Convict Conditioning by Paul 'Coach' Wade

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Backed by Dragon Door publishing, also behind the Kavadlo brothers' growing collection of bodyweight strength e-books, this book by Paul Wade entitled Convict Conditioning is a nuts and bolts calisthenics guide that offers a ten-step progression through six key movements.

Give the overarching concept behind the book, namely of finding ways to develop strength and muscle mass with minimal if any equipment in a strictly confined space (such as a prison cell!), this is not somewhere to come looking for the next Ido Portal-inspired move or cardio endurance tips. 

Instead we go back to basics, to the roots of calisthenics, before it was taken over by the world of Instagram-friendly tricks and dare-devil plyometrics. This is raw bodyweight strength training laid out in a simple, unfussy and deliberately straight-talking style. No fancy terminology and strictly no 'BS'.

So how does this fit into our biofit natural fitness philosophy of going back to nature with evolution friendly training inspired by the animal kingdom and functional, real world movement patterns? 

As mentioned, there is no focus on Stamina, Movement or Mobility here at all - three of our biofit class types - but when it comes to our fourth class type, Strength, things become much more interesting. 

Wade has done his work in terms of laying out a clear, concise training regime with what he calls the Big Six movements and a series of progressions from complete beginner through to mastery for each, equating to what amounts to several years of dedicated training guidance for most readers with the time, patience and commitment to stick with it.

Crucially, Wade's take on 'mastery' is a long way short of most amateur or ex- gymnasts - a common marker used by those in Ido Portal's far more advanced 'movement culture' tribe. For those with more modest ambitions, or simply less time to devote to their training, Wade offers arguably a more realistic set of targets to aim for. Again, with the obvious caveat that this is not a complete health and fitness solution, merely the strength component of it.

So what are his Big Six? A combination of tried and tested classics and one refreshing addition: Pullups + Pushups + Leg Raises + Handstand Pushups + Squats + Bridges. In his one major concession to mobility, the inclusion of a Bridge here is genius. Giving spinal health such primacy is a message that needs reiterating at any and every opportunity.

By zeroing in on such relatively non-complex movements, Wade encourages the user to build up the necessary muscle and joint strength first before worrying too much about skill, which can follow later once the foundations are in place; for example with free-standing handstands after mastering handstand pushups.

All in all, this is a useful guide to the key components of a calisthenics strength regime that can and should in our biofit view be combined with regular high intensity stamina and low intensity joint mobility work as well as full-body animal movements, sprinting or jogging and a little freestyle play or fight drills.

Check it out here: https://www.dragondoor.com/b41/

TrainingMatt Morley