reading the dumbbell only routine and see what you think about it. You could add in the lat pull downs/low rows instead of a dumbbell row which would be good.

      Like I said I don’t advocate smith machine but if you have it and are comfortable with it, doing a hybrid of the dumbbell only routine and using the smith machine for your big lifts: bench, barbell row, squat, deadlift might yield good results.


    • Thanks Cutty, I been walking, gettin some cardio in. I’m going to start this on Mondy. I’ll let you know in a few weeks how it’s workin.

      Thanks again

  17. could you help me incorporate a fireman train guide and a work out plan im going to take the firemans exam in april and i would like to get started training for the physical part

    • Yeah buddy let me look up what all is involved in the firemans training and see what I can come up with. I will write an article on it so be sure to follow us on Facebook and sign up to get email alerts when new articles get posted. Look for it in the next day or two!


    • Firefighter Physical Ability Test (PAT) Events

      Stair Climb

      This event simulates continuous stair climbing, an activity that firefighters may perform when getting to a fire at an incident scene. For this event, you will be required to step on a rotating staircase (also known as a stepmill) at a pre-determined stepping pace for a specific period of time. You will get a 5-minute rest period after this event. The required time to remain on the stepmill is 200 seconds.

      Ladder Event

      This event simulates various activities related to using ladders. You will be required to remove a ladder from a rack, carry it some distance, raise a weight of approximately 45 lbs. attached to a rope that simulates the raising of an extension ladder, lower that weight and return the ladder to the rack from which it was taken. The event ends when the ladder is back in the rack. The time limit is 35.56 seconds.

      Hose Advance

      This event simulates the actions necessary to manipulate a fully charged fire hose. You will be required to pull 50 feet of hose through a U-shaped course with several turns. There will be a ceiling on the U-shaped course to prevent you from standing upright. The time limit is 20.00 seconds.

      Forcible Entry

      This event simulates breaking down a door to gain entry to a burning structure or an incident scene. For this event you will be required to strike a rubber pad mounted on a moveable post. You will use a 12 lb. sledge hammer to move the post a set distance. The post and structure are weighted to simulate the force you would need to exert on a door in order to gain entrance. The time limit is 13.91 seconds.


      This event simulates the actions necessary to enter and search a smoke-filled structure. You will be required to crawl through a dark wooden tunnel with obstructions and turns. The tunnel is approximately 65 feet long. The tunnel is 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. At one location in the tunnel there is an obstacle on the floor and at one location there is an obstacle from the ceiling. In addition, at two locations, the tunnel is reduced from 4 to 3 feet in width. The time limit is 39.00 seconds.

      Rescue Through a Doorway

      This event simulates the actions necessary to drag an unconscious victim out through a doorway to get the victim to safety. You will be required to drag a 125 pound dummy approximately 30 feet, along a zigzag course to a designated area at the end of the course. In this event, there is a low ceiling over the course to prevent you from standing upright. The time limit is 36.00 seconds.

      Ceiling Hook (Pike Pole)

      This event simulates the use of a pike pole or ceiling hook. A pike pole or ceiling hook is a fire fighting tool used to tear down ceilings or open walls while looking for hidden fires. This event will require you to take a pike pole, tipped with an industrial hammer head, and thrust it upward at a metal plate in an 8 foot ceiling. The metal plate weighs approximately 60 lbs. And must be lifted six inches in order for the strike to count. You will then step over to the next part of the event, where a pike pole handle is suspended from a ceiling height. The pole is attached to a counter balance that weighs approximately 80 lbs. You must pull the pole down six inches in order for the pull to count. You will be required to perform one push and five pulls in a sequence. The event will require you to perform four one-minute periods of work, in which you will try to do as many push-pull sequences as possible. Each work period will be followed by a 30 second rest period. You must complete 25 full repetitions.

      that is the physical exam i just want to b prepared and to use the work out for later on while mixing it with other work outs

    • I have some good ideas for a good routine that will help you develop some usable strength as well as build an overall strong body. Looks like a lot of power moves and endurance will be needed. Reading over the descriptions I actually have a good idea of some of the movements and then some bonus movements if you have extra equipment/would like to purchase some.

      Give me a little bit to get everything well-written and I will have a great routine for anyone, but geared towards doing well on this test.


    • thank you very much i actually started going to a good gym latitude they have the pulling sleds and stuff a good size turf field

    • A sled and even a heavy bag that you could carry was the two extra options I was going to add. Great man, it sounds like you’ll be able to take full advantage of this routine. It will have endurance, power, conditioning, all of it to help you exceed minimums on the test. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, be sure to follow me on Facebook @CuttyStrength and I will also post a reply to this comment so you can see it too.

  18. Hi Cutty,

    Just wanted to start off by saying I love this site. Keep up the good work – your reviews of products is honest and the motivation pieces are great.
    I had a question relating to the CT ideology of over training being a myth… I currently work out my arms 3 times a week, each workout includes 20 sets on biceps, 20 sets on triceps with moderately heavy weights and a minimum 10 reps. I’m not seeing gains on the arms though and was thinking of maybe decreasing the training on arms and taking on the bodybuilding routine above? (struggled to put on 1 cm in a month) Am I a victim of undue-overtraining?

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      Although I think he feels that a lot of people use over training as an excuse to not go workout or as a reason to not go heavy. There is a diminishing return on training and I think you would be better off cutting the sets down quite a bit. Everyone’s body reacts to different types of parameters but I always start out with a 3 sets, 12 reps type setup for bis and for tris.

      It takes a long time to build muscle and in a month it is hard to gauge progress. I could carb load someone and make their arms get almost a half inch bigger. While it is water weight, there’s a lot of different things to make your arms bigger so I don’t think you’re under training. Building muscle is actually in the recovery part, you break down the muscle in the gym and then eat healthy foods and getting enough sleep. Usually with 3 sets for each muscle 12-15 reps is more than enough to break down the muscle.

      Check out my other workout routines and see if any of those interest you as well!

      Good luck,


  19. Whats going on Cutty,

    I’m 284 and as of today I’ve been running in the am to start my day. I want to get down to a lean 220 without losing strength and gaining a better looking physique. which workout do you recommend that I use to reach this goal?

    • Congrats on the goal, you are already a step ahead of a lot of people who go to the gym. When you go on a calorie deficit to lose body fat you are going to lose some strength, not a huge amount, but you are going to notice some strength loss. The trick is to keep pushing yourself as hard as you can and keep your head on straight while you are losing the weight.

      Eat lots of protein and healthy foods so you can maintain as much muscle as you can. I would recommend any workout that I have written. Check them out here, I try to write new routines weekly to help people with limited time or equipment. Pick one that you can easily do with your schedule and ask any questions you have.

      Good luck!


    • Hi Cutty,
      I am 55 yrs old, 6ft 4in ectomorph at 180 lbs. Lower back tends to stiffen up on deadliest and squats. Stomach can’t handle eating and digesting much food at one time. I also work rotating shifts. Been working out for years…but only look toned. Any thoughts as to what I might try to put on some muscle.

    • Try out this 3 day powerbuilding routine. I think the training style will be better for you and you should be able to get more rest between deadlifts and squats. Invest in a foam roller and try to spend time performing active mobility. For calories, try using full fat products, maybe invest in a nice protein shake and use whole milk. That could get you plenty of calories so you can build muscle, without having to eat more food.

  20. Hi very good info and great answers to all people’s comments fair play! For the ectomorphs struggling to keep on weight (me) would you keep the same reps as everyone else or alter the bodybuilding routine a little?

    • Any routine will be good for you, the bodybuilding one, or any that I’ve written here. You have to get extra calories into your diet so you can gain the muscle. Are you eating as much as you can now? If so there are ways to boost your calorie intake without eating extra food.

  21. I started properly calorie counting yesterday and managed to get to 3500 but that included two protein shakes. That was pushing it to all I could eat? I tried the bodybuilding routine today but had to sacrifice slot of weight with all excersises to be able to meet the amount of reps/sets. Is that ok or should I try to keep the weight heavy to force the muscle to grow? Thanks a lot!

    • Regardless of any goal in weight lifting, working to add weight or reps to your workout is your main goal, you do not have to move heavy weight to have huge muscles. High reps with quality contractions is what is important in bodybuilding to help stretch the fascia and push more blood into your muscles. I’d rather see someone properly curl 20s or bench 135 than to cheat curl 35s or half rep 185.

      Don’t cheat yourself out of the quality reps and don’t worry about how much weight you are moving compared to someone else. Push yourself and really get good reps out and you’re going to grow.

      Depending on what your calorie goal is, there are easy ways to really raise the calories without eating much extra.


  22. Im 185 I cut out alot of crap out my diet and lost 15lbs and put them right back on in the gym I see that it’s working but I’m looking for a routine to get big (full body) and I’m lost on what to eat also help me!!

    • Check out some of my workout routines and find one that works for you. I’m about to release more routines that will give you more freedom on days you can go and help if you have to miss a workout because of work, or something similar.

  23. I have no idea how I got here but I am here and glad I read your article. I was wondering if you can point me in the right direction..i guess.
    I am 21 5’5 FEMALE 230 and I am ready to change my life I use to be active but I lost my drive, but I am ready to commit to getting in shape I was wondering if you knew where I could look some thing up to get in shape I want a athletic build but I don’t want look like a guy so I know the body builder and power lifter don’t pertain to me, but I thought maybe if I go by the fitness freaks work out plan I would get some successful results..what should I do? Every where I look is about girl getting “cute” I want to be a athlete again any pointers? sorry this is so long by the way

    • Glad you left a comment!

      I’ve trained a few women and looking to train more. The misconception of looking bulky and like a bodybuilder is widely used and I’d like to tell you that fortunately, the estrogen and low testosterone in your system actually prevents from creating a lot of muscle to look “bulky” no matter how much you train. The women who look bulky are sitting at less than 8% bodyfat or they are on steroids, mostly testosterone.

      Now, to your point of wanting to get in shape and get more of an athletic/performance body, there’s a few options you can go. Do yourself a favor and don’t spend hours on the cardio equipment, it’s not going to do anything or even worse can burn off the little bit of muscle that you do have. In order for someone to look tone, you need to have some muscle and less fat. We call people skinny-fat who are really skinny but have no muscles at all.. Don’t be like them :).

      You can do something like the fitness freaks, or you could do something like this routine which is a weight training and cardio routine with tips on supplementation and diet tips for weight loss. This article is a body-weight only routine you can do at home. There are a lot of options, if you are interested in learning more I’d be happy to help out.


  24. Cutty,
    I’m a powerlifter who is trying to maintain my bodyweight (242) but want to clean up my diet while gaining strength. Approx how many calories should I be consuming each day?

    • Everyone is different man, the calories you’re going to have to mess around with. The calculators online don’t really factor in BMI or athletic level so really you have to try it out. If you’re cleaning up your diet, be sure to get plenty of dietary fats, more people clean up their diet and cut out fats and wonder why they can’t sleep, are tired, and have other problems. Fats help hormone regulation!

      If you have been maintaining bodyweight now, go a few days and write down what you’re eating and calculate the calories. Once you have that you have some numbers to work with. Eating clean helps you get more food in you, so don’t go from eating 3k calories to “eating clean” and snacking on a chicken breast for the day and only getting 1200 cals.

      Let me know if you have specific questions!


  25. I work out until muscle fatigue every time I go to the gym. Then I’ll wait a few minutes and do it again and so on. Is this recommendable as long as I get enough protein in my diet? Also since I weigh about 292 lbs it’s hard for me to get 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. What are some foods with a lot of protein that won’t break my bank account?

    • As long as you are progressing by adding reps or adding weight to the bar you are going to be fine. The 1 gram per lb of body weight isn’t the end all be all of muscle building. It’s really .8 per lb is good, everything else is getting turned into glycogen and essentially not worth eating over that much.

      Someone heavier like you or me isn’t really needing to hit that much protein a day, you will go broke, you’re wasting money, and it’s unnecessary. Stick to 180-220 grams of protein, or if you’re dead set on .8-1g per lb, do it on your lean mass.

      For men I have invited them to try 180-220 grams a day and they have been getting consistent muscle and strength gains.

      Let me know if you have other questions,


  26. cutty,
    would you recommend.any of these workouts for women. if so.which one?
    aiming to build alot of muscle. But seem to lose..weight too fast. any advice,?

    • There are a lot of workouts that would work for a male or female, it just depends if you want to go to the gym to do exercises or stay at home. Check out my other workout routines to see something you might be interested in. An associate of mine is working on opening a female site for lifting, exercise, and nutrition information soon also.

      Email me if you have specific questions @ [email protected] I would be happy to help you out with your questions.


  27. Great site. Just wondering about the bodybuilding workouts listed above: am I to understand that arms are worked out with every body part?

  28. Hey man it sounds like you know what youre talking about! This is a great post. I have a question though. i have mild scoliosis where i can barely lift any weights because my baxk starts to hurt. Is there anything i can do to get cut up without lifting? If so whats the plan. Im 23 years old 5’8. And weigh 180 lbs. im gettng a belly and im losing self confidence. please help, thank you in advance

    • Brian,

      Give me a bit to get some info together for you, I am not familiar enough with scoliosis to be able to give you much of a meaningful answer yet. Would it be okay to email you at the email you listed?


    • I haven’t forgotten about you, I’m preparing for the UPA Power Weekend this weekend and I haven’t been able to give as much time as I want to for everything.

      Keep strong,


  29. Hi Cutty, I’ve dipped in and out of weightlifting for years and never stuck at it, till recently, I do 3 full body workouts a week doing different exercises every time, along with a cardio session on Saturday i’m about 1-1/2 stone overweight still but my shape is changing gradually, my question is how long do you think I should stick with it? I’m 55 now so I don’t expect to look like an Adonis but I want to improve as much as I can ,thanks for putting your stuff out there it’s a great site

    • Dave,

      You should stick to what are doing if you are noticing changes that support your goals. I would suggest keeping a log and working towards using more weight and progressive overload.

      If you have specific questions, feel free to ask here!


  30. Getting stronger bigger and agile is on my cards… mixing these threes different styles up seems so perfect.. i guess the timing of them is important. doing the powerlifting to start with core power… how long do you recon before moving onto the building stage… and do you think every other weekend do the body weight stuff to keep it all together ??

    • You could do a week per each style to make it more of a periodization technique. This would keep things interesting and help you from getting burned out from doing too much of one thing. Great idea.


  31. hey was wondering if someone was going to do the entire bodybuilding routine mon-wed-fri what should there calorie intake be after food and supplements daily.. height 6’3″ weight 175.. ive never been good at figuring out how much I should or shouldn’t eat and seeing your responses here im hoping you can give me a educated guess.. I want to pack on the muscle and have the energy to do so but I don’t want to risk packing on fat.. thanks

  32. hey i seen other quick respones so decided to ask you a question….. in recent months ive decided to become swole so ive been eating a better protein carb diet and taking my supplements just wondered if you have any workouts that combine body building and powerlifting? im 5’9 190lbs and can bench 40 more pounds then i weight at max if that helps

  33. Hey cutty, I’m 6’1 and 155. I’m pretty broke so I don’t have enough money or a gym or even to buy weights so what would be good muscle building workouts for me? I’m pretty skinny but could cut some fat too. Thanks bro great page!

  34. Hey cutty im 26 standin 6′ and weightin in at
    149lb, very lean and have a hard time putting any weight on, I have been working out for about 5 months now and have a personal trainer I see once a week, I work out 5 times a week so far I have put on 6 lb of lean muscle, im taking creatine, bcaa, carbohydrates, mass weight gain/protein, and eating pretty clean wondering what type workout I can do to help put on more muscle mass, thx in advice

  35. Hey cutty…I’m trying to put more size and weight on…currently weighing 215 with still some athletic build but not like I was when I was playing college football lol. I’m trying to bulk up to a good 240 maybe 250 and really carry size with weight. Any workout routines and nutritional suggestions to help out??

    Really appreciate the help…..

    • Check out my workouts, all are meant to help bulk and get stronger. Add in some extra conditioning work like you did in Football and start changing diet up so you’re eating the majority of your meals from fresh ingredients.

      Any more questions, hit me up.


  36. Hey cutty, I’m starting the bodybuilding routine I just
    Wanted to know if you think it possible to bring some abs in the routine , if yes , what would you suggest thank you!

  37. Hey there! I found this article because my fiancΓ© is in prison and he’s a bit self conscious because he is pretty much on the skinny and tall side and he has a high metabolism. He’s been trying to bulk up while he’s in there. But I think he’s having a hard time. I’m working to lose weight and he’s working to gain it. So I thought maybe I could help him out with a few workout ideas. So we could both be in top shape (and happier with ourselves) once he comes home. He doesn’t really have access to the benchpress and other equipment but I was wondering if maybe you could help me find some exercises he can do? It would be greatly appreciated on his part (and mine).

    • Sure,

      I’m about to run to the gym, I’ll toss you some ideas when I get back. He will have to start eating massive amounts of carbs to try to get calories in to bulk. So eating candy, bread, ramen, whatever he can get his hands on will help him start to build muscle. He’ll gain a bit of fat as well but once out of prison he can shift from eating high processed stuff to more healthy things, upping the protein and then dropping calories will help keep the gains he made.


  38. Pretty good article, Cutty. THeonly thing is that, having been in the pen & an avid lifter, I’d argue that the extreme stress of the environment actually ADDS to the body’s ability to build muscle. Elliot Hulse touches on this. Basically, you feel like you HAVE to get jacked as a matter of survival. We had no supps, shitty food, etc just like you said. But the volume of training mixed with hella stress, I think, basically forces your body to process everything in the way you need. Of course that sounds like BS & very well could be, but just my theory. ANyway, thanks for the great article on our style of lifting. And please forgive the shitty typing, my keyboard is all jacked up.

  39. The older Federal prisons and camps had weights. And the majority of people that worked out did not stress over being attacked. The big factor on why were in such good shape was rest. No big secret REST! And the time to READ and absorb information through publications. In the Feds we had pretty decent meals. At our facility we actually ate good and the commissary was expensive, but provided just enough. This is the factors that how some of us did so well.
    1. You have to LOVE exercising and lifting.
    2. You have to know not just what to eat, BUT WHEN
    YOU EAT!
    3. You have to get at least 8 HOURS OF REST and
    Take a 30 minute nap in the afternoon.
    4. You have to change rep schemes and routines every
    6/8 weeks because your body adapts quickly.
    6. Your body in that environment can improve on 2000
    Calories, and go against all practices in the outside
    World. Because when your there ,there is no stress
    To take up Your energy or tax your nervous
    System besides compound lifts.
    7. You had positive encouragement from your workout
    Partners. You worked out the same time everyday.
    8. The environment allows you to be successful.
    9. Again..Rest, no stress, and when and what to eat,
    Be knowledgable, and very important, you must
    LOVE lifting and taking care of yourself . If you don’t
    Love this sport, and treated as just passing time,
    Complain, and looking for the easy way, your body
    WILL NOT CHANGE. The ones you see coming
    From prison built, have a passion for the lifestyle.

  40. Under the first “Fitness Freak” routine, you said the routine includes 2 sprints. What exactly constitutes one sprint? 100 feet? 100 yards? 1-2 minutes?

    • The reason I didn’t put any on it (I should have specified, I apologize) is because it depends on the space you have.

      I would suggest doing a 40 yard dash or a 100 yard dash. This is going to keep your body producing power without turning into a longer distance run.


  41. Cutty, what cardio is done alongside the powerlifting and body building workouts, if any? could you use the fitness freak routines on off days to get a cardio hit? thanks.

    • Yeah man, we do this to enjoy life and live a healthier lifestyle. I’m a huge proponent for doing activities you like for cardio.

      Any type of movement to improve your conditioning is important… Do whatever you like bro.


    • A good general rule of thumb is at least 12 weeks, but if you keep seeing progress, it’s stupid to change.. so give it 12 weeks and run it until you stop making progress.


    • It depends what type of training. Most weight training routines I recommend 3 to 4 days max, but calisthenics you can do every day if you wanted to.


  42. I’m 23 and 120 lbs, my metabolism is out of this world but I was able to get to 150 once, I would like to be 160-180. What workout routine would you suggest and what should I eat every day to get there?

    • Any of my workouts will help you build muscle.

      What do you eat currently? What’s your calories and macros look like?

      Generally increase carbs, eat “dirtier” and increase fats is going to be the easiest ways to get more calories in.


  43. Damn!! Is something in the earth that you don,t know? Ho!!…..I know! stop writing excelent articles and helping people to achieve their goals on the gym….salutes.

    • I’m about 1500 words into an in-depth 4 day strength training routine and I’ve been improving it off of questions you’ve been asking πŸ™‚


  44. Response appreciated.
    What about 10×50 pushups,
    5×15 pullups, and 5-1 minute rounds of sprints 5 days on, 2 off for a no frills muscle build/condition workout?

  45. I am 50 years old. I used to compete in bodybuilding shows. I now do powerlifting meets. Use cardio kickboxing for conditioning! No more roids for me. At 50 can I still put on more muscle? 5’8 2000lbs. Just discovered your material. Awesome and thank you.

    Reggie, the Bronx Burner

    • Reggie,

      Thank you for the kind word. I’ve not trained with clients in your age bracket so I cannot say definitively but as long as your PCT and your hormone levels are level you should still be able to put on some mass. It won’t be as fast as before but doing this routine certainly won’t hurt at all. With you also powerlifting I would imagine most of your muscle and performance gains would come from weight training – I don’t believe that doing more or less body weight exercises will increase muscle over weight lifting.

      If you do decide to start, let me know how you progress!

  46. Great information, I’m 60 5’6″ 185 getting ready 6-5-17 to start another 12 week program , I finished one two weeks ago and was very pleased with the results, so to answer one of your earlier posts yes you can still build muscle size as we age , maybe not like when we were 20 but if you follow any one of these programs and eat clean and work hard it’s definitely doable, looking to using one of your programs I’ll keep you posted ! Thanks and keep getting the great information you post out there !!
    Jimmy O.

  47. Cuttt im 45 6’5 260lbs. Ive worked out most of my life. But now at age 45 w my job moving furniture for a living. Which program do you suggest??

    • Something that you enjoy is the best one to start with. Start getting a grip on your nutrition so you can bulk or cut whichever you want to do. Moving furniture for a living is pretty physical, so working on conditioning, mobility, and strength in the gym could help.

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