The Best Bodyweight Exercises: Convict Conditioning Results | Not Your Average Fitness Tips

The Best Bodyweight Exercises: Convict Conditioning Results

A few people have asked me what kind of results I’ve seen from doing Convict Conditioning.  I support my earlier assessment that Convict Conditioning includes the best bodyweight exercises and that those exercises would be a valuable part of any workout routine.  The progressive training steps for each exercise are sensible and realistic as well.

The one criticism is that the designated workout routines were a bit lacking in intensity.  I like to get that nice “HGH flush” and honestly feel a sense of accomplishment when I’m covered in sweat by the end of a workout.  Convict Conditioning, while requiring a lot of strength, was a workout I could perform and not shower after in many occasions.  So I’ve decided to keep performing the exercises but as part of a broader workout routine.

Below are the results I achieved.  I generally don’t like providing results because each person will have different success with different routines.  However, I’m hopeful this will give you a better sense of what Convict Conditioning entails.  Each exercise has 10 progressions.  While Convict Conditioning recommends starting from the beginning, I wanted to speed the results along by starting at a point where I could successfully complete the recommended number of repetitions.

One Arm Pushups

  • Started by doing 2 sets of 20 reps on step 5: full pushups.
  • Currently performing 2 sets of 10 reps on step 9: lever pushups
  • This provided a great way to make pushups more challenging while focusing on low rep strength training.

One Leg Squats

  • Started by doing 2 sets of 20 reps on step 5: traditional squats
  • Currently performing 2 sets of 10 reps on step 8: 1/2 one leg squats
  • One leg squats are really challenging.  I find that I have trouble maintaining my balance as I try to go lower than half way.  I usually don’t like leg training, but I will continue to incorporate one set of one leg squats as part of my plyometrics training exercises.

One Arm Pull Ups

  • Started by doing 2 sets of 10 reps on step 5: full pull ups
  • Currently performing 2 sets of 8 reps on step 5: full pull ups
  • That is not a typo above.  Pull ups actually decreased during this time.  However, that requires some explanation.  I started by doing pull ups the same way I always have by incorporating a really explosive upward motion, freefall downward motion, and repeat as fast as I can.  Now I do pull ups in a much more challenging way: 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down.  This balances the strength requirement for the up motion and forces me to maintain control for the negative rep.  It provides a much better workout than rapid pull ups.

Hanging Straight Leg Raises

  • Started by doing 2 sets of 10 reps on step 10: hanging straight leg raises
  • Currently performing 2 sets of 20-25 reps on step 10: hanging straight leg raises
  • I had prior experience with leg raises so immediately jumped right into the final step.  I have managed to significantly improve my endurance though.  This is one of the three ab exercises I recommend along with planks and renegade rows.

Stand to Stand Bridges

  • Started by doing 2 sets of 10 reps on step 4: head bridges
  • Currently performing 2 sets of 10 reps on step 7: wall walking bridges (down)
  • I’ve had past experience with back bridges back in high school and have maintained pretty good flexibility and back strength.  This really took back bridges to a whole new level though.

One Arm Handstand Pushups

  • Started by doing 1 set of 1 minute on step 1: wall headstands
  • Currently performing 1 set of 1 minute on step 2: crows stands
  • This is definitely the most difficult progression for me.  First of all, this is the last exercise I do in the routine so my arms are already tired from pushups and pull ups.  Additionally, I’m not used to performing isometric holds.  The first time I tried to do step 2, I only lasted 10 seconds.  Now I’m around 1 minute so I’m just about ready to progress to step 3.

Revised Convict Conditioning Workout Routine

I’ve started weight training again and haven’t seen a decline in any of my lifts.  I’m still doing a full set of Convict Conditioning exercises one day per week and have added circuit training on that day.  On the other days, I perform a regular strength training routine and include the Convict Conditioning exercises as part of my conditioning workout.  I really do think these are some of the best bodyweight exercises and would highly recommend including them in your regular routine.

27 Responses to “The Best Bodyweight Exercises: Convict Conditioning Results”

  • Pete F:

    Great book, great results! I’m so out of shape I now get the HGH flush from walking upstairs!! lol

  • Dave,

    Thanks for sharing your results. I agree that the progressive steps for each exercise make Convict Conditioning a great read. It makes you feel confident you can master challenging exercises like one arm push-ups, even if you are in your forties.

  • I have never bothered to look at Convict Conditioning, I thought it was another bunch of body weight exercises (I am having a break from B/W and focusing on lifting heavy weights) but looks hard core .. I don’t think I could do half of those exercises that well … I’ll skip over to your review and might even consider buying the book it sounds really interesting. I love challenges!

  • Hey David,

    I have to check out Convict Conditioning.

    I like body weight training. There are so many different ways to train with just your body weight. I’m always looking to learn something new.

    Best – Mike

  • Pete,
    Glad you’re a Convict Conditioning supporter as well. Funny stuff about the HGH flush.

    I agree completely. It also provides a nice change of pace to know that you’re working toward something. Instead of just thinking that you’ll be increasing your bench by 5lbs, you’re really working toward a goal to complete a very challenging exercise.

    Bodyweight is something that I have cycled on and off as well but I feel like these exercises are here to stay. Even if I master something like one-arm pushups, I imagine it will be quite a while before one-arm handstand pushups become a possibility.

    This provided a great change of pace for me. You can only do so much with pushups, pull ups, dips, and inverted rows (my core bodyweight exercises). I got tired of doing high rep training and found this was a great alternative.


  • Dave,

    Sometimes you just want that sweat from a grueling workout. Some of those exercises are pretty difficult to master (one legged squats, one arm pull-ups) but look pretty impressive when you knock them out at the gym.


  • Dave,

    Interesting bit on the pull up technique. I’ve also noticed that form makes a big difference in the number of reps you can perform when it comes to any bodyweight exercise.


  • Hi Dave

    That looks like a tough workout. I suppose as you master each exercise you can then start to add intensity as you don’t have to think about technique. I love BWT but like to sneak it into other workouts rather than just a full BW workout on its own. I think BW training is a great complement to the weights and can help with maintaining flexibility and agility which I notice can suffer if just lifting heavy weights all the time.



  • Dave, Sounds like you are kicking butt! The one arm handstand pushups must be brutal. I think I tried them before, and gave up! Maybe it is time to revisit that now that i’m in better shape. Thanks for the info, i’ll check out Convict Conditioning.


  • David,
    The exercises are definitely hard to master. I’m hopeful that if I stick with these long enough, that I’ll be a 3%…the amount of people who master all 6 exercises.

    You’re absolutely correct. Doing slower, more controlled reps makes any bodyweight exercise more difficult.

    It’s certainly challenging. It’s a true strength building program built around relatively low reps because of the difficulty of the exercises. I’m liking it even better now that I’ve combined it with weight training.

    As you can tell, the one arm handstand pushups are my weakest area. I’m only on step 2…haven’t even gotten to handstand pushups yet, let alone one arm handstand pushups. I can dream though…


  • This stuff is sick (the good kind). I want to get started but frankly it seems overwhelming to think of the whole program at once. I guess it is best to just tackle it in small steps… start from the beginning (as you mention) and do it every day. Small steady progress.

  • Scott,
    You’ll find that some exercises you naturally advance quicker than others. It’s tough but well worth it.

  • Aaron:

    As an out of shape former fighter and wrestler I had been looking for something that I could squeeze into my already busy schedule of raising 3 kids, working 70 hours per week, and going to school full time. I had been doing Naked Warrior but a lot of the exercises are a little to advanced for me. I found Convict Conditioning and since I started the program a little over 2 months ago, I went from not being able to walk much to progression 3 on some of the Big 6 to progression 5 on others. It is a great program and I swear by it. I even have some of the mentally challenged adults that I work with doing this to keep weight down and exercise fun.

  • Aaron,
    Thanks for sharing your Convict Conditioning experience. It sounds like you’re doing really well with it. It’s a great way to stay fit with a few seemingly simple, yet highly challenging, bodyweight exercises.

  • Mark:

    One arm handstand pushups! Are you crazy. I’d love to be able to do that. But for now I will have to keep doing my one arm pushups and slowly bring up feet up the wall until I can do a one armed handstand pushup.

  • Mark,
    The one arm handstand pushups are the biggest challenge on the list. I’ve worked up to Step 6 on them (Close Handstand Pushups) and am just about ready to progress to Uneven Handstand Pushups. Consider yourself elite for being able to do one arm pushups; they’re challenging enough on their own!

  • IvanR:

    The progressions are the only decent thing in the book.
    Several advice on nutrition and rest are stupid.
    This “Paul Wade” tells huge lies about weight training.
    Also, nobody can do the OAHSPU (back to the wall), check out Beast Skills on that.
    The photo on the cover is the guy from Beast Skills, I guess, and he is holding on to a wall.
    A photo of Paul Zaichik exists showing him “do” the move but he is also just standing on one hand, no moving at all.

  • IvanR,
    The progressions are definitely the best part of the book. I certainly don’t agree with everything in the book either. I’ll let you know if I ever achieve the mythical one arm handstand pushup! Not even close on that one…

  • IvanR:

    Yeah, it suddenly gets unreasonably hard. :-)
    Good luck and be careful!

  • Jimmy:

    The author of this column describes the “how NOT to do CC” method outlined in the book. So, really, any report of results is moot because he didn’t follow the program at all. You don’t start at the step you can do, you start at step 1, regardless of what you can do.

    The description of his balance issues with the one-leg squats is exactly the reasoning behind the “start at step 1″ approach.

    CC is not shy about stating that it may take 3 years to reach the elite steps, but that very few people have the patience to try. Clearly, most of the people here are examples of this sad group of “results-now” athletes.

  • Jimmy,
    I actually think my results from CC are pretty good. I’ve continued to do a lot of the exercises and have reached Step 10. The beauty of the most effective workout programs is that they should be adaptable and not necessarily need to be followed to the letter. I spent 1 workout and figured out my appropriate starting point. No reason to spend a month doing wall pushups and losing muscle mass in my opinion.

  • Eric:

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book although I feel the price is a little steep. Not to mention some of the “elite” numbers are ridiculous and that even supremely fit people could never manage. 100-rep sets of One Arm Pushups? Seriously I want to see that on a video and done with full strict reps by the author. 5-Single Arm Handstand Pushups? Now we’re getting into some serious comedy here folks. NO ONE, I REPEAT, NO ONE HAS EVER PERFORMED EVEN 1 FULL RANGE OF MOTION HANDSTAND PUSHUP AS OF YET. And this guy says you can work up to doing 5? bwah hahahahaha. If you EVER do 5-SINGLE ARM FULL RANGE OF MOTION HANDSTAND PUSHUPS UNASSISTED PLEASE BE MY GUEST TO START WEARING A BIG “S” ON YOUR SHIRT.

  • Eric,
    Thanks for the feedback. You’re right about some of the elite numbers. Entirely unrealistic. One arm handstand pushups seem to be a thing of dreams but I do like the progressions that at least help you get closer to reality.

  • Thanks for posting these. As a purchaser of the book its nice to see that others are out there doing Convict Condioning as well! I’ve actually just started doing CC and am logging my entire journey for others. If you want take a look and provide me with any constructive criticism, it would be greatly appreciated.

    If you want to follow my Journey all posts are tweet’d:

    Thanks in advance, and keep pushing!


    #convictconditioning #bodyweight #training #calisthenics #cc

  • B,
    Looking forward to reading your progress. If you’ve been exercising for a while, the beginning can be a little slow. Once you get to the advanced exercises, you’ll quickly start feeling challenged.

  • Dave, I’m 48, I started using weights again a few months ago, but recently I have decided to do bodyweight exercises. I look forward to following your progress.
    Maybe I should chart my progress too?

  • Steve,
    Bodyweight exercises are great to include in any routine. I updated my Convict Conditioning results when discussing the 2nd book:


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