The goal is to ace all 52 cards (including both joker cards) as fast as possible

By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Saii Shah | Photo by Mali Maeder/Pexels

For the past few months, we’ve featured a few indoor workout routines, most of which involved common household items. We’ve added to the series of our indoor workouts by including the deck of cards exercise.

The deck of cards workout is pretty versatile, depending on the dealer. It’s simple: Assign a move for each suit, shuffle, pick and do the workout associated with the card. The goal is to finish all 52 cards (including both joker cards) as fast as possible. This can be both a cardio and strength workout since it’s random.

According to Mat Forzagila, a certified functional strength coach and instructor, “this can help your cardio goals by keeping the pace going and it can also help with strength by adding volume. You can play it in many different ways, depending on your focus for the workout.”

 

The best workout routine people should construct with the deck of cards are push and pull movements, since that works both the front and back of the body muscles. It’s also worth adding bodyweight workouts that include random equipment for weights. So it becomes more or less like a HIIT or Crossfit workout where there are different forms of exercises per round. But the challenge (or could be considered the best) part of the deck of cards workout is that one doesn’t know what exercises they’ll be doing next—it all depends on what card is drawn and how they construct their workout of the day. 

The deck of cards workout is pretty versatile, depending on the dealer. It’s simple: Assign a move for each suit, shuffle, pick and do the workout associated with the card

How to construct a deck of cards workout

Like a typical workout routine, decide which muscle group to work out on for the day. If that’s shoulders and arms, then come up with a list of corresponding workouts for those muscle groups. In Forzagila’s case, he incorporated core workouts so most of his movements involve abs, plank jacks and Russian twists. If there’s no specific muscle group then consider doing our full body workout or cardio exercises recommendations that will make anyone sweat.

Construct the deck based on the chosen exercises

Each suit is equivalent to a specific workout while the number indicated on the card is how many times that exercise will be done. For example, if it’s cardio day, assign an exercise per suit like this then do it based on the card drawn. Imagine what 10 burpees two straight times is going to look like? 

Diamonds = Burpees 

Hearts = Jogging in place

Clubs = Mountain climbers

Spades = Squats using an eight-ounce water bottle 

 

Don’t forget the face cards

For the face cards, one has the liberty to classify a corresponding exercise for a jack, queen, ace and king cards. The routine can also be randomized if each face card is assigned to a specific number of reps so it becomes either a hit or miss with these face cards. Here’s an example: 

Jacks = 10 rounds of Superman exercise

Queen = 10 rounds of Sit-ups exercise

King = 10 rounds of Jumping Jacks

Ace = No workout at all

 

Both joker cards are considered 30 second breaks

Imagine a workout if one never picks a joker card? It’s also possible to select a joker card consecutively—no one ever knows and that’s what makes the deck of cards workout exciting. 

 

Then, ready, set and shuffle! 

Once all workouts are assigned per suit and face cards, begin by shuffling the deck. As mentioned above, the key is to finish all 52 cards as fast as possible but if that’s a little too much then just mix a variety of exercises in the deck.