Thursday, November 3, 2011

Behind the 8 Ball a Little but What the Hell: My Review of the Convict Conditioning Books

I've noticed that in the past few weeks, I've got some new readers. You may have found out about my blog from Paul Wade's newest book, "Convict Conditioning 2" where my super-sexy finger strength was on full display. So, that might color be as bias to others if I gave my dos centavos about the the series that I've given modest contribution to. If that's what you're thinking then FUCK YOU. I try to be honest and I wouldn't put myself in a book series if I felt that it was shit. I was very happy for the invitation to be in the book and I think both are awesome books.

It's always struck me as strange but as I've been approached about BW strength training, I've noted that people seem to break down into two dramatically different groups. First are those who don't strength train at all and couldn't do one rep of even the most basic pull-up and push-up so they don't bother since they're that weak. The next group are the people who looked at the basics as just that: basics. Once they got good at them they abandoned them for the weights since they figured that there was no worthwhile strength progression afterwards.

Convict Conditioning (CC1) is excellent because it covers both types of strength trainers with variations on six Bodyweight movements, ranging from very easy to very advanced. I'd go so far as to say that this is the best, pure BW book out there. If you had to buy just one BW book to get you started in BW training and sustain you with a very bare minimum of stuff for a few years, then this is the book to get. The most elaborate equipment in this book are baseballs, basketballs, and towels. The only references to weights I recall are car pushing, carrying another person, plates for twisting exercises, and using jugs of water for balance while doing pistols.

I'm sure that a lot of us (Paul Wade included) know the criticisms regarding CC1. Compared to something like Ross Enamait's masterpiece, "Never Gymless", CC1 is decidedly different. Much of the written material about strength training are about training for the sake of becoming stronger at some sort of sport (in Ross' case, it's boxing). CC1 is about learning to use and become stronger with BW movements rather than simply becoming stronger soley for bettering another activity.

There may be some people underwhelmed by the first book because more than half of the movements in CC1 are child's play to them. If that's you, then Convict Conditioning 2(CC2) is your book. There are no basic or beginners moves here. There are simply beginner moves to some very difficult exercises. A lot of people complain about buying books about BW since the written know-how can be found on the internet with a couple of key strokes on Google. Indeed, I've seen plenty of tutorials on pistols and pull-ups. Ah wheel roll-out are down to a nickel a dozen. Flag holds are much more rare and not nearly as well-taught as it is in this book. As before in CC1, the progressions are laid out very clearly and logically. If you thought that the layout of progression in CC1 was awesome in it's simple brutality, then you won't be disappointed with CC2.

It also touches on other topics beyond the argument for BW training and the moves not that he didn't bring up in CC1. There's discussions on nutrition, active stretching, keeping your joints in running order, getting the mind right and clean living. This gives the book a more vintage feel, sort of like reading, "The Way to Live" by George Hackenschmidt.

Once again, very minimum amount of equipment is used in any of these exercises. In my opinion, the genius of both books is that it shows you the dizzying levels of physical power you can really generate with such a bare-bones setting! The books cost a little more than most other books on the subject but if you want to measure the price up to what you can do with the information contained within, these books earn their keep.

In other words, I highly recommend them.


Juan said...

Nice man, I didn't know you were featured in the second book.

philo said...

Nice review! I'd love to have your point of view on another book. How can I contact you about this?