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Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness--Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength Paperback – November 15, 2012
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I purchased the book about two weeks ago and read it in five days. When researching Convict Conditioning the main negative I found was folks complaining about the "prison" aspect of the book. I saw some reviews which commented about how the prison related stories were false and that Coach Wade was most likely a fictitious character. Personally, I dismissed the prison aspects of the book as marketing hype and focused on the training material (these days you need some kind of marketing angle to get your product noticed by the right crowd). The information is excellent. The exercise progression is worth the price of the book (I purchased the Kindle edition for under $20). It starts off with exercises which are very easy on the body (My elderly, overweight, diabetic, triple bypass, high blood pressure, father could follow this program without risk of injury). This was key for me. I am looking to workout with little to no risk of injury...and, hopefully, to strengthen previously injured joints to prevent future injury.
I have been following the plan for almost 2 weeks. I am on level 3 of pushups and squats, level 2 of pull-ups, and still on level 1 of leg lifts (my abs are obviously weaker than I realized). Per the recommendation in the book I will hold off on bridges and handstand pushups until I am further along with the other 4 movements.
So far I love this workout! I can work out right in my living room, during commercial breaks, for most exercises (except for pull ups). The workouts are short and simple. I am building "functional" strength... as well as "demonstrate-able" strength (In the future I can easily demonstrate my strength by dropping and doing one arm pushups, or pistol squats...I'm certainly not above doing a little showing off.) I no longer have the fear of injury while doing these exercises.
I'm looking forward to buying Convict Conditioning 2 (when a Kindle edition is available - Which I hope will be VERY soon.) so, someday, I can start working on doing "Flags" (talk about demonstrate-able strength!!).
3/5/13 Update: I've been following the program for over a year and I still love it. I reached the master phase for leg raises about a month ago. As of today I can do 1 hand pushups on the floor, but my feet are not together yet...I am still working on that. I figure I'm still 6 months to a year away from reaching the master phase of squats (due to lack of ankle flexibility) and pull ups (still need to develop more strength). I am probably at least 2 years away from the master phase for bridges and hand stand pushups.
I have had no injuries since starting the program. I feel strong and my wife has commented that I have gained muscle mass. The pain I had in my knee, back and shoulder have faded away over the last year (that alone was worth 50 times the price of the book).
I love the ongoing challenge of slowly (and safely) working my way through the progression. I purchased Convict Conditioning 2 and read it, but I won't start working on those exercises until I have mastered pushups, pull ups, squats, and leg lifts from the first book.
I don't miss weight training. I wish I had a book like this when I was a teenager.
9/22/2014 Update: I've been following the program for over 2 years now. I have also begun to incorporate other gymnastics movements into the my routine.
Pushups: I have been doing great with 1 arm pushups, but as many others have found, doing them with the feet together seems nearly impossible. Instead I am doing 1 arm/1 leg pushups.
Pull Ups: I still haven't mastered 1 arm pull ups. I am still working with one hand on a low towel and archer pull ups.
Leg Raises: I mastered the straight leg raises and have moved on to Dragon Flags (not mentioned in the book).
Pistol Squats: Due to lack of ankle tendon flexibility I have struggled with pistols. However, I am very close to doing my first pistol squat with my heal on a 1 inch block. I can squat down very slowly, and then give myself a slight push off the floor and stand back up. I expect I will get my first pistol very soon.
Bridges: I have stuck with doing bridges for sets of 10 reps (stage 5). I am in no hurry to get to the master phase of this exercise. I will focus on it when I've mastered the core 4 exercises.
Hand Stand Push Ups: I am doing handstand pushups regularly. It will be quite a while before I can do a 1 arm hand stand push up.
I am still injury free and my joints still feel great (I am 45 years old). The combination of the Paleo/Primal lifestyle and the calisthenic has added a bit more muscle mass in the chest/back/arm/shoulder areas (haven't noticed much gain in the legs).
I recently purchased "Complete Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Exercise" by Ashley Kalym. This book has similar progressions to Convict Conditioning but includes several gymnastics exercises (Levers, Planche, Human Flag, etc). I am incorporating some of the routines in this book into my weekly schedule.
I still don't miss weight training. For me Calisthenics have given me much better results without the injuries/aches and pains.
11/5/2015 Brief Update: I am doing freestanding pistol squats (with my heal on a 1/2 block) regularly. I'm still a long way off from doing 1 arm pull ups & 1 arm handstand push ups. I am doing bridges for reps (bridge push ups) with my feet raised 6 inches off the floor (on a bar on the on my power rack) which work the back of the shoulders very well and give me a great back stretch. I can do very high leg raises (touch toes to the bar) at this point, plus I'm doing dragon flags. I am still injury free and feeling great. I am doing a mix of other body weight exercise along with the CC workouts. I am now doing 1 arm push ups with my feet on a 10" block as well as 1 arm/1 leg push ups.
6/10/2016 Update: This may be my last update. As my workout routine evolves I continue to expand my routine with new exercises. However, I cannot say enough good things about this book. It was, for the most part, the start of my body weight training journey which I know I will continue for the rest of my life. I will keep working toward 1 arm pull ups. I don't worry about 1 arm handstand push ups. I recommend this book often to people with whom I talk about health and fitness. I'm 47 years old now. I'm lean and strong and will remain this way for a very long time, thanks in part to the information provided in this book. Advice to anyone just starting out: Stick with it. The system works well and will improve your life.
I'm now 70 years old and've been training for well over five decades---everything from gymnastics to triathlons---and I also read lots of books having to do with diet and exercise. This book is hands-down the best I've ever seen on a specific physical-culture discipline---in this case bodyweight training. Having finally grown weary after years of trekking to the gym three days a week and dealing with weightlifting injuries, I recently began casting about for another way to train and as a result became interested in the notion of progressive calisthenics as an option.
The program described in this book is so well-reasoned, well-researched, accessible and simple it has renewed my interest in working out. And while it is a great guide for a beginner in strength training, I assure you the program outlined within it will also challenge athletes at any level. Well done. I highly recommend it.
Now I will say before I bought this book, I did read the negative reviews where they were criticizing Paul Wade, the author. In my opinion, Paul Wade was fed up with people deceived thinking that the "ONLY" way to achieve pure FUNCTIONAL strength was by needing a gym membership, supplements and lifting weights. He expounds greatly on why Bodyweight Training is so much better, and he makes it simple to follow. I agree he did hit the redline a few times with his comments, but the goal he was trying to achieve in liberating people from the thought that the gym is all they have, well he achieved his goal. This book really frees your mind to seeing another way, (Better in my opinion, experience & research) to get fit, in shape, strong and without such the risk of damaging your joints.
I felt impressed to write this review after having bought this book almost 1 yr and 4 mths ago. NOTE: Carry a note book with you (Dollar Tree) and record what you do each time to review your progress and make changes accordingly. Only thing I have changed thus far is: I always perform 3 sets and then add a 4th set for "cool down". This 4th set will usually be the same exercise with half the reps or one set of the progression behind (If I was doing kneeling Push-Ups then the cool down would be box pushups.) You'll understand after you read the book. Oh yea CAUTION: Reference to 2nd progression for Pull-UPs, If you're able to use the Box w/o it moving, that's what's up, it would always slide on me... DON'T use Dumbbells for weight on top of the Box = risk of falling off, and yea you're legs you need them and they're dangling underneath where they might fall... Not a good idea. Plated weights might work ok. What I did instead of using the Box, was to use the Smith Press or TRX bands, just depends on what the gym had where I was at for the moment. I've even used the double cable setup you'll often see in those hotel/apartment gyms... Hey you gotta get it in, even in a pinch, can't miss my workout!
Oh yea and I was following that Monday and Friday workout routine "Convict Conditioning" calls for in the beginning until you reach the 6th progression, but I didn't feel (based on my results/log) that it was getting me to my goal quick enough... I know I spoke of slow and steady being consistent, but adding Wednesday in there is not hurting, but rather helping me in my goals. It's definitely given me the boost/push I needed to get over the hump that was in my path. The Pull-Ups are tough, but stick with them and you will prevail. FORM is everything! Perfect Practice = Perfect Results! ;-)
My routine now: Warmup with a walk or elliptical (prefer the elliptical) then move right in to 2 warm up sets, 3 work sets and a 4th for "cool down" but yet I'm still burning up them muscles. Then I move on to the next exercise. I've also added SL RDL (Single Leg Rear Dead Lift) to my Push-Up and Ab Work day as my 3rd exercise, 3 x 12 (now 3x20, 1x10). And on my Pull-Up and Leg day I added Back Extensions using a "Roman Chair" (3x12, 1x7) great for your Erector Spinae which assists with core and is part of your core, and even most recently after watching a video on the "factorfad" site... I also added Dips to my Pull-Up and Leg Day, (3x12 with weighted Assist) as this helps with Latissimus Dorsi strength to ultimately aide with Pull-Ups. The days in between I do ab workouts along with some form of cardio. The only day I rest is Sabbath... Wait a minute didn't the Bible say something about this... Yup --> Exodus 20:8-11 and even Jesus did the same Luke 4:16, and aren't we to walk as Jesus did 1John 2:6, if that's your desire then it's an amazing life changing decision to keep the Sabbath. Even God rested on this day, serious check a few moments and read these passages, it will give you clarity, Gen 2:1-3, God created the earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th... Amazing, I'm grateful for having a day of rest, otherwise work would be nonstop...
*** I'll add in the post I placed on Facebook today as I feel it all connects to support the cause... Bodyweight Exercises = Functional Strength ***
WoW... To think it's been just over 7 years since I saw this video --> "Strong Man In The Park" and took me 6 years before I would switch over to bodyweight training...Man 6 years God was at me trying to deliver me from the traditional "Gym" workout using weights, to give me the best option for strength while reducing risk of injury at the same time. Weights have their purpose, but functional strength is what matters at the end of the day. This man has pure strength, doing only bodyweight exercises... I don't know if he was true to bodyweight from the start, but we can all see he's true to it now. Yes it may take some years to get to that point, and what's the problem with that if when you finally arrive, you're lean, cut, strong, and injury free... Who wants to end up with all kinds of joint pain 10-20 yrs later? And besides, why Bulk up in the winter & then Cut down in the summer...? With Bodyweight Exercises ---> it's a year round cycle of progression to that goal! The goal that Anyone who truly is into fitness is searching for... Vitality, Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Focus, Discipline, Achievement, Determination, Satisfaction, Confidence, and Contentment.
I'm not saying this is "THE" answer, but it most certainly is the "FOUNDATION" to building a strong core, functional strength, and humility. Man how I had to humble myself from doing bench press to doing Wall Push-Ups.. SMH... But I did it and I'm steadily working towards the goal of One Arm Push-Ups. No, I'm not where I want to be now, but then through all them years of those exercises and weights did I ever get there... But check in me in a couple years... Maybe you just might find me in a park, something like this dude... Giving inspiration to many! HOLLA
Lastly consider this:
1. Herschel Walker, age 54, in phenomenal shape, after a career of 15 years in NFL as running back, and even did MMA for 2 years. He attributes his success to using "No Weights" ---> "Herschel Walker uses no weights"
2. Convict Conditioning: This book will change your life --->Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness--Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength