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"Deck of Cards" Workout

Updated on November 28, 2014

Materials for workout

This workout requires the following:

-Enough space to do pushups and to jump straight up

-A pad or cushion of some sort(optional)

-A full deck of cards

-And something to wipe the sweat off that will surely be plentiful!

That's it!

So what is this workout?

In simplest terms, this workout is a circuit workout that only uses body weight and can be modified in an endless number of ways to meet your specific wants and needs.

This workout is one that I love to do as an alternate workout to my typical lifting routine occasionally, if I'm where I can't get to any weights, or I don't have much time to workout.

It's not workout I generally do a lot, but it is great way to mix things up.

Have you done a circuit workout before?

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How to get started

It's important to warm up before you start working out. It's especially important for this kind of workout because most of your muscles will be very fatigued during the workout. You will also be using your whole body throughout the workout, so it's really important to make sure your whole body is warmed up.

Whether you do the warm up below or some other version of a warm up, it's important to make sure your muscles are nice a warm before starting.

The exercises you"ll need to know how to do

For this workout, you need to know how to do these for exercise. I have explained them below and provided a video of me demonstrating each exercise. If my demonstrations aren't good enough for you, there are a plethora of videos and tutorials online that can be viewed to assist you in doing these exercises correctly.


Pushups are great exercise that focus on the upper body. With proper form the chest, triceps, and shoulders are being used. Also the core is used to help keep your torso stable through the exercise. Form is crucial to maintain, especially when fatigue sets in. And trust me, it will set in.

The key to this exercise:

  • Keep the back straight
  • Control the body on the way done
  • Explode on the way up
  • Keep the hands under the shoulders


For this exercise, I recommend a modification of the traditional burpee. I suggest the modified version because push-ups are also being done with this workout, and ,trust me, your chest will be worked a ton from the push-ups you will be doing. Plus using your arms to keep yourself stable works the same muscles as push-ups do.


  1. Stand straight
  2. squat down, kick the feet out, and
  3. Land in the push-up position.
  4. Kick the feet back up under the hands
  5. From the quarter squat position, jump up as high as you can
  6. Check out my video for a demonstration of how to do this movement.

Squat Jumps

Squat jumps are a great exercise to work the legs.

Here's how to do them:

  1. Stand Straight up
  2. Squat down until your legs are at or near parallel
  3. Explode back up, jumping up at high as you can
  4. As you land, bend the legs to absorb the weight of landing

The last step is the most important, in my opinion, to doing this exercise correctly and safely. Bending the knees as you land will allow the energy from landing to be distributed more evenly to other places other than the knees.

In my video demonstration, you can see that my arms don't reach up as I jump. This is simply because the ceiling is in the way. It doesn't matter particularly if you do or don't. It's only important that the arms are used to help keep the body balanced. But usually, I will reach my arms up to jump if I have enough space above me.


V-ups are last but not least.

They focus on the abs and do a good job of targeting the entire abdominal ab system.

In order do this exercise you do the following:

  1. Lay on your back, straight legs, arm straight out above your head
  2. Crunch up your torso as you bring up the legs.-It's important to not swing in the motion the abs won't be worked.
  3. Touch your feet the the pinnacle of the movement. Ideally, it would be right above your waist, but as long you get it around that area every time, you'll feel it all the same.


The directions are pretty simple and straight forward, but before starting this workout you have to decide which suit will be which exercise.

I usually make it the following:

  • Spades: Squat Jumps
  • Clovers: Burpees
  • Diamond: Pushups
  • Hearts: V-ups

Once you've decided the above it's time to actually do this workout and here's how:

1) Shuffle the deck

2) Take one card from the deck

3) Perform the exercise

4) Go to the next card


So now that you know how to do each exercise in this workout, I should probably tell you exactly how this workout is done.

Each card has a value for how many reps of each exercise you do. You can make the cards valued anything you want, but I have always done the following valuing system.

  • Ace-15
  • King 14
  • Queen-13
  • Jack 12
  • The rest are the value on the card.


The pace of the workout is largely up to the individual, but the faster you move through the deck the more difficult it will be. If you're moving really quick, getting it done under 20 minutes should be no problem. If you move at slower pace it will probably take 25-30 minutes.

So if you're up to really challenge yourself, try to move fast and get a new best time each time you do this workout. .

What makes this workout challenging

There are several things that make this workout challenging.

The first being that if you complete the whole deck, you will have been completing 108 reps for each exercise. Which is quite a bit to do.

The second is your whole body is being worked constantly, so the blood in your muscles doesn't have time to focus on one muscle group. it's constantly being shifted around based on the exercise being done.

And third, burpees. I, personally, don't like this exercise, although it is a good one, so doing it a 108 times is quite a challenge for me in two different regards.

Modify this workout for your owns wants/needs

The nice thing with this workout is that it can be modified with any four exercises. I have changed things like doing body squats instead of squat jumps to help strengthen my legs after my knee surgery without straining my knees too much. Different ab exercises. Etc. Etc.

You could even target one muscle group like legs or abs by making all the exercises be for those muscle groups. I haven't ever done this, but I would imagine that it would be a great way to really wear out that muscle group.

So if you don't like my exercise, change them, mix it up. Use whatever ones you like. Just think about what muscle groups the exercises you pick target and go from there.

Bobby Jones-My former teacher

Yes, this is my former teacher. Won state championship in wrestling twice, played football at Penn State, briefly played in the NFL, and then briefly did MMA. One intimidating dude.
Yes, this is my former teacher. Won state championship in wrestling twice, played football at Penn State, briefly played in the NFL, and then briefly did MMA. One intimidating dude.

The man who gave me this workout

i didn't make up this workout on my own. I learned about it in a class I took in high school with a now former teacher, Bobby Jones. If he didn't include this workout in his class, there is a good chance that I would have never known about it.

So I give credit where credit it due.

Why this workout works

This workout is an effective workout because of the muscle confusion principle.:

"Muscle confusion works best for general physical preparednes programs (GPP) or for breaking out of a plateau during conventional periodization-based programs. With traditional programs that are planned around specific cycles, overloads, etc., it is possible to change a workout too frequently to experience optimal performance. In cases where the goal is hypertrophy or absolute strength, it is recommended to only use muscle confusion when the body habituates." -athletics.wikia


Consult a professional before starting any workout routine. Do this workout at your on peril.


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    • thunkfulthinker profile image

      Jim 3 years ago from Ohio

      And it's different every single time it's done. I guess it could be the same, but the probability of shuffling the deck the same is highly unlikely.

    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 3 years ago from Ireland

      What a unique way of making a workout more interesting. Plus it definitely a different way of ensuring you complete all your exercise routines.