What is the Card Workout?

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  • Written By: Victoria Blackburn
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2020
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The card workout is simply a workout that uses the random drawing of playing cards to determine which exercise to do and the number of repetitions to perform of that exercise. It is simple to do and requires no special equipment, just a deck of playing cards. Depending on the exercises that are used, the card workout usually takes approximately 40 minutes, but it provides a great way to have a fun and different workout each time.

To organize the card workout, a gym exercise is assigned to each suit. For example hearts may be push-ups, spades are sit-ups, clubs require chin-ups and each time a diamond is drawn, squats are done. This is not set in stone and pretty much any exercises can be used. Other examples include lunges, running laps, bicep curls or bench presses. Equipment like resistance bands and weights can be used as part of the exercise routine.

The number of repetitions for each exercise is determined by the face value of the card. If, for example, a deuce is drawn, then two repetitions of the exercise are performed. If the card is a two of clubs, then from the previous assigned exercises, two chin-ups should be completed. If a five of hearts is turned up next, then five push-ups are completed. This continues until the entire deck of 52 cards has been turned over.


Face cards, jacks, queens and kings, are counted as ten reps of each exercise. The ace has a higher value and is assigned a hefty 15 reps. The card workout offers variations and some include having a rest period after 10 cards are drawn. Others include a rest period with each ace drawn; either way, it is up to the individual how to organize his or her workout.

To complete the card workout, shuffle a complete deck of 52 cards. Select the top card from the deck and perform the corresponding exercise depending on the suit and the number of repetitions. Some people include the jokers as wild cards, which may mean an extra rest period or, for the hard core trainers, 20 repetitions. This is repeated until the deck is exhausted.

People new to training can use the card workout to begin their training regime. Experienced athletes can break up the monotony of their gym workout with the random nature of this workout. It is also useful for people who travel and do not have access to a local gym, as the card workout can be performed just about anywhere.


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