Convict Conditioning

Convict Conditioning and My Thoughts

Convict Conditioning. Great book, totally awesome read and golden mine of information that you can use in your training. You can agree or disagree. It doesn’t matter because Convict Conditioning is a must read for everybody who is serious about their training. You will be able to find tons of useful and entertaining information there. What’s so special about it? And why even bother with bodyweight training? Read on and you will find all the answers.

Paul Wade’s (the author) point of view is stated loud and clear: “Forget about gym. You have your own gym built-in inside of you!” He promotes bodyweight training throughout the book in aggressive manner. It’s cool for it’s purpose, in my opinion. Heck, he doesn’t try to sell you anything. The coolest thing about bodyweight training is that the only things you will ever need are some floor, a place to hang from and a wall. I think everybody can afford access to such things (: He may be too rough in his words on gyms, bodybuilders and powerlifters but in the end it’s his point of view. You may agree or disagree. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s totally clear that this guy knows what’s he talking about.

He writes a lot about history of calisthenics. It may be true or may not but he creates atmosphere of interest, you can’t stop reading (and it’s very awesome in my opinion) and there are good points in his words. I, personally, can’t imagine an ancient warrior or gladiator exercising with machines, cables, barbells or dumbbells. These implements simply didn’t exist that time. How could they become so big and powerful? I think calisthenics played major role in their training. Paul Wade thinks the same. And we have sculptures to admire the physiques of that time built without modern equipment as a proof.

One Arm HandstandThis is Bert Assirati. He does a free-standing one-arm handstand at weight 230 lbs on this photo. Totally amazing.

How Paul came up with his system? He was doing time. He explains in Convict Conditioning how true art of calisthenics remained alive behind the bars. People there are able only to stick to basics. They have not a lot of options. And bodyweight strength training fits them better than any other type of training.

The system in Convict Conditioning consists of six basic movements: Push-Up, Pull-Up, Squat, Leg Raise, Bridge and Handstand Push-Up. You will be able to find full information, the benefits and precise progressions from novice to master step in the book. I actually don’t agree with some of them because some steps are too hard and some steps are too easy. But all-in-all Wade’s system makes sense and WILL work if you put an effort in it. The beauty of bodyweight training is in it’s versatility. The master steps are the same but the way you came there can differ a lot.

There were a lot debates on Handstand Push-Up master step. It’s One-Arm Handstand Push-Up. Some people said that it’s just impossible. I should disagree with those people. Just look at the old-time strongmen’s PRs in one-arm press. For example Pyotr Kryloff. His bodyweight was 88 kg and his record in one-arm press was 114.6 kg. It’s 130% of his bodyweight and approximately 30% heavier than One-Arm Handstand Push-up for him. So I think this feat is achievable. But you need time and consistency of a locomotive to tame it.

The last thing I want to emphasize on is programs. In last chapters of the book Paul talks about self-coaching and gives us sample programs. He’s right on self-coaching. We all know this stuff but some people just don’t do it. I mean training log, start easy and slow and stuff. Read this chapter several times until you get it. And what about programs? In my opinion, programs are more suitable for beginners and those who don’t know how to organize their routines. Of course, Solitary Confinement is a bloody mess. But I don’t use those programs in my training. They don’t take into account my abilities and needs. They are good way to start if you’re totally new to strength training.

So that’s it.  Want to know more? Read the book! You can find it here. Will you benefit from this book? I bet you will. Do convicts really train this way? Who knows? Try bodyweight strength training and feel the power of it.

Stay tuned for more on rough training.

Play rough!

Alex Zinchenko

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Convict Conditioning by Paul ‘Coach’ Wade

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14 thoughts on “Convict Conditioning and My Thoughts

  1. bryan

    Bought this book as well but due to illness have been unable to keep a consistant routine with it. How long have you been at it and what were some of your experiences trying to attain the master steps?

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Well, I was able to perform 20 pistols each leg right away as a carryover from my barbell or kettlebell squats, I guess. Same for leg raises. I was able to perform master step from my previous training. As for prison push-ups I’m on the Step 9 now. Handstand push-ups – Step 6. One-Arm Chin-Up – Step 8. Bridges – Step 8. I’ve been on and off with Convict Conditioning progressions for almost a year now.

      1. Daniel Owens

        So are you saying that the best way to build up to One legged squat is weighed bilateral squat and NOT the CC progressions?

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  3. Gabri

    Hi Alex!

    I just knew about this website yesterday while re-reading an article from Chad Waterbury.

    I really like it, congratulations!! You talk about the things i’be been reading lately (CC, kettlebells…)

    I also think that the first routines from CC are quite for beginneers. I’m not as advanced as you, but i’m used to train the body at least 3 times per week, sometimes more. So just training it once sounded to me like too little.

    What routine would you recommend to start again from Step 1 on all exercises??

    Thank you very much Alex!

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Thanks for kind words, Gabri. The answer on your question depends on several factors. If your technique and strength allow you to perform harder steps then go for it. As for routine, it depends what your goals are? If pure strength then go low volume and low rep and add frequency. If mass gaining, then 3 full-body workouts with at least 25 total reps per each move. Fat loss is a different story. Hope this helps.

      1. Gabri

        Thank you for the answer Alex!

        My goal is pure strenght. That’s why i want to go throught the progressions on CC. But, on many steps you have to do many reps, many more than 5 or 10..

        So, i think i’ll just try to do the minimum of sets required, so i can recover faster.
        What do you think about training the same exercises on consecutive days for strenght with bodyweight exercises?? And what about doing one day HSPU and pushups the next day??

        Thank you for everything Alex!

        1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

          Well, I think that training some moves every day is acceptable if your goal is strength. But your intensity should be in check. Don’t go to hard. In fact, you can read about my experiment here.
          As for push-ups and HSPU all I can suggest you is to try and see how it goes. If you progress then it’s ok. If not then throw in a rest day.

      2. xyz

        hello :)

        when You say 25 total reps, that is for exemple for squat 10-10-5-5-5 and +1 for the next workout ?

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