This is the second part where I present what I’ve read, heard, learned and concluded about Convict Conditioning after 7,5 months of following its approach. Click here to read the first part.
- While the book is very well structured and offers a good system for advancing, it has its weaknesses. Sometimes the leap of difficulty is so big that the step feels harder than the next. A classic example is step 2 in the pullup series which is horizontal rows a.k.a. Australian pullups. If you try to this by the book I cannot see how you will ever advance unless you already are elite-level. Simply put it’s too hard. There is plenty of people facing problems with the step the way it’s presented in the book, with the given bar height and form. Step 7 Uneven Squats in the squat series is another major sticking point.
- For those types of steps where it is generally agreed that they are much harder than the previous ones, there are the so called hidden steps. A hidden step is nothing more than an easier version of that step, often changing a variable like the range of motion or the tempo until you get strong enough to do the proper movement. Coach Wade has actually written a guide named The Super F.A.Q. where he gives his view on many of these issues people face when moving along the progression steps. To give you the gist, he advises the usage of hidden steps plus applying common sense – if it is way too hard to be that early in the series than adjust it so that it’s easier.
- “If a step is too hard then you are not strong enough”, one may reasonably assume. While this may hold true, there is an important motivational element in your training. If you don’t feel like you’re making any progress then it’s easy to fall victim to disappointment and abandon an otherwise solid system. I have on occasion made a step easier when I deemed that I had spent as much time as I possibly could to perform it by the book. And by as much time I mean months, not a few sessions.
- The book is a training manual on progressive calisthenics. At the end of the book there is a section on programming i.e. 5 different schedules to choose from depending on your level and what you want to achieve. I am following what I think most people who have a total training experience of more or less 2 years would, the one called Good Behavior. The coach however stresses that the approach is more important than the program. You can, if you want, create your own training schedule. To help you with this, the book contains a section on self-coaching which explains the principles behind being your own trainer and encourages you to listen to your body.
- By reading the book you will get a strong feeling that you don’t need to do anything more but the exercises in the book to get stronger. I did this in the beginning. Then I started adding some more exercises to each session, a number of secondary exercises if you will. For instance, I do a dip progression on the same day I have my pushups. I apply the CC approach on those other exercises. The result is that I have seen major difference in how well I perform and how strong I get. Sometimes a little bit more volume might be what you need. Experiment and see what works best for you.
- The book does not talk about diet. There are no dietary instructions, no meal plans and no macro combinations or nutritional analysis of food. Diet is touched upon only by mention, however it is stated that your body fat is going to affect the capacity to which you can perform.
In the 3rd and final part of this series of posts I am going to talk about what results I have seen by following the program these 7,5 months both in terms of physique and strength. Is it a good program to follow for strength? Can you build muscle? Will you get ripped?