Convict Conditioning Rebound by Adrienne Harvey

by Adrienne Harvey on January 4, 2013

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Photo is an outtake from Al Kavadlo’s upcoming book, “Pushing The Limits! – Total Body Strength With No Equipment.”

Back in the brutally hot, mid July of 2010, I decided to tag along with RKC Level 2, Tim Shuman, to the NSCA Conference here in Orlando.  I’d been training with Tim for the upcoming RKC workshop which would be held that October.  He’d heard Dragon Door would have a booth in the exhibit hall, and wanted to buy a “Beast” kettlebell.  I was considering a few books.  Convict Conditioning had been consistently catching my eye on the website and emails, so I had planned on buying it at least.  I also wanted to get the opinion of someone “in the know” about any other preparations I should be making for the upcoming RKC Certification Workshop.  Even though I had been training very hard for nearly a year, my confidence hadn’t caught up.

We walked up and saw Nicole Du Cane was at the booth – along with a lot of kettlebells, and a huge table full of books.   We talked to Nicole about the new 16kg handle and I gave it a try.  At this time, I was so small that I was still well within the comfortable range of testing with the 12kg.  I did a few snatches with the 12kg for fun and generally asked Nicole if I seemed at all ready.   She said I did, and that was a good thing to hear!   I thumbed through a few books on the table before finding Convict Conditioning, and deciding that was definitely the book I wanted to get.   So, even before attending my first RKC Workshop, I was able to purchase the Convict Conditioning book from Nicole, which is pretty neat.

Tim bought a “beast” kettlebell, which we would pick up later and amusingly put on an escalator on the way to Tim’s truck!   He asked what I bought, then made a “yuck face” when he heard the answer.   I shrugged and said that I was curious, and had already liked what I’d seen in the book in terms of progressions useful for myself and with the handful of personal training clients I had at the time.   Also, the idea of a woman doing a real 1 arm chin is practically unheard of,  meaning I at least had to investigate.    The book ended up being read in whole, then in parts, then thumbed through for regular reference.   Sometimes, when out on the coffee table, it garnered scowls, curiosity, and outright disgust at the name “Convict Conditioning.”   I didn’t care, I was getting stronger, and starting to do some pretty incredible things.CCAdrienne_table_pics1

Having already been proficient with the pistol squat from Naked Warrior, some coaching and practice, I was able to really dial it in using the principles in CC.   Handstand pushups started happening in a hurry, and they really began to help my kettlebell military press.   Pull ups became stronger than ever, and I started blasting through my long standing 8 rep plateau in short order.  I started working on bridges, something that hadn’t ever seemed interesting until now – and began the reaping strength, flexibility, and coordination benefits from this new challenge.   In short, Convict Conditioning rarely—if ever—finds itself on the shelf, and over the course of a couple years of constant but careful use, started getting ragged.

The binding started to come apart, and the cover kept slipping.  It was a matter of time until I picked it up and ripped it (and not in a cool grip-strength way).   Fortunately, it has a stitched binding, so no pages would be lost, but it was becoming unsightly, and since I seem to look at it all the time, I figured it would be good to have it spiral bound.   For less than $7, a helpful person at Fedex/Kinkos cut and rebound the book for me with a spiral, now allowing the book to lay flat on the floor (which is often where it happens to be.)   Amusingly, while she was working on the book, I saw her start to read it too.


For the motivated person, this is a great program that can be used at home or anywhere.  Some people really enjoy the energy of a large group class, while others thrive working on their own in private, or in a natural setting.  The ideas and exercises in Convict Conditioning have allowed me to sidestep the inconvenience of having to “find a place to train” which has the “right equipment” for years.  Don’t be fooled by it’s bad boy image, this book is pure gold.   If you wonder if you’ll “really use it,” just look at what happened to my copy.   And now with it’s new binding, it should have many more years of regular use ahead of it.


Courtesty of Adrienne Frankenfield Photography (

About Adrienne Harvey, RKCII, CK-FMS, Primal Move Nat’l Instructor

I started studying kettlebell training over three years ago and became RKC Certified in October of 2010, and became an RKC Level 2 Instructor in July 10th of 2011.   Kettlebell and bodyweight training have been absolutely crucial in my personal quest for fitness, and I love sharing these ultra-effective modalities with small groups and individuals.  Similarly, developing recipes to further support performance, body composition, and general enjoyment is another passion.

Go to for more information about Adrienne!

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  • Edward Shattuck

    When is your book coming out? I’ve been working on my pistols and pushups, but my present bodyweight, 300 lbs., gets in the way. I will be very interested in what you have to say!
    Take care.
    Ed Shattuck

    • Adrienne Harvey

      Hi, Ed, thanks so much for asking. I’m in the process of working on a couple of projects book and dvd related – wish I could give a better time frame better than “soon-ish.” As for your progress – the neat thing about bodyweight exercises is the “relative strength” aspect. Essentially, what you’re doing right now are the harder “weighted” version of the exercises, so until you’re starting to drop a few pounds, even the very first steps can be extremely difficult. The good news is, putting in the time on the early steps with Convict Conditioning will have long term benefits in regards to skilled movement, coordination, strength – muscular and in terms of tendons/ligaments. My recommendation would be to safely keep up the progress – even if it might seem slow going – while finding and sticking to a solid nutritional plan to help bring you to an optimal weight. One of my favorites is Primal Blueprint, but there are a number of great options. The key is to find one that you like and can live with! Did you receive the email earlier this week about the new Elliot Newman Lean Machine program? That might be a good fit too. Best wishes with your goals and keep us posted on how you’re doing!

  • Another great read, Adrienne! Actually, the idea of a spiral-bound book would serve DragonDoor in a lot of its publications: I have a dickens of a time keeping the RKC S&C book (my new favorite) open–unless I land a kettlebell on it.

    Thoughts, DD?

    • Adrienne Harvey

      Another vote for stay-flat or spiral binding – 🙂 Works for me too – let’s hope to see it in the future!

    • rwidell

      Great suggestion. – Dragon Door

  • Great information and insight into your motivations to get this book! It’s always a pleasure to hear about people’s success stories and yours is no exception. Keep up the amazing work! 🙂

    • Adrienne Harvey

      Thanks a ton, Mike your encouragement really means a lot! Really looking forward to leading the Primal Move Certification Workshop at your facility the end of this month.

  • Leigh F

    Don’t know about the book, but if Convicts are looking like this now, I’m off to comit some Grand Theft Auto, asap!!!

    • Woah! Don’t get in trouble, just get the book 🙂 (thank you, by the way!)

  • chris

    Awesome to read about ur benefits, from and even the battered condition of ur copy of, Convict Conditioning. My copy has been thru a ton of hard times with me, and is one of my MAJOR go-to books. I have been using it’s principles and work-outs in my routine for over a year now. My strength increases and flexibility, as well as just my over all conditioning, has increased exponentially…I try to get other guys to get into this book and they cant even wrap their minds around it….they think I am nuts and am doing something out of their own reach. Sad that so many miss the opportunity to grow…anyhow, thanks for ur write up and keep up the great work….always onward toward ur greatest self.
    With great respect, Chris

  • chris

    Awesome to read of your experiences with CC- I have a similar experience with it as well. My copy has been all over the U.S. with me and is my main go-to book for strength challenges. I try to share it with people and at first they seem receptive to it’s principles, but it quickly turns to the thought that I may be crazy:) or trying to take them somewhere beyond their personal reach. Sad that they would pass up the opportunity for personal growth so easily… Anyhow, thank you for your share and keep up the great work…always onward toward your greatest self. With great respect, I go-Chris
    P.S. I love the work it is taking me to get to the one armed handstand push-up and the full stand to stand bridge…one day, one day:)

  • Joe

    How do you integrate the two programs bodywieght vs kettlebell training, from some of Pavel’s writings I get the idea he does not approve, how does your works out look.

    • Adrienne Harvey

      For a period of time, I’ll consider which discipline takes precedence over the other. Right now, in preparation for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification Workshop, I have given bodyweight the “upper hand” and am considering my kettlebell work to be in maintenance – when Paul Wade mentions that some of the programs in the back of Convict Conditioning have enough rest for you to also practice or play sports, that’s how I fit it in. The kettlebell swings, cleans, presses (a little less than normal if I am working hard on handstand push ups), get ups, snatches etc. become my “sports.” Hope that doesn’t create too much confusion! Please remember that I am considering the kettlebell practice at that point to be in maintenance, and the current goals for progression are with my bodyweight exercises for this time period. I tend to be intuitive with my training – which works for some, but not all.

      • Joe

        Thanks that helps.

        • The main thing to watch for is doing too much too soon – when in doubt, generally do “less” when looking to build skill along with strength in bodyweight exercises. Significant rest is also necessary.

  • I’ve been thinking about buying the book and knowing that FedEx can spiral a book is awesome. I have some old books with binding going out. I got to that out. I’ll be vying my copy now. Thanks

    • Adrienne Harvey

      Pretty much any well equipped printshop will be able to spiral bind a book – alternately I’ve had this done at Office Depot as well. Works great! 🙂

  • Yara

    What a great narrative about your experience with Convict Conditioning.. It is so amazing that the book appeals to so many different people of so many different fitness levels. I wish the title wouldn’t put so many off and people would really judge the book by its no nonsense content and progressions instead of the cover.

    CC1 has become my personal exercise bible too. I am surely not getting any credibility by admitting that I love aerobics, belly dance and yes Zumba.. but I was wanting to be able to do back bends and one legged squats. Ofcourse the midsection from hell and the ability to develop more upper body strength were nice too… I still have quite few progression standards to master but it is so nice to have an actual road map in strength training..

    • That’s great! And as for the other exercise modalities you mentioned – do the things that work for you and that you WILL DO! I tell this to my clients all the time 🙂 Sounds like you have a balanced and fun regimen that works for you – and that’s what really matters.

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