Convict Conditioning 2 (review)

by the eponymous Paul Wade, whether he exists or not.

 

Wade’s first book, Convict Conditioning, was an awe-inspiring classic.  Because of his teachings, I can do things now at 32 than I could at 18 when I was bench pressing almost 300 lbs (not a lot, I know, but I’m a little guy).  This book is awesome, too, but not in the same way.

In the first CC Wade taught you how to work the big muscle groups using body weight training.  This book focuses on the unseen, yet in some ways more important aspects like tendon strength, vertebrates, joints, and smaller and harder to train muscle groups.

cc2

And he succeeds.  

Yet a few warnings:

1)  In the first CC if you were already reasonably strong at the beginning (say, you could easily do ten chin ups or even a one arm push up), you could skip the intermediate steps.   With these exercises you can’t do it.  I have strong arms and a strong back, yet I tried some of the advanced forearm exercises without building the tendons up first and I tore some fibers in my forearms.   When he says you need to build up your tendons he means it.

Should one get this book or C-Mass?  This book gives you more specific advice on some exercises, and C-Mass assumes you have read this book.  C-Mass will help you build towards mass, but CC2 has some invaluable advice as well.  I would probably say get this book.  Among other things, this book teaches you how to build up to a flag post, which may be the apex of strength training.

Wade ends the book with some mental coaching.  This was the neatest part of the book because he describes what it takes to mentally survive prison and how to apply that to training.  

C-Mass (Review)

This book is an “application” of the principles of his previous Convict Conditionings. He references earlier exercises but often doesn’t explain them. You can google and figure it out.

He promises 20lb-30lb gains from bodyweight alone? Well, this is a half-truth. You probably won’t gain 20lbs of lean muscle anytime soon. However, he is right in contrasting training for neural strength (think Pavel Tsatsouline) and training for muscle growth.

Pros:

I honestly learned a lot of new stuff. I’ve been doing a combo of kettlebells and bodyweight training for two years, and have done some form of weight training for close to two decades, and I still learned a lot of new exercises. And it works. I’ve gained close to 25lbs in two years from some variety of bodyweight training.

His dieting advice is mostly sound. You don’t need outside “help.” Eat a lot of hearty, manly food and work hard and you will be fine. Shucks, even drink a beer from time to time.

A lot of the sciency principles are sound and he does a good job explaining why stuff works.

Cons:

As others have pointed out, the language is a problem. I’m used to the “bro” culture and I can get past some language. But dropping the F-bomb every page really doesn’t add anything. Further, while I am all for making fun of the “Be-liebers” and some of the slams towards the metrosexual Jersey shore community are funny, he overdoes.

I am not convinced that bodyweight purism is the way to go.   Pavel has shown conclusively that kettlebells can heal and rehab the body and add insane strength.    Further, I am not sure about dropping deadlift altogether.   It s a raw strength exercise with real life application.

And the truth remains, if you want to pack on real mass real quickly, nothing equals barbell squats.  Personally, I don’t do barbell squats because I don’t have the equipment, but it is the real mass gainer.  Even more, Wade praises guys like Saxon, Reg Park, and Steve Reeves, yet these guys all used forms of weightlifting.