The 11 Minute RAF Workout | Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans

Last modified: December 20, 2018

The 11 Minute RAF Workout | Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans

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The 11 Minute RAF Workout

So, you want to work out, but you don’t have any equipment to speak of. You don’t have dumbbells, a treadmill, or any of the fancy equipment you would typically find at a gym. Thankfully there’s a simple workout that’ll get you into fantastic shape.

I speak of the 11 minute RAF workout, a routine that can be done from the comfort of your home which involves a series of calisthenic exercises such as arm swirling, leg-lifts, and push-ups.

The best part about the RAF workout is that you don’t need any equipment whatsoever. You just need to come equipped with the willingness to work as hard as you can during the 11 minute timer interval.

What is the RAF workout?

During the 1950s the Royal Canadian Air Force introduced its air staff to two sets of exercises created by Dr. Bill Orban, a sports physiologist. This routine was explicitly created for aircrews who were posted in remote locations who didn’t have access to a gym. Separate routines were created for both sexes.

The workout routine for females was called the XBX due to the fact there were ten basic exercises, the “X” standing for “ten” in Latin. The routine for males was called the 5BX because there were five exercises to execute.

Both routines were comprised of back extensions, sit-ups, stretching, running in place, and push-ups. You could also substitute in walking or running instead of running in place.

Here are the exercises that comprise both workout routines:

XBX (for females)

  • 2 mins – Warm-up (knee raising, toe touching, arm circling, lateral bending)
  • 2 mins – Partial sit-ups
  • 1 min – Chest and leg raises
  • 1 min Side leg raises
  • 2 min Push-ups
  • 1 min Leg Lifts
  • 3 min – running in place

5BX (for males)

  • 2 mins – Bend and stretch
  • 1 min – Partial sit-ups
  • 1 min Leg Lifts
  • 1 min Push-ups
  • 6 mins Running in place

Is the RAF workout effective?

Yes, the 11 minute RAF workout is incredibly effective if you go about it correctly and consistently. The point of the exercise is to continuously work various muscle groups for short periods, slowly upping the intensity as your body becomes more fit while maintaining the same length of time for each exercise. The intensity should eventually be raised not by increasing the time allotted to you, but by increasing the number of reps performed within the limited time you have.

For example, the XBX calls for 1 min of chest and leg raises. Let’s say you’re only capable of pulling off 2 reps when you first begin the workout routine. By the time you’ve reached an advanced level, you’ll likely be able to pull off 12 – 15 reps because you should have been slowly increasing the number of reps performed with each new level achieved.

Your goal should be to achieve a specific number of reps in the time given to you for each exercise for “X” consecutive days (you come up with this number). You should bump up the intensity of the exercise with more reps with each new level you achieve.

Who can do the 11 minute RAF workout?

The best aspect of the RAF workout regime is that anyone can do it no matter what their level of fitness is or what age they are. You simply need to invest 11 minutes of your day, every day.

The genius of this workout routine is that it can be done practically anywhere as long as you have the space to perform the aforementioned exercises. Even if you have a busy day ahead of you stealing away for 11 minutes is all you need to get your workout session in for the day.

For the sake of discipline and consistency you should try to work out at the same time every day and follow the same sequence of exercises.

Most people who begin the RAF workout typically find the first level of intensity to be incredibly easy (unless they’re extremely out of shape). For this routine to work you must start at level 1. This level may seem like a pushover, but working your way towards your fitness goals progressively and building discipline is the primary purpose of the RAF workout.

If you just jump to the level you’re capable of doing right from the beginning, you’ll miss out on building the discipline and base fitness needed to keep pushing even further later on down the line.

Yes, you’ll likely breeze right through the first few levels of the RAF workout with little to no effort, but savor these easy victories while you can — the higher you progress, the harder the workout will become, and you might just find yourself longing for when the workout was far easier.

As you progress forward, it will begin to take longer to plan out the number of consecutive days needed before you’re ready for the next level. While this may seem daunting from the surface, it simply means you can move forward at your own pace.

Final thoughts

The 11 minute RAF workout is incredibly convenient for those who don’t have access to a gym, but shouldn’t be taken on by anyone looking for an “easy workout.” When performed correctly the 11 minute RAF workout can be incredibly challenging as you progress to higher levels of fitness.

Always set forth to challenge yourself, but don’t push yourself so hard that you end up injuring yourself or burning out. If you’re ready to achieve your fitness goals with just 11 minutes a day, then give the RAF workout a try. If you’re consistent, you might just be surprised how incredibly effective this workout routine can be.

Featured Image Credit:SimonaR / Pixabay