Monday, January 10, 2011

The Prison Workouts - a summary

Here is summary of the four currently available Prison Workouts. Each of the below Prison Workouts were designed for those wishing for functional exercise programs, but lacking equipment. I have been pleasantly surprised by the popularity of the below programs. Many participants have cycled through all of them. Others have repeated programs to gauge progress, or have bumped up the weights used each time.

  • Prison Workout #1 (link) If I can say there is "an original," this would be it. This program requires nothing more than a pullup bar and floor space -- just like a jail cell. This is a contest between one's bodyweight and gravity. It's a beginner workout because it doesn't encourage higher weights to be used - just one's body. It's also an advanced workout because one can work at a blistering pace to develop stamina and endurance. There are 25 total sessions, numbered 1-25.
  • Prison Workout #2 (link) This is a followup to the original. The biggest difference was an addition of a single kettlebell. There are 26 total sessions, lettered A-Z. Many of the movement patterns are the same as PWO#1, but with the added challenge of more weight. Most men used a single 35#KB for the entire program.
  • Prison Workout #3 (link) For those who thought kettlebelling was too trendy, I replaced the kettlebell with a barbell set. PWO#3 is done with a pullup bar, a barbell and weights set, and floor space. There are 24 total sessions, labeled with the Greek alphabet Alpha-Omega. Some of the lifts were more technical, while some stressed strength-building. This is probably the most well-rounded program of the current four in the PWO Series, as it addresses the most aspects of fitness.
  • Prison Workout #4 (link) PWO#4 is a program that requires three kettlebells - a light, a medium, and a heavy KB. Most men used 35#, 50-55#, and 70-75#. There are 32 total workouts, named in a peculiar code. The availability and fun-factor of kettlebelling encouraged me to put out this PWO that used heavier KBs for strength-building, and lighter KBs for the stamina and agility work. This is one of the more "balanced" kettlebell programs I have seen anywhere. But then again, I might be a little biased too ;)
VIDEOS. Videos of the movements have been posted on the Trinity Training Group blog, in the right column. I looked for those videos with scaling/adjusting options, though they were hard to find in many cases. If links to YouTube clips are broken, use Google or YouTube search features to guide you through.

CHERRYPICKING. Please do yourself a favor and don't cherrypick. Cherrypicking is when you scroll through a list of workout sessions and pick out those that seem like they'd be good, or fun, or "not suck as much." This habit tends to produce athletes with imbalances. Each of the four PWO programs are designed to be gone through from top to bottom: 1-25, A-Z, or Alpha-Omega. If you can exercise only three days per week, then just go down the list and move onto the next session each day you work out. If you skip around, you are missing something. Commit to the program, and become a slave to it.

SUPPLEMENTAL ACTIVITY. The gym is not life. If the gym is your life, your life is boring. Take time to play sports, hike, paddle, bike, swim, climb, and be active. What I do not recommend is doing one of the PWOs in addition to other bodybuilding-type workouts. These can and should be relatively stand-alone programs -- no other weight or resistance training. If you think you can still workout after these sessions, you didn't go hard enough!! I do recommend other sports and activities, as you'll read below in "Rest and Recovery."

RANGE OF MOTION. Range of Motion (ROM) should be one of the focuses of any of the Prison Workouts, or ANY workout for that matter. First and foremost, mobility is a key component to a productive and quality life. Don't cheat your ROM because you're racing the clock or a competitor. Squat all the way down. Press all the way up. Pull up to the top. Reach your body's maximums at each end of the movement - top and bottom. This maximum will be different for everyone, but each of us should be striving to move a bit more fully as we progress in our programs.

REST AND RECOVERY. Take rest periods during the faster-paced workouts only when you need it. Embrace the "suck factor." Working at high intensity for a shorter time duration has proven to be a much more effective training strategy than going slower for a longer duration. Also, during the week, take days off. I used to take Sundays and Thursdays off, because I used to have a lot to do on those days of the week. I've found that most people cannot string together more than four days with these sorts of workouts. Some folks also like to add an "active rest" day into the mix - rowing, stairclimbing, running, biking on non-PWO days. There is none of this in the PWO Series because of the commitment to minimal equipment. Sometimes a mindless cardio machine, or swim, or trail run is needed between a few days of high-intensity sessions.

PARTING WORDS. Keep in mind that ALL workout programs everywhere are made up by someone, somewhere. I just so happened to assemble those above. I have pirated ideas and formats from others out there, and gave credit when possible. A lot of thought has gone into the PWO Series. I share them with the readers of Trinity Training Group to help them take another step towards optimal human performance.

Commit to one of the PWOs and stick it through to the end!! See how it works for you.

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