A full-body strength and flexibility program called 5BX (5 Basic Exercises) is what Prince Philip used to stay in shape throughout his military career and life.
So you want to get fit but you don't know where to start? How about taking the same fitness path as the late Prince Philip? Well, it appears the Duke of Edinburgh swore by a workout that was designed for members of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to get in shape in as a little as 11 minutes per workout.
A highly effective routine
The Duke was said to follow this daily full-body strength and flexibility workout in addition to his already active lifestyle that included playing cricket, sailing and carriage driving. It has even been reported that he passed down this fitness regimen to his son Prince Charles and grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry.
The plan was developed by athlete and National Defence scientist William Orban in 1956 to train members of the RCAF without the need for equipment or much space. It soon gained much popularity with the general public in North America, and today it is said to have been supremely influential in paving the way for subsequent cardiovascular exercise strategies, such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
It was also used to promote the federal government's 1970s fitness campaign, ParticipACTION, thanks to Orban's theory that a workout's level of intensity is far more important than the amount of time spent doing the workout itself. The RCAF website says:
The beauty of the system was that you didn’t need expensive equipment or a health club membership; it was created to keep aircrew in the far north in shape by using standalone aerobic exercises. It proved so popular that 23 million copies of the RCAF pamphlets were sold to the Canadian public and it was translated into 13 languages.
What are the five exercises?
The 5BX workout plan consists in completing 5 basic exercises on the daily that take no more than 11 minutes, which are effective enough to get your heart racing while also working out all the major muscle groups.
The plan has a total of six levels that increase in difficulty the more you progress but the exercises remain essentially the same. It starts with two minutes of stretching, followed by one minute each of sit-ups, back extensions and push-ups before concluding with six minutes of stationary running that alternate between scissor jumps to jack jumps to other varieties.