The goal of the deck of cards workout is to ace all 52 cards (including both joker cards) as fast as possible
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. And now we’re adding to this deck of cards exercise to the list.
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. The workout can either be a cardio or a strength workout.
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 they work 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 HIIT or CrossFit where there are different forms of exercises per round. But the challenging (or could be considered the best) part of the deck of cards workout is that you don’t know what exercises you’ll be doing next—it all depends on what card is drawn and how they construct their workout of the day.
How to construct a deck of cards workout
Like a typical workout routine, decide which muscle group to work 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 our full body workout or cardio recommendations.
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 for 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 face cards, you have the liberty to classify a corresponding exercise for a jack, queen, ace, and king. 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
King = 10 rounds of jumping jacks
Ace = No workout at all
Both joker cards are considered 30 second breaks
Imagine a workout if you never pick 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.