Luckily my yoga teacher Jennifer Lynn has been a positive influence and has taught me to see the light in everything, so I went ahead and picked up a copy anyways. I am super happy that I did.
Once I sat down and dove into the book itself I was hooked right from the jump. Coach Wade has a direct, no frills, no bullshit writing style that I really like. It was a nice contrast to some of the more polished/academic fitness reads I’ve gone through recently. I understand the reason most training manuals stick to $12 words and technical terms. The field of exercise is a complex, scientific can of worms. That being said, I was really drawn to the more laid back, slightly gruff, would probably steal your car , yet still thorough narration style.
The book itself offers some interesting insights into why and how this style of training came to be. There are some cool old stories that interplay nicely with the more structured exercise specific sections. It jumps between the two and you never feel like you’re being beaten over the head with either approach.
The book tackles the key bodyweight movements people should aim to master, calling them:
1) The Pushup
2) The Squat
3) The Pullup
4) The Leg Raise
5) The Bridge
6) The Handstand Pushup
Each movement is presented with an overview, a brief “why do it” section and then various progressions from the utmost beginner to the most seasoned Con in the yard. This formula is used throughout the book. The order of the skills build upon each other and come with a testing protocol to see if you’ve advanced far enough to move forward. I like that the author took the time to build in testing as it is an often overlooked area in my opinion.
Having done the majority of the moves in this book before I picked it up I still found going through the progression to be very worthwhile. Revisiting the basics is never a bad move. It doesn’t take a whole lot of reps to realize if you’ve begun to let your form slip over time, or if you were flat out avoiding weak spots by always using machines or barbells.
Not only does calisthenic training build up strength, endurance and speed but it also creates a much richer physical I.Q than simply slogging away in the gym does. You WILL hit walls in this program and progress can slow down to a trickle at times. You learn very quickly that mastering your own bodyweight is a lifelong endeavor.
It was a fun, informative and well thought out book that I find myself revisiting weekly. Convict Conditioning reminded me that there is no substitute for bodyweight training and that considering these moves “beginner” is selling them hugely short.
Since reading the book I’ve brought regular bodyweight training back into my routine and the results have been awesome. I feel better, move better and am motivated beyond belief to build upon my weaknesses as I push towards mastering each movement.
The book also comes with a few follow along programs and a chapter on Self-Coaching. It’s not the cheapest ebook out there, but is worth the price of admission in my opinion.
I just wish they included the prison issue black cap and grey tank top in the purchase price.
Check it out on Amazon
Or on Dragon Door