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.


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.


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.


Theonomy Files: No. 6: Theological Studies and the Steroid Effect

One of the dangers in taking steroids while lifting weights is that despite all the gains, the level you reach is likely the highest you will ever reach.   Once you get off steroids, and even the biggest “user” won’t take them perpetually (No one does steroids, or even creatine, during the regular season for risk of dehydration), it is unlikely you will ever reach those levels naturally again.

We see something similar in theological studies.   Deciding which area to major in will determine how deep one’s theological knowledge can get.   Here was my (and many others; and for what it’s worth, throughout this post substitute any Federal Vision term in place of a theonomy term and the point is largely the same) problem in institutional learning:  I immediately jumped on how important apologetics was for the Christian life to the extent that I made apologetical concerns overwhelm theological concerns.  While I believe Greg Bahnsen died entirely orthodox, and I do not believe theonomy is a heresy (only an error), focusing on Bahnsen’s method to such an extent, both in apologetics and ethics, warped the rest of theology.   I essentially made theology proper (and soteriology and ecclesiology) subsets of apologetics/ethics, instead of the other way around.

I won’t deny:  I became very good at apologetics and ethics, but I didn’t know jack about theology outside of a basic outline of Berkhof.   Studying Reformed theology among sources, and worse, movements, who are only barely Reformed (Bahnsen excluded), limited how deep I could go in Reformed theology.

I’ll say it another way:  when I was taking covenant theology we had to read sections of Gisbertus Voetius and Cocceius in class.  I got frustrated thinking, “These guys are tying in the covenant of works with natural law.  Don’t they know how un-reformed natural law is?”  Problem was, I was wrong.  But if you read the standard theonomic (or FV; by the way, the FV fully adopts the Barthian, and now historically falsified, Calvin vs. Calvinist paradigm) historiography, there is no way to avoid such misreadings.  Even worse, said historiography fully prevents one from learning at the feet of these high Reformed masters.

By the grace of God I’ve repented of that misreading.  I spent this spring finding as many Richard Muller journal articles and taking copious notes.

Review: Convict Conditioning

It’s somewhat overly bold and cliche to say “This book will change your life,” but this book really will change your life.  If you apply the principles in this book, you will never need to buy another weight, spend another dollar on gym equipment, or complain that you don’t have the time or space to workout today.   Paul Wade (assuming he actually exists, which I don’t think he does) demonstrates a number of principles that take the centuries-old technique of “bodyweight training” and puts it into a systematic fashion designed for growth.

Wade takes six exercises (or power moves) and gently walks the trainee through each of them.  For example, the goal for working out the back is obviously pull ups, and the super move is “one-handed pull ups.”  Few humans can do that, so Wade starts you off at “baby moves” and once you complete a certain progression standard (x sets at y number of reps) you go to the next phase (labeled 1-6).  This takes time and the willingness to fail.   Most people who have some strength training experience can usually start off at phase  3 or 5.

His technique “works,” plain and simple (though I have some problems with some of his suggestions, which I will list below).   Bodyweight training makes the body move against resistance in exactly the way God designed it to work.  As a result, you got stronger at a faster rate.   But you don’t simply get “stronger” or “bigger muscles,” though that certainly happens.  Because you are training in a way that the greatest athletes and warriors have trained for the past five thousand years, you also grow in joint strength, tendon strength and even neurological strength (your nervous system will get stronger on the “bridge” and “stomach” workouts.  You are forcing your mind to work in harmony with your body on moves that you really do not believe are possible, buy you to do them anyway).    Weight lifting can only give you a fraction of that kind of strength.


Even the most insane workout regimen in this book can be completed in under thirty minutes and most under fifteen.  For example, I have decent stomach muscles but I never really worked out my “abs” because I got bored doing the “Arnold” workout (4 x 25 crunches).  Wade explains that doing the body weight ab moves, you don’t need to do an insane amount of reps.   A sufficient number will do because these moves will simultaneously work out the lower back, hips, and lower abs.   (Getting a “ripped” six pack has more to do with diet and aerobics than reps).

For the first few months, bodyweight training has a “multiplier effect” on your strength.  Because each phase is categorically more difficult than the last, the body is forced to move to new heights.


I really have questions on his urging us to do one-arm chin ups.  Yes, it will mean you are insanely strong, but it also places an inordinate amount of strain on the forearms and for most people this will mean they have to lay off of workouts for a few weeks.  I really believe that one can get similar gains doing weighted chin ups (with a kettlebell; this way you don’t have to touch a weight!) which will also build forearm strength and eventually allow you to do one arm chin ups.


How will this book change your life?  Let’s be honest:  the workout moves in this book are brutal.   After you have punished your body like this, why would you ruin what you have accomplished by going and gorging on junk food?  Even someone with modest discipline levels knows better than this?  Further, since you are lifting your body in these moves, you need to keep your weight under control.   See what just happened:  this is a cut-and-dry plan for losing weight, getting in shape, and gaining more energy without having to do a metrosexual workout plan or buying some snake oil product.

Review of Felon Fitness

If you are buying this book because you watched a video of Tooky Williams and you want to look like him, you are going to be disappointed. As a few reviwers pointed out, this book was not written by ghetto souljaz, big burly bruthaz, or some gangsta because he was incarcerated for taking on twenty men and is muscled up. It was written by white-collar guys. Unlike those reviewers, however, this book does have some helpful tips, but no more.

Williams age 29.

One of its helpful tips is how to create a dumbell using cord and magazines. Essentially, you roll up one magazine (which will be the “handle”), tie it off with duct tape, and run a cord through the hollow part. Next, you get a large stack of magazines (or a small stack, depending on what you want the weight to be), find some way to solidify them (either tape or glue or something), and then connect them to the “cord.” Voila! Dumbbell. And unlike “real” dumbbells, and the authors don’t mention this—I do, the center of gravity is kind of like a kettlebell, meaning it weighs like real-life objects and not pretty-boy weights. That makes it useful. The only down side, though, is that you probably can’t make another one with matching weight, which makes it hard to do exercises using both hands.

They also show you how to improvise on bench press (ways which all kettlebell users already know) and chin ups. However, given the ubiquity of chin up bars, it’s probably easier to buy one of those than to tip your bed over and use that, which is what they suggest.

The book is interesting because it teaches you how to improvise with materials around the house. Honestly, though, I would save the $16 and get Convict Conditioning instead.