Charles Arthur Salvador, more commonly known as Charles Bronson, is known for his ruthless attitude, aggressive demeanour, and all round frightening appearance. Whilst his life is definitely not one to follow, his exercise regimes may well be. Charles has managed to build a large, strong physique even whilst doing long stints in prison with limited access to both equipment and space. If he can do it, so can you. This article will detail everything you should (and shouldn’t) take from Charles Bronson’s mind set to help your progress, even when your environment doesn’t seem like it will allow you to.
Who is Charles Bronson?
Bronson started off as just a young petty criminal. However, his illegal activities gradually escalated until he was sentenced to seven years in prison for armed robbery in 1974. Once released, he became a bare-knuckle boxer competing in the East End of London. The name ‘Charles Arthur Salvador’ didn’t seem intimidating enough and so, his promoter suggested he change his name to Charles Bronson after the American actor.
Unfortunately, Bronson’s time outside of bars was short lived and he was soon caught for planning another robbery. Once inside, Bronson continued his violent streak, even taking hostages at points, and so, he was sentenced to life inside prison. These actions eventually led him to being labelled as ‘Britain’s Most Notorious Prisoner’.
Since then, Bronson has authored numerous books, appeared in interviews, been used in studies, and now, has a biopic of his life with Tom Hardy portraying the lead. He’s even become a keen artist, changing his name back to Charles Salvador in aid of one of his biggest artistic inspirations, Salvador Dali. Many of the books that Bronson has written have been centred around his passion for fitness. As he has spent a large number of years confined to small spaces, these books aim to educate people on how they can exercise with limited tools, time, and available area.
What Does Bronson Do for His Health?
In October of 2015, Bronson released a letter stating that he’d lost almost four stone by following a strict diet and exercise regime.
The letter reads:
“I really do feel great.
Fit, fast, and healthy.
I lost three and a half stone, I’m now 14 stone solid. No fat! When I was 17 ½ stone, I was getting too slow, out of steam, sluggish.
Plus, I was eating a dozen bars of choc on visits.
I’ve not eaten choc bars now for a good nine months!
A bag of fruit and nuts beats a box of choc bars.“
He also stated that he drinks 8 pints of water “with a squirt of lemon juice” each day alongside 18 egg whites every week.
As well as his diet, Bronson also spoke about his fitness plan. According to The Telegraph, he asked for his followers not to “waste money on gym fees, protein drinks or muggy steroids” and instead, simply use the environment they’re in.
“Pull ups off a tree branch or swing bar in a park, step ups off a park bench, swim in a river, a lake, the sea, sit up on grass or the sand. Dips off a fence or a park entrance bar – it’s all free.”
In 2007, Bronson had a book published called ‘Solitary Fitness’ which elaborated on how he chooses to exercise. Some of the feats included completing 118 press-ups in 60 seconds and totalling 2,000 a day. He would also frequently try (and succeed) to bend the bars of his cell.
One of the key components of Bronson’s approach to fitness is money. Seeing as he doesn’t have access to luxury equipment or sportswear, the criminal has realised that these things are not necessary to sculpt a strong, well-rounded physique.
“Remember, a £150 pair of trainers don’t make you run any faster – try running bare-footed on grass or sand – so much nicer – you feel free. Save your well-earned dosh, get a blender if you want a fruit drink.”
Since 2007, Bronson has clearly been consistent with his workouts as according to a 2015 article on the Art of Manliness, he can now complete 172 push-ups in 60 seconds. That’s 54 more than he could 8 years ago – a very impressive improvement! This not only shows that the criminal is dedicated, but that his training truly does work. All this whilst losing fat, too.
Charles has also set a range of prison fitness records. One of these is completing 1727 push ups in one hour. It goes without saying that Bronson has an extremely strong and able upper body; especially his chest, shoulders, and triceps.
What Makes Bronson Unique?
Obviously, compared to many other fitness enthusiasts, Bronson is a particularly distinctive individual. Apart from his status as an inmate, Bronson’s approach to fitness and his mind set are truly unique.
Firstly, Bronson works with extremely limited equipment and space. This makes his workouts accessible for almost everyone, no matter their situation or environment.
Secondly, Bronson is extremely dedicated. When you’re a prisoner, your athletic abilities can make a real difference to your experience. You’ll either be pushed around, beaten, and possibly killed, or you can stand up for yourself, get what you want, and not have to worry as much about people messing with you. For a prisoner, fitness is less about athletics and more about survival. This mental dedication is why Bronson can complete sometimes seemingly superhuman feats of strength and muscular endurance.
What Can I Learn from Bronson?
Let’s look at some of the benefits of bodyweight training. Bronson may not be the first to make bodyweight training his main source of exercise, but he’s definitely someone who’s pushed it to the extremes.
- You can work out everywhere and anywhere.
- Bodyweight workouts are completely free.
- You can alter the angle, tempo, and rest periods for your needs.
- Incredibly versatile.
- Can be used to burn fat, build muscle, or improve your strength.
With standard weightlifting, there are some main exercises that your workouts revolve around. These tend to be:
- Bench Press – Chest and triceps
- Military Press – Shoulders and triceps
- Barbell Row – Upper Back and biceps
- Pull-Up – Lats and biceps
- Deadlift – Hamstrings, lower back, and glutes
- Squat – Quads and glutes
These six exercises hit every area of your body. The same goes for bodyweight training.
- Push-Ups – Chest and triceps
- Handstands – Shoulders and triceps
- Australian rows – Upper back and biceps
- Pull-ups – Lats and biceps
- Sprints and jumps – Hamstrings and glutes
- Squats – Quads and glutes
As you can see, the areas hit are exactly the same. For areas such as the abs, many of these exercises are bodyweight based anyway, meaning that nothing has to be changed. Crunches, leg raises, and window wipers already require just a bar and therefore, do not need to be adapted.
All these exercises are scalable to your strength and ability. For instance, you can change the angle of your push up to make it harder and target different areas of the chest. By elevating the legs, you not only increase the difficulty of the exercise, but place a greater emphasis on the upper chest and shoulders. By doing archer push-ups where you move closer to one hand, you can increase the strength on one side of your body and work towards a one-armed push-up.
Bodyweight workouts can also be used to train both your muscular and cardiovascular systems at the same time. By altering the rest periods and tempo, you can get two workouts in at the same time.
You can also try out a methodology called HIIT. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and refers to using short bursts of intense exercise that push you to near your limit coupled with short rest periods to really challenge every aspect of your fitness. This is also a great way to burn a lot of calories in a limited amount of time.
A typical bodyweight HIIT workout would look something like this:
- Push-ups: 30 seconds
- Rest: 30 seconds
- Squats: 30 seconds
- Rest 30 seconds
- Burpees: 30 seconds
- Rest: 30 seconds
- Handstand hold: 30 seconds
- Rest: 30 seconds
Repeat 4 times through.
If you include a 5-minute warm-up and cool-down, then this workout totals just under 30 minutes and will really push your body to its limits.
However, the main thing to take from Charles Bronson is his extremely dedicated mind set. His workouts may be a little too intense for some people, and completing over 1500 push-ups in an hour may not be a goal of yours. Yet, the reason that Bronson can do all these things is because he’s devoted and committed. He has a passion and a drive, and that’s really what makes or breaks any fitness goal.
If you’re to take one thing away from this article, it’s that you need to find that fire in your belly that means you’re not going to stop. You can skimp out on workouts or repeatedly binge; you need to be consistent.
Charles Bronson wouldn’t listen to any of the excuses his mind may bring up about his environment or his weight; he simply committed himself to the cause and has now become a fitness icon. If he can become a household name for health and fitness, despite living his life confined to a tiny prison room, then you can easily lose those pounds you’ve been chasing, hit a new PR in the gym for your deadlift, or gain that size and muscle that you have wanted since you first started training.
What do you think about Charles Bronson?