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I was looking for a daily workout routine to do for me and my wife. We both are quite busy people and have three young kids, so I was looking for something easy to do at home, but enough to keep some kind of fitness. I stumbled upon the 5BX and the similar XBX routines, but they are quite back in the past and may have some missing points/improvements. I am also afraid that they may be dangerous, which I'd rather not test at all.

What would you suggest? Keep to that, or do something alternative? I already replaced the traditional sit-ups with the variation with bent legs.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Here are the pros of the 5BX/XBX style workout:

  • Stretching improves flexibility. Flexibility improves your "fitness age" and helps prevent injury.
  • The calisthenics are compound movements recruiting large groups of muscles together. This helps improve (initially) or maintain (ultimately) your muscular structure in a balanced and meaningful way.
  • The aerobic activity helps burn fat and optimize the aerobic metabolic pathways.

The cons of this type of workout are:

  • There is not improvement on your muscular structure beyond your own body weight. In short you will only get so strong with it.
  • The aerobic activity kind of works against the calisthenics as far as optimizing the types of metabolic pathways that support strength training (anaerobic/calisthenics) vs endurance training (aerobic activity). Since you aren't really pushing your strength in this plan it's not that bad.

That said it all depends on what you want to get out of your exercise. The 5BX/XBX style of workout provides an overall fairly balanced approach to getting and remaining fit. It's not the type of workout that will help you excel in sports, but it will help you maintain a modest amount of fitness that will prevent injury and help you live a healthier life. If that's all you want out of your routine it's a good plan.

The important thing is that you have a plan you can follow and stick with for the long term. If it's not that type of plan, then you can start playing by substituting other exercises that perform the same type of work just for a bit of variation.

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Thank you! Do you have any comments on the "risks" and the fact that the RCAF ditched it since 2008 because it may be "dangerous" (on wikipedia they say it would damage lungs for some people!) – Metiu Aug 31 '11 at 9:56
The only danger I see may be in the way they have you running, or if they have you doing the exercise faster than you can control. If it takes you 30 minutes to get through everything, it's better to take the 30 minutes than to rush and do it half-way. If your running is at a moderate pace so you can get a whole sentence out while you are running, then you are good. – Berin Loritsch Aug 31 '11 at 12:27
@Metiu: As I understand it, the RCAF moved away from individual exercise and towards group exercise and the concern was largely about children possibly over-exerting themselves. There were some concerns over situps, but every reference I've found goes back to a single chiropractor's study. Given chiropractry believes in magical "vertical subluxations" that can affect everything from backs to livers to chi, I'm skeptical. – Sean Duggan Oct 23 '14 at 19:41

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