A deck of cards can be used for more than just games and magic tricks. In fact, you can get an awesome workout with a standard deck of cards.
The deck of cards workout is simple. Each suit is assigned to an exercise—e.g., diamonds equal Push-Ups. Bodyweight moves are preferred because you move quickly between exercises.
Draw a card and perform the designated exercise for the number reps indicated on the card, 2 through 10. For the face cards, Jack = 11 reps, Queen = 12 reps, King = 13 reps, and Ace = 14 reps.
Let me tell you, this workout will kick your butt.
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Sometimes, you draw a two and do only two reps. No big deal. Other times, you have to do 10 or more reps. Late in a workout, you pray for low numbers. And that’s not to mention if you happen to draw the same suit (i.e., the same exercise) twice (or more) in a row.
This type of workout is fairly high volume, so it builds muscular endurance and work capacity as much as or more than max strength. But it’s important for athletes to be able to repeatedly perform a movement. And it’s a great way to get an extra fat-burning boost, if that’s your goal.
A deck of cards workout is best done with one or more partners to split up the number of reps. If you do it on your own, you will perform 104 reps per exercise. If you do it with one partner, 52 reps is a more manageable volume.
Do this either at the end of a workout as a finisher or ideally on a day when you don’t plan to lift at all.
- Assign one exercise to each suit. If you draw a suit, you perform the designated exercise for the number of reps indicated on the card. Use these reps for face cards: Jack = 11; Queen = 12; King = 13; Ace = 14.
- Rest for 30 seconds after finishing an exercise, then draw another card.
- If you’re doing this on your own, cut the deck in half. You can add cards as your fitness improves.
- You don’t need any equipment other than a pull-up bar.
Each of the workouts below include four exercises: one conditioning move, two exercises tailored to the goal of the workout, and one core move.
Full-Body Deck of Cards Workout
Hearts – Mountain Climbers
Diamonds – Prisoner Squat
Spades – Spiderman Push-Ups
Clubs – Reverse Lunges (each side)
Lower-Body Focus Deck of Cards Workout
Hearts – Burpees
Diamonds – Glute Toe Touches (each side)
Spades – Split Squats
Clubs – Dead Bugs (each side)
Upper-Body Focus Deck of Cards Workout
Hearts – Bear Crawls
Diamonds – Pull-Ups or Bird Dogs
Spades – Push-Ups
Clubs – Windshield Wipers
Arm Focus Deck of Cards Workout
Hearts – Jumping Jacks
Diamonds – Chin-Ups
Spades – Close-Grip Push-Ups
Clubs – Plank Shoulder Taps (each side)
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