T Nation

Lifting in Prison


A few years ago I saw a prison documentary and they had a lifting meet at the prison.

I was quite impressed at some of the poundages hoisted by the inmates. One black dude deadlifted 600+ pounds.

It's obvious that some prison inmates are very dedicated to their training regimen. But....

The overall high quality lifting got me thinking. Do steroids find their way into some of our prisons? What's your opinion on this matter? Does anyone have evidence of steroids/performance enhancing drugs being seized from inmates?

I presume that the illegal steroid trade is alive and well in many penal institutions. I base this on the fact the so many narcotics such as cocaine are found in our prisons and jails everyday.



I saw that documentary too. They weren't doing anything I haven't seen other clean lifters do.

My guess would be that steroids could very well make it in to a prison, just like every other drug available, but it would be very difficult and expensive to maintain the the works required for injection. If anything, they would probably use orals. There is a much higher demand for the standard street drugs too. You can get big without steroids, but you can't smoke crack without crack.

I know a couple of C.O.s who would know better. I might ask next time I talk to one of them.


Who really cares if steroids are in prisons. Personally I don't take steroids, but I also don't think they should be illegal. At least they are in there lifting weights and not killing each other. However, on the other side of the argument it doesn't really make a lot of sense to send criminals to prison and make them bigger stronger criminals.


I had a buddy that was locked up for 10 years and I asked him about this. He said that they can pretty much get anything drug-wise on the inside that you can get on the outside. Sometimes he said it is even easier as you don't have to track the dealer down, you know where they're at.


Their is a video of this hmmm i'll try and find it. It was pretty cool some serious lifting in their.



ok here it is sorry if double post, I think its a good idea it keeps them out of trouble and something to focus on.

Edit: About steroids their isn't as high a market for it in prison so that means that not as many would come in-just like out side of prison you don't get steroids from drug dealers usually-. When I watch documents of them confiscating drugs its NEVER steroids, of course their may be some steroids circulating.


I was a CO for awhile and yes steriods were available just like any other drug. Generally, the mark up was roughly 3 times as it was on the streets (pretty general for all drugs). Interestingly enough, the transactions where made on the outs by family and friends and the inmates would wait for word from their people. Once the deal was made outside, the drugs where delivered inside. And yes, steriods were transported via the "trunk between your pockets."

Also, look at the routine of an inmate. Upwards to 23 hour lock down, 1 hour of rec. So, the only energy and calories they expend is for that one hour. The rest of the time is spent in a cell--Read: sleep and recovery! So, heavy ass intense lifting (a display of Alpha Male domination) followed by 10+ hours of rest. Almost sounds ideal to get huge...


Heh ALMOST the lack of food I imagine would hurt you pretty bad. And food imo is more important then extra rest, in fact its the most important thing imo.


Yea I was actually thinking about that the other day. We always claim that nutrition is the most important aspect to putting on size, but a lot of these guys get absolutely massive with less than optimal prison food.


I just thought I'd throw my 2 cents in here...

Last year, we did run a pair of articles that might be some interesting reads.

Training Behind Bars, Part 1:

Training Behind Bars, Part 2:


They have access to the lowest,cheapest forms of basic decent nutrition through what they're fed and what they buy from commissary...not to mention the food has tons of calories...perfect for putting on mass. In my experience working in prisons, it seemed like they're working out all the damn time with pushups,bags with water,etc. every chance they can get.

Maybe the extra calorie burning offsets the nutrition some how. Its a trip when Tyrone Biggins from the block gets out of prison looking like Ronnie...then smoke it all away..hmm.


Whenever the prison lifting thing comes up people always talk about steroids, and how they have plenty of time to rest, but I believe those two things have very little to do with the prisoners' success.

The gains these men accomplish are mostly due to genetics. Some people are born to be big, strong mo-fos and just getting under the iron consistantly will bulk them up to a higher level than 90% of the population could hope to reach under the best of circumstances.

For the gifted people out there all that is required is that they show up. Merely showing up and training, almost regardless of what they're doing, will take them pretty damn far. It's like this for every sport. People don't like to hear that people can be better than them without training hard or even correctly, but it's the truth of the matter.


haha this is such a stupid loser comment, 'The reason I can't get big is because my genetics hate me.' Your one of those guys that likes to blame everything else but yourself for not achieving your goals. The guys in prison work hard to get big, even more so since its a survival technique almost-get bigger and earn respect- People with the best genetics who work half ass are going to get half ass results.


It's funny how all the guys with fabulous genetics end up in prison.


Well, when you fall through the door of a prison you get huge instantly. It happened to me last year, it was terrible, took me months to shrink back down.


I swear T-Nation has everything.


According to my friend, in Texas only Trustees get access to weights. He said the regular guys could only do pushups, calisthenics and home-made type stuff (jugs of water etc). They took the weights away for that reason, not making dangerous individuals bigger stronger dangerous individuals.


I'm not making an excuse, in fact, I would place myself among the genetically gifted. I bench press over 250 lbs without training upper body and have always been able to full squat 1.5 x BW, even the first time I stepped into a gym.

Similarly, I have a hard time not putting on muscle, so I have to neglect upper body so as not to get too heavy. I often have ice cream or something similar for breakfast, yet I've always been able to see my abs. Some people are just built to succeed.

A good analogy is that I have gone to school and done nothing but showed up and just done the work. Last year, I took 31 credits and studied for maybe 10 hours total, for all my classes combined for the whole year. I have a 3.6 GPA. When you're really good at something, all you have to do is show up and work, things take care of themselves from there.

So, my post was not an excuse, it was the truth. And as for all prisoners having great genetics, a good deal of them descend from west Africa (a pity that such a high percentage of one population end up in prison).

As has been discussed before, the slave trade was a selective breeding process of sorts that left only the strongest humans, from whom today's African-Americans descended. West Africans have some of the best 'athletic' genetics of any population, as evidenced by the freaks that end up in professional sports.

Good endocrine profiles + lots of fast twitch fibers + hard work = big strong mo-fo.


Feelin' yourself huh? Lol j/k. My uncle was in and out of jail, spending like 10 years in Folsom and came out huge. The last time he went was like 8 years ago and went in a pretty fat 270 and came out a real healthy 220


Is that you in your avatar?