Convict Conditioning 2 Review

Convict Conditioning 2

Convict Conditioning 2Paul “Coach” Wade is back with a second instalment of his impressive body weight calisthenics routine, Convict Conditioning 2 – from the depths of San Quentin prison

I’ve previously reviewed the original Convict Conditioning and I’m still working my way slowly through the progressions to the Big Six strength moves. I’m by no means adept at calisthenics and as I’m still at the early stage of my progressions I wasn’t sure that Convict Conditioning 2 would have anything to offer me. I feared that it would be extreme gymnastics, suitable only for Olympic ring athletes.

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Convict Conditioning 2 - The Flag progressionsAlthough it does include a chapter detailing the route towards a perfect flag, an exercise I am unlikely to ever attempt, the remainder of the book is accessible to all and is a perfect accompaniment to Convict Conditioning 1.

“Coach” Wade starts by supplementing the Big Six with a series of exercises covering the muscles at the extremities of the body. So we have exercise series for developing forearms and grip, the lateral chain (the flag) and the calves and neck.

Convict Conditioning 2 - The Hang ProgressionsForearm and hand grip strength is a prized commodity in the prison trade. Few muscles remain as visible as a big beefy pair of forearms and looking like Brutus can help keep you out of trouble in the prison courtyard.

The main exercise for strengthening grip and forearms is simply hanging. The progressions will ultimately lead you to single arm hangs from a thick length of rope, by which point you will have immensely strong grip and impressive forearms.

I won’t go in too much detail on the neck progressions, I don’t have much interest in thickening my neck. If you’re the sort who’d like a huge neck girth, perhaps to expand the canvas for suitable throat tattoo, you’d need to be working your way up to neck bridges – starting with the bridge progression shown in Convict Conditioning 1.

The calf routine is just a variation on the leg raise which most people will be familiar with.

The really interesting part of the book for me is an exercise routine known as the Convict Conditioning Triad. A trifecta of exercises recommended for the body builders who can’t or won’t relinquish the iron.

Convict Conditioning - Functional Triad
These 3 body weight exercises on their own are designed to develop supple-strength and focus on key muscles across the anterior, posterior and lateral chain. In order, the exercises are, the bridge, the L-hold and the twist.

I’m particularly interested in this routine as its simple, will oil my joints and protect my grumbling back and it will also be the ideal counterpart to my current training plan – the Starting Strength weight training program.

Convict Conditioning - Bridge ProgressionsAs with the first in the Convict Conditioning series, Paul “Coach” Wade offers a series of progressions, typically in 8 steps although I’ve only illustrated the first 6.
These are the Bridge progressions.

Convict Conditioning L-Hold Progressions

Here are the L-Hold progressions. At the moment I find it difficult to imagine ever being able to lift myself from the floor like this. My arms are pretty extended when I place the hands flat by my side so there isn’t a lot of room to perform a lift. I’ve started at the beginning though and can just about lift myself from the chair arms – very briefly.

Convict Conditioning - Twist Progressions

Here are the twist progressions. A series that I feel relatively comfortable with as I still have a bit of muscle memory from my yoga days.

Getting a full twisted stretch is going to take some time to develop though.

That covers just over half of the book. The latter section is more philosophical and includes sections on “Wisdom from Cell Block G”.

In Convict Conditioning 1, there was very little reference to prison life but in the sequel “Coach” Wade spends quite a lot of time discussing the perils, pitfalls and survival tips from inside a hardcore American state prison.

He isn’t glorifying prison in any way but he does include advice on staying clean, staying sane, and maintaining a healthy eating plan, drawing parallels between life on the inside and outside.

I’ve been really impressed with both books in the Convict Conditioning series. Together they offer you the complete body weight routine for developing huge functional strength and bullet proofing your body through the trifecta supple-strength routine.

Highly recommended.

Resources and links for Convict Conditioning

New Schemes

DumbbellsMy latest fitness and weightloss scheme is the Julia Buckley Fat Burn Revolution. A 12-week program that rotates sessions in the style of many of my previous fads. It has a definite likeness to the Body For Life program with its emphasis on protein rich meals, weight training and high intensity, short lived cardio sessions but it also mirrors the plyometric Insanity workouts with a hint of Convict Conditioning body weight training.

I’m a week in. Only 11 weeks to go to a new me.

Last week I took the before photos and spent a good 10 minutes sobbing at the results. It shouldn’t have been a shock, I weigh myself daily, I know how horrific that number is. Somehow though, the numbers managed to hide the visual impact.

The years have taken their toll and the photo emphasised the impact of gravity, the pounds have shifted downwards and my thighs are now hovering in the place my knees used to occupy.

I have high hopes for the program. Julia has achieved impressive results with previous recruits and obviously I am hoping for my own transformation. I am 10 days away from the biggest challenge of my life and 12 weeks away from my summer holiday and potential beachside humiliation.

I am completely open to transformation.

The Insanity Test

My knees have been suffering since the weekends run so I’ve decided to focus on some core training.

If I had any guts at all I’d be enrolling myself for a foundation course of crossfit but I’m sadly lacking in that department. Instead I have pulled out the Insanity DVDs so that I can sweat and groan behind closed doors.

20130115-234558.jpgFor those that haven’t heard of it, Insanity describes itself as a max-interval, extreme workout. Which means that your intensity is high for a large portion of the workout, interspersed with short recovery breaks. It’s high intensity circuit training for the home.

I’ve started back on Day 1 of the 60 day intense regime and that’s means the fitness test. 25 minutes, 8 exercises where you aim for as many repetitions as possible within 1 minute.

The exercises include a lot of jumps – vertical squat jumps, burpee jumps, globe jumps etc and a few nigh on impossible push up based exercises.

They are remarkably cruel but I quite like feeling sick after a workout.

As it was only 25 mins long I thought I might attempt a 3k on the treadmill as well. That was until I swooned in a pre-faint as I approached the machine. I think one insane session a day is good enough for Janathon.

I struggled with today’s Stout after the workout. So it’s just as well that it wasn’t worth finishing. Meantime London Stout from Greenwich has an iron filing scent, a weak flavour, possibly of bonfires and a lingering sourness. Flat and uninspiring. So that will be avoided in the future.

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