I am a 32 year old male serving several years in prison.

I am hoping to stay in good physical condition there and the security guards enforce a daily routine of 200 push ups, 200 sit ups, and 500 jumping jacks. They also make us lift heavy boxes and buckets and do work around the prison. We have access to a bench press, a leg press, and a pull up bar; but I do not use them believing that the daily exercise routine and labor is enough.

Is this the case or should I utilize the gym equipment?

  • 1
    There are a bunch of prison workout books floating around there you may want to consider. Just regarding the pullups, I'd make sure you include those. That pulling motion is hard to re-create.
    – Eric
    Dec 13, 2015 at 15:16

2 Answers 2


Read Charles Bronson's book named Solitary Fitness

Charlie Bronson has spent three decades in solitary confinement, and yet has stayed as fit as a fiddle, gaining several world strength and fitness records in the process. Now, in this no-nonsense guide to getting fit and staying fit, he reveals just how he's done it.

You have time in your hand so it would not hurt to try something new, and as Bronson was a prisoner, maybe you will be getting a diet similar to his. Therefore this book fits for you.

  • 2
    I would add as a caveat that Bronson was an inmate in the British jail system (I don't know where the original querent is writing from) and from an earlier era when prisoners were served copious quantities of hearty food. At least within the United States prison systems, they've switched to fixed meals that aren't terribly healthy, and provide just enough calories for an average person to maintain their weight, in part to prevent prisoners from gaining large amounts of muscle mass and doing annoying things like ripping apart beds for shivs or starting riots.
    – Sean Duggan
    Dec 14, 2015 at 17:48
  • @SeanDuggan Bronson ate porridge mainly. Maybe there is porridge in US prison.
    – Totoro
    Dec 17, 2015 at 15:54
  • 2
    Britain (then): "Breakfast, served at 7:30 am, would comprise 5 ounces of oatmeal porridge with 3/4 of a pint of milk. Lunch, served at 1:00 pm, consisted of soup and bread. Each pint of soup was required to contain one ounce of ox head or marrow bones, 1 1/2 ounces of barley, 1/2 ounces of green peas, 1 1/2 ounces of leeks, and various other vegetables. Supper was served at 6:00 pm, and consisted of 5 ounces of oatmeal porridge and 1/2 of a pint of milk." (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_food#History)
    – Sean Duggan
    Dec 17, 2015 at 16:23
  • 2
    US prison food seems more varied (medicaldaily.com/…) but has a relatively low caloric value and is short several nutrients. It does seem to have a decent amount of protein, though. Honestly, cases like Bronson are one of the reasons that the diet is much less hearty now. "Arming" your inmates by letting them gain a lot of muscle is seen as a bit of a risk.
    – Sean Duggan
    Dec 17, 2015 at 16:28

It all really depends on your goals respectively what is important to you. There are certain goals you can not achieve by calisthenics alone and the other way around.

If you simply want to use your body and occasionally a pull-up bar I can recommend Never Gymless by Ross Enamait or Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade.

Doing some deadlifts and bench-pressing (if done as full-body movement in powerlifting fashion) can't hurt... probably would be even beneficial.


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