Day 248-2 (T, 120904) — Starting Convict Conditioning Today

I’m Going With . . .  The other day, I compared several bodyweight exercise programs  and asked for comments to help me figure out which one I wanted to use as I start exercising regularly again.  As I looked at all five programs again, Convict Conditioning holds the most interest for me so that’s what I’m going to do.*

Why I Chose Convict Conditioning.  Because it is a well-designed program using logically progressive exercises to develop all the major muscle groups and give me the well-rounded strength and body-reshaping I’ve been looking for.

(Plus, if I do it right, maybe I’ll be able to do all those cool bodyweight tricks I’ve seen on YouTube when I’m done. ;-))

It combines the best of the other programs — simple and effective exercises, good explanations of both the moves themselves and the reasons behind doing them, illustrative pictures, smart suggestions about progression / going beyond /variations, etc. — into an appealing all-in-one package.

I did not chose Convict Conditioning because it is the ultimate program, because training with weights is “bad”, or because of the ridiculous hype about it being a “secret to surviving” in prison.  I don’t believe those statements are true and, even if they were, I just don’t care about such things.**

The Routine: Good Behavior.  This training program involves two exercises three days each week, hitting on all of the Big Six exercises.  It’s the second-level program suggested in the book but, since I have a fair amount of experience with bodyweight exercises and I haven’t totally lost the strength I gained in my previous regimens — I can still do 50+ consecutive push-ups / squats without too much trouble and pretty good form — I figured it was a better match for my fitness level than the beginner level (New Blood, two exercises twice a week, excluding bridging and handstand push-ups).

Day Exercise Progression Work Sets
1 Push-ups 2
Leg Raises 2
2 Pull-ups 2
Squats 2
3 Handstand Push-ups 2
Bridges 2

Most times, there should be a day or so of rest between exercise days.

Exercises. I am, however, going to follow his recommendation to start at the most basic level of exercises for each group so as to build a strong base for future power moves.

Before the work sets, there are supposed to be some short sets to get your blood going but, since I’m going to be doing the most basic exercises anyway, these are the warmup.  I’ll come back to them to get loosened up before I do the harder exercises when I have progressed to the more difficult workouts.

For rest between sets, he differentiates between training for stamina (brief rests) and training for strength (take as long as you need to give the next set everything you’ve got).  I am still debating with myself which I plan to do.

Today, I will aim achieving the intermediate standard.

  • Knee Tucks, 2 sets of 25 — His description is basically like this video except that he adds a one second pause in the middle (contracted) position.
  • Wall Push-ups – 2 sets of 25 — This is the same exercise as Mark Sisson uses as his first movement.

If I can do both of these perfectly, I’ll move to the “progression standard” (3×40 and 3×50, respectively) for next week, working those set & rep numbers until I can do them without problems.  Once I can do the required number of “progression” reps and sets with perfect form, I’ll move on to the next exercise the following week.

My guess is that I can do the push-ups without problem but that the leg-raises may take a while longer.  We shall see.

UPDATE.  As I expected, I was able to do the intermediate level of both of these exercises easily.  I’ll do day two tomorrow and day three on Friday.


* I think a large part of it is that I haven’t done it before and I like new challenges.  As always, this is subject to change; I’m nothing if not adaptable when (if) I find a better solution than what I am already doing.
** For a good review of the hype v. the quality of the materials concerning bodyweight exercises, check out this book review by Tried and True Fitness.

2 responses to “Day 248-2 (T, 120904) — Starting Convict Conditioning Today

  1. Not trying to sound like a super werkout stud or anything, but….50 reps? 3 times a week?
    Why not just do this daily?
    I try to get in 100-200+ reps of whatever type of bodyweight stuff I feel like in the mornings every day, takes less than 10 minutes, no big deal.
    I can totes understand doing the program, working the program, following the program, and of course easing in to it after a layoff and so on, but…that just doesn’t seem to hardly qualify as a workout, you know?
    As far as the rest periods go I don’t think it’s worth waiting to recover if you’re capable of hitting more than 10 reps of a given movement as it’s hardly very strength based at that point already.
    Interesting to read about your progress. 🙂

    • I agree: it does start out slow, doesn’t it? And I’m ok with that for now. I’ve had some chronic aches and pains which I’d just as soon steer clear of as I get going again (bursitis in my hip, knee pain, wrist aches, neck twinges, etc.).

      Taking it easy and working up to a more intense workout sounds good to me. As best as I can tell, once I’ve really gotten into the meat of the progressions, I’ll be doing plenty of work; three sets of 30 hanging leg raises with perfect form is a good workout, regardless of what else you do that day. Ditto doing 2 sets of 100 one-armed push-ups, 4 sets of 6 one-armed pull-ups, 2 sets of 50 one-legged squats, etc.

      I imagine that I’ll adjust things as I go along. For now, I’m good with slow. 😉

      New John

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