Reply To: Convict Conditioning

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Robby Taylor

Hello Leo, good question. Many advanced calisthenics will produce excellent results and there tends to be a high degree of carry over to other moves. For example even if you don’t do dips doing one arm push ups will give you triceps strength. However doing dips will be more effective simply because of skill specificity; knowing how to move your body around the bar is indispensable to a muscle up. Anyway, basically do what you want. But if I had to narrow it down, my #1 exercise would be bridging. Stand to stand bridges work everything except the triceps biceps shoulders and chest. Even the quads get a decent amount of work (depending on how you’re bridging). Adding bridge push ups will work the triceps and shoulders so that’s almost everything in one workout. But primarily it really strengthens the lower back which is most critical for postural health, plus all of the other benefits discussed in CC.

My #2 exercise is the pistol squat, for the injury prevention and leg strengthening and mobility benefits discussed in CC.

My #3 exercise is the muscle up. It is an amazing exercise with a lot going for it. It complements the handstand push up and stand to stand bridge perfectly, it fills the huge gap between the standard pull up and the one arm pull up very well, it gives you the benefit of a dip, pull up, and hanging leg raise *plus* the difficult transition. The dip itself is an excellent pressing move to complement the handstand push up as it gives further work to the triceps and works the chest. Since the transition is basically a mid-high level pull, the pull up phase basically is a support movement (as is the dip to the handstand push up) to the transition giving further emphasis to the lats, shoulders, and biceps. The transition also requires abdominal recruitment that is akin to a hanging leg raise, in addition to great shoulder and lat strength (as well as a surprising amount of strength in the chest and triceps).

My #4 exercise is the handstand push up, as it fills in any glaring gap in the other three but as awesome as it is it doesn’t have the injury prevention benefits of the bridges or pistols and does not offer the extremely beneficially compound nature of the muscle up.


EDIT: the major takeaway here is that CC is a good resource and the philosophy behind the exercises is excellent. While you can train your entire body with just the progressions in the book, there are other exercises that, in my experience, are more succinct, especially when you compare non-master step progressions. The clearest example is that, overall, the muscle up offers more benefits than the progressions leading up to the one arm pull up in CC…I do really like the trifecta in CC2 though, particularly the twist holds, and obviously bridging.