Working out In Prison | Noah Bergland


Working out in prison….need some pointers from the guys on the inside? So here you go!

The first tip, find a workout partner that is going to push you.

A partner can make the difference between whether you stick to the full amount of days a week you have agreed to workout. They can also be the difference between going for that last rep or that extra set. It is also safer to work out with a partner because when the tank is empty he/she is there to spot you and you don’t have to worry about bothering someone else working around you.

I like to find someone is who close to me in strength and maybe even a little better than me, so I have someone to chase and try to beat each day. My partner over the last 4-5 months has been someone who is just as strong in most departments in the weight room, stronger than me in a few departments, buries me in the ground when we do anything hi-intensity or endurance, and he weighs almost 50 lbs less than me. Meet Alonzo!

Working out In Prison | Noah Bergland

This gives me that extra push when we are in the weight room because I have no excuse to let him do more weight or reps then me so I push harder then I would if he wasn’t there.

Also over the past several months, my endurance has improved greatly and as I start to gain on him in other areas it has given me additional motivation through my progress. When we started he would lap me once if not twice during any routine that included running, then over time, he would only lap me once.

Now, I keep up with him for the first part of the workout, eventually, fall back, but as soon as I can see him in my rearview mirror I get on the gas and finish the workout just ahead of him. We both have a year left on our sentences and my goal is to be keeping up with him by the end. The fact that he weighs so much less than me and is just as strong, has also shown me that it’s pointless to carry all the extra weight, and as the weight has come off, I have lost very little in the weight room in regards to what I can lift.

It’s good to pick a partner who is competitive in nature because there is nothing better than a little healthy competition.

The second tip, share your goals.

If you share your goals with someone then they can help hold you accountable. Share them with people at work, your family, your workout partner, people on social media, the more that know the better.

My buddy Ben once told me about a time when he started working at an insurance company. He was on stage at a convention in his first year, and he was presented with an opportunity to ask questions to the high performers in his region, but instead, he decided to tell everyone that in his second year he was going to beat the top performer.

Everyone laughed at him, and the top performer asked him how he plans on doing it, he told him he could outsell him on looks alone, and he knew how stupid it sounded but that is the first thing that came to his head, and he regretted it immediately.

After that, however, he had no choice but to put everything he had into his practice because otherwise, he would have to quit out of embarrassment. Halfway through the year, he was barely ahead of the top performer and by three quarters there was no chance for the guy to catch him. After it was all said and done the previous top performer approach him at the next yearly meeting and thanked him, not only for what he said but for also pushing him past what he thought he was capable of, since even though he lost he still had his best year ever.

When he told me this I couldn’t help but think of my failures and shortcomings and I was a little envious of Ben that day, but I also learned something about being bold, sharing your goals, and busting your ass to meet them.

In the past, I was always too scared to put my goals out there because, that way, if I failed, the exposure of my failures would be limited. I have changed that now and will continue to share my goals with anyone who will listen.

The third tip, know your limits.

You are the only one that knows what you can manage as far as the amount of weight you lift or how far you can push yourself. You don’t have to jump into anything with little experience and do something stupid that can put you at risk of injury, just because someone else wants you to. Take it slow early on, learn yourself what you are capable of, and in time push yourself to those limits. Encouragement is good, but if you know you can’t do something, don’t do it, or at least take the proper precautions and have a spotter.

The fourth tip, Don’t worry what the next guy is doing.

This tip is mainly for people new to fitness, you will see people at the gym that look like you want to lift, and you must understand that it takes time to make a change to your body. The only thing that can happen fairly rapidly is weight loss, but as far as muscle growth, it takes years so be patient. I learned this the hard way and would push myself to over train and used bad form which in time hurt my back and elbows.

Eventually, I had enough and started over, both with new form and a new mindset, not to worry what the next guy is doing.

The fifth tip, find out what you like.

You must enjoy the workouts or you will not stick with it. If there is a type of exercise you don’t enjoy doing, such as running, then find something else that will give you the same benefit, maybe stationary machines, or simply walking. The same goes for weight lifting. Do the research, figure out what you want to look like, then try the workouts recommended.

For each workout, however, there are always alternatives, whether it’s cardio, weight lifting, or sports, there are plenty of different ways to stay active, but you must enjoy what you are doing or you will not keep doing it. An example for me was my hatred for running long distances, however, I loved the benefits from running, both the weight I lost and the way I felt afterward. My ADD however just didn’t allow me to run long distances without getting so bored that I wanted to stop, even though my lungs and legs would both permit me to continue.

So, I figured out ways to break up the run, such as running a certain distance and then working in bodyweight exercises, and continuing the run. I found it to be more entertaining and I still achieved the same benefit both after the run and the months that follow the workout regimen.

Lastly, if your workout is getting stale, mix it up, before you get bored with it and quit.

The sixth tip, only take advice from people who have achieved what you are trying to achieve.

That means if you are trying to look like Saquon Barkley, don’t be taking advice who looks like he ate Saquon Barkley, take advice from someone who looks how you want to look.

Don’t be afraid to approach them in the gym even if they are a complete stranger, trust me they don’t mind. My good friend Kyle was release and he looked like a little Vin Diesel, before the “dad bod” years, and he said people come up to him all the time and ask him how he achieved his look, he said those interactions never get old, and he is glad to stop what he is doing and have a conversation, he said, “its an ego stroke every time.”

The seventh tip, set SMART goals

You want to make sure your goals are achievable and realistic most of all because you don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Also, certain things may not be attainable without cheating to get there. Like I realize I will never bench press 500 lbs without weighing 500 lbs or using prohibited substances to achieve that goal, therefore I would never set it. Also, break your long term goals up into short term goals, and celebrate the small victories along the way with some type of reward system.

The eighth tip, don’t avoid your weaknesses

For most people this is legs, for me it was pull-ups. I am naturally more built-in my lower body then my upper so that means pull-ups didn’t come naturally, so to avoid embarrassment I just stayed away from the pull-up bar. This one took me almost five years to overcome and force them into my routine.

So, don’t skip leg day just because you aren’t strong at them if that is your weakness, or whatever it may be. The hard work will eventually pay off and you will be more satisfied when you start to see results in those departments, I know I was.

Ninth tip, schedule, and plan your routines.

This means for your weekly schedule have days set aside and make sure you stick to them, of course, there will eventually be emergencies or times you didn’t make it, and for those days make them up. Also, as far as planning a routine, I have found having something ready is usually more effective than freestyling it. If you have a plan written down in advance and you have a workout partner there with you, there is a higher percentage of completing the workout regardless of how tough it is. I know for me if it’s not written down and planned out, it’s much easier for me to stop cutting parts out, or limiting the sets and repetitions as I go.

The tenth tip, don’t be late!

If you are working out with someone, don’t be late, my current workout partner told me to put this in because at times I am guilty of it. 🙂 Hold yourself accountable and anyone you work out with accountable because there is nothing worse than waiting for someone to get started.

The only thing worse is a no call, no show because you might wait several minutes before finally realizing they are not going to make it. In prison, you won’t get many of these before you are asked to not come back. These types of people are not motivated and should be cut from your workout regimen as well because they will only pull you down.

So show up 10-15 minutes early to give yourself time to warm up. This might not be as important out there but here our workout slots are limited and time is precious.

That’s all I got!

Thanks for listening,


Share this post

Leave a Reply

4 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

[…] Working out In Prison | By: Noah B […]


[…] Working out In Prison | By: Noah B […]


[…] doesn’t seem to change much. Encourage them to share about their worlds in prison, such as working out, hobby craft projects, and crazy stuff that happens on the […]


[…] can skip the incarceration and still transform yourself inside and out. All you need to do is keep showing up for 45 minutes, 5 days a week, just like I did, 14 years ago on that prison […]