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
Push Ups10
Jumping Jacks20
Body Weight Squats10
Pull Ups10


‘Fitness Freak’ Sample Routine 2
Shadow Boxing (with or without light dumbbells)3 minutes
Sprints1 Way
Push Ups10
Sprints1 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
Barbell Bench Press415
Dumbbell Inline Bench Press415
Dumbbell Incline Flyes315
Close Grip Bench Press315
Dumbbell Curls315
Skull Crushers315


Bodybuilder Sample Shoulder Workout Routine
Dumbbell Overhead Press515
Barbell Lateral Raises415
Dumbbell Shrugs415
Skull Crushers315
Cross Body Hammer Curls315


Bodybuilder Sample Back Workout Routine
Bent Over Barbell Rows415
Pull Ups415
Straight Arm Lat Pull Down315
Dumbbell Curls315


Bodybuilder Sample Leg Workout Routine
Back Squats415
Front Squats415
Straight Leg Deadlift315
Standing Calf Raises315



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
Back Squat55
Barbell Bench Press55
Bent Over Barbell Rows55
Close Grip Bench Press38
Weighted Pull Ups38


Powerlifter Sample Push Pull Routine 2
Light Back Squat45
Dumbbell Overhead Press55
Romanian Deadlifts38
Bent Over Lateral Raises38


Powerlifter Sample Push Pull Routine 3
Back Squat55
Barbell Bench Press55
Bent Over Barbell Rows55
Skull Crushers38
Weighted Pull Ups38



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.

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

    1. 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.


  1. 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?

    1. 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.


  2. 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.

    1. 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 :)


  3. 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?

  4. Reginald M Greene

    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

    1. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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??

    1. 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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