What am I forgetting?
What am I forgetting?
That charming, catchy, maddening couplet has been bouncing around in my bulbous noggin for about a month. I checked all the usual suspects, but my pants were zipped, my hair was immaculately styled, and I had not left my boy on top of my car before driving to work. (joke)
I found the answer hiding in plain sight on a foul, newish blog called World’s Strongest Librarian. Some wretched knave had started a series called 10 Essential Strength Books, and had left it abandoned after the 8th rapturous installment.
I vowed to hunt down the author of the orphaned series and beat him within an inch of his life. And so it was done. He has learned his lesson, so here, humbly, sheepishly, is a long-overdue book review in this series I totally forgot about.
The Convict Conditioning Book
Paul “Coach” Wade spent 19 years in some very nasty prisons. While incarcerated, he developed a strength and conditioning program that he states “literally kept me alive.”
He got a reputation for being incredibly strong, but also for being able to teach others to do the same, hence–“Coach” Wade.
Convict Conditioning is the 300 page distillation of his training system. It is not a biography of prison life and Wade is very circumspect about the circumstances that landed him in prison. He went in as a teenager and spent the majority of the next 20 years incarcerated in several stretches.
The title and the story behind it have caused a lot of backlash, ranging from “I refuse to pay murders to teach me to do one-armed push-ups or one-armed pull ups” to “I just want to get really strong, and hasn’t he paid his debt off anyways?”
I fall in the second camp. Many will disagree with me, but having read the book, I do not believe it glorifies prison, prisoners, or thug life. I do believe that it glorifies strength, perseverance, and the constant testing of one’s limits.
But I’m not normal. I would happily buy a book called “The Ruffled Pink Panties System of Frilly Little Bodyweight Endeavors For Gentlemen of Quality” if the information in it would make me strong. And based on the amount of people who type Paul Wade Conviction Conditioning into search engines every month, I’m not alone.
Here’s what’s in the book
Six bodyweight feats and how to achieve them:
- The One-Armed Push-up
- The One-Legged Squat
- The Hanging Leg Raise
- The One-Armed Pull-up
- The Bridge
- The One-Arm Handstand Push-up
Are you thinking, “Yeah right?” I sort of was when I began flipping through the book.
I can do the one-legged squat and the hanging leg raise, but a one-armed handstand push-up? That sounds like you’d have to look like the Hulk and spend a decade training with Cirque de Soleil.
But when I saw the progressions, I realized that there is indeed a rational way to attack what seem like supernatural feats of strength–logical progressions and responsible pacing.
Wade’s approach is meticulous and well-thought-out. I fully believe that if I commit to doing what he says, that I can achieve the goals (eventually) he lays out.
That’s the question to ask yourself: do I want to do any of these things? What would drive me to do so?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–when it comes to your health and strength,you cannot have too many tools in your toolbox. Kettlebells are just a tool. Barbells are just a tool. I use both, but until now, I have done minimal practice with my own bodyweight.
I’m ready to add something, and you’re going to see me do it. By the end of 2010, I will doing authoritative one-armed push-ups and–I reserve to right to be proven wrong–the one-armed pull-up.
I am 6’8″ and weight 247 pounds today. Neither one of those things is conducive to easy pull-ups. But is it possible? I’m going to find out.
By this point, you probably know whether this is something you would like or not. If so, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I’m as excited about this program as I have been since I found kettlebells.
And just so we’re clear, if you click any of these links I’m slyly scattering and you buy the book, I get a couple of bucks. I’m not even sure how much, but now you know and we can stay friends.
Many will not read Convict Conditioning simply because of the title or the associations. I’m not going to tell them they’re wrong. If they want another recommendation, I can shamelessly point them to The Knot, my own book. But when I’m hanging from the top of the pull-up bar with one arm, I may not be able to keep my brain from saying…
PS: Since writing this post I’ve had some questions about Convict Conditioning for women. I have no reason to think it wouldn’t work for a female as well as for a male. Resist that urge you’re fighting to say “Aren’t there women in prison too?” Whoops. Guess I sort of said it for you.
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