Prison Workout, Penitentiary Optional

Finally, summertime! I’m sitting outside writing this – a situation that I spent countless days fantasizing about during the coldest winter in Madison in 35 years, and the 11th coldest on record.

For me, summer weather means afternoons at the lakeside beaches and swimming at the city pool. And like most, I want to look good when I’m shedding clothes in public. Last year, starting on April 1st, I did Shaun T’s 60-day Insanity program, which whipped my body in to peak shape by June 1st.

This year, not so much. My exercise regimen throughout the winter was practicing hot yoga at least once a week and doing an Insanity workout at least once a week. Unfortunately, that just didn’t quite burn off that extra belly fat I accumulated during my winter hibernation.

For many years I paid $80 a month for a gym membership, and I was in the best shape of my life (not because of the $80, but because I went religiously). On the surface, that $80 doesn’t SEEM like a lot of money, and an investment today in my health is a no-brainer because of the long term payback in my future. BUT – there’s always a but – if I took $80 a month and invested it, I could have a cool $14,000 after 10 years:

Okay, so then what? Well, if you ditch a gym membership, there are a TON of FREE workouts that you can do OUTDOORS. No stuffy gym, no wiping down equipment, no arctic air conditioning, no creepy dudes, just fresh air and plenty of the sunshine vitamin.

One of my absolute favorite outdoor workouts is one I picked up from my old gym, which they called a PRISON WORKOUT. The one piece of equipment you’ll need is something, anything, where you can do a pull-up – a playground, a tree, bleachers, a soccer goal, even a traffic pole like this guy in Biggie Smalls “Juicy” video:

I’m lucky that I have a handful of parks around my neighborhood that have installed playground equipment (and I’m ALWAYS the oldest kid actually using it):

My gym!

My gym!

The PRISON WORKOUT consists of two exercises, pull-ups and pushups, which you alternate between. You start with 10 repetitions and go down to 1 repetition:

10 pull-ups, 10 pushups

9 pull-ups, 9 pushups


2 pull-ups, 2 pushups

1 pull-up, 1 pushup

If you can’t do pull-ups – I certainly couldn’t a few years back – I’d recommend starting out with assisted pull-ups using an exercise band. And if you can’t do a full pushup, start with kneeling ones.

It’s one HELL of a workout, and I promise you’ll be sore the next door – I always am.

I like to use the park that’s a little further from my house – it’s a mile – because I jog there as a warm-up and jog back as a cool-down.

I want to hear from you, share your favorite workout in the comments!