Air Force Fitness Plan Books for Both Men & Women

XBX 12 Minute Plan for Women & 5BX 11 Minute Plan for Men
XBX 12 Minute Plan for Women &
5BX 11 Minute Plan for Men
BX Plans has published two separate books: 'Physical Fitness: XBX 12-Minute Plan for Women' and 'Physical Fitness: 5BX 11-Minute Plan for Men'. The workout plans in both books are based on the exercise plans created by the Royal Canadian Air Force. The training plans do not require a gym, any special equipment or even the need to leave the house. You just 11 or 12 minutes each day!

What I really like about both of these books is having the space to chart your progress, including work out times, level reached, measurements and weight. This saves you having to write it down on a separate bit of paper, losing it and then forgetting by the next day which level you're on! 


The difference between the Men's and Women's plans

On first glance, there's appears to very little difference between the women's and men's plans. There's a slightly different levelling system on the workout charts (women's levels are numbered whereas men's are graded), and there are also more exercises in the women's individual charts, which explains why the women's workout is 1 minute longer than the men's. As hinted at in the books, this difference is based on research into the differences in anatomy (differences in natural fat mass, muscle mass, heart sizes, lung capacities etc).

I'm just glad they've not made the women's book fixate on weight loss and 'toning' (I hate this word!), while the men's book focuses on muscle building and strength. Instead, both books contain a bit of a blurb at the front on the importance of building strength, increasing endurance and why we should take notice of our body weight and build. This is really good to see! 

Women's XBX plan: the workout plan structure


Physical Fitness: XBX 12 Minute Plan for Women
XBX 12 Minute Plan for Women
The women's book contains 4 charts of 10 exercises, arranged in order of difficulty. The first 4 exercises of each chart are for warming up, while exercises 5 and 6 focus on back muscles, back of thighs and buttocks. Exercise 7 is for the side of thighs, while 8 for upper body strength, including arms, shoulders and chest. Exercise 9 concentrates on hips and 10 is for heart and endurance strength (read:high intensity cardio!). There's also some extra exercises at the back of the book which you can add in between exercises 8 and 9, these are called '8a' and '8b'. These extra exercises focus on ankles and posture. 

The different levels on each chart have different numbers of repetitions and the goal is basically to be able to fit more repetitions in the same time frame (12 minutes).   

It took me a little while and a few flips back and forth through the book to establish when I should use which chart and what level I should try to get to. The answers to these questions will vary according to your age (which is perhaps why it wasn't immediately obvious to me... well that's my excuse, any way!). There are bullet points on page 19 and (another) chart on page 21 to help you work out the maximum rate of progression for your age. I say 'maximum', because you may need longer than just 1 day on a particular level if you find it difficult to complete.  
Chart 1 - Women's XBX 12 Minute Plan
Chart 1, showing number of reps for each level
 & a space to log your progress

So for example, as a 24 year old, I should aim to spend at least 1 day on each level in Chart 1 (levels 1-12) before progressing any further, with Chart 2 (levels 13-24, where I should take at least 2 days at each level. With Chart 3 (levels 25-35) I should take 3 days at each level. Level 35 is the 'goal level' for my age range, so Chart 4 becomes an optional extra for my age group.  

Once you've sorted out your goal level, its pretty straight forward, although physically hard work, to progress your way through the workout plan. It's great to have a tough workout that takes up very little time and uses no equipment, making it ideal for working out while away on work trips, or simply for squeezing a workout in before the kids wake up.

Men's 5BX plan: the workout plan structure

Physical Fitness: 5BX 11 Minute Plan for Men
5BX 11 Minute Plan for Men
With the Men's book, the plan has 6 charts arranged in order of difficulty. Each chart has 5 exercises and as with the women's plan, you should aim to fit the number of repetitions in for the level you're on within the 11 minutes time frame. Once you can do this, you move up to the next level. 

The men's levels, as I've said are graded rather than numbered. You begin on Chart 1, level D and work your way up at your own pace to level A. Once you can comfortably complete A on Chart 1, you move onto Chart 2.

The book does talk about age ranges and maintaining at certain levels. It gets a bit confusing around this point but from how I've understood it, the idea is for you to reach the level for your age group (for example, level B for those aged 30-39 on Chart 2 and then move onto the Chart 3 and start from the bottom and work your way up again to your age range's level (repeat until Chart 6). 


Age Groups Error in 5BX 11 Minute Plan for Men
Age groups error in 5BX 11 Minute Plan for Men
On page 15, where there's a list of maximum levels by age range, there's no categories at all for those aged 15-35. That's a pretty big age gap and I can't imagine it being appropriate for a 15 year old to work to the same level as a 25 year old or 30 year old. Either way, there's no level specified for anyone in this age group. 

There's also a misprint on the same page where there's two categories for 40-44 year olds, one category sets the level up to A+, and the other C. It's a pretty big flaw in the men's book to be honest, as it makes it impossible to know what you should be working towards and when to move onto the next chart. Hopefully they'll edit this and reprint the book (assuming they haven't already). 

Both paperback books are available to buy on Amazon.co.uk. At the time of this review, the men's book is £12.99 and the women's book is also £12.99. 

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