Deceptive hype overshadowing semi-decent bodyweight exercise advice that can had for better elsewhere

Convict Conditioning is an example of what’s wrong with most fitness advice as it is primarily image and hyperbole overshadowing a bit of potentially useful advice. Here author “Paul Wade” (Google “Paul Wade identity” for sources claiming this is a pseudonym) uses prison hype to sell a “hard core” image for bodyweight exercise as better than anything else while providing no evidence to back up the claims.

Looking past the prison images that are merely public domain pics from the government (see page 288, Acknowledgements) the main model/demonstrator for this book is Jim Bathurst, founder of the excellent Beast Skills website. If “Paul Wade” is this awesomely strong guy built with bodyweight exercises, who claims to have won various Powerlifting meets with his methods (but doesn’t even bother to make up and lie about a total at said events) why not demo himself? I mean, a former convict could save the money instead of hiring Bathurst and then block out his face with Photoshop to hide his identity if necessary.

Given that Jim Bathurst demonstrated this instead of the author, how did he develop his ability? Visit his Beast Skills website to confirm:

“I like to incorporate barbell training (power lifting and olympic lifting), as well as gymnastic and bodyweight exercises. … I feel that bodyweight training and weight training complement each other very well. I’ve gotten the impression that some people feel they have to choose between one or the other. Or that one is superior to the other. I hate to see a divide in two types of training that will both ultimately improve your body.”

One Legged Squat (The Pistol)

“Method One – Squats!
Weighted squats are an incredible exercise, and going nice and low with them helps build some incredible strength in your legs. This ended up being the only method I used. Seriously, the only one. I had worked rock bottom squats for several months before I had even heard of the pistol, but I was able to pick up the skill very quickly and easily because I had developed strength in the necessary range of motion.”

One Arm Chin-up / Pull-up

“Weighted Chins
The weighted chin was a major exercise I worked on while training for the OAP, much more important than doing endless unweighted chinups. I would highly recommend you work this exercise. This was my bread and butter.

How much extra weight do I need to do in my weighted chin-up before I can do a one arm chin-up? Perform a chin-up with 2/3 of your current bodyweight for 2-3 reps and you’re close.”


Beginner Handstand Pushups

“Now the obvious question – can’t I just work my military press in the gym? Sure you can. I love to work heavy shoulder presses myself.”

“Paul Wade” lists Bert Assirati (page 13) as an example to justify his claims. Yet, Assirati developed his strength primarily with weight training. In 1938 he set an unofficial world record Deadlift at 800 pounds along with squatting 550 pounds for ten reps. He could press of 160 pounds with one arm, clean and jerk 360, and press 285. On his 16th birthday his father took him to a physical culture show and after watching a demonstration by Alan P. Mead, Bert’s father bought him a barbell set from Mead, which included notes and a training program from Mead.

John Grimek (page 26) was a member of the 1936 US Olympic Weightlifting Team and York Barbell Club.

On a personal note, I’ve found my ability to perform bodyweight exercise has improved greatly since training with barbells because barbell training got me stronger than a bodyweight exercise approach ever did.

Convict Conditioning leaves you with one possible approach to bodyweight exercise (among plenty of others) surrounded by unsubstantiated claims by an anonymous author, a hard sell of bodyweight exercise done by running down weight training (with no evidence, along with examples and demonstrations by people that were successful because of their weight training), all set to a tone glamorizing a prison “hard time” chic. I was interested in this book upon finding it in a library and am glad I didn’t waste money on it, though I’m disappointed the library did.

If you’re interested in bodyweight exercise, Jim Bathurst at his Beast Skills website has a number of free tutorials along with expanded manuals for sale. He is the real deal and doesn’t need hype or a pseudonym to do it. Even “Paul Wade” paid him to demonstrate.

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