One of my favorite fitness tips is how to use a basic deck of cards to create a challenging workout, and there are plenty of variations of this fitness tip. Whether in or out of a gym, with or without equipment, using the random element provided by turning over cards can provide everyone with a workout to remember.

To refresh your memory about this fitness tip, with the basic deck of cards workout perform bodyweight squats (black cards) and push-ups (red cards), with the repetitions of each determined by the face value of the cards. Additionally, Jacks are 11, Queens are 12, Kings are 13 and Aces are 15. To save you from doing any addition, this adds up to 105 repetitions per suit and results in doing 210 squats and push-ups for each suit. If you include the Jokers in the deck this adds 20 reps to each move.

Make no mistake about it; if this workout is done correctly, there are few routines that are as challenging as this one. Minimizing rest periods between sets and limiting rest periods to no more than 90 seconds after every 10 cards, the goal should be to get through the deck in less than 25 minutes. At first, this won’t be possible for the vast majority of folks, and first-timers will be lucky to if they do the deck in 35 minutes. Just keep plugging away and remember that the 25-minute mark is the ultimate goal, not the ultimate reality.

By the way, the fastest that I’ve ever heard of anyone finishing this traditional deck of cards workout is just under 12 minutes. And for the nuts out there, a double-deck workout – where push-ups and squats are done with each card flip – was finished in 54 minutes.

A great variation of this basic deck of cards workout is to stick with bodyweight squats for the two black suits and split the red suits between push-ups and squat thrusts. Adding squat thrusts to the routine provides a little more cardiovascular activity while making the workout more doable for those folks who have a tough time with the push-ups.

With fewer push-ups to do, the rest periods can be reduced, and for some people eliminated altogether. The goal for finishing this workout should be 25 minutes (1 rep every 3 seconds for 1500 seconds!) and anything under 20 minutes (1 rep every 2.5 seconds) is awesome.

If you do the deck with the two Jokers you’ll do 230 squats, 115 push-ups, and 115 squat thrusts. The way to handle the Jokers is to do 10 squats and 10 push-ups for the first one turned over and 10 squats and 10 squat thrusts for the second.

The deck of cards workouts are some of my favorite fitness tips as they don’t require any equipment, can be done anywhere, are portable, and are as challenging as any workouts that you could ever try. Give the deck of cards a whirl and you won’t be disappointed.


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