Have you ever noticed that many convicted criminals enter prison as skinny punks but come out with 20-40 pounds of new muscle?
Have you ever wondered how it is possible?
Recently, a client of mine asked me if I thought it was possible to build muscle, burn fat, and have a lean, muscular physique without lifting weights.
While I thought about it for a bit … he raised the stakes. He wanted to know if someone could build a better body while locked in a ten by ten cell.
I thought about it a bit more … and then started to do some research. After completing my research, I told him that I believed it was possible to develop muscle even within the confines of a ten-by-ten prison cell.
This is why:
Point # 1: Your muscles are stupid. To grow, your muscles must be under tension. If you lift a dumbbell, it puts strain on your biceps and back muscles.
But … if you do a pull-up … that also puts strain on your back muscles and biceps. Here’s the catch: your muscles don’t recognize the difference between the tension exerted by chin-ups or dumbbell pushups.
The important thing is that your muscles work against resistance in each case. So lifting weights can be a convenient way to work your muscles under tension … but it’s definitely not the only way to work your muscles.
Point # 2: In the late 1980s, research used electromagnetic imaging to discover which exercises caused the most activation of muscle fibers. The reason is that the more muscle fibers that were activated, the better the exercise was to build muscle and strength.
The researchers found that the most effective exercises were those in which the hands or feet remained steady and the body moved.
Exercises in which your body was immobile and your hands or feet performed the movement were decidedly less effective.
Here’s an example: When you’re bench pressing, your body remains immobile and your hands move up and down throughout the space.
But when you do a push-up, your hands remain stationary and your body moves up and down throughout the space.
How about another example? When you do a seated leg extension, your body remains immobile and your feet move up and down. But when you squat, your feet remain stationary and your body moves up and down throughout the space.
So the pushup activates more muscle fiber than the bench press … and a squat recruits more muscle fibers than a leg extension.
This means that many bodyweight exercises actually require a higher degree of muscle fiber activation than many common weight lifting exercises.
In summary, bodyweight exercises can be more effective in building muscle and strength.
So … even if you are trapped in a small prison cell, you can still build muscle and strength with bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and squats.
Of course, to build extreme amounts of muscle you have to go beyond the basic exercises and start using some of the more advanced exercises. These include one-arm curl, janda crunches, dips, and chin-up variations.
But in the end, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t build a spectacularly muscular physique within the tiny confines of a ten-by-ten prison cell.