Deck of cards workout

  • 25 Jul - 31 Jul, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly

This versatile workout is all about the dealer's choice: Assign a move for each suit, shuffle and flip. Can you finish the deck?

If you're looking for a way to spice up your workouts, consider doing a deck of cards workout. This workout literally leaves it up to chance to determine what exercises and how many reps you will be performing from one card to the next. Plus, you can play it alone or with a partner.

The gist of a deck of cards workout: You assign exercises to each suit, draw cards, and do the exercise associated with the suit of the card for the number of reps indicated by the card.

The best part? There's no right or wrong way. You just have to have an open and creative mind. And a willingness to sweat. That said, if you don't know where to start, here's a primer on how to DIY a deck of cards workout.

How to design a deck of cards workout
Decide your workout focus

Is it leg day? Do you want to strengthen your back for those pull-ups? Get your heart rate pumping with some cardio? Choose a muscle group you want to target or goal you want to achieve with the workout, whether it's cardio or strength. For example, if you’re all about core then include ab-driven movements, like hollow holds, plank jacks, jackknives, and Russian twists. If you aren't targeting a specific muscle group, consider making it a total-body workout and select exercises that incorporate upper body, lower body, core, and cardio.

Assign an exercise for each suit

Depending on what the focus of your workout is, you'll assign different exercises for each suit. For instance, if it's leg day, you can do squat jumps for every heart card and lateral lunges for every spade card you draw. No matter what exercises you choose, you want to make sure you have all equipment ready (if you're using any) so the transition is seamless and you're not wasting time fumbling over things. Here's a sample of exercises assigned to different suits:

• Diamonds = Plank-Ups

• Hearts = Squat Jumps

• Clubs = Superman Lat Pull-Down

• Spades = Russian Twists

Decide what to do with your face cards. You can decide to count face cards as a certain number of reps – so Jacks = 11, Queens = 12, etc. – or you can designate the face cards as special moves. For example, in an ab workout, you can assign jumping jacks for jack cards, glute bridges for queen cards, and supermans for king cards. You can make all face cards be 10 reps or a time-based movement. Here, more examples:

• Jacks = V-Ups or Knee Tucks for 30 seconds

• Queens = Lateral Lunges for 30 seconds

• Kings = Blast-Off Push-Ups for 30 seconds

• Ace = Burpees for 30 seconds

Know your reps

The number on the card will determine the number of reps you'll perform for each exercise. So if you pull out a seven of hearts, for instance, you'll do seven reps of that exercise. If you're including isometric exercises (such as planks or hollow holds) as the face-card moves, you can assign them as 30- or 45-second holds. And if you want to add a challenge to the low-rep cards, you can make it a double-count per movement; so if you're doing oblique mountain climbers, driving both knees up counts as one rep instead of two.

Set a time limit

While there are no rules on specific time limits for a deck-of-cards workout, the goal is to get through all 52 cards, plus two joker cards as quickly as possible.

That means there are little to no breaks in between flipping cards. Once one card is done, flip to the next and keep the rest period short so your heart rate stays high. Even if your workout is strength-based, having little to no rest besides flipping the next card can be a very challenging workout.

You can probably get through an entire deck of cards in 15 to 20 minutes, but you can also set specific goals, like finishing half the deck in 10 minutes, or setting a timer for five minute intervals, and seeing how many cards you can complete within that time. Another way to set up the workout is to work the upper body for 10 minutes and the lower body for another 10 minutes.

Shuffle your cards

Now that you've assigned exercises for every suit and know how many reps you need to complete for each card, it's time to start sweatin'! But before you start your workout, make sure to shuffle your cards so you're not performing the same exercises consecutively. You want to perform a variety of exercises so you stay challenged throughout the workout.