Helen Mirren's 12-Minute Workout - the XBX Plan
XBX Plan devotee Helen Mirren at the 90th Annual Academy Awards

Dame Helen says she's used this plan for years, here's our review

Helen Mirren's 12-Minute Workout - the XBX Plan

Review by By the wlr team

In the news again this month when a Telegraph reporter gave XBX a go, Dame Helen Mirren’s favourite workout’s no secret to wlr – it was a popular item in member packs.

Developed in the 50’s to keep members of the Canadian Airforce fit, the XBX plan for women and 5BX plan for men keep rising to the surface because of their simplicity and the small amount of time required.

Warming up is built in to each of the plans so you don’t even need to add the, often resented, extra time for that.

"It is the exercise I have done on and off my whole life,’ says Helen in the Daily Mail. ‘It just very gently gets you fit."

The gentleness is one of the best things about XBX.

It doesn’t matter what age you are or what your fitness level is, so long as you don’t have a health condition or disability that prevents exercise, there’s a starting point to suit.

A useful feature of this plan is the charts included that show you where you should start and the pace at which you should progress. Plus, there’s a motivational boost to be had from the progress charts you get to tick off every time you do your 11 or 12 minutes.

Our reviewer, who followed the plan for a few weeks before reporting back said,

“You actually get to feel like you're progressing all the time - you're either ticking your way off through the days at each level or ticking off the levels as you move up through them - and each day you can feel smug in how far you've come!”

XBX and 5BX exercises are very simple, and likely ones you have done before, no awkward moves that you’re never quite sure you’re doing right.

Comments from wlr members attest to this simplicity and ease of getting started:

“I used to go to an exercise class about 20 years ago & these are exactly the ones the girl did with us. They aren't difficult but very effective.” Dot

“This book starts at a low enough level to be accessible to everyone. You decide what amount to do and gradually you see improvement. no injuries, no embarrassing visits to the gym!!” Jenny

With all this easiness you could be forgiven for worrying that you won’t get much out of doing these exercises. But it’s not only Helen Mirren who notices the benefits:

“I have noticed my tubby tummy is reducing since I started the XBX 12-minute sessions each day. My torso feels less wobbly.” Janet

“I've already (22 days in) - started to feel like I'm holding myself straighter, walking taller, I'm just less hunched - cos I've started to rediscover the muscles in my shoulders, core and back.” Jo

Both the XBX and 5BX plans provide an efficient full body workout. XBX, the women’s book does this in 8 exercises (there are 2 optional ‘posture’ exercises) and a maximum 12 minutes. 5BX is 11 minutes and 5 exercises.

In both cases you may find your exercise session actually takes less time at your recommended starting level, and you won’t reach the stated number of minutes until you’re a few levels in. Great news for beginners and those who find procrastination a problem when it comes to getting fitter.

You can get PDF's of the original pamphlets for men or women, or get the plans in newly updated books that include all the progress charts in the wlr shop XBX 12-Minute Plan for women, 5BX 11-Minute Plan for Men.

Unfortunately other useful things have taken over in wlr member packs, but remember wlr members get a 20% discount on everything in our little shop.

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Helen Mirren's comments in the Daily Mail

Madeleine Howe tries the plan for the Telegraph (subscription required)

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