Prince Philip was bubbly and walked without a stick until he died in April at the age of 99. What made him big It was likely 5BX, the original functional fitness routine. It stands for five basic exercises and is an 11-minute workout that was developed for the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1956.
“[It] is intended to show you how to develop and maintain a high level of physical fitness, regardless of where you are, ”says the introductory brochure for the training. “With the 5BX plan, physical fitness is achievable for every member of the RCAF.”
Multiple sources report that the Duke of Edinburgh completed the simple regime of equipment-free exercises on a daily basis – the workout even appeared on an episode of The Crown, a Netflix series about the reign of Prince Philip’s wife, Queen Elizabeth II.Shutterstock
Canadian Bill Orban developed the routine based on research he did at the University of Illinois in the 1950s. By testing oxygen uptake, he found that duration of exercise was less important to general fitness than intensity. Knowing that their personnel were incapable of combat, the RCAF tasked Orban with developing a training plan that troops could carry out anywhere, even in their barracks, and was short enough to be carried out every day.
“In order to develop physical fitness, the exercises must be balanced and planned,” explains the narrator in a 5BX commercial. “You have to be progressive. And above all, vigorously and regularly. “
The five basic exercises include toe touches, situps, back extensions, pushups, and running. To make it accessible and encourage continuous intensification, Orban included six diagrams in which the modifications to each exercise were prescribed and the number of repetitions increased. While the demands on fitness, strength and endurance increase, the time required for each exercise and the total length of the workout does not increase. For example, in Figure 1, the sit-up is performed with the legs flat and requires lifting your head “just high enough to see your heels”. A D score is 3 repetitions in 1 minute. An ‘A’ is 18. On Chart 6, the most difficult, there are 35 to 50 V-Sits in 1 minute.
The 11-minute duration and equipment-free exercise were controversial at the time, but RCAF testing confirmed its effectiveness. Orban developed a women-specific version called the XBX that comprised six trains in 12 minutes. And 5BX became popular inside and outside the military.
In 1961, the RCAF published training for civilians by publishing a book entitled “Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans”. Over the next 30 years it was translated into 13 languages and sold 23 million times. Some credit it as the prelude to modern fitness culture, and it has definitely inspired modern fitness gurus and trends – it sounds like a CrossFit workout.
While Prince Philip may no longer ride 5BX, his daily training lives on. According to reports, Prince Charles and Prince William are also practicing the routine.
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