Convict Conditioning

I recently started working through the Convict Conditioning book by Paul Wade.  The premise of the text is that you can get hulking strong with very little or no equipment.  He does talk a little disparagingly about using equipment, which I think is silly because most people will agree that deadlifting, squatting, military pressing and doing Olympic lifting is great for building strength, the latter being awesome for building explosive power, too.  But anyway, the author has certainly done his homework and has tested everything on himself and other convicts.  I would agree with his assertion that most gymnasts never lift anything more than their own bodyweight and often have more useable strength that many gym rats.  Likewise is true for dancers, who Crossfit also puts into the gymnast category.

The book focuses on “The Big Six” exercises: Push-ups, Squats (leading to the Pistol, or One-Legged Squat), Pull-ups, Leg Raises, Bridges, and Handstand Push-ups.  What is so awesome about this piece of gear is that there is a full progression on every exercise.  It goes from super-easy for those with very little or no experience (and for those re-habbing their bodies) in strength training to expert-level movements, and there are many stages in between.  I have rarely seen progressions laid out this way and he encourages you to start from the bottom no matter where you are so that you may develop a firm foundation for each functional exercise.  There are even progressions within each exercise and what you must do before moving on.  No point in moving on before you complete these progressions, as you only cheat yourself and later on find certain intermediate exercises practically impossible.

I wanted to recommend this book for anyone wishing to add bodyweight exercises into their regimen.  I am currently working on the Crossfit standards and, of course, there are plenty of bodyweight exercises in addition to everything else.  I would think this book, despite the title, would be very beneficial for women since they start at a distinct disadvantage in upper body strength.  Paul even provides training programs for the beginner all the way up to monstrously strong/crazy bugger.  Most of the pictures in the book showcase the amazing physical prowess of Jim Bathurst.  Jim is the mastermind behind the website, which I love and have consulted many times.  He is freaky strong!

Paul Wade’s book is available through Dragon Door:


1 Comment

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