These workouts are based on the kind of bodyweight workouts convicts perform to build total body strength and extra upper body size. They are intended for athletes with some experience in calisthenics. If you need easier—or harder—techniques to make this program work for you, refer to the Convict Conditioning manual for plenty of choices and progressions.

 

Warm up before training, and feel free to perform extra warm ups if you need to. If you are working out with your bodyweight, use bodyweight techniques to warm up—just find something easier than you are using for your “work” sets. I’m not a huge fan of rushing from set to set. To gain strength, rest as long as you need to between sets, even if you are performing alternating exercises (i.e., “supersets”). This is as true for bodyweight strength as it is for lifting heavy weights.

 

Bodyweight training gives awesome results, but you have to push hard and use strict form—at least, most of the time. That doesn’t mean you should push to “failure”, however, especially if you are hanging above the ground! So when I tell you to perform “max reps”, push as hard as you can, while keeping a rep or two in the bank for safety’s sake.

 

You don’t need to cool down after these workouts—the idea of a “cool-down” is a myth. When I trained in prison, I’d finish sessions by sitting on my bunk and deep breathing for 2-3 minutes, so that’s what I advise here. This will help you relax after your efforts, as well as giving your lungs and ribcage some training.

 

To learn more about Paul, read an excerpt from Convict Conditioning:

How I Learned My Craft: Doing Time

The Forgotten Art of Bodyweight Training

Old School vs. New School Calisthenics

 

Workout: Week 2, Day 4

ANCILLARY WORK: Abs, grip, calves, lateral chain

 

Perform the next two exercises in superset fashion:
Hanging knee raises: 3 x 8
Straight bridges: 3 x 8

 

Perform the next three “primer” exercises in a circuit, then repeat:
Ankle rolling: (sit down and work both legs simultaneously): 3 x 10 reps each way
Eagle claws: 3 x 10 reps
Fingertip wall pushups: 3 x 10 reps

 

Perform the next two exercises in superset fashion:
One-leg calf raise: 3 x15 reps
Twin towel hangs: 3 x 15 second holds
Clutch flag: (or clutch flag progression) 4 attempts
Deep breathing: 2-3 minutes