"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."
Those are the exact words that started my review of the original Convict Conditioning. Well, recently I was lucky enough to read the sequel - Convict Conditioning 2. Can I apply same words to the second part? Well, yes. But I wouldn't be so univocal and straight-out. Why? There are reasons. Read on and you'll understand them.
What Impact Did Convict Conditioning Have on Me?
Well, truth be told it's enormous. It took time and plenty of thinking and re-thinking but I can state it loud and clear that Convict Conditioning is the book that changed my views on training forever. At first I was like: "Calisthenics? Push-Ups and bodyweight Squats? Why bother?" But then I realized the power of old-school bodyweight strength training. Heck, right now my training is almost exclusively bodyweight. You may argue that weights are superior or calisthenics are too light and bla-bla. But they are not. Bodyweight strength training is FAR superior to weight training in my opinion. I'm not here to convince anybody in this. If you like weights it's ok with me. But what I'm saying is that Convict Conditioning is so powerful that it opened my eyes. And I'm thankful to "Coach" Wade for this. Bodyweight strength training is freedom.
What Is to Write a Sequel?
Especially if it's sequel to something great like Convict Conditioning. It's pretty tough job. In cinema there are not so many sequels that are at least in line or better than originals. Terminator 2 and Aliens come to my mind and not much else. Of course, there are lots of great series like 007, Indiana Jones, Star Wars etc. But it's not the point. The point is that it's very hard to make great sequel. Just look at musical bands. Oftentimes listeners return to first albums where the band wasn't so mainstream or experimenting that much, or was honest and DIY (you can insert your own reason). I think it's because of the conservative human nature at first place. People rarely like to leave their comfort zones. They like what they got used to. And sequel is something new and undiscovered. Why am I writing this? Well, maybe because I'm human too (pretty astonishing, right? :)) and I often feel the same. And these reasons combine in mixed feelings about CC2.
Starting with Cover...
...I had a feeling that sequel of Convict Conditioning is not the same as original. And that feeling didn't go away even when I finished the book. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing. But original had more style in my opinion. And it's not just about the cover or photos. Style of writing is a bit different. Original is inspiring, eye-opening, serious and oceansize and sequel is more down to earth. It doesn't impress that much. But, on the other hand, it isn't supposed to. Paul warns you that it's just add-on to the original CC. And when you start treating it this way everything gets in it's own place. You understand that number '2' in the name is just a marketing trick but you still wait for something that is eye-opening like the original but you get something different. Anyway, let's see what we got here.
What Will You Find in Convict Conditioning 2?
Ok. You will be able to find training information for forearms and grip, calves, lateral muscle chain, neck, joints, mobility/flexibility, stretching, tendons and ligaments strength, fat loss, recovery, mental aspects of training and more. I'll divide my thoughts into parts.
Foreword and Introduction
Foreword to CC2 is written by Brooks Kubik. Well, it was quite surprising. Foreword and Introduction are the most motivational parts of the book. They energize you and literally force you to read on and on, to stay up till 3-4 AM until you fall asleep reading. That's what I mean by powerful intro. Nostalgia is flowing through you. "Paul Wade is back!" is the only thing you are able to think about.
This chapter is devoted to often neglected muscles: forearms, calves, neck and lateral chain. And what do we got here? One-arm towel hang, one-arm fingertip push-up, straight one-leg calf raises, neck bridge and front bridge, clutch flag and press flag. One by one:
- One-arm towel hang is pretty tough. It requires decent grip strength. And it will take time to work up to 5 minute mark. Very good exercise. I've already implemented it in my training routine.
- Fingertip push-ups. Paul says that you need them to balance your forearms and that they are training your extensors. There already was a theme about this on Dragon Door forums. I'm pretty sure that fingertip push-ups work flexors more than extensors. Anyway, fingertip push-ups are great for strengthening forearms (as fingertip planches). You'll want to alternate towel hang training sessions and fingertip push-ups ones and you'll be fine.
- Straight one-leg calf raises. These are awesome. Make sure that you're flexing the quad of the working leg. I'm trying it now. My calves are so pumped after sets. It feels like they gonna blow!
- Neck bridge and front bridge are classics used by wrestlers for ages. If you want strong and powerful neck use these exercises.
- Clutch flag and press flag. These exercises are nothing new due to YouTube. Anyway, they are real feats of strength. Master them and your core will be bulletproof.
You'll be able to find Coach Wade's thoughs on joint, tendon and ligament strength, stretching, mobility/flexibility here. I'm not a big fan of that stuff so just a few comments. The Trifecta is pretty well thought-out. It's Bridge Hold + L-Hold + Twist Hold. I practice regularly first two exercises. Third one will be valuable addition.
Wisdom from Cellblock G
This chapter is a bit cntroversial. In the first part Paul talks about straight edge lifestyle. Here in Ukraine straight edge was a fashion trend couple of years ago. Everybody were straight edgers. What's my opinion on this? Fancy name for fancy lifestyle. Many people followed it because they thought that it would make them cooler and less miserable. Like vegan stuff today. There are crowds of people who shout: "Look at us! We're vegan (or straight edge)! Look how cool we are!" It's all lame, gay and not cool, folks. I like Mike Mahler's veganism. He doesn't shout about it all the time. Even more, you'll hear that he's vegan only if you ask him. That is cool and respected. So back to straight edge. While not doing drugs, not smoking and not drinking is right, not having sex is totally wrong. Humans are supposed to have sex. We wouldn't survive if we didn't. Low sex drive is a very bad sign. It means that it's something wrong with your hormones and your body. While having sex before training session is a bad idea, after it you may have it as much as possible (:
Nutrition chapter is oversimplistic in my opinion. 3 meals a day is right direction. Cereal, bread and sweets is not. Healing and mind training chapters are nothing extraordinary. As the bonus chapter.
What we have in the end? Pretty high-quality mainstream read about advanced bodyweight strength training techniques and secrets from prison. It this book worth it's money? Yepp, you'll find very valuable information here. But I strongly suggest you to read the original first. Or CC and then CC2 in one sitting. Well, I think everything is said. Feel free to comment and discuss.
One of the best books I've read on bodyweight strength training and conditioning. Paul Wade has laid out a brilliant 6-set system of 10 progressions which allows you to master these elite levels. And you could be starting at almost any age and in almost in any condition! Paul Wade has given you the keys that will open door after door after door for you in quest for REAL physical accomplishment. Yes, it will be the hardest work you'll ever have to do. And yes, 97% of those who pick up Convict Conditioning, frankly, won't have the guts and the fortitude to make it. But if you make it even half-way through Paul's Progressions, you'll be stronger than almost anyone you encounter.
Sequel of one of the best books on bodyweight strength training. Coach Wade will reveal how to train smaller but not less important muscle groups: forearms, calves, neck and lateral chain. He will share his own views on mobility/flexibility and stretching. Also you will find here his views on nutrition and rest as well as many stories about prisons and prisoners. If you like the origianal Convict Conditioning it's definitely a must have. If you haven't read the original Convict Conditioning I strongly suggest you to read it first.