Little known fact… I have served time behind bars. I’m not proud of it, but it’s a part of my life and I have to accept it. Those 3 years in D-block will forever be imprinted into my life’s story.

Pft… just kidding. I think the worst trouble I’ve ever been in was in 4th grade when I was sent to the principle’s office because a fight broke out and I just happened to be near it.

via GIPHY

^ Actual footage of me during the fight.

The participants in the fight got a tongue lashing and a couple detentions, while I pretty much got off with no punishment because, well, I didn’t do anything. Lucky for THOSE kids because I watched a lot of Ninja Turtles growing up. I was essentially a certified assassin and registered weapon at that time.

But let’s say I continued down that dark path… school yard fights morph into more serious crimes which lands me right in prison. I spend 22 hours a day in an 8×8 cell, where the only time spent outside of it is getting chow, showering, or time in the yard.

The yard is pretty bare bones, but it does have some hand me down benches, barbells, dumbbells, and other various free weights. This is pretty cool because obviously before I became a hardened criminal, I had an affinity for all things fitness.

But the down side is we only have 15 minutes in the yard per day… not a ton of time to do your typical training session. Clearly some important decisions need to be made.

So let me ask you this. If YOU were a prisoner with only 15 minutes per day to put towards dedicated training, what would you do? How do you maximize those 15 minutes to accomplish your goals?

This same question, when applied to your (hopefully) prison free life and training, can really make an impact when it comes to seeing results.

If you ask me, the first thing is to do is to clearly define your goal. Do you want to get bigger? Stronger? More explosive? Burn fat? Increase mobility? Having a clearly defined goal will allow you to map out a plan so you can milk every last second out of those 15 minutes instead of winging it and hoping for the best.

Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Once you’ve clearly defined your goal, what methods will allow you to accomplish that goal in the most optimal and efficient manner? Different methods will yield more optimal results for different goals. Once you find out what these methods are and apply them, your 15 minutes in the yard are gonna be pretty productive.

But now let’s apply this to real life, because I’m gonna go out on a limb here, but I’d be willing to bet there are not a ton of prison inmates reading this post right now. But… I guess you never know.

If you partake in this ‘prisoner’s dilemma’, you can find out what YOUR training should be focusing on. What lifts, methods, or exercise modalities give you the most bang for your buck? Do you fitness goals and training reflect this? If they don’t, well, it’s time to shake things up for the better.

This ‘dilemma’ also coincides nicely with the 80/20 rule, which basically states that 80% of your results are a result of 20% of your work. This goes for fitness, business, you name it. That 20% consists of lots of things that have a high ROI, or return on investment. They have tons of bang for your buck and generate lots of results. By focusing on these 20% things, you’re setting yourself up for success. Other things may help as well, but they’re pennies on the dollar. Or should I say…bicep curls on the deadlift. Clever, eh? EH?…no?… whatever, I thought it was funny.

So if you ask me, here’s how I’d spend my 15 minutes ‘in the yard’ for various fitness goals.

Fat loss: meal and food prepping, quality sleep.

Hypertrophy (building muscle): compound lifts with a modified tempo for increased muscular time under tension, eating enough calories.

Max strength: heavy compound lifts like deadlifts, squats, bench pressing, and chinups.

Power/explosiveness: Olympic lifts, jump variations, sprinting.

Mobility: foam roll, learning how to breathe correctly, mobility ‘flows’.

Sport specific skills: play your sport.

Conditioning: tempo runs, sprints, walking.

Recovery: soft tissue work, low intensity cardio, bodyweight exercises, sleep.

Increasing how cool you are: wear various jean jackets and talk like Matthew McConaughey. Alright, alright, alriiiiight.

Now obviously, people have more than 15 minutes to workout if they’re not in prison. Most training sessions will last anywhere from 30-90 minutes so you can definitely squeeze a bit more training in. But the same principle applies still applies. What supplementary, accessory, or ‘extra’ stuff would you strip from your training session to be able to accomplish your goal in 15 minutes? Whatever doesn’t get stripped away… THAT should be the building block from which your training sessions are based off of.

Add to this ‘base’ and keep the goal the goal.

So make sure you get the most out of your time in the yard because you don’t get a lot!

And don’t drop the soap either… I’ve heard horror stories about that. Probably because other inmates laugh and really make fun of you for fumbling and dropping it. They’ll give you nicknames like Butterfingers or The Soap Dope. From there you’ll be shunned at all the lunch tables and making friends will be really, really tough. The embarrassment resulting from that will be crippling emotionally, just further adding to your psychological trauma.

At least that’s what I’ve heard.

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