I am a fan of just about everything that has anything to do with the world of strength and fitness. But nothing impresses me more than people who are able to make difficult things look easy. These are the Mr. Miyagis of the strength and athletic world.
They don’t seem to be putting out any effort at all, even though they are performing strength or endurance feats that would drive most people into the ground.
How do people get so strong, and how can they make it look so easy?
Every four years, like everyone else, I watch the Olympic Games. I enjoy just about everything they televise, but I don’t love anything the way I love the gynmasts, particularly the events on the bars and rings.
Nobody exemplifies effortless strength like the man pulling himself up into an iron cross on the rings, or the woman warming up with effortless pull-ups. When they speak about their training, most of them mention the important of quality reps in practice.
Enter Paul “Coach” Wade and my own fascination with bodyweight training.
Wade spent nearly 20 years incarcerated in some brutal prisons. While inside, he discovered how to be become extremely strong, using his body as his only tool. When he got out, he wrote the book Convict Conditioning.
There are six exercises presented in 10 step progressions that promise to take the average trainee and transform him into a superhero. The six lifts:
- One-armed pushup
- One-armed handstand pushup
- One-legged squat
- Hanging leg raise
- One-armed pull-up
- The bridge
As with the gymnasts and their incredible feats, Wade states that the key to bodyweight mastery is many, many reps. Quality reps, not rushed, red-faced sprints to finish the set. Convict Conditioning is about making the workouts matter, not making them end.
The system works. I’ve been using it for six months now and have made wonderful progress in my training. If you make things look easy, sooner or later, they become easy.
Mr. Miyagi didn’t get to be the master because he could work harder than anyone else. He just made his workouts matter.