Could you handle this old school 1960s PE-style workout?

Famous fitness YouTubers Buff Dudes have resurrected and tried this classic 1960s style HIIT workout

Rodney marsh doing push-ups in the 1960s
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sometimes, it's best to keep things simple, like they used to be. It seems with lots of conflicting information bouncing around the internet, working out, eating healthy and staying fit has gotten a lot more complicated. Somewhere amongst the miasma of misinformation, fad diets, extreme workout challenges and noise, we lost our way. Wouldn't it be nice to return to a time when staying healthy was simple?

That's what famous fitness YouTubers (and brother) Buff Dudes are trying to do with one of their latest videos. Their dad takes them through a demanding workout which was inspired by the exercises in the 1960s. 

To take it on, all you really need is a pair of gym shoes (check out our best cross training shoes guide for our top picks) a bit of floor space and either a wall or a partner to lean on. Check out the video below, and we've listed the workout in full below it. 

Watch the Buff Dudes take on the 1960s-style workout here

The workout:

  • Fish-out-of-water (jumping jacks with two hands on the ground, see video). 20 reps
  • Running on the spot. 30 secs
  • Burpees. 10 reps
  • High knees. 30 secs
  • Jumping jacks. 10 reps
  • Flexed arm hold (holding a chin-up at the top of the movement). To failure
  • Bicycle crunches (you can our guide on how to do bicycle crunches here). 30 seconds
  • Handstand hold (either with your partner holding your legs, or resting against the wall). 30 secs.   

Why should you do old-school workouts?

You don't need cutting-edge gym machines to maintain a basic level of fitness: classic circuit training or boot camp style exercises, including push ups, sit ups, chin-ups and jumping jacks, are still used all around the world. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

According to expert strength coach and personal trainer Rogan Allport, these classic boot camp exercises are "low skill, high volume". Most can be done by lots of different people of all different fitness levels, with lots of repetitions to help kickstart fat loss and drive metabolic fatigue.

Allport says: "Old-school boot camp exercises have a very low chance of injury, and it's easy to progress and regress. No matter your fitness level, there are ways to work on these movements at different stages."

If you can't do a chin-up or a flexed arm hold, you might be able to lower the bar and keep your heels on the floor, or use a resistance band to help take some of your weight. We have some easier variations in our guide to learn how to do pull-ups here. Running on the spot and high knees can be done at lots of different intensities, from slow jogging to an intense stationary sprint. 

Old-school workouts for beginners & seniors: The Canadian XBX plan

Beloved by Helen Mirren, who still uses it to get in shape for the screen at 74, the Canadian XBX plan is a 1950s-era workout plan originally written on pamphlets and issued to air force pilots. The plan just takes 12 minutes and can be found here, with an easier variation shown in the video below:

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.