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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.
Wade's dedication and knowledge about body weight training shines throughout the book. The exercise progressions make intuitive sense. The chapter on coaching is also particularly relevant and useful - as ultimately success using this program will depend on one's attitude. Interesting tidbits about old-school strongmen sprinkled throughout the text add to the overall flavor and tone of the prose, which is straightforward and generally concise.
In terms of value, the book also delivers. Are these exercises "new?" No. However, as mentioned above, the progressions are absolute gold. One particular example: his bridge progression series. As someone with a relatively flexible posterior chain but tight anterior chain (I did martial arts as a kid), I found Wade's comments on the bridge and its progressions to be invaluable. Again, the exercises are not new (e.g. short bridges) - I knew a number of them before buying the book. Yet, Wade puts it together in a way that helped me understand why I was very flexible in some ways, but lacked mobility in other ways.
Wade's discussion of human anatomy and exercise science was also an interesting and informative read. (He does not hold nor claims to hold any advanced degrees in these areas, but his ideas appear sound to me based on experience dealing with my own exercise-related injuries and my time spent working in a physical therapy clinic.)
Serious students of bodyweight training and physical culture (as well as novices!) will benefit from reading and practicing the exercises in this book; I know I have.
His system is pure genius - no wonder - he had many years to perfect it. Invaluable book!
I could have started at the middle stages, but i took the advice in this book.
Starting from step one in all areas, i have been able to advance through quite nicely.
Currently im at some level 7s, 4s, and 3s, and being almost 30, i have a better functioning, more powerful body, with greater aesthetics as well, than i did during my time in the military, when i spent too much time in the gym in iraq.
From step 1 put strength in the bank and Grease The Groove.
Theres also an app that i use which helps, but the really useful thing about it is the repetition timer.
It times each rep for 5 seconds, beeping during the middle and end or each rep.
And the workout log helps, but paper and pen works just as good.
nothing is the end all say all, but proper bodyweight training is key for a solid foundation to build from to become well rounded.
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Like really, definitely follow the steps.
I stopped and started, and stopped, but I remember before a few injuries .. My ARMS were JACKED.Read more