Convict Conditioning Workout Book
Product DescriptionHow to Train As If Your VERY LIFE Depended on Your Degree of REAL Strength, Power and ToughnessMost physical training systems are designed for the domesticated human animal. That is to say, for us humans who live lives of such relative security that we cultivate our strength and power more out of pride and for a sense of accomplishment than out of an absolute need to survive in the wild. The professional athlete hones his body to function well in a sports event-rather than to emerge safe from a life-or-death struggle. And even those in our military and LEO rely more on the security of their weapons and armor than on their own personal, raw power and brute strength to carry the day. There remains one environment where exuding the necessary degree of authoritative strength and power can mean the difference between life or death: the maximum security prison. In maximum security, the predator preys on the weak like we breathe air. Intimidation is the daily currency. You either become a professional victim or you develop that supreme survival strength that signals the predator to stay at bay.Paul Wade spent 19 years in hell holes like San Quentin, Angola and Marion. He entered this world a gangly, terrorized weakling and he graduated to final freedom, pound-for-pound one of the strongest humans on the planet. Paul Wade dedicated his prison life to the cultivation of that supreme survival strength. And ironically, it is in America's prisons that we can find some of the great, lost secrets of how to get immensely powerful and strong. Paul Wade mined these secrets as if his life depended on it-and of course in many ways it did.Finally free, Paul Wade pays his debt to society-not just with the horrors of his years in the hole-but with the greatest gift he could possibly give us: a priceless set of progressions that can take ANYONE who has the will from abject weakling to strength specimen extraordinaire.
Top ReviewsDitch the weights.
by JVib (5 out of 5 stars)
February 27, 2012
I have been weight training for 26 years. Now in my 40's I recently decided to simplify my life and sold off much of my gym equipment (I had a considerable amount) retaining only the basics to do power lifting movements such as: squats, deads, snatch, clean/press, bench, etc. I have had injuries in the past from working out (knee, back, & shoulder), and in the last few months I reinjured my shoulder. The thought occurred to me that I could further simplify my workouts, and reduce the chance of injury, by removing weight training completely. I began researching information on bodyweight training. I researched several books on Amazon & several health/fitness forums. Convict Conditioning was the book I chose based on all the feedback I collected.
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.
10/9/2018 Update: One more quick check in. I will be 50 in approximately 7 months.
Pushups: One arm pushups (feet still not together but closer than before) with my feet up on a 18" high bench. Also, one arm one leg pushups.
Squats: Freestanding pistol squats while holding a 25 lb. kettlebell out in front of me (helps with balance and adds resistance)
Pullups: Archer pullups with a hold at the top and slow lowering down. I can hang from the bar with one hand and curl up about 1/3rd of the way.
Leg Raises: Still toes to bar with perfect form and perfect form dragon flags.
Bridges: I still don't have the flexibility to go from standing to a bridge. I do bridge pushups (for the back of the shoulders) as part of my regular routine. I also do 30 second bridge holds, with my legs and arms straight, most nights just for back health and flexibility.
Handstand Pushups: I am now doing handstand pushups on my homemade parallette bars so I can go lower than just touching my head to the floor.
I am still injury free and feeling strong.
3-May-2019: I added some recent pics of me in my profile (click the icon next to my review). I'm turning 50 in about 2 weeks. I'm lean, strong and still injury free.
but in very poor physical condition
by Marissa Harcrow (5 out of 5 stars)
June 7, 2017
I am a 26 yr old female, and not overweight, but in very poor physical condition. I have tried weight lifting routines/ etc, and all seem to put too much strain on my body. My husband actually bought this book for himself and I started reading it and couldn't stop. This was exactly the kind of strength I wanted to build and the book gave step by step progression of how to master each exercise. I am so excited about this. I imagine it will take me 2-3 years to master most moves...and I think this will be a lifelong endeavor. Each move is explained very clearly with pictures and text. The book is very well written. I am at about week 6 or 7 of doing the exercises. I have only progressed on a few, and I can tell that some are going to take more than the recommended 1-month per exercise before progressing to the next move. But that's ok. I can't wait to be more strong and fit. I think I will update this review every year or so. Definitely recommend.
The Title May Sound Gimmicky but the Content is Rock-Solid
by edgarrains (5 out of 5 stars)
November 3, 2016
The book is well-organized and very well-written, except for a few copy-editing glitches, such as using the word "effect" when "affect" would've been the proper word. It's tone is very frank and its delivery straightforward and clear. It also is well-indexed, a great benefit for a training manual since readers will necessarily have to refer to topics over and over as they progress through the steps of the program it describes.
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.
Just buy and start transforming, 20 min 3 days a week.
by Frimann (5 out of 5 stars)
July 5, 2018
As a 62 year old man who has never done a pullup, thanks to this book an my Bullworker X5 I have progressed so much just in 5 months.
I really recommend this book, you can train at home without expensive equipment.
Also the writer explain everything very well. Just be patient and sometimes work around some of the levels, because you do need to do some stretching, specially if you are like me with less perfect spine etc. But I do improve, some of the 6 movements I progress faster, some much slower. But the joy of getting stronger is huge.
You need to also look into ketogenic diet and IF intermediate fasting if you like me need to loose bodyfat.
Fantastic book, so glad I bought it.
by P. Breaux (5 out of 5 stars)
July 23, 2017
So, I've read through the big six. Very well laid out. I've been working out at gyms for several years and have gotten stronger and bigger. But, as I'm getting older (39) I'm really starting to investigate and appreciate body weight exercises and calisthenics. I'm less interested in "getting huge" and more into just plain getting strong as sh#t. It's becoming my opinion that doing these types of exercises are not only better on your body, but will make you stronger than throwing weight around at the gym. I also spent almost four years in our wonderful federal prison system. I was lucky enough to have a weight pile, but I kinda wish I'd found this book during that time. Better late than never. These exercises will take serious time and effort, but I'm looking forward to it. I may post more after a bit.
Changed my body and my life!
by Brandon Zerbe (5 out of 5 stars)
December 2, 2018
I've been following this program since July 2018 (its now December 2018). I am 38 years old, and when I started, I was 5'11" and 267 pounds. Extremely overweight, bad knees from, well being overweight but also from earlier years of wrestling, football, martial arts, and other combative sports, not to mention my knees scoped for meniscus tears. I kept getting injured during regular weight lifting (I've historically, always used weight training) making it difficult to continue any kind of training. I had literally gotten to the point that the stairs in my house caused me to pause, after climbing them, hunched over gasping for air, and my knees were so unstable I wouldn't dare go downstairs without gripping the railing... After reading this book, and following the programs beginning at Step 1 for all exercises. I am now 213 pounds (lost 54 lbs in 5 months), stamina through the roof, and more strength and muscle growth all the time. Now on Step 5 for PushUps, Squats, Leg Raises. Step 3 for Pull-ups and Bridges and just now ready to start handstand push-up series). I was a 44" waist and now 36"... I've also began incorporating Exercises from Paul Wade's "Convict Conditioning 2" and "Explosive Calisthenics". This series has literally transformed my life in less than 6 months. My only advice, is work the program! I cannot recommend this book enough! I love this book, and use it every day!
no need to rush.
by nomex (5 out of 5 stars)
May 28, 2016
As a 40 something returning to working out, this book is great! I grew up with martial arts (Tae KwonDo and Okinawan Karate), I am no stranger to calisthenics, but started working out with weights and machines when I got to high school. At that age, I was able to do many things my friends who lifted were not capable, like L-sits, handstand pushups, planks, and upside down pull ups. I tried working out in gyms, but I got bored of them and preferred training at home and would rather utilize more functional movements.
Today I ride my bicycle to work and drive only when needed. Luckily I have made it to my 40's without chronic injury or pain and I'd like to keep things that way. I have many friends who are gym rats who have not fared so well.
I can easily start at step three or four of the big movements, but I believe in the need to strengthen the joints and tendons, so I will follow the rules. The instructions are very clear. I like the references given to the old time strongmen. I've always been impressed by gymnasts strength and their resulting physiques. It looks like one can get caught up with trying to progress too quickly, but take your time, perfect the motions and the strength and muscle will happen. My wife is a gym goer and she has recently visited the doctor for a shoulder injury. That's something I want to avoid. This book has revitalized my interest in getting fitter and stronger with calisthenics.
If you would only buy one book on strength training it should be this one
by Georgios L. (5 out of 5 stars)
October 7, 2016
Convict Conditioning is based on "The Bix Six" as its author names them, the six main moves that you need to perform in order to work out every part of the body. The book contains progressions for every move, starting from a very basic version of it and going all the way to the hardest possible variation. Each chapter contains a breakdown of the muscles involved, analysis of the benefits of the exercise and then the 10 steps the progression consists of. Each series of exercises has a beginner standard, an intermediate standard and a progression standard which you need to reach in order to advance to the next progression in the series. At the end of the book the author provides 3 different training programs based on the trainees level.
What this book does really well is get you excited about bodyweight training. There is no way you will read the book and you won't feel the urge to start doing pushups, pullups or any of the other exercises. Paul Wade's words are very inspiring. At the same time, very real. He makes a repetitive statement that you should take your time and not expect progress to happen overnight. In fact, he does the opposite by stating that it is going to take years to master most of the moves. The progressions themselves open your eyes to how effectively you can train your body using nothing but its own weight, the floor, a bench, a wall, a ball or a bar.
Another aspect of the book I really like is its storytelling. It uses prison stories and metaphors and to some extent manages to make you feel like you are "in the pen" and training for survival. The book creates its own myth.
The only negative I have to say about this book is that a couple of the progressions are not really well placed in the series and that on a couple occasions it is hard to understand how to perform them, in other words the description is a bit confusing.
To sum it up, there is no doubt this book must exist in every bodyweight enthusiast's library. It's extremely easy to read, hard to put down and will open the world of Calisthenics for you. The information in the book is pure gold and simply put, it will make you stronger.
You will build raw strength. Cancel the gym membership and use this.
by Ryan (5 out of 5 stars)
November 26, 2013
Can you do pistol squats, one armed pushups, one armed pullups, one armed handstand pushups, standing to bridge then back to standing and hanging straight leg raises with PERFECT form and for multiple reps? If you can't do any of the above, then this book can help you become strong enough to be able to do any of the above. The great thing about this book is that virtually anyone can use this book for training. The beauty of the system is the progressions that lead you up to the hardest exercises present in the book. It even has tips for people who are recovering from injuries to help them rehabilitate faster.
A little background information.. I've been hitting the gym seriously for about 4-5 years now (I started lifting at 15) and I've gotten considerably strong for someone my size, my average weight is right around 165 pounds. I got to the point where I was deadlifting 375 lbs for reps, squatting 315 and bench pressing 225. Even though I was satisfied with how my strength was going I noticed I was not good at any type of calisthenics. Despite my lifts I still felt... weak.
My motivation for hitting the gym slowly began to dwindle and I forced my self to keep lifting no matter what. It hit the point where I decided I needed a change of pace and somehow I managed to stumble across this little gem. I love the simplicity of the big six movements, they are the only movements you will ever need to get truly strong.
When I first jumped in to this book I figured I would start somewhere in the middle of the progressions.. but I was wrong. With the exception of the first progression for pullups, the first stage for all the exercises were actually really intense. Wade explains it in the introduction but basically the form should be extremely strict with 1 second pauses at the top and bottom of each repetition. This makes all the exercises considerably harder but it's one of those things that will pay off in the long run. (One armed pushups with this tempo is going to be insane)
The thing that is great about this is the amount of investment required. I go six days a week with this (2 exercises a day, 3 times a week) and it only takes me 15 minutes. Compared to weightlifting which took me 2 hours a day, 3-4 times a week I'm saving a lot of time - plus I don't have to go anywhere I can work out at home now!
Since it only takes me 20 minutes a day I plan on throwing in a couple cardio sessions a week (sprints, jump roping, bike rides etc). If you're like me I hate treadmills, elliptical, stationary bikes..... Anyways if you buy the book, read the introduction! The introduction is an invaluable introduction to calisthenics and I learned a lot from it.
A bodyweight program that can build muscle without the expensive equipment
by Amazon Customer (5 out of 5 stars)
December 22, 2018
I bought Convict Conditioning because I wanted to get into shape. I had turned 49, and wanted to avoid some of the health issues my friends were starting to deal with. I started out doing Ashtanga Yoga for 4 months, and then wanted something more muscle-building oriented which used a minimum of equipment. So, I picked up Solitary Fitness by Charles Bronson (the prisoner, not the actor) because it needed no equipment. That was fun, but it took me at least an hour to an hour and a half each night to go through his daily program. I didn't have that much time each night. So, after a month of doing that, I searched for another program.
I found Convict Conditioning, and I have been doing that for the last 7 months. It takes me about a half hour to do 4 nights a week (I hit each progression chain twice a week). Granted, I changed it a bit recently so I could work in some exercises I was interested in (dips and Roman Chair leg lifts), but have stuck with the program mostly as written. I have been exceedingly happy with the results. I have put on probably 7 pounds of muscle in the last seven months (I went from 180 to 190 lbs, my waist size stayed the same, so I am assuming most of the weight I put on was muscle. My stomach has also gotten smaller, meaning I look more trim). My aerobic ability has improved, and my strength has definitely improved. I feel better, stronger, and younger than I had. I am 50 now, and the most difficult exercises I am working on are pull-ups, assisted one legged squats, and handstand pushups (on a very low step on that progression. I decided to do a pike progression into handstand pushups instead of the progression written in the book. Sorry, Paul. I also started the handstand pushup and bridge progressions earlier than recommended because I got impatient.)
The book does a great job of telling you how to do each exercise, what the expected rep counts are for advancing from one progression to the next, and, basically, laying out a course for getting stronger in a way that also puts on muscle. Like I said, I deviated a bit, especially when inserting other exercises to be half-steps from one progression to the next (like doing lunges after Close Squats so I could get to Assisted One-Leg Squats). I plan on sticking with this plan for the next few years to work my way fully through each of the progression chains (pushups, pullups, squats, leg raises, bridges, and handstand pushups).
The only expense besides the book that I needed to make was a pullup bar, and I decided to get a Weider Power Tower (about $100) because I felt it would allow me to try out other exercises besides the ones mentioned in the progressions in Convict Conditioning (many of the exercises I am trying are listed as alternate exercises in the book).
So, I heartily recommend this book. One last thing: The Self-Coaching section has a lot of information for keeping you focused on workout intensity without getting you into a state where you are overworked. Not that you don't have to work hard (you most certainly do), but you also have to work smart.
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