Review: Convict Conditioning

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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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How Strength Training Changes Your Body For Good

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From Time, exerpts from the article “The Science of Exercise“:

“There are so many misconceptions about strength and resistance training,” says Larry Tucker, a professor in exercise sciences at Brigham Young University. “One is that you’ll become muscle-bound”—so bulked up that your body becomes rigid. That myth was somewhat dispelled when athletes who started strength-training saw that they could hit a ball farther, jump higher and run faster, Tucker says. “Gradually we started realizing there are benefits beyond sports.”

But women in particular are neglecting strength training at their own peril. It’s the only kind of exercise that makes muscles bigger, which lets them generate more strength and force, faster. “Muscle mass allows us to move,” Tucker says. Young people tend to take for granted the day-to-day parts of life that require strength, like walking up stairs or picking up a baby. “But a sedentary lifestyle means that people are gradually becoming weaker over time,” he says. Building muscle can fight back against that process.

It’s also one of the very few ways to make bones denser, a perk that is especially important for women. Lifting something heavy, like a dumbbell, makes bones bear more weight, and in exercise, stressing your bones is a good thing (to a point of course). Bones are constantly remodeling, explains Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina. “Your body is always adding calcium to your bones and taking calcium away from your bones,” he says.

This delicate balance starts to tip as people age, and “they lose more mineral from the bone than they’re able to lay down,” Hackney says. Over time, bone gets less dense and more brittle and prone to osteoporosis, a condition that affects about 10 million Americans—80% of whom are female. Women have smaller, thinner bones than men from the start, and after menopause they lose estrogen, a hormone that protects bones.

Strength training also comes with the less visible benefit of lowering risk for several diseases. “The only real way we can increase our metabolism, unless we take drugs, is to lift weights and maintain or increase our lean mass,” says Tucker. Doing so makes the body more sensitive to insulin, and therefore more durable against certain diseases.

Recent research suggests that strength training may lower a woman’s risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In a 2016 study, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health used data from nearly 36,000 older women, who ranged in age from 47 to 98. The women filled out questionnaires for about a decade detailing their health and exercise levels, and one question asked women to estimate how much weightlifting or strength training they had done per week in the past year. The researchers then tracked which of the women had a heart attack or stroke and which developed Type 2 diabetes.

Whether or not a woman did muscle-strengthening exercises indicated a lot about her health. Compared with women who avoided it, those who did any amount of strength training were more likely to have a lower body mass index and a healthier diet and less likely to be a current smoker.

They also had a Type 2 diabetes risk that was 30% lower and a cardiovascular disease risk 17% lower than those who did no strength training, even after the researchers controlled for other variables like age, diet and physical activity.

Adding aerobic exercise helped drive both risks down even more. Those who did at least 120 minutes a week of aerobic exercise and some strength training had a Type 2 diabetes risk 65% lower than women who didn’t do either.

Most people should do both kinds of exercise for the biggest gains. But if you had to choose one, Clark advises, pick strength training. “Cardio is more digestible, it’s less intimidating, but people also get less and less out of it over time,” she says. As you grow fitter, you have to do more and more aerobic exercise to see the gains, she explains. Strength training, in her view, is the most efficient exercise for those with limited time.

Read more:
http://amp.timeinc.net/time/4824531/strength-training-women-exercise/

Barbell Training in the Military

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A military Physical Fitness Test is not designed to measure combat effectiveness, nor is it designed to measure combat readiness. Physical Fitness Tests are wellness assessments for hygiene designed to ensure a minimal level of fitness necessary to avoid medical problems, not for improved performance.

Here is how to do it better and actually improve performance.

Starting Strength and Barbell Training in the Military
by
Lt. Col. Christian “Mac” Ward

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Barbell Training as Rehab

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Why getting stronger helps everything. This account is of an injured man told he’d never walk again and his complete rehabilitation despite his grim doctor’s prognosis.

http://startingstrength.com/articles/brian_jones_story.pdf

Strength Training For The Elderly: A Life Saver

4 Comments

More proof why making effective strength training a priority is better than cardio, especially as you age. Conventional “wisdom” that cardio is the best (or only) has been proven incorrect numerous times. Dr. Ken Cooper had it wrong OK, if we’re polite we can say he was only partially correct. Even the man that coined the word “aerobics” admits his mistake now.
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Fitness is Hygiene

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Hygiene [hy·giene]
noun
conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease

Maintaining minimum physical fitness is a form hygiene and failing to do so is unhygienic.
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Cowards and Built-in Excuses

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Competition for competition’s sake is about the truth. In shooting, too many people show up with built-in excuses why the results don’t mean anything.

Nate Perry

It’s arguable that gym and fitness activity likely has as much myth and misinformation floating around as shooting and gun activity. Competition is the ideal, and sometimes the only, way to sort through the nonsense and find truth. Something proven to consistently work in competition is proven to consistently work.

Here’s an example from champion powerlifter Layne Norton.

“If you only compete in competitions you know you can win, you’re a coward. That says something about your level of integrity. It’s disrespectful to your competition and to yourself to avoid showing up.”

-Layne Norton
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