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Warg

Did I understand Convict Conditioning correctly?

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I just finished reading "Convict Conditioning" and want to start training according to it. Alas, the "Self Coaching" chapter wasn't as detailed as I had hoped. So I'm still not sure how to start the program.

 

First of all, Paul Wade recommends warming up by doing a 2-4 sets (depending on the individual) of easier variations before proceeding to the working sets. But how do I warm up when I'm at step one with an excercise?

 

Then, how do I determine the rep counts of my working sets?

Here's how I understood the program. Let's use push ups as an example.

From what I've read, I'd probably do one set of wall push ups for as many reps as I can do with perfect form or until I meet the rep count for the the intermediate standard (whichever comes first), then pause and continue with a second set given that I met the intermediate standard's rep count on the first set. Then, after meeting the intermediate standard on my second set, I'd add a third set and add reps to each set until I meet the progression standard.

 

I'm supposed to do this using the "New Blood" program until I'm at stage 6 of all 4 excercises. Then I proceed to "Good Behaviour" and include the other two excercises. At this point, I'll probably be experienced enough to decide when to try the "Veterano", "Solitary Confinement" or "Supermax" workout.

 

Is that about right?

 

 

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I haven't read CC, so I don't know about the particular recommendations and programs from there, but in general, I think the usual advice would be that rampup sets (i.e., short sets of an exercise earlier in the progression) aren't really needed for the first few steps in most bodyweight progressions (and they're not really a sensible concept for the first step in the progression, anyway, as you point out). If you're starting with wall pushups, I would say just do a general warmup (basically, anything to get your heart rate and temperature up a bit, and move your muscles through the ranges of motion you're going to be working - jumping jacks, mobility drills, dynamic stretches, whatever), and then go straight into your working sets. Once you move on to your incline pushups or knee pushups or whatever the next step in that progression is, you could start doing a few sets of wall pushups as warmups, though most suggestions I've seen don't really start worrying about rampup sets until they get to the point where "regular" pushups (plank position, on the toes) are the warmup and the working sets are something like diamond or decline pushups.

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I've never read Convict Conditioning either. Generally a strength program is laid out in the following way, with pushups as an example:

 

Each workout: 3-4 sets of pushups are done. The exercise should be at a level where you can perform at least 3x3 (3 sets of 3) with decent form. You take enough of a break between sets to replenish your energy (generally about 3 minutes).

 

Each workout, you aim to add at least one rep to all sets. So your next workout you'll do 3x4 pushups, then 3x5, etc.

 

You switch to the next exercise in the progression when you can perform 8-10 reps in each set, or when you can perform at least 3x3 of the next exercise in the progression -- whichever comes first.

 

All exercises are performed with this basic plan.

 

You can find more good info on programming here:

 

http://strengthunbound.com/bodyweight-strength-training-beginners-guide/

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Thanks for the input, guys!

 

Each workout: 3-4 sets of pushups are done. The exercise should be at a level where you can perform at least 3x3 (3 sets of 3) with decent form. You take enough of a break between sets to replenish your energy (generally about 3 minutes).

 

Each workout, you aim to add at least one rep to all sets. So your next workout you'll do 3x4 pushups, then 3x5, etc.

Yes, that's what I've read so far as well. The author strongly advises against it. His reasoning is that the joints are slower to adapt to bodyweight training than the muscles do, so everyone should start with step one (in this case wall pushups) regardless the fitness level. I could definitely meet the beginner standard (1 set of 5) for standard pushups and probably even for close pushups (diamond pushups). As I'm not aiming for a beach body in the least amount of time possible, but to steadyly develop my strength, I thought why not try starting with excercise variations that seem too easy for me but will help prevent injury in the long run? I'm just a bit confused about the self coaching part of the book.

What I've posted above is how I understood his programming but I feel that it contradicts what he calls "The smart way" and refers to someone who is roughly at my fitness level (In the example that guy progresses to standard pushups only after 5 months which seems slower than what I would expect following the program I outlined above).

 

You switch to the next exercise in the progression when you can perform 8-10 reps in each set, or when you can perform at least 3x3 of the next exercise in the progression -- whichever comes first.

I tried to do this in the current challenge. As I was way above 3x10 with my pushups, I tried to proceed to diamond pushups but found them to be much too hard for my current fitness level. This is why progressing slower and probably starting at a much easier level seems to make sense for me.

 

Thanks for pointing me to Waldo's site, too. I think I can benefit from his articles once I've gained some experience.

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If you can already do 3x10 regular pushups, 5 months to get back to them starting from wall pushups seems quite excessive (and boring!). If you want to start from the beginning of the progression for the sake of adjustment, getting form down, whatever, you can probably get away with progressing more quickly than you would once you get up to the limits of your strength level. You could, for example, start with 3x5 wall pushups and add one set per rep at each workout (so 3x6 for the second, 3x7 and so on), moving up when you hit 3x8. That would still be a bit over a month before you hit regular pushups if you strictly follow the CC progression, and shouldn't be too taxing, since those should be very easy.

Or you could start a step or two back from regular pushups (knee or half-pushups, maybe) and go from there normally, so that you're still getting some adjustment time with an easier exercise than you're capable of, but not holding yourself back from actual challenges for too long.

If it were me, I'd probably just start with regular pushups, spending a week or so really making sure my form was dialed in, then start progressing to narrower hand positions until I got to where I could do diamonds. Actually, that is pretty much exactly what I've been doing the past couple weeks, and have no complaints so far. 

In any case, it's good to remember that while it's very useful to have a starting program designed by someone who knows what they're doing, no program is completely one-size-fits-all. If some aspect of it isn't working for you, don't be afraid to read up on other programs and suggestions, and experiment a bit to find tweaks that suit your situation better.

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Thanks for the input, guys!

Yes, that's what I've read so far as well. The author strongly advises against it. His reasoning is that the joints are slower to adapt to bodyweight training than the muscles do, so everyone should start with step one (in this case wall pushups) regardless the fitness level. I could definitely meet the beginner standard (1 set of 5) for standard pushups and probably even for close pushups (diamond pushups). As I'm not aiming for a beach body in the least amount of time possible, but to steadyly develop my strength, I thought why not try starting with excercise variations that seem too easy for me but will help prevent injury in the long run? I'm just a bit confused about the self coaching part of the book.

What I've posted above is how I understood his programming but I feel that it contradicts what he calls "The smart way" and refers to someone who is roughly at my fitness level (In the example that guy progresses to standard pushups only after 5 months which seems slower than what I would expect following the program I outlined above).

I tried to do this in the current challenge. As I was way above 3x10 with my pushups, I tried to proceed to diamond pushups but found them to be much too hard for my current fitness level. This is why progressing slower and probably starting at a much easier level seems to make sense for me.

Thanks for pointing me to Waldo's site, too. I think I can benefit from his articles once I've gained some experience.

Eld's advice is good.

Looking at your challenge, you could do 3x5 diamond push-ups, so it doesn't sound like they're too hard for you at all. Did you have some kind of problem with them?

In regards to your concerns about joint pain:

Your joints do not adapt to stress you don't put them under. They also do not respond well to very low-intensity movements unless the volume is really high -- 30-100 reps. Thus, moving back to square one will do nothing for your joints. It will only lead to wasted time. If you can do ~30 push-ups in a workout, and you're having no joint pain, then your joints are plenty ready for the next step.

I hate to say this since you just read the book and probably spent some money on it, but Paul Wade is well-known in the bodyweight community as having fairly poor programming advice. There is a good reason the vast majority of people on the CC program wind up switching to another program within a few months.

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If you can already do 3x10 regular pushups, 5 months to get back to them starting from wall pushups seems quite excessive (and boring!). If you want to start from the beginning of the progression for the sake of adjustment, getting form down, whatever, you can probably get away with progressing more quickly than you would once you get up to the limits of your strength level. You could, for example, start with 3x5 wall pushups and add one set per rep at each workout (so 3x6 for the second, 3x7 and so on), moving up when you hit 3x8. That would still be a bit over a month before you hit regular pushups if you strictly follow the CC progression, and shouldn't be too taxing, since those should be very easy.

Or you could start a step or two back from regular pushups (knee or half-pushups, maybe) and go from there normally, so that you're still getting some adjustment time with an easier exercise than you're capable of, but not holding yourself back from actual challenges for too long.

If it were me, I'd probably just start with regular pushups, spending a week or so really making sure my form was dialed in, then start progressing to narrower hand positions until I got to where I could do diamonds. Actually, that is pretty much exactly what I've been doing the past couple weeks, and have no complaints so far. 

In any case, it's good to remember that while it's very useful to have a starting program designed by someone who knows what they're doing, no program is completely one-size-fits-all. If some aspect of it isn't working for you, don't be afraid to read up on other programs and suggestions, and experiment a bit to find tweaks that suit your situation better.

I'll think about it over the weekend and will probably start with one of your suggestions on monday once this challenge is over. Thanks for the advice!

 

Looking at your challenge, you could do 3x5 diamond push-ups, so it doesn't sound like they're too hard for you at all. Did you have some kind of problem with them?

I had very bad form from the 2nd set onward. I think my triceps can't take the load yet.

The second day I tried the diamond pushups I almost fell flat on my face on the third rep (did a warmup set of 10 regular pushups that day). I've fallen behind on updating my challenge thread, so you won't find that workout there yet.

 

Your joints do not adapt to stress you don't put them under. They also do not respond well to very low-intensity movements unless the volume is really high -- 30-100 reps. Thus, moving back to square one will do nothing for your joints. It will only lead to wasted time. If you can do ~30 push-ups in a workout, and you're having no joint pain, then your joints are plenty ready for the next step.

Ok, then my joints are probably ready, but my muscles aren't ;-)

(BTW, the progression standard to step 2 (incline pushups) is 3x50 wall push ups. So one would spent some time in the volume range you mentioned).

 

I hate to say this since you just read the book and probably spent some money on it, but Paul Wade is well-known in the bodyweight community as having fairly poor programming advice. There is a good reason the vast majority of people on the CC program wind up switching to another program within a few months.

Looks like I didn't do my homework before investing in the book. ;-)

Anyway, I got the kindle version so my investment amounts to around $7 (5,65€). Doesn't hurt too much.

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I'll think about it over the weekend and will probably start with one of your suggestions on monday once this challenge is over. Thanks for the advice!

I had very bad form from the 2nd set onward. I think my triceps can't take the load yet.

The second day I tried the diamond pushups I almost fell flat on my face on the third rep (did a warmup set of 10 regular pushups that day). I've fallen behind on updating my challenge thread, so you won't find that workout there yet.

Ok, then my joints are probably ready, but my muscles aren't ;-)

(BTW, the progression standard to step 2 (incline pushups) is 3x50 wall push ups. So one would spent some time in the volume range you mentioned).

Looks like I didn't do my homework before investing in the book. ;-)

Anyway, I got the kindle version so my investment amounts to around $7 (5,65€). Doesn't hurt too much.

Glad you didn't burn too much money. Steven Low, Waldo, and the bodyweightfitness Subreddit are known for giving much better advice, and they all give about the same advice for beginning programs, which is what I outlined for you.

As far as diamond push-ups... that's fair, they can be a rough transition. If they're giving you trouble, your triceps probably just can't take the weight yet; try decline push-ups instead for a while until you've built up a little more tricep strength.

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You dont need to take 5 months to progress. Basically, you do an exercise until you hit the progression standards. For wall push ups you do two-three sets and keep adding reps until you hit 50x3, and then you move on. It took me 2 training days to hit 50x3, and I was doing full pushups in two months. If you can gain muscle from an easier exercise why not do it? I saw improvements in my upperbody before I hit basic pushups by following the progressions, and I had been lifting weights for three years prior to CC. Seems like CC gets more hate on this website than it deserves. Are there other programs out there? Yes, but what convict conditioning has done for me and many others is proof that the routine works. If you can gain muscle and tighten up your form doing kneeling pushups, than why not do that exercise? A little time of working on the easier exercises sets you up for a lifetime of gains. After all, fitness is a lifetime pursuit.       

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@amar2396: Apparently you've worked out (or still work out) according to the CC program for some time. Can you tell me if I've got it right in the first post? How did you start ("New Blood", "Good Behaviour" or something else)?

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You dont need to take 5 months to progress. Basically, you do an exercise until you hit the progression standards. For wall push ups you do two-three sets and keep adding reps until you hit 50x3, and then you move on. It took me 2 training days to hit 50x3, and I was doing full pushups in two months. If you can gain muscle from an easier exercise why not do it? I saw improvements in my upperbody before I hit basic pushups by following the progressions, and I had been lifting weights for three years prior to CC. Seems like CC gets more hate on this website than it deserves. Are there other programs out there? Yes, but what convict conditioning has done for me and many others is proof that the routine works. If you can gain muscle and tighten up your form doing kneeling pushups, than why not do that exercise? A little time of working on the easier exercises sets you up for a lifetime of gains. After all, fitness is a lifetime pursuit.

It is really tough to know where to start with this. I like lists, so let's tackle some of the inaccuracies that way.

1. Your two training days spent on wall push-ups. Let me get this straight: because tendons and joints develop more slowly than muscles (true, as anyone who's injured themselves can testify), you think people should start off doing extremely easy exercises... so you recommend they train an easy exercise for two days total. When muscles take weeks of training to incur any positive training effect. And you think you got some kind of benefit from those two days.

Sorry to report you did not. At best you got a tiny amount of endurance training that quickly disappeared when you moved on to more difficult work.

2. To address another implication you made, you most certainly did not gain muscle doing wall push-ups, nor would Warg. You cannot gain muscle without a calorie surplus and a need for strength adaptations, and easy exercises don't create that adaptation, as any decent weightlifter could tell you. I don't know what kind of improvements in your upper body you saw, but there are lots of other, much likelier candidates -- like neuromuscular adaptations, leading to more forceful contractions, increased muscle glycogen, or a host of other things. But all these things occur when you start exercising, and they happen much faster when the work is actually at an appropriate level.

It's not building muscle.

Paul Wade has seen a very real problem here: namely, new trainees getting overexcited, pushing too hard too fast, and injuring themselves. I respect the fact that he’s trying to correct that problem. But he goes way too far in the other direction and makes trainees overcautious.

There are a couple of situations where “deloading,†or scaling back, really is warranted:

- When doing an exercise gives you joint pain or unexpected joint stress,

- When you’re planning a temporary deload to let your body recover or work on form (not usually necessary for beginners), or

- When you have a diagnosable injury.

Outside of these cases, there’s not much reason to do it.

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It is really tough to know where to start with this. I like lists, so let's tackle some of the inaccuracies that way.

1. Your two training days spent on wall push-ups. Let me get this straight: because tendons and joints develop more slowly than muscles (true, as anyone who's injured themselves can testify), you think people should start off doing extremely easy exercises... so you recommend they train an easy exercise for two days total. When muscles take weeks of training to incur any positive training effect. And you think you got some kind of benefit from those two days.

Sorry to report you did not. At best you got a tiny amount of endurance training that quickly disappeared when you moved on to more difficult work.

2. To address another implication you made, you most certainly did not gain muscle doing wall push-ups, nor would Warg. You cannot gain muscle without a calorie surplus and a need for strength adaptations, and easy exercises don't create that adaptation, as any decent weightlifter could tell you. I don't know what kind of improvements in your upper body you saw, but there are lots of other, much likelier candidates -- like neuromuscular adaptations, leading to more forceful contractions, increased muscle glycogen, or a host of other things. But all these things occur when you start exercising, and they happen much faster when the work is actually at an appropriate level.

It's not building muscle.

Paul Wade has seen a very real problem here: namely, new trainees getting overexcited, pushing too hard too fast, and injuring themselves. I respect the fact that he’s trying to correct that problem. But he goes way too far in the other direction and makes trainees overcautious.

There are a couple of situations where “deloading,†or scaling back, really is warranted:

- When doing an exercise gives you joint pain or unexpected joint stress,

- When you’re planning a temporary deload to let your body recover or work on form (not usually necessary for beginners), or

- When you have a diagnosable injury.

Outside of these cases, there’s not much reason to do i

There are 5 more progressions before pushups that you can milk out to get muscular gain. I did not say I just got gains from wall pushups, maybe you didnt understand that part though, I was stating that I saw gains from the exercises leading up to full pushups. Simply put, it worked for me and it has worked for others, so I am simply telling people the results I got. If you got results from other stuff that good for yu, but I dont see why you are attacking  a workout that has helped many people. If you dont like it then dont like it and dont do it, but if someone else want the information and wants to give CC a shot then let them do that. As for you doubting the results I got, what gives you the right? I got those results and so I will tell everyone who asks what my results were. As for you judging me on the internet, I have nothing to say as I have been nothing but polite to everyone on this forum, and there is absolutely no reason I would lie on a forum.   

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@amar2396: Apparently you've worked out (or still work out) according to the CC program for some time. Can you tell me if I've got it right in the first post? How did you start ("New Blood", "Good Behaviour" or something else)?

I started with good behavior, but I had been working out three year prior to that (football). My buddies I train see best results with this program, as it is a short yet intense workout, and we need all the time we can get seeing how we are college students. I would saw do good behavior for two or so months and then switch to solitary confinement if you want to workout more, or just stick with good behavior. How i progress is the following; 

 

Do two warm up sets 

 

Do three sets of each exercise, all same amount of reps using a 2-1-2 tempo  

Add reps each workout until I hit progression 

move on 

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There are 5 more progressions before pushups that you can milk out to get muscular gain. I did not say I just got gains from wall pushups, maybe you didnt understand that part though, I was stating that I saw gains from the exercises leading up to full pushups. Simply put, it worked for me and it has worked for others, so I am simply telling people the results I got. If you got results from other stuff that good for yu, but I dont see why you are attacking a workout that has helped many people. If you dont like it then dont like it and dont do it, but if someone else want the information and wants to give CC a shot then let them do that. As for you doubting the results I got, what gives you the right? I got those results and so I will tell everyone who asks what my results were. As for you judging me on the internet, I have nothing to say as I have been nothing but polite to everyone on this forum, and there is absolutely no reason I would lie on a forum.

I knew what you meant with the other push-up thing. There is no such thing as an exercise easier than a full push-up that will get you worthwhile muscle gains.

I am contradicting your information because it's incorrect. Nothing against you or your gains.

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 There is no such thing as an exercise easier than a full push-up that will get you worthwhile muscle gains.

 

 

What? Let me get this straight, you can't gain muscle doing exercises that are easier than a full pushup? 

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