PCC – Its time to hit the bar

Having recently completed The Progressive Calisthenics (PCC) course that was hosted by Read Performance Training and successfully passing the requirements of the “Century test” I now have a new fondness and respect for all things bodyweight.

It was obvious to me from the start that I would have my work cut out in managing to “ace” all the moves being taught. You see I’m a lifter and like to lift what I still in my own mind think is heavy stuff. (It’s a macho thing!) however this “stuff” as I put it was rarely bodyweight. And boy was I in for an enjoyable surprise. When it was initially promoted from approximately 6 months prior, I immediately jumped on, paid my registration and then though here we go again, time to get it done and earn another worthwhile certification.

Hang on, I’ve never really been heavily into Bodyweight training so what do I do now? What have I done? Have I gotten ambition mixed up with ability, again?

Well this had to change, and given that I previously dropped my own bodyweight down from a solid 92kg frame to a now leaner and much more comfortable 78kg (due to my focus now being on running plus a desire to be more of a complete trainer) it wasn’t long before I was playing around with my own bodyweight preparing for PCC. Fortunately I have in my possession the two convict conditioning books along with a reasonable library of other resources that allowed me to plan accordingly and help me meet the criteria on the day.

After all I am a trainer and work with people so you would expect me be organized I guess. So here goes.

My programming was designed around the following basic movements. In no particular order, here was my template of the main moves that I at least has control over. Please note these were not all performed on the same day.

  • All the stretches I knew!!!
  • Chins ups & push up variations.
  • Pistol squats.
  • Hanging leg raises, now my go to abs exercise.
  • Running. Well it is bodyweight!
  • Bridge holds
  • Prone hold ( reminded me of group classes)
  • Handstand /play holds and Handstand pushups.
  • Bodyweight Dips on Gymnastics rings
  • And my trusty 10kg weight vest.

Let me spell it right out. It was mostly 90% working on a basic 5×5 based strength protocol for all the movements when practicing. The benefit of this for me was that I had applied it to Barbell (naturally), Kettlebells and now given my fondness of it to bodyweight training. Sometimes it even got to the stage of a simple 3×3 depending on how “fried” my body felt from the previous overloaded workout the day before – a rookie mistake that I made often due to my stubbornness. It’s a different kind of hurt when the nervous system is depleted! Take my word.

The only major difference to this was on the days I felt ok and decided to put more volume into it. For example a 15 x 5 set on the chins up. (Clearly I like chin ups) It’s the one movement that petrifies the newbie’s and was the base test entry going into the RKC cert. So I out of fear I already had the “money in the bank “ In relation to pull ups and now actually enjoyed them.

Unfortunately these volumes did not transfer well to other exercises. Like any well balanced program, we all can’t do what we like. So play it smart. Take for example the hanging leg raise series found in convict conditioning. There is a clear process to follow in getting though the recommended progression and I must admit that I cheated and moved on and jumped a few steps ( keep this quiet please) then eventually  common sense prevailed and went back to start.

With my new enthusiasm and weigh drop I was eventually well on the way in working toward my plan on passing the PCC.

Yes I like to plan, so my first stop was asking myself. What did it take to pass? How long do I have? Then work backward from there. You have to pass the century which is as follows for men conducted at the end of the 3 (long) days after all the work had been done!

1. FULL SQUATS:                        40 reps

2. FULL PUSH-UPS:                    30 reps

3. HANGING KNEE RAISES:         20 reps

4. FULL PULL-UPS:                    10 reps

TOTAL:    100 reps

At first this for me was a reasonable request and gave it a go and sort of completed it and thought to myself “yeah not bad” it should be right. This was another rookie mistake as it was obvious later on when I increased the volume during my workout that I would have 3 days of bodyweight hands on training and had to finish the test within 8 minutes with no stops and strict form or else! Oh and I knew the instructors (all of them), so no hand outs where ever going to be given. “So much for mate’s rates”

Fortunately for me this was a great wake up call and as I like to believe prepared myself accordingly with a solid base of general physical preparation. (GPP)  In other words I turned up ready to be taught and was physically conditioned to at least perform the basic exercises, learn and not get hurt due to a lack of conditioning. It costs money to attend these courses and it’s a total waste for all if you turn up unprepared.

The movements that are taught are many, just to name a few. Push ups and variations, chins and variations, front levers, back levers, pistols and floor holds to name a few – let’s not forget the muscle ups .

Check the website for a more comprehensive description on the PCC


This inaugural Bodyweight course was held at Read Performance, Australia’s Dragoondoor arm run by Andrew Read and along with top flight PCC instructors Al Kavadlo & Danny Kavadlo and the rest of the team facilitated a well run and enjoyable experience from start to end. To say there was energy in the room is an understatement. It was booming!

As usual I take a casual approach to these workshops. I like to have fun and absorb the knowledge given out and as I know these guys are not going to hand it to you just by turning up like many other certs I make a point of getting myself adequately prepared and ready by cert time. No excuses.

You have to earn it, so be warned!

It was clearly one of the more enjoyable workshops that I have done and along with the incredible manual the information I now have access too, will keep me busy and clients challenged for a long time to come.

Now off to the bar for some much needed practice and remember to have always have fun.

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