Prince Philip was sprightly and walked without a stick until he died in April at the age of 99. What kept him going? It was probably 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] was designed to show you how to develop and maintain high levels of physical fitness no matter where you are, ”it says the introductory brochure To the training. “The 5BX plan makes physical fitness achievable for every member of the RCAF.”
Several sources report that the Duke of Edinburgh followed the simple regime of. has completed device-free exercises daily – the workout even turned up in a sequence of. on The crown, a Netflix series about the reign of Prince Philip’s wife, Queen Elizabeth II.
Developed by Canadian Bill Orban the routine based on research he conducted 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. The RCAF knew that their personnel were incapable of combat, and tasked Orban with developing a training program that troops could conduct anywhere, in fact in their barracks, and was short enough to do every day.
“To develop physical fitness, exercises must be balanced and planned,” explains the spokesman in a 5BX commercial. “You have to be progressive. And above all vigorous and regular. “
The five basic exercises include tiptoe, situps, back extensions, pushups, and running. To make it accessible and encourage continuous intensification, Orban added six diagrams that dictate the modification of each exercise and the progression of the number of repetitions. As the demands on fitness, strength, and endurance increase, the time spent on each exercise, and the total length of the workout, does not. For example, on Chart One, the sit-up is done with your legs flat and requires lifting your head “just high enough to see your heels”. A ‘D’ value is 3 repetitions in 1 minute; an ‘A’ is 18. On Chart Six, the toughest, there are 35 to 50 V-seats in 1 minute.
The 11-minute duration and device-free nature of the exercise were both controversial at the time, but RCAF testing confirmed its effectiveness. Orban developed a women-specific version called the XBX that comprised six puffs in 12 minutes. And 5BX became popular both inside and outside the military.
1961 became the RCAF has released the training to civilians by publishing a book called Royal Canadian Air Force physical fitness training plans. Over the next 30 years it was translated into 13 languages and sold 23 million times. Some credit it Starting shot for the modern fitness culture and it has definitely inspired modern fitness gurus and trends – it sounds like one CrossFit work out.
While Prince Philip may no longer be 5BXing, his daily workout lives on. According to reports, Prince Charles and Prince William also practice the routine.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews and more, subscribe on YouTube!