5BX Plan

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear of an exercise plan that you only need to perform for just a few minutes, yet giving you the results you need?  Actually, there is such a plan and it has been around for almost 50 years.

The gist

The 5BX Plan, or Five Basic Exercises, was developed by Canadian athlete Bill Orban for the Royal Canadian Air Force in the late 1950s.  At that time, a third of their pilots were not considered fit to fly.  The plan was innovative because of two reasons. 

Firstly, it did not require access to any specialized equipment.  A lot of RCAF pilots were located in remote bases in northern Canada, where there was no access to gymnasium facilities.  Also, the plan only required 11 minutes a day of exercising.

The whole program is composed of five exercises which you perform on a daily basis.  The number of repetitions of each exercise, as well as its level of difficulty, increases depending on your age.  All exercises should be performed within those 11 minutes.

The popularity of 5BX spread all over Canada with 23 million copies of the 5BX booklets sold.  It also became popular in many parts of the world, and was translated into 13 languages.  Since Orban created this program as a public servant, he did not receive any additional income for the 5BX’s success.

The 5BX plan was specifically developed for men.  Women, meanwhile, would have to follow the XBX (or Ten Basic Exercises), RCF’s physical fitness program developed for women.


Performing an hour worth of Pilates or two hours worth of gym time in just 11 minutes may sound fetched, but Orban was able to prove that the 5BX program works. 

In a research he performed in Illinois, he concluded that the intensity of exercises was more important to improving one’s fitness compared to the amount of time spent on it. 


For one, some users find it difficult following the seemingly complicated charts provided with the program. 

Also, as you need to perform more repetitions in your exercises, you are still required to keep within the 11-minute period.  To compensate, you would have to perform some exercises quicker than usual, which may cause injury to some people.

Many health experts also say that some of the exercises included in 5BX are outdated and may cause more harm to your body, especially the ones that would affect your neck and lower back.

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