Hello! My name is Shannon Taylor. I'm a long-time writer and editor from Minnesota surprised to find myself on an island in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, three younger children (the oldest is attending college in Chicago), and two dogs.

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Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
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Winter Fun

The Deck of Cards Workout

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In the spirit of “If it isn’t fun it won’t get done,” I created a Deck of Cards workout for my Saturday morning boot camp class last week. One of my wonderful D.C. roommates, Amy, and I used to do a version of this workout where we’d do push-ups if we drew a black card and sit-ups if we drew a red card. It all came back to me when I read an article in Shape featuring Carrie Underwood’s favorite Deck of Cards workout. The description was pretty general, so I took the basic concept and created my own version.

The idea is that you work as many body parts as possible but trick your brain into thinking it’s all a big game by using playing cards. I think my boot campers would agree that this workout sneaks up on you because there’s so much variety and it’s broken up into bite-size pieces!

All you need for the Deck of Cards workout is a deck of playing cards, a mat, and a few dumbbells. I set it up so that each suit represents a different category of exercise. For example, Diamonds = Arms, Clubs = Legs, Spades = Core, and Hearts = Cardio. To add as much variety as possible, I determined that all 2s would be 30-second plank holds and all 3s would be sets of 10 superheroes. (Superheroes are a great exercise for your back: just lie face-down and raise your arms and legs together at the same time. Like a superhero flying!)

Next I divided each suit into odd and even numbers and determined that Jacks = 11, Queens= 12, Kings=13, and Aces=14. Or you could make all the face cards equal 10 reps and the Aces equal 11. Carrie U. said that she keeps the Jokers in the deck and assigns each of them a 15-minute run on the treadmill. You can do whatever you’d like!

Let’s walk through a little bit of a sample workout, using the list of exercises at the bottom:

You draw a 6 of Clubs, so you do 6 lunges (left leg + right leg = 1 rep)

Next you draw a 2 of Hearts so you do a 30-second plank hold

You draw a 7 of Diamonds, so you do 7 bicep curls with military presses

You draw a 9 of Hearts, so you do 9 jumping jacks

And so on! Keep going until you get through the entire deck. You can do it.


All 2s are 30-second Plank Holds

All 3s are 10 Superheroes


Odd: Bicep Curls with Military Presses

Even: Tricep Table Dips (or Chair Dips if you have one)

CLUBS = Legs

Odd: Squats

Even: Lunges


Odd: Bicycles

Even: Sit-Ups or Roll-Ups or V-Ups

HEARTS = Cardio

Odd: Jumping Jacks

Even: Mountain Climbers

Here’s a printable version of the Deck of Cards workout (plus an extra workout for you). If you’re not familiar with the exercises, you can contact me, find them online (they’re all pretty basic), or substitute something similar. You can mix it up, too—add in some curtsey lunges or use weights when you squat. But whatever you do, please don’t get hung up on perfectionism. The important thing is that you get moving and have as much fun as possible!

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