Deck of Cards Workout

I am not famous for many things…actually I’m not famous for anything. However, the Deck of Cards workout is something I can say I am at least well known for.

My roommates from college might shake their heads in disdain and remember when I convinced them to go to a park for this super fun workout. Sometimes I have to remember that my definition of “fun” is different from others.

The lucky souls that used to attend my boot camp classes would probably just laugh out loud and remember the buckets of sweat shed during the deck of card workouts we did as one big happy boot camp family. I’m not going to lie, I greatly enjoyed watching their faces and reactions when they walked in on a Saturday morning and realized they had 45 minutes of sweaty fun ahead of them. On multiple occasions they accused me of stacking the deck with higher number cards and even took the deck to count it themselves.Sure, I took a few 2’s out, but who really want to do 2 reps of anything? 10 reps is way more fun. 

Recently, I was at a wedding and the groom’s father came up to tell me that he told his gym instructor about the deck of cards workout after we did it together during his visit to San Diego. Guess what? They are doing the Deck of Cards workout at his gym in Philly now!


Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe it’s the Deck of Cards workout that’s famous. It is one of my all time favorite ways to move, because it is so adaptable to any situation. You can do it by yourself or with friends. You can make it easy or a gut buster. You can use your own body weight or equipment. You can do it indoors, outdoors, anywhere! 

The Infamous Deck of Cards Workout

What you need: A deck of cards or the Deck of Cards WOD app (it’s free!)


  1. Assign an exercise to each suit. For example, hearts could be squats.
  2. Make the jokers something special. For example, hold a 1 minute plank for each joker.
  3. Decide how many repetitions the face cards will be. I usually assign 10 repetitions to all face cards, but you could also do 11 for a jack, 12 for a queen, 13 for a king and 14 for an ace if you’re feeling really frisky! (Sorry this isn’t blackjack, Aces cannot be 1 or 11)
  4. Pull your first card! The number determines how many repetitions you will do. Ex: If you pulled a 6 of hearts, that’s 6 squats. Get movin’ pal.
  5. Keep pulling cards until you complete the deck. It’s your workout, so you determine the pace. Go as slow or as fast as you want to go. Take as many or as few breaks as you need. Depending on your pace and the exercises you choose, this could take anywhere from 20-45 minutes. 

Here are some example workouts:

Workout #1 (body weight)

  • Hearts= Squats
  • Spades= Push-Ups
  • Jacks= Sit-Ups
  • Clubs= Jumping Jacks
  • Joker #1= 30 walking lunges
  • Joker #2= 1 minute plank 

Workout #2 (with equipment)

Next time your friends want to get together, you should suggest that you all play cards. I’m sure they will love you after it’s all said and done!

This workout is a great option for when you’re traveling as well. I’ll be living in a hotel for a week in May and you can bet that I’ll have a deck of cards in my suitcase 🙂



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s