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Deck of Cards Workout – Basement Series

Deck of Cards Workout – Basement Series

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Today we were looking for something different to give us some variety to our workout. We knew that we wanted a workout that would get us our 100 burpees, but beyond that, we wanted something different. Today would normally be our testing day, but the fatigue from the 100 burpees per day is setting in and we were worried that our testing day wouldn’t be effective. So, we agreed we would change up our schedule and suspend testing days for the rest of the month. This led to the deck of cards workout.

What is the Deck of Cards Workout?

Well, for this workout you need one thing – a deck of cards. Really, that’s it. You can make it as complex as you would like with additional equipment or you can keep it simple and just use bodyweight movements.

As you know, a deck of cards comprises four suits – hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs. 

So, you will need to select an exercise per suit. 

Also, each suit in a deck of cards has the following cards – 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, jack, queen, king, and an ace. 

So, you take the particular movement for a suit (say burpees for a diamond) and you match that to the actual card in that suit. So, four of diamonds would be four burpees.

You will need to decide what value to attribute to the face and ace cards. We chose that jack = 10, queen = 11, king = 12, and ace =13. If you follow these values then you get a total of 100 reps per suit.

Which Movements Did We Select for our Deck of Cards Workout?

Here is how we broke it up:

Diamond – Burpees

Hearts – Air Squats

Club – Kettlebell Swings

Spades – Crunches

Woman Doing an Air SquatThe beauty of this workout is that you can choose any 4 movements that you want. It is infinitely customizable for your goals. Our goal in February is 100 burpees per day, so we wanted to ensure that we had that as our primary focus. We really wanted to structure all the other movements to support the burpees.

Also, we didn’t really want a bunch of equipment for this workout. So, aside from the kettlebell swings, everything else was bodyweight. We easily could have made this workout an entire bodyweight program.

The process that you use for the workout is simple. You lay down all 52 cards in a stack face down. Then, you pull a card from the top. You look at the card and that card tells you the movement and the reps. After you have finished this movement and reps you draw another card. Surprises all the way through the 52 cards.

Why the Deck of Cards Workout?

There are a few reasons why we chose this workout.

First, it was easy. All I had to do was pick out 4 movements and get a deck of cards. That was it. The cards took care of the rest.

Second, it is fun. I know that sounds crazy but it really is. Everyone is waiting to see if you are going to draw a 2 or an ace. Am I going to have to do 2 reps or 13? And, after you finish the 13, everyone is praying that you don’t pull a king of the same suit – it’s hard to follow a 13 rep movement with the same movement at 12 reps.

Three, it is infinitely modifiable. You can go all bodyweight, all kettlebells, all dumbbells, etc. Don’t limit yourself to what we chose, because I can assure you that we will play with the movements in the future

Fourth, it is a great travel workout plan. Stick a deck of cards in your suitcase and you have a “trainer” traveling with you pushing you through your workouts.

And finally, if you push from card to card, it provides a great cardio workout as well. You can move at your own speed, but if you chose to move quickly then you get an elevated heart rate throughout the program.


We loved this quick and efficient workout. This is one that we will keep in our regular workout routine. The only change we make will be the movements that we chose. If you want to find more workouts check out our Move page to learn more.