It was a claustrophobic backdrop that inspired ex-Pentonville prison inmate LJ Flanders to get creative. According to him, there are only so many press-ups and sit-ups you can do in an 8×6 foot cell. Especially when you’re in there 23 hours a day. And so started his decision to write the Cell Workout book, which, since his release from prison, has developed from a programme designed out of restrictive necessity to become a burgeoning men’s fitness trend.
The prison workout’s ethos centres on the need for minimal space and zero kit. As a result, it has become the go-to training plan for men short on time and who therefore regularly renege on their well-intentioned gym plans. Instead, armed with Flanders’ expertise, they are well-positioned to build muscle and burn man boobs from the relative discomfort of their living room.
The principles that guarantee its success are a focus on compound movements (those that use multiple muscle groups) to ensure maximum muscle-gain from each rep, and explosive plyometric movements to spike your heart rate and melt through more calories than more pedestrian exercises. It’s this combination that guarantees Flanders’ Cell Workout success in your quest for a better, healthier body.
So how can you take the prison workout and freely deploy it in your own living room? We collared Flanders and asked him to detail the ten moves you need to unlock the training plan’s full potential, as well as how to stitch them together to create the perfect workout that will stimulate muscle growth faster than a fistful of protein powder. Take note.
The Prison Workout
“The workout should be done as a descending pyramid circuit, for five rounds in total,” says Flanders.
That means you should start by doing each of the exercises for 12 reps back-to-back. Rest for two minutes. Then, for the second round, do each exercise for ten reps back-to-back and rest for two minutes. Work down until you reach four reps. That final round may not sound like a lot, but the volume you will have already got through will make the reps burn. But pain in this instance means progress, so push on until the end.