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Chaos and Pain

  /  tips   /  I Ain’t Sweet Like That- Dieting and Training in Lockup, Part 2

I Ain’t Sweet Like That- Dieting and Training in Lockup, Part 2

Caestus gloves to the face are even a bit beyond the machostic lunacy which I’ve become accustomed in the gym.

It might come as a surprise to many of that you that a
person who’s devoted the bulk of his life to training and training-related
pursuits, posting elite totals in every meet through injuries and sickness,
might suffer from burnout, but I assure that it can and shall at some point
rear its hideous, boil-faced visage into your line of sight and wreak utter
havoc on your existence.  By my
estimation there was not a single week between August 1995 and February 2015
that I trained less than four times in any given week, even as I was traveling
around Asia and Europe, tearing my tricep and bicep (twice), marriage, divorce,
and any other ridiculous thing of which you could think.  Finally, I cracked last year and my training
slipped into the abyss as I partied my ass off and watched nearly every horror
movie above a D-grade available on the internet.  Despite my irregular training, utter lack of
squatting (it’s insanely hard to squat drunk), and a diet that essentially
consisted of tater tots, chicken fingers, pizza, Diet Coke, and enough vodka to
drown even the staunchest Putin-supporting Russian, I managed to more or less
maintain my physique and strength levels for the better part of 8 months.  Eventually the wheels fell all the way off as
I found it hard to even grind through half hour workouts, and I basically quit
training for a couple of months, a couple of times, over the succeeding 6
months.  Though I kind of regret having
done so, I was snapping out at cashiers over nonsense when I was training
because I was so irritated at having to continue to force myself through the
gym every day as I had from about 2011 through the beginning of 2016.Every workout, light or heavy, long or short,
odd lifts or conventional, had become one massive mental cagefight held in some
dank German dungeon with caestus gloves… and writing about training was
several times even more painful than that.

However you might look at the fact I let my training slip
harder than an elderly broad in socks on black ice, I definitely learned a
great deal about starting back up after relatively long layoffs (anywhere from
two weeks to a couple of months, how to diet to facilitate the greatest gains
when on a comeback, and regained my interest in trying unconventional methods
to regain lost strength.  This is what
led me to try the methods used in jails around the country, as I have known
quite a few guys who’ve spent time in jail and prison, and they always looked
better coming out than when they went in.  That said, I definitely cannot say the same for chicks- either they lack
access to the gym, have no interest in training while in lockup, or just eat
waaaaaaay too many or too few honey buns in there, because they almost
invariably come out either looking half starved or like they got hit in the
face with a hot shovel coated in mayonnaise.  In any event, what I’d seen with the guys I knew definitely left me
wondering what might be accomplished if I took what they’d discovered in their
experiences and added my own personal Ed Gein meets L. Ron Hubbard meet Jack
Palance type of insanity.  With that, we
shall continue where we left off in jail and prison training.

Perhaps some of the inmates
enjoy both training and rape.  Maybe he
just likes being overly groomed.  I’ve no

Bodyweight Training

Burpees – I
DESPISE burpees.  I loathe them more than
mayonnaise and I refuse to even allow an unopened jar of that vile nonsense
with my bare hands… I hate it to the point I allowed liquid to exit my ocular
cavities while screaming like a woman when a giant bag of that gelatinous white
horror ripped as I was trying to empty it into a vat of what was to be ranch
dressing while helping out a buddy’s cousin by working in his salad dressing
factory for a couple of days. Hitler had a full blow love affair with the
gypsies in comparison to my near psychotic hatred of burpees.  Inmates, however, seem to love that
loathsome exercise nearly as much as Crossfitters, and do them with the same
sort of frequency and variation- daily, and in every conceivable
permutation.  Google them if you want
some ideas or click here for a selection- the only type that don’t fill me
entirely with vitriol and venom are 8 count burpees with a pull up and a pushup
included, as they at least get a tiny bit of strength work in there, rather
than simply being a test of mental fortitude and one’s ability to maintain
their composure while incredibly annoyed and out of breath.

Dips– Ahh,
the perfect counterpoint to burpees.  Fun
to do and known affectionately in the better informed circles of the strength
training worldas “the upper body
squat”, dips are phenomenal for building huge shoulders, pecs, triceps,
seem to somehow contribute to building big traps (I have no idea why, but
inmates swear up and down that dips are responsible for their trap size), and
definitely bring out the vascularity and striations in your pecs and shoulders.

Bench Dips-This exercise is massively popular due to the
great importance inmates place upon “back arms”, the most vaunted of
muscle groups in jail.  Though I
abandoned these as too easy and too much trouble than they were worth when I
was a mere 150 lbs, using 4-5 additional plates for extra resistance, prisoners
appear not to have come to that conclusion yet.  I would recommend against these, but it’s entirely your call as to
whether or not you find utility in these.

Handstand Pushups
These are a bit more rare than the aforementioned exercises, but still
occur.  When these are done, they’re done
with a spotter and a liberal amount of assistance from their spotter.

Hanging Leg Raises
Done of anything handy for whatever volume you choose.  There’s nothing fancy with the form on these
in jail- they’re done just as you would do them in the gym.

Sit-ups and
– Again, the volume is totally up to you.  Just as they inmates are with hanging leg
raises, these are typically not done in any super-cool jail style manner.  It seems the majority of these are done
sitting on one’s bunk, with their feet wedged underneath a crossbar to keep
their asshole and tailbone from being ground into dust doing them on the

These are particularly popular in lockup because they offer the opportunity for
direct competition, wherein two or more people compete to see who can hold a
plank the longest.

Though it should
perhaps be no surprise to anyone, an avowed allegiance to the Christian or Muslim faith appears to have no positive effect on the rate of recidivism in felons.

Of Note:

More than one inmate with whom I spoke will literally swear
on a stack of Christian Bibles (and felons are hilariously Christian, by and
large, and are wholly ignorant of the awesome irony of their situation as a
result) that a circuit of dips, pull ups, and pushups done for endless sets and
reps will leads to massive gains, rips, and muscular endurance.  Speaking from experience, this type of a
workout will get you more ripped than a teenager’s jeans in any 1980’s John
Hughes movie but will put about as much mass on the average person as P90X done
as hard as humanly possible.

Only he who deserves power who
every day justifies it.”

-Dag Hammarskjold

While I didn’t see
any convicts with a physique quite this ripped, their version of TRX training
definitely gave them insanely sick definition given their crappy diet.

TRX-style Movements

TRX-style movements are all the rage in jails and prisons,
and I highly doubt any of the inmates using that method have ever even heard of
TRX.  The methods they’ve been using have
likely been in use for decades, and I would not be the least bit surprised if
they been the inspiration for strap systems like TRX

Using a sheet wound into a spiral (which gives it far more tensile strength),
inmates hook the sheet around one of the uprights of their bunk beds or a
staircase at roughly eye level, brace their feet on the ground (often using a
partner’s planted foot to serve as the brace) while laying back at a fairly
extreme angle, and then do rows just as they would seated with a cable
stack.  Essentially, the movement is a
semi-horizontal pull up with a rotating grip, roasts your mid-back and traps
after a few sets if you keep your elbows tucked hard into your sides as you
pull, and is awesome for extra volume on your back as a whole.

Face Pulls
One of my favorite accessory exercises, face pulls are awesome when done in the
same manner as the sheet rows.For
these, however, you simply keep your elbows high and flared as you pull your
face toward the point at which you tied the sheet.  These ill trash your traps in particular and
will give you that badass look you see on some guys where it looks like they’re
getting “back titties”- basically help grow what look like a sick set
of pecs on your upper back.

Flys– This
exercise uses the same setup as the aforementioned exercises, but the lifter
faces away from the upright and does what amounts to a cable crossover.  These are an awesome finisher for a brutal
Deck of Death workout mentioned in the previous installment, as well as a hell
of a standalone exercise for chest if done with enough volume.

Chest Presses
A great finisher for every set of the flys, if you want to bang out more reps
after you’ve hit failure on a set of flys, these simply change the movement for
the flys slightly.  Pressing more level
with the floor shifts the focus more to the upper pecs, 25 degrees lower moves
the focus to the pecs as a whole, and 20 degrees lower shifts the focus to the
lower pecs (which is more or less pointless, but if that’s your thing, do it, I

These are done with the exact same setup as rows, but the movement changes in
that the elbows remain stationary, locked into their sides, as the lifter curls
himself toward the uprights.  These are
pretty badass, as the lifter can use a wide array of grips to shift the focus
of the movement to the forearms (with a reverse grip), to the brachialis (for
bicep thickness and strength using a hammer/neutral grip), the entire bicep
with the usual supinated curl grip, and a mix of those grips (which is, of
course, my favorite method), rotating the grip through the curl from a reverse
grip to a completely supinated grip wherein the pinkies are pointed toward the
outside of the biceps at peak contraction.

Tricep Extensions
These are done with the same setup again, but facing away from the
upright.  This is by far and away my
favorite tricep exercise, as doing these modified overhead extensions trash my
triceps like they have never been trashed.Trashed like a dead hooker left in a forgotten dumpster filled with dog
crap and left in the hot Florida sun all August kind of trashed.  Like curls, these can be tinkered with by
changing the grip, and I really like doing them with a neutral grip that shifts
to a slight outward push at full extension to get an extra squeeze in the outer
head at peak contraction.  If you haven’t
yet caught on, these are like a French press/overhead extension, leaning away
from the upright with your feet braced at the bottom of the upright or near it,
elbows pinned at your ears through the movement, flexing your trips to bring
you to a more or less standing position at peak contraction.

Shoulder Press-This is a badass burnout exercise, done with
the same motion as the chest press, but angled higher so the press is being
done in a straight line from your shoulders past your head in line with your
neck (just like if you were standing upright).The stressors feel slightly different because of the odd angle, but the
effect is the same- your shoulders end up pumped and fried after 10 or so sets
to failure.

Though my skepticism about the TRX system upon first seeing
it likely rivaled those of Hitler’s generals when they heard Hitler had
demanded tanks nearly 200 tons in weight and the simultaneous conquest of three
continents by a relatively small single country and its bitch-ass allies,
thinking it to be the stunted produce of hipsters’ collective minds, I could
not have been more incredibly wrong.  As
far as assistance work goes, you would be hard pressed to find a better way to
get in a metric assload of work in a short period of time.  Moreover, the fact that TRX-style movements
are closed-kinetic-chain movements leaves people far less susceptible to injury
than with machines or dumbbells, as the movements are far more natural.  In short, you guys need to get in on this, as the speed with which they increase your
overall muscularity and muscular endurance is nigh on frightening.

Does that mean I’m suggesting you forego weights for
bodyweight movements?  Certainly not- I’m
simply suggesting that the addition of bodyweight movements to your regular
routine could yield some seriously impressive results.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve noticed in the
past that the addition of a few hundred pushups a day has contributed greatly
to pushing through plateaus on the bench press, and the addition of pull-ups to
any workout always results in more muscularity than weights alone.  Maybe that’s even a bit mental, but whatever
it is about bodyweight movements, they seem to simply provide a ton of upside
with very little downside, so just add some to your workouts and keep your
teeth together about it, Nancy.

Up next, we’ll cover makeshift weight/odd object work that
goes on inside prison walls and their actual lifting techniques and training
style lifting real iron.  While it might
seem counter intuitive for the advocates of the modern day, internet-led [bitch-made,
ahem] “intellectual”, double-blind study affirmed lifting regime,
inmates provide an unbelievably interesting and compelling counterpoint with
what amounts to a balls-out, real-world perspective.  And at the end of the day- if it worked for
Kali Muscle, it might be worth looking into.

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