Author: Paul Wade
Convict Conditioning is a book of bodyweight only training. It utilizes six training exercises, each having ten different variations. The six exercises are called “the Big Six”, and they are one-arm pushup, one legged squat (pistol squat), one-arm pullup, hanging straight leg raise, stand-to-stand bridge, and one-arm handstand pushup. You don’t start with these exercises, but rather easier versions, and they represent the ultimate goal of the workout.
The workout is structured so that each exercise of the Big Six is divided into ten steps, the final step being the exercises listed earlier. As a general rule, the first steps are the easiest and you move gradually to more challenging variations. For example, you start the pushups series with standing pushups against the wall, and progress from there into incline pushups against a table, then kneeling pushpus, and so on until you reach the one-arm pushup.
Each of the steps are further divided into three stages: Beginner standard, Intermediate standard, and Progression standard. The standards differ from each other by the number of repetitions and sets you are supposed to perform each exercise. When you reach the Progression standard of an exercise, you can move on to the next step, where you’ll start from the Beginner standard.
The author emphasizes clean performance of exercises, and slow progression through the steps. You are supposed to start from step one with each exercise even if you could jump directly to step six, for example. And you are supposed to progess slowly through each step, taking a minimum of one month on each step no matter how easy the exercise is for you.
The name of the book is derived from the inception of the training system – or so the story goes. The author “Paul Wade” (not his real name) has supposedly spent a major portion of his adult life in prison, and there he has gained reputation of being able to coach himself and his fellow inmates into excellent shape. And because there are no free weigts allowed in prisons, the workouts had to consist of bodyweight exercises only. The credibility of the story has been questioned, but no doubt it gives a marketing edge; something where the book stands alone from countless other bodyweight only training manuals.