5BX exercises – worth another look?

By | May 13, 2012

5BX Exercise Plan

5BX Plan for Physical Fitness

Looking for a simple whole-body workout that doesn’t require access to a full gym or even a weight set?

Don’t have enough time to work out properly but want to stay in some sort of shape?

Instill the habit with a daily exercise program!

There is an exercise program for everybody. There are programs for strength, stamina, weight loss etc, BUT; 15 minutes a day, every day, in the home (or wherever you may be) is a lot easier in the beginning than;

“go the gym and do this amount of reps on these machines on these days…but not these days…and not after eating this…”

You could check out Everyday Exercise Routines for more modern types of gentle exercise, but for something a bit more intense why not try the 5BX.

So what is this 5BX Exercise Plan thing then? Well, this is the first thing that should be getting you excited! 5BX is shorthand for 5 Basic Exercises – because in any given routine, that is the number of different exercises you do!

In 1961, tired and listless Canadians head home after work to plop down in front of the tube.  Royal Canadian Air Force to the rescue! The RCAF has developed 5BX, a set of exercises sure to give the nation twice as much energy.  For years, the RCAF has used the 11-minute-a-day regime to get into shape no matter what the locale.  5BX has 6 levels and combines a series of strenuous exercises like running, squatting and push-ups.

WARNING: Some of these exercises are now considered dangerous! For every 85 year old who swears by them and has done them every day for the last 45 years, there is someone who will say bending to touch your toes is bad for the back, or the hips, or both.

Personally, and this is just my opinion, I want to be able to touch my toes with ease and like doing the exercise – but I do suggest you check out these alternative exercises.

Find an exercise you enjoy

The trick to exercising is finding exercises that you enjoy.  You might be looking for something social (Zumba for example) and/or fun to do.  What is it you want? To get in good physical shape? Build muscle? Tone what you have? Drop some pounds? Exercise should never feel like work or a duty.

The 5BX is a relatively light and minimal exercise program that is very easy to do.  There is no equipment, you don’t need a lot of space, you don’t even need to leave the house – it is very hard to think of an excuse not to do it (other than its too easy!). Think how many excuses you can immediately come up with for avoiding the gym!

What good can 11 minutes a day possibly do you?  The 5BX Exercise Plan aims to get you to your ‘base’. What we in the trade call your base level of fitness.  Now what this level is changes over time as more and more research is undertaken, but don’t you want to be able to run for a bus or climb some stairs? Without going bright red and gasping for breath for the next 2 hours!

I find most modern fitness advice to be unsuitable for the beginner.  Some people do it right; visit a gym or buy a good book and they stick with that programme religiously and they see the results.  More often people ‘have a go’ for a few months, find they can’t afford it or don’t have the time and then give up until ‘the next time’.

The 5BX will not help you run a marathon – but do you want to run a marathon? Do you need to run a marathon? Are you willing to change your diet and your lifestyle to accommodate what you’d need to do in order to run a marathon? THOSE are the important question when thinking about what exercise to do. The 5BX is still something to think about if you are currently not doing any exercise at all.

Health v Fitness!

It is best to be realistic about being ‘fit and healthy’.  Staying healthy is good for you, becoming ‘super-fit’ – not so much.   Spending a lot of time at the gym, unless you really know what you’re doing, can be doing you as much harm as good.  When I used to go to the gym in my late teens I remember women who just spent 30 minutes on the stepper, or read a magazine on the skier.  I failed to see the ultimate point, unless they were just looking to wear their joints out.

That said, the 5BX Exercise Plan has been around for 50 years and sold in excess of 20 million copiesNow I know we’re in pre-lawsuit culture territory here, but I think any serious problems would have emerged by now (although I do recommend using the substitutions for some of the sit-ups etc).  The other good thing about the 5BX is that when you have found your ‘base’ you drop down to 3 sessions per week – just like a modern program, but by then you have ‘instilled the habit.’

Anyway, enough talk!  Have a look at both the men’s and women’s programs below and make up your own mind. Read the 2 books here: 5bx-plan (men) and here: xbxPlan (the women’s program was known as xbs)

A quick search on YouTube and I found the group in the video doing the advanced first section – it looks a little stilted, but you get the idea.

Let me know how what you think! I know I’m not the only one that likes it: http://zentofitness.com/old-school-fitness-the-5bx-workout/


Author: Richie Neville

My name is Richie Neville and I am not now, nor have I ever been, a professional athlete. I do not approach my fitness training as one who has ever had the external support of coaches, nutritionists, therapists and trainers. I am just a normal guy who wants to stay as fit as I can for as long as I can. None of the exercises I promote are 'insane' or 'x' rated. Join me at Internal Force Fitness to find out more.

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