Your Easy Guide to a Deck of Cards Workout

Use a Deck of Playing Cards and Play Your Way to Health

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Using a deck of cards is one of the simplest ways to plan your own workouts. While many companies have developed sets of playing cards specifically for exercise routines, there's no reason to go out and buy a set if you have a good ol' deck of standard cards sitting around your house. All you need to plan your own deck of cards workout is a list of exercises (I've included a few examples below), a timer and a set of cards.

If you have those on hand, you're ready to get started. 

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1. Select Four Exercises

Start by choosing any four exercises. This will make it easy for you to remember which exercises you're performing, and it will also make it easy for you to pair your exercises with one of the playing card suits. Here are some suggested groupings: 

2. Assign Each Exercise to a Suit in the Deck

This is pretty self-explanatory. Simply assign each exercise to a suit of cards. For instance, you might pair up the following for a full-body workout:

  • Squats = Diamonds
  • Push-ups = Hearts
  • Jumping Jacks = Spades
  • Sit-ups = Clubs

To help you remember which exercise is associated with which suit, you may want to write it down on a piece of paper you'll keep next to your deck of cards. This way you can double-check which exercise you're supposed to perform when you pull a particular suit from the deck. 

3. Know Your Numbers

When working out with playing cards, each numerical card is representative of the number of reps you'll perform for each exercise.

For instance, a two card represents two repetitions. But this gets tricky with face cards, like jacks, queens, kings, and aces.

You're the master of your workout, so you can decide how to organize your cards, but you could either assign each face card the equivalent of 10 repetitions, or you could assign each face card a different number of repetitions. For instance, jacks could represent 11 reps, queens 12 reps, and kings 13 reps.

You'll also want to decide whether you want aces to be the equivalent of a face card (10 or more repetitions) or if you want them to be the equivalent of a single repetition.

In a nutshell, whatever number is on the card you draw is the number of reps you'll perform. 

4. Choose a Time Limit

Now that you've selected your exercises, you've assigned them to a suit, and you know how many repetitions each card represents, you need to decide how long you're going to exercise.

I suggest you complete each series of four exercises for 5 to 10 minutes. If you want to exercise longer, switch up your exercises after your first set, and continue.

For instance, if you do a full-body workout for a total of 10 minutes, when you're done, you can switch up your exercises and do a lower body workout for five minutes, then an upper body exercises for five minutes, for a total of a 20-minute workout.

5. Start Your Workout

All that's left is to get to work! Set a timer on your phone or keep an eye on the clock. Shuffle your cards and pull the first card from the deck. Based on the full-body workout example above, if you pull a 10 of hearts from the deck, you would do 10 push-ups. If you pull a king of spades from the deck next, you would do 13 jumping jacks. Then if you pull a two of diamonds from the deck, you would do two squats.

Simply pull cards from the deck and perform the designated exercise and repetitions for the full time you've allotted. It's an easy and effective way to plan and perform your own workout routines.

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