Do you want to get ripped like a prison inmate?
If you’re interested in learning how to train with only your bodyweight (prison inmates don’t always have access to weights and equipment), then keep reading to find out more about the Convict Conditioning Routine, the workouts and progression based on the best-selling book by Paul Wade.
Table of Contents
- About the Creator – Paul Wade
- What is Convict Conditioning?
- Convict Conditioning Details
- Sample Workout
- The Pros of Convict Conditioning
- The Cons of the Program (Pun)
- Is Convict Conditioning Effective?
About the Creator – Paul Wade
Paul Wade is the creator of Convict Conditioning, and he claims that he was in prison for 20 years, starting in 1979. Wade says that he learned how to be strong both mentally and physically through old school workout techniques taught to him by his older cellmate.
Wade released the original Convict Conditioning in 2009 based on the things he had learned, but not everyone buys his backstory. Some don’t believe he’s a real person, while others claim Paul Wade is a pseudonym.
No matter what the origin story of Convict Conditioning truly is, there is no doubt that bodyweight exercises and the Convicting Conditioning program has numerous benefits.
What is Convict Conditioning?
The idea behind this workout is that every move could be done in a prison cell without weights, and you’re training as if your life depended on it. Convict Conditioning is a program designed around six bodyweight exercises, and in his program Wade gives ten progressions.
In other words, instead of doing these basic exercises every week and consistently increasing the number of reps, Wade makes each move progressively more difficult to help you increase your size and strength.
Here are the “Big 6” moves that are the basis of the Convict Conditioning workout:
- Leg raise
- Handstand pushup
Convict Conditioning Details
Each move in the Convict Conditioning Workout has ten progressions, starting with the beginner moves at level one and progressing all the way to “mastery level” at level ten. In addition to learning how to perform each move correctly with perfect form, you’ll also learn the proper cadence, which Wade says is the key to increasing size and avoiding injury.
Each step of the progression has specific requirements for form and number of reps that you must be able to do comfortably before you can move on to the next level.
For example, for squats the beginner level is shoulder stand squats, and you must be able to perform three sets of 50 reps with perfect form and cadence before you move onto the next level, which is jackknife squats.
By the time you get to level ten with squats, you should be able to do one-leg squats with perfect form, and you should be able to do 50 per leg to conquer that move at “mastery level.”
It’s difficult to share a sample workout for Convict Conditioning because every one will be different based on their fitness level. However, the Convict Conditioning app says to do the four core exercises (pushups, squats, pullups, and leg raises) at least three times per week, and you should start from a level that you can do comfortably.
For each exercise, you shouldn’t increase your progression level until you’re comfortable doing the previous level. And, you’ll notice that you’re working both the upper and lower body every time you workout.
For a beginner, a level one workout would look something like this:
- Wall push-ups: 1×10, 2×25, 3×50
Standing with your feet together, you should place your palms flat against the wall. Then, bend your elbows and shoulders until your forehead gently touches the wall before pushing back to your starting position. This is one rep.
Once you are able to do three sets of 50 reps comfortably, you are ready to move on to the next level, which is incline pushups.
- Shoulder Stand Squats: 1×10, 2×25, 3×50
Think of this move like an upside down squat. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent, and then kick against the floor and push with your hands until your feet are in the air. For support, put your hands on your lower back while keeping your upper arms on the floor.
Your legs should be locked in a straight position, and your shoulders, upper back, and upper arms should be supporting you. This is your starting position. To perform the shoulder stand squat, keep your torso upright and bend your hips and knees until your knees touch your forehead. Once you extend your legs back up into the starting position, that is one rep.
Once you are able to do three sets of 50 reps comfortably, you are ready to move on to the next level, which is jackknife squats.
- Vertical Pullup: 1×10, 2×20, 3×40
While standing, grab the edge of a wall with your elbows bent. Then, push against the wall and straighten your elbows. Once you return to the starting position with your elbows bent, that’s one rep.
Once you’re able to comfortably do three sets of 40 reps, you’re ready for the next level, which includes horizontal pull ups.
- Knee Tucks: 1×10, 2×25, 3×40
While sitting on the edge of a chair or bench, straighten your legs and make sure your feet don’t touch the floor. In one smooth motion, pull your knees toward your chest and then straighten your legs back out again. This is one rep.
Once you’re able to do three sets of 40 reps comfortably, you move on to the next level, which is flat knee raises.
The Pros of Convict Conditioning
First of all, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to get started. The book is very reasonably-priced and you don’t even need a gym membership to do your workouts.
While other guys are are signing over hundreds of dollars as a down payment on their club membership, you can train almost anywhere you want.
All Fitness Levels Are Spoken For
This is a program that you can do no matter your fitness level. And, not only does it make you pay attention to proper form and technique, but it also improves your muscular endurance while enhancing your joint flexibility and mobility.
When you progress through the Big 6, you’ll be building your strength and improving your mobility at the exact same time. Everyone can benefit from this method, no matter if you’re a newbie who has never been inside a gym or if you’re an experienced athlete.
The Cons of the Program (Pun)
The Diet Advice is Weak
As I’ve said many times before, what you eat and how much you eat is essential to achieving maximum results with any program.
Instead of giving good advice about proper macros and calorie consumption for maximum muscle-building and fat loss, Wade tends to focus on what a prison inmate eats. That’s just not realistic, healthy, or beneficial for someone who wants to do this program.
Some people have complained that the progressions for each exercise are not realistic or don’t really work well for them. And, because of the high number of reps required for each move, this program can be very time consuming.
If you are looking for something quick and easy that will get noticeable results right away, this isn’t the program for you.
Is Convict Conditioning Effective?
Convict Conditioning is considered one of the “OG” resources on building muscle and getting stronger using bodyweight training.
There’s a reason that it’s maintained its popularity all these years.
Yes, the program is challenging. And yes, the progressions take time to master.
But you can’t expect to change your body without putting in the work. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true.
Overall, the concepts in the book stand the test of time and it presents a very affordable way to improve your body, even for complete beginners.
If you’re ready to see how bodyweight training can transform YOUR body, click here to check out Convict Conditioning today.