The 5BX plan, or how to achieve physical fitness in 11 minutes a day

I first came across the 5BX plan back in the early 1990s. Since then I have probably started the programme a dozen times or so, on occasion reaching my target level.

The cover of the Penguin paperback copy I have dating from 1990 describes the 5BX plan as “the 11 minute exercise plan for men…for getting fit, feeling fit and staying fit”.

In the late 1950’s one third of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) pilots were considered insufficiently fit to fly. Bill Orban, a Canadian athlete, scientist and academic working for the Canadian Department of National Defence, was tasked with developing a fitness program to address this issue.

The result was the 5BX (5 Basic Exercises) plan first published in 1961. Described as an early version of the now popular HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) program1, the 5BX program is ideal for those of us searching for the holy grail of fitness programs. Firstly, because many RCAF pilots were located in remote bases in northern Canada with no access to gymnasium facilities, the 5BX plan does not require access to specialised equipment. Secondly, the plan requires only 11 minutes per day to be spent on the exercises.

The 5BX plan consists of six charts arranged in increasing order of difficulty. Each chart is composed of five exercises that are performed within 11 minutes. The five basic exercises remain the same throughout the charts, but more difficult variations are introduced and number of repetitions increased.

The first four exercises are callisthenics and the last an aerobic exercise, as follows:

  1. Stretching
  2. Sit-up
  3. Back extension
  4. Push-up
  5. Running in place

The final exercise can be substituted for a walk or run. I opt for this choice.

The aim is to work through the levels until you reach the appropriate one for your age. In my case as a  50-60 year old man I should reach and maintain Chart 2, Level C+, although inevitably I’m tempted by the level suitable for Flying Crew aged 45-9 (Chart 3, level B). This is partly in homage to my dad, and partly because I am, after all, a marathon runner and (part-time) triathlete.

The first stages are almost ridiculously easy but by the time you reach your target level are just taxing enough to abandon through lack of time. Last year I reached my target level on holiday, but then failed to carry on while travelling home and all was lost. This year one of my resolutions is to begin once again, and to stick with the programme this time.

The exercises have somewhat fallen out of fashion in later years, partly because they are considered to be unsafe due to the fact that they are unsupervised, and partly because the sit-up exercises in the higher levels are potentially damaging to the spine. The former is just silly, the latter can be resolved by replacing the sit-ups with crunches. John Walker, founder of Autodesk, Inc and co-author of AutoCAD, has developed a version that is suitable for everyone as part of his (excellent) Hacker’s Diet, which I hope to write more about on another occasion.

I am currently on Chart 1, level D+. You can follow my progress, or lack of it, on my personal twitter account at https://twitter.com/hibbott/

Download a copy of the 5BX plan here.

1 Amy Lewis, Good Housekeeping, How to get a body like Helen Mirren, 25 September 2014

Adventures on a Grand Scale and the Theory of List-Making

I have always been a list-maker.

As a child I frequently made lists of my dreams and aspirations for the future. As a teenage schoolboy I distinctly remember filling my homework diary with an ever-increasing list of Latin verbs that I intended to learn, always starting tomorrow. This was an early example of the act of list-making itself replacing the action of completing the list.

Sometime in my early adult life I conceived the idea of the 7-year plan, based on the adventurous highs and lows of my father’s life. I began to believe that identifying and recording a series of desired life goals or outcomes for each 7 year period of life made their achievement much more likely. This built upon the theory of visualisation that was presented to me as a motivational tool early in my sales career.

Then, in the summer of 2014 I finally got around to compiling a Bucket List of sorts, listing a fairly random selection of the almost infinite things I wanted to do or achieve during my lifetime. Once again it seemed that by making a physical list of things that I wanted to do or achieve, they became part of an agenda and thus much more likely to happen. Seeing Pete Doherty play was a typical example – having added it to the list it went from being a vague wish to an actual plan. I followed him on Facebook, saw a reference to a guerrilla gig later the same day, and seized the opportunity. Tick.

The following list is of Adventures on a Grand Scale. Everything one does in life comes with an opportunity cost, and in all honesty I suspect that the personal cost of these adventures will prove to be too high. Nevertheless, before I die I would to spend three of my remaining years doing the following things:

  1. Spend 6 months driving around Europe in a camper van
  2. Spend 6 months driving around the USA in a camper van
  3. Spend 6 months driving around Australia/New Zealand in a camper van
  4. Spend 6 months driving around Asia in a camper van
  5. Spend 6 months sailing around the Med
  6. Spend 6 months sailing across the Pacific

To be continued.

Reboot 5.0

A sustained period of healthy living earlier this year saw a new me emerge. I liked him. He looked good, and because he didn’t drink or smoke he was happier and more even-tempered than the old one. My wife and children liked him too.

To mark turning 50 I had completed Ellesmere Triathlon in May this year. My time of 2:47:57 was just over 12 minutes faster than 42-year old me in 2008. The holistic combination of swimming, cycling and running saw my weight fall below 190lbs. Continued running and healthy eating lead me to me reach my target weight of under 185 lbs in July.  This meant that I had a “healthy” BMI  for the first time since records began – I’ve been monitoring my weight for the past decade.

On holiday in Spain this summer I managed to get below the 180 lb mark, albeit for a solitary week.

However, on returning home I took up the challenge of drinking the vast quantity of wine we had brought back from Spain with vigour. At the same time I fell  out of the habit of running regularly due to work pressures, and abandoned my diet to counter the black dog of depression brought about by yet another British winter by comfort eating. This has resulted in my weight ballooning back to a peak of 199.1 lbs last week. I no longer feel a mixture of pride and smugness when I look in the mirror.

Time to reboot. Here is my manifesto of change:

I will resume using the MyFitnessPal app to religiously count my calorie intake, good or bad.

I will begin to follow the GI diet again, which worked so well for me last time.

I will resume the 5BX exercise plan, starting once again from Chart 1.

I will run or do some form of exercise every day until I once again reach my target weight – in this case to weigh under 180lbs again.

My only cheat days will be Christmas day and my birthday on New Year’s Eve.

Viva la revolution!

Domain Junkie, revisited

Back in 2008 I wrote a blog post cataloguing my domain portfolio. 8 years have passed and it is time to revisit the subject, as I enter a new phase of business planning and development.

I’ll run through the list as it was then, update it and then look at the new additions to my addiction. I’ll also list my aims and ambitions for each property.

DesignCheshire.co.uk
All other variants available

DesignMidlands.co.uk
.com, .net registered
.net is a Nottingham, UK based design and marketing company

DesignShropshire.co.uk
.com registered with holding page for a Shropshire-based web design and graphic design company

Ellesmere.me.uk
.co.uk , .com and others registered.

GenealogyBookshop.co.uk
.com registered to Genealogy.com

Generationx.digital

Generationx.it

Generationxcomputers.co.uk

Generationxcomputers.com

Generationxdigital.com

Generationxhosting.co.uk

Generationxinternet.com

Headingforthecoast.co.uk

Headingforthecoast.com

Hibbott.com

InventiveInnovations.com

Languagetolife.com

Mummycool.co.uk

Mummycool.com

Mummywear.co.uk
.com registered to a holding page

Mummywearmaternity.co.uk

Mycaravanforsale.co.uk

Mycaravanforsale.com

Myonlineguide.co.uk
.com, .net registered, .uk available

Shropshireholidaycottage.co.uk
.org.uk, .com registered

Specialistbookshop.co.uk

SpecialistBookshop.com

Thestartupbusiness.co.uk
.uk available, other variants registered

Walkeatsleep.com
.co.uk registered

WordPressconsulting.co.uk
.com registered

 

 

 

Bucket List #27 – Run Snowdonia Marathon

Awe-inspiringly beautiful and epically hard, Snowdonia Marathon has been on my bucket list ever since running my first marathon in 2008.

I am delighted to say that I completed it on Saturday 24th October 2015, finishing with a chip time of 4:23:31.

More to follow when I have time.

I suspect that the next item on my Bucket List will prove to be an even harder challenge: #26 Run a sub-40 10k.

My Resolutions for 2015

It seems particularly typical of my current state of being that I am only writing my resolutions for the coming year on the 6th April.

Particularly so as 2015 is an auspicious year. I turned 49 on New Year’s Eve last year, so this year marks the start of a new 7 year plan, and the lead into my 50s – the decade when I hope to see a fundamental shift from work to life. I will write more about my aims with regard to this later.

In the meantime:

  1. Give up smoking
    As I write this I last smoked on September 24th last year, so I’m almost 6 months into this resolution. This time I hope it will last.
  2. Achieve and maintain my target weight of 185 lbs.
    Starting point is a shocking 213lbs, so I have exactly two stone to lose. Target date is October 24th, when I run Snowdonia marathon.

    As for the rest I’ll simply repeat the ones I made in 2013
  3. I will not shout at my children. No exceptions.
  4. I will have more fun.
  5. I will set and achieve one business objective each day.
  6. I will somehow work 35 hours a week, 42 weeks of the year. On average.
  7. I will go to church at least once a month.
    I have been very lapse with this – but I went yesterday and will stick to this one. Religiously.
  8. I will run every week.
  9. I will spend 15 minutes each day learning Spanish.
  10. I will do the Royal Canadian 5BX programme, every day. Starting today.
    Started today.
  11. I will start one side-project and work on it for two hours a week. I hope to earn more than £1 per hour.

 

Improving Page Load Time for WordPress

I have recently been spending some time looking at ways of improving page load time for WordPress websites. This has the twin benefits of improving user experience whilst at the same time improving Google ranking.

In this article I will look at some practical ways in which I am seeking to improve the page load time on this website.

Benchmarking is critical when seeking to bring about measurable, quantifiable improvements in page speed. One possible test model would involve measuring page load speed on a clean default installation of WordPress and then again after adding individual plugins, or replacing templates. However, some results would be more relevant when performed on a site containing a representative sample of content.

This blog, started in 2008 and subject to repeated and prolonged periods of neglect since then, is as good a place to start as any. Continue reading Improving Page Load Time for WordPress

Improving site speed with W3 Total Cache on a Shared Server

I am currently developing a WordPress website for a Equine Breakdown company. The site features an eCommerce shop powered by WooCommerce.  This enables customers to purchase breakdown cover online, and pay using payPal or by Direct Debit.

When launched the site will run on a Virtual Private Server, but in the meantime I am developing it in a test server environment on a Shared Server.

Continue reading Improving site speed with W3 Total Cache on a Shared Server