5bx Exercises – Worth Another Look?

5bx Exercises – Worth Another Look?

5BX Exercise 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 programme for everybody, programmes for strength, stamina, weight loss etc, BUT; 11 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…”

Most of the routines on Internal Force Fitness are more modern types of gentle exercise programme, but for something a bit more intense why not try the 5BX.

Deciding which vintage exercises are worth another look is a big part of what I do here at Internal Force Fitness. After all, times change and some old exercises are just downright dangerous. Then again, I see a lot of videos on Youtube now that would be dangerous if people were to try and follow them (and I’ve no doubt that they do). Nevertheless I like to err on the side of caution, so let’s take a closer look at the 5BX and make our OWN minds up.


What is 5BX?

So what is this 5BX 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

5BX for Physical Fitness

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:

Safe alternatives to dangerous exercises.

Finding 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 programme 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 it’s too easy!). Think how many excuses you can immediately come up with for avoiding the gym!

Here is a page from the beginning of the 5BX program

What good can 11 minutes of exercise do?

The 5BX aims to get you to your ‘base’. What we in the trade call your base level of fitness. Now what this level is will change 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! Remember too that something like Radio Taiso only takes HALF that amount of time and is PROVEN to help improve health and fitness!

The Radio Taiso Fitness Series:

Fitness for beginners.

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 vs. 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. Even then I failed to see the ultimate point unless they were just looking to wear their joints out.

5BX has been around for 50 years and sold in excess of 20 million copies. Now 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 programme, but by then you have ‘instilled the habit.’

Anyway, enough talk! Have a look at both the men’s and women’s programmes below and make up your own mind.

Download the exercise portions of the 2 books below:




Let me know how you come on!

Not for you? Then why not have a look at Walter Camp’s Daily Dozen – only 5 minutes needed per day!

A Final Warning:

The 5BX (Five Basic Exercises) program, extremely popular during the 1950s, is no longer in existence. The exercise principles of the program have long been proven invalid by scientific advances in modern exercise physiology. The 5BX program was also considered hazardous since it was unsupervised.

From the Canadian air force website.

Make of that what you will. I made up my own mind up a long time ago. Time for you to do the same!