I first wrote about training with a deck of cards around 2003. At that time, I often used a deck of cards to create random sessions as finishers or short mini-workouts. The training format for a deck of cards is quite simple. You start with a fully mixed deck of cards (52 cards). All face cards (Jack, Queen and King) have a value of 10. Aces have a value of 11. Digital cards will have a face value (for example, 7 shovels = 7 pushups). Jokers are optional and can be set to any value or exercise.
Example of training a deck of cards
A deck of card workouts can have 2 or 4 exercises. If you choose two, black cards represent one exercise, and red cards another (for example, black = pushups, red = squats). If you select four exercises, each suit will determine its own exercise (for example, spikes = pushups, maces = squats, hearts = squats, diamonds = pull-ups).
Below you can see a recent demonstration of card deck workouts using squats and push ups. The video is sped up, so you can see me working through the deck.
Probably over the past 15 years, I have several times passed the same training in squatting and push-ups. However, after all these years, a short session is still difficult and effective. In less than 10 minutes I will perform several hundred repetitions of gymnastics in a random and unpredictable format.
Deck of cards Variations
After posting a video demo on my Instagram page, I saw a lot of comments from people discussing other options. And this is true, the training options with a deck of cards are literally endless. Personally, I prefer the simple format. I usually stick with two exercises, because it saves me from thinking about which exercise corresponds to which suit. During these workouts I am not interested in thinking. I want to go from one set to another as quickly as possible.
For those interested in additional options, you can use the Excel link below to create some unique options. The file was created many years ago by one of the first readers of the site. Since then, I posted it on the Internet.
Excel card deck
Deck of cards Convenience
An additional advantage of the workout from the deck of cards, which I saw above, is that I can perform it anywhere. As a coach who often travels, it's nice to have workout options that I can do in a small hotel room. I do not need equipment, very little space and less than ten minutes.
There is almost every excuse for not training when you are on the road without access to proper equipment. As I said, you can always do something, but something can not be compared.
Thus, I often forget that there are many new readers on the site who are not familiar with workouts and content, which I shared many years ago. It was great to see so many people on social networks who were not familiar with training a deck of cards.
A deck of cards does provide a great option when time is limited or if you want to add a short finisher to a longer session. Each workout of a deck of cards will differ depending on the shuffling of the cards, and this is something that you will never outgrow. I certainly do not.
"Success is all about the sequence around the basics." – Robin Sharma