What Types of Weightlifting Training Do Prison Inmates Do?

rack of desaturated dumbbell weights in gym

Inmates manage to get fit despite not having full fitness gyms in prison. Whether it's in the rec yard or within a cell, inmates lift weights. Depending on the facility, there is weightlifting equipment for inmates such as dumbbells, barbells and a bench. Inmates also get creative and fill 2-liter bottles with water or use a bucket of wet towels for curls. Inmates' weightlifting training consists of powerlifting and strength training.

Going to the Yard

One-hour rec isn't just an opportunity for inmates to go outside and get a breath of fresh air; it's also a chance to lift weights. The yard has dip-bars, pullup bars, dumbbells, barbells and benches. Inmates often do pushups, dips or pullups in their cell. When they go to the yard, it's often to use dumbbells, barbells and the bench to weights for strength and muscle mass.

The Importance of Size

In prison, size matters. It's a violent environment, and size can often be a matter of life and death. Bullying goes on, fights happen, rapes take place and inmates murder inmates. The smaller an inmate is, the more vulnerable that inmate is to violence. Inmates' survival is associated with lifting weights, getting big and getting strong.

The Strength of Powerlifting

Prisoners often powerlift, which involves exercises like the deadlift, the squat and the bench press. Powerlifting works the ability to administer muscular force against an external resistance, notes the American Council on Exercise. This form of training is ideal for inmates because powerlifting focuses on strength, pulling and pushing. An inmate may have to exert muscular force in pushing away another inmate in self-defense; powerlifting provides that physical power.

Building Muscle With Strength-training

Strength-training exercises involve body weight, weight machines, resistance bands and free weights. Strength-training is ideal for inmates because it strengthens bones and muscles, and it builds muscle mass. In prison, size often projects fear. Inmates tend to lift heavy weights and do push ups for an intimidating, hulking image -- big arms and a massive chest. Since powerlifting involves lifting the most amount of weight, the reps aren't as high as strength-training exercises, which use at least eight reps