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Paperback: 294 pages
Publisher: Dragon Door Publications; 1 edition (November 1, 2012)
Convict Conditioning is a book of bodyweight only training. It utilizes six training exercises, each having ten different variations. The six exercises are called "the Big Six", and they are one-arm pushup, one legged squat (pistol squat), one-arm pullup, hanging straight leg raise, stand-to-stand bridge, and one-arm handstand pushup. You don't start with these exercises, but rather easier versions, and they represent the ultimate goal of the workout.
The workout is structured so that each exercise of the Big Six is divided into ten steps, the final step being the exercises listed earlier. As a general rule, the first steps are the easiest and you move gradually to more challenging variations. For example, you start the pushups series with standing pushups against the wall, and progress from there into incline pushups against a table, then kneeling pushpus, and so on until you reach the one-arm pushup.
Each of the steps are further divided into three stages: Beginner standard, Intermediate standard, and Progression standard. The standards differ from each other by the number of repetitions and sets you are supposed to perform each exercise. When you reach the Progression standard of an exercise, you can move on to the next step, where you'll start from the Beginner standard.
The author emphasizes clean performance of exercises, and slow progression through the steps. You are supposed to start from step one with each exercise even if you could jump directly to step six, for example. And you are supposed to progess slowly through each step, taking a minimum of one month on each step no matter how easy the exercise is for you.
The name of the book is derived from the inception of the training system - or so the story goes.Read more ›
This is a classic bodyweight training manual. Moreover, it's different than any other you'll likely read. It's written in a colorful, easy reading style with no pretense.
According to the author, an ex-convict, "The average gym junkie today is all about appearance, not ability. Flash, not function. These men may have big, artificially pumped up limbs, but all that the size is in the muscle tissue; their tendons and joints are weak. Ask the average muscleman to do a deep one-leg squat-ass-to-floorstyle-and his knee ligaments would probably snap in two. What strength most bodybuilders do have, they cannot use in a coordinated way; if you asked them to walk on their hands they'd fall flat on their faces."
This is an extraordinary book about functional bodyweight training. By functional I mean you are taught to be strong for everyday life -- not muscular for the sake of appearance.
Like the author, I've seen beefy guys and gals at the gym walking ahead of me looking like they could hardly move because they had so much muscles on their legs. They walked like a fat person whose thighs rub against each other. Not a pretty sight.
The author continues, "To become hugely powerful, you don't need weights, cables, fancy machines, or any other crap that the industry or the infomercials are brainwashing you into thinking you can't do without. You can gain Herculean strength-genuine brawn and vitality-with no special equipment at all. But to unlock this power-the power of your own body-you need to know how. You need the right method, the art.
Such a method does in fact exist. It's based on traditional, ancient forms of training, techniques which are as old as training itself.Read more ›
Rumor has it that John DuCane, the founder of Dragon Door, wrote this, with some help from Pavel, and that makes sense. For a marketing gimmick DuCane created a pen name and positioned the book as the work of an ex-con publishing training secrets of hard cases who've developed the physiques needed to withstand a long stretch behind bars. The tone of the book is geared toward a boy of about fourteen, which is okay, it means it's certainly an easy read though you might feel a little debased. Once you get to the exercises things improve. As other reviewers have explained, the book emphasizes a series of bodyweight exercises, none of which are new. What's valuable here is the progression. I haven't seen a progression this well-planned before. For example, push ups are taught by starting with standing push ups against a wall, which almost anyone can do, then incline push ups, then push ups from your knees, then half-way push ups, then full push ups, then one-arm push ups. This is the value of the book. There are also some good tips offered, like pausing at the bottom rather than slamming into the floor. If you want a surprisingly gentle regimen that will help you progress to increasingly harder versions of classic bodyweight exercises, this is a useful book. The best books on bodyweight exercises, in my view, are Ross Enamait's books--I wish he sold them on Amazon--and they don't have the hypertrophied prose that makes me feel like I'm in sixth grade. They're also less expensive, and they read like they were written by an adult for adults. They don't, however, have the unique zero to hero progression Convict has.Read more ›