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5BX (wikipedia.org)
77 points by MikeCapone on June 20, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 32 comments



I was going to develop an iPhone app around the 5BX/XBX programs. Related to that (and especially because I'm a Canadian citizen), I contacted the Canadian government about receiving the rights to use the information in a commercial product. The body of the response I got back was:

"On behalf of the department of National Defence, we were advised that the Royal Canadian Air Force - 5BX Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness are not to be reproduced. These exercises programs are outdated and have been discontinued by the Canadian Forces since they could cause physical injury."

Just so you know.


It seems to me that us geeks are constantly in search of some clever exercise program to get in shape with, but the simple and unavoidable truth is that all it takes to get in shape is going to the gym at least 3 times per week to lift weights and do some sort of cardio, and being consistent.

All these wacky techniques and programs we find are just distractions, and no better than the latest ab machine you see on infomercials at 3am, which by the way would work great but do nothing to help people with the one thing they actually need: motivation to be consistent.


the simple and unavoidable truth is that all it takes to get in shape is going to the gym at least 3 times per week to lift weights and do some sort of cardio, and being consistent.

It helps far more to eat less, since you can certainly eat enough to offset any reasonable amount of exercise. Also, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but lots of people do go to the gym a regularly and it doesn't help. There were some news stories recently around this ( http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/earlyrelease2... ), which has buried in it the interesting fact that Americans are exercising more, and also fatter. So, exercise not the silver bullet.

What we really need is just to eat less. We mostly do not have the option to be active all day nearly every day as our forebears did, even up until a few decades ago, because so many people have so much to do that requires being in a single spot for hour after hour every day.


You need to eat less if you are fat and need to lose weight. If you aren't overweight, you don't need to eat less. Even if you are skinny you still need to exercise if you want to be "in shape."


Yes, thanks for pointing this out. I'm an ex-skinny guy who got in shape by being consistent, and my challenge was always trying to put on weight, not burn it off. I will preface my original comment by saying "provided you are on a healthy diet."


Sure, but someone who is skinny and wants to get in shape is 98% of the way there already -- they won't actually have any difficulty. Losing fat is the hard part of getting in shape, and not coincidentally, is needful for the vast majority of Americans.


You don't understand how hard it is to gain weight when you're perpetually skinny. Nobody wants to be really skinny, just like nobody wants to be really fat. What we're all aiming for is that Men's Health magazine look where we have a muscled physique and very little fat. I actually think it's easier to get there from being fat than from being skinny, and don't think that just because us skinny guys get to eat whatever we want it makes it more enjoyable. When your trying to gain weight, eating becomes a chore and it gets expensive.


You don't understand how hard it is to gain weight when you're perpetually skinny.

You're quite right, I don't understand how that could be hard. :)

When your trying to gain weight, eating becomes a chore and it gets expensive.

I can understand the "gets expensive" part. Also, I guess if you're not actually eating things you want to eat, I could understand the "chore" part, since there's only so much health food I'd want to eat in a day. If you were really just trying to gain weight, though, you could just eat those things that you can never get enough of (whatever they are for you), and easily pack away six or eight thousand calories a day, right? You'd have to do hard labor all day, like a farmer, to burn that much off.


Gaining weight is indeed not very hard or expensive. Just drink a glass of olive oil every day. I doubt mark meant gaining fat with gaining weight, though.


5BX isn't 'wacky'. It was designed by the RCAF to ensure airmen could remain in top physical condition without the need for fitness equipment.

Consistency is at the core of the program and it ramps up slowly to build good daily habits with deceptively easy exercises. Challenge comes quickly after those habits are in place.

I found it the perfect program while in the startup phase of my company. Taking an hour or two out mid-day to go to a gym was impossible during that time, but going into another room to exercise 11 minutes each day was no trouble at all.


Well, I guess what I mean by wacky is unusual, unique, outside of the norm, etc. It just seems like instead of just working out regardless of what the program is, people often times get jazzed up about some new exciting approach they hear about on the internet like 5BX or P90X or 300's kettle-ball training only to stop doing it after a few weeks because in the end it's just hard work like any other routine.


The Hacker's Diet (http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/e4/), a guide to losing weight for hackers, has an exercise component based around this. It's a little outdated now, but the concepts behind it are pretty good.


Exactly. I used it as a basic guide, and lost 12 kgs. I simply replaced the "step in the bedroom" part with "jogging outside" :)


This program is really superb.

I used it for a year or so to get myself up to my target level and then started going to a gym to train on weights.

If you want to start getting in shape but feel too shy to go to a gym just yet, start with this. You will honestly see amazing results if you set aside that 11 minutes a day and eat right along the way.


The modern incarnation of this is CrossFit, http://www.crossfit.com.


Requires a bit more equipment, though:

"An Olympic weight set and a place to do pull-ups and dips is essential to doing CrossFit. Gymnastics rings and parallettes, plyometrics boxes, a Dynamax medicine ball, dumbbells, kettlebells, climbing rope, Concept II Rower, and a glute-ham developer will equip your garage with more than enough to follow the WOD very closely."


Do what you can with what you got. The training philosophy is more what I had in mind.


One of the sadder sentences I've seen lately:

"Orban, creating the program as a public servant, received no additional income from the success of the plan"

From following the link to his article, it does look like it helped his career some at least.


How do you figure? He was an academic. He became a dean two or three years after receiving his PhD, which is extraordinarily successful. If he was just in it for the money, he probably would have stayed in the U.S. to begin with.


How do you do the Back extension one without a machine?


See here, exercise #3: http://osalrex.110mb.com/HTML/5BX_chart1.html

The variations get harder on higher-numbered charts.


All you need is an elevated board and something to tie your feet down. Add two tires and you now have a bench pull.


Lay on your belly and lift shoulders and legs up?


http://exrx.net join a gym, setup a proper plan, really not too hard.


11 minute abs.


Best ab exercise bar none is pull-ups holding a dumbbell between your ankles. You won't see it in "get ripped quick" programmes because if you can even do it, you probably already know what you're doing.


Do you mean lifting the weight up with your feet? Pull ups don't really use the abs, do they?


Try a pull-up and see how tense your abs feel. I am not sure how exactly they are used in pull-ups, but I feel like my entire body flexes when I do a pull-up. Abs especially.


to show how the abs can be worked, go to a pull up bar with a spotter. have them hold your legs bent while you hang directly below the bar. do 5 or 10 pull ups. now have them pull your legs back about a foot or more and do 5 pull ups. usually i can feel my abs strain pretty hard. kiping pull ups work a lot of your core but can be dangerous on temporary pull up bars attached to door frames.


Ho ho ho, try 3 sets of 10 with even 5 kilos, then tell me that :-)


Not really; you'd want to do other ab exercises besides sit-ups, and diet is a big component as far as looks.

(Unless that was a criticism of the program. If so, please elaborate.)


See, but then I'd just release 10 minute abs.




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