Convict Conditioning

It’s just me and my husband now, and I want to maintain my independence for as long as I can. I don’t really consider myself old (in my mind, I’m still in my 20s), but I can feel the years creeping up on me. You know how it works – you’re not as fast as you used to be, and you start to really notice your muscles and joints.

I’ve been active all my life, but I wanted to try to improve my physical strength and my range of movement so I don’t end up being one of those old folks who needs a walker to get around. Simply stated, I want to stave off the effects of aging for as long as I can.

But here’s the thing – I have no interest in joining a gym. I can put the money to better use. And I don’t have room for a lot of exercise equipment.

I figured there had to be something I could do to improve my fitness level without shelling out a ton of cash for a gym membership or turning my living room over to a weight bench. I started looking around on line, and I found Convict Conditioning.

What is Convict Conditioning?

I’ve never been in jail. I guess most of us haven’t. But there’s this guy, Paul Wade, and he’s done time. As you might imagine, you don’t exactly get to have ellipticals or treadmills or weight benches or other equipment in your cell, and you’ve got nothing but time to kill.

So he devised an exercise program for himself that required little or no equipment, and use your body weight for resistance. Get a work-out any time, any place.  Now he calls himself “Coach Wade.” Imagine that.

Anyway, it seemed like it was worth a shot, and I have to say, I learned a lot from his book, “Convict Conditioning.” It offered big results with little expense, so I tried a few of the exercises.

You have to keep in mind that this guy has no credentials or certifications – everything he’s offering in the way of fitness advice is strictly from the perspective of what he did while he was doing time in San Quentin for drug offenses. And of course you know all the conventional wisdom about how you shouldn’t start an exercise program without consulting your doctor.

That said, here are just a couple of the exercises I tried and how they worked for me.

The One-Arm Towel Hang

Grab a towel, and find yourself a pull-up bar. It could be a sturdy closet rod, or even a tree branch. The main thing is, you need a big, thick towel.

Loop the towel over the top of the bar so it’s doubly thick and hang from it using one hand. Try to maintain the position for a minute.

It’s a lot harder than it sounds, and as a precursor to this, I actually started with doing double-handed raises on my closet rod. If you can’t hold on to start with, even if you started off with the double-handed raises, don’t be too surprised or overly discouraged.

It took me a long time before I could even hang on for half a minute. But I got better at it over time, and you wouldn’t believe what it did for my arm and upper body strength.

Leg Raises

You might have done these in gym class way back when you were in high school. They’re still good for you. They work the living daylights out of your abdominal and hip muscles.

Lie on your back, on the floor. With your arms by your sides and your palms flat on the floor, use your hip and abdominal muscles to lift your legs just two or three feet off the floor, keeping them straight. Hold the position for about 30 seconds, and then slowly lower your legs. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

The first few times you try this, you’ll know why Coach Wade recommends this exercise. It’s definitely not for sissies. The first time I tried it, I got all the way to three reps before I gave up, but believe me, if you stay with it, you won’t believe what it does for your lower body strength.


Okay, my first time out, it was just two exercises and I was done. But I’d worked my upper body and my lower, and I kept it up for the rest of the week. I felt stronger than I ever had before, and I was ready to move on to other Convict Conditioning exercises.

Now I think I can probably beat the living daylights out of any of my kids who even thinks of putting me in a nursing home!


The September 2014 issue of the monthly Premium Membership, Independence Report, includes a detailed guide that covers Convict Conditioning exercises for :  Warm-up and Cool-down, Cardio, Upper Body Strengthening, and Lower Body Strengthening.  Think of the money you’ll save on gym memberships!  You can do these exercises while RVing, traveling the world, in your apartment, or on your homestead that’s miles away from a gym.  No excuses not to exercise now!

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