Former prisoner shares home workout tips after he transformed his body in jail

We are all working hard to be healthy and stay active during lockdown, but without gyms and with limited time to be outside, getting an effective full-body workout can be tricky.

One man who has plenty of experience getting fit in a confined space is LJ Flanders.

That’s because he spent 18 months in prison, and used much of his time inside getting fit. In prison, fitness was a lifeline for LJ.

Staying active helped him cope both mentally and physically, even when he was spending up to 23 hours of a day in solitary confinement.

So, he created no-equipment exercise routines he could do in his confined space through sketches and practice, then he helped other prisoners by doing the same for them.

 

He trained and qualified as a personal trainer, and upon release, turned those sketches into a book – the bestselling Cell Workout.

LJ now runs prison workshops that facilitate rehabilitation and prevent re-offending, and Cell Workout is available to all 90,000 prisoners in the UK – it’s on the prison canteen sheet, alongside the Bible.

Below, LJ has shared one of his favourite full-body workouts that are perfect for small spaces. If he can do this in his tiny cell, you can do it in your living room.

The prison cell 7X7 workout

 

How long can you stay in position for? Take the seven exercises below and hold each one for 60 seconds. No rest in-between. Change the exercises to suit your capability and remember to breathe. Plank

Target muscle groups primary: Abdominals, erector spinae Secondary: Deltoids, triceps

Step 1: Face down on the floor, with your legs extended behind you hip- width apart, with your toes tucked under. Rest on your forearms and elbows, to form a plank.

Step 2: Engage your abdominals. Maintain proper alignment with your body, forming a straight line from your head to heels.

Step 3: Continue the movement, holding the position for the desired length of time, keeping your body parallel to the ground. Release the tension slowly. Full plank

Target muscle groups primary: Abdominals, Erector Spinae

Secondary: Deltoids, triceps

Step 1: Assume the plank position. Place your hands directly under your shoulders, with your arms straight to form a full plank.

Step 2: Engage your abdominals. Maintain proper alignment with your body, forming a straight line from your head to heels.

Step 3: Continue the movement, holding the position for the desired length of time. Release the tension slowly. Full side plank with straight arm (both sides)

 

Target muscle groups primary: Obliques

Secondary: Abdominals, deltoids, triceps

Step 1: Assume a full side plank with straight arm position.

Extend the upper arm, in line with your shoulder, straight up towards the ceiling.

Step 2: Maintain a straight line with your head, neck and body as you push down through your arm and feet, to lift your body up until your arms and legs are straight.

Step 3: Continue the movement, holding the position for the desired length of time. Release the tension slowly. Repeat, then alternate sides. Reverse table top

Target muscle groups primary: Gluteals, hamstrings, erector spinae

Secondary: Deltoids, triceps, quadriceps Step 1: Sit on the floor with knees bent and your feet flat in front of you. Place your hands underneath your shoulders so that your fingertips point towards your hips and your elbows point behind you.

Step 2: Engage your glutes, raise your hips up towards the ceiling to come to the upwards-facing tabletop position. Maintain your shoulders, hips, and knees in a straight line.Your shoulders should be directly over the top of your wrists.

Step 3: Continue the movement, slowly uncurl your spine to lower back down to the start position.

Airplane

Target muscle groups primary: Erector spinae, gluteals, rhomboids

Secondary: Hamstrings, deltoids, trapezius

Step 1: Lie on your front, with your legs extended straight behind you and your arms extended out to the sides, level with your shoulders. Keep your eyes fixed on the floor and your neck and head in a neutral position. Engage your abdominals.

Step 2: Slowly raise your head, chest and arms off the floor, at the same time raise your legs. Maintain contact with your hips on the floor.

Step 3: Continue the movement, slowly lowering your chest and legs back down to the start position.