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

Convict Conditioning

I’ve long held the fantasy that the only thing between me and a perfectly honed physique was a long stint in solitary confinement.

I was obviously inspired by prison movies in my youth and still have images in my head of physical transformations behind bars.

I’ve been tempted to buy Bronson’s Solitary Fitness book before but having skim read it I found it a bit too brutal and couldn’t bring myself to support him. Paul “Coach” Wade’s book, Convict Conditioning, is different, I haven’t a clue what he was incarcerated for as he doesn’t mention it. Given his long spells in high security establishments and his focus on survival strength, the author is clearly no stranger to violence but it’s refreshing to see that this book is about exercise only.

The point about Convict Conditioning is that it’s old school. Trapped within the four walls of worldwide penitentiaries is an underground body of experts passing on the skills of progressive calisthenics. It’s an arena that remains isolated from the fads coming out of the swanky gyms in LA and where money hasn’t been lavished on high-tech equipment. It is a place where physical fitness and strength matters and where a commitment to progressive body weight exercising can either save your life or at the very least, your dignity.

It’s a simple book based on 6 key exercises that are all you need to achieve phenomenal functional strength: pushups, squats, pull ups, leg raises, bridges and handstand pushups.

20120730-093710.jpgI’m far too weedy for pull ups, cripple myself with attempts at a full squat and lord knows what would happen if I attempted a handstand, however the book is all about progression. Each exercise set has ten progressions leading to the ultimate body weight exercise:

One Arm Pushups
One Leg Squats
One Arm Pullups
Hanging Leg Raises
Stand-to-Stand Bridges
One Arm Handstand Pushups

So for one arm pushups I get to start with incline pushups against a wall.
I can do those.
I’m not yet at the 3 sets of 50 required to progress to the next stage but that’s all part of the program – slow progressions give my strength chance to build so that maybe, one day, I can wow the world with a one arm press up.

Here are the 6 starting exercises:

I can just about to make it to the bottom rung of each but the shoulder stand requires a lot of refining and I may have to find a fat person’s intro to the head stand as I’m too scared for that but who knows where I may be after a few months of Convict Conditioning.

Online Convict Conditioning resources and links

Blogs: Al Kavadlo – to see an expert in action. A Convict Conditioning Journey by Nell Bednar.
Video technique: YouTube channel dedicated to convict conditioning.
The book: Not easily available in the UK – try Amazon for used copies or go direct to Dragon Door publishing
The kindle version: Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness-Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength
Kindle version of Convict Conditioning 2: Convict Conditioning 2: Advanced Prison Training Tactics for Muscle Gain, Fat Loss and Bulletproof Joints: Advanced Prison Training Tactics for Muscle Gain, Fat Loss, and Bulletproof Joints

**UPDATE** The sequel is now available and I have posted my in depth Convict Conditioning 2 review.