Playing cards are great for exercising too.

A deck of cards workout is a great way to get in a good workout. It is ideal for people who are bored of their regular workout routine, have limited equipment, or are looking for a quick challenge.

You can use any old deck you have in your drawer, even if you have a premade deck.

The article will show you how to set up a deck of cards for a workout.

playing cards
AUDSHULE/Stocksy United

A deck of cards workout uses a traditional deck of cards to help you in your workout.

Simply, you assign an exercise to each suit and use the number of the card to tell you how many reps to do.

For example, let’s say you assigned squats to hearts and you pull a five of hearts. This means you’ll do five squats.

You continue to pick through the deck until you reach the end of the pile or you are done.

The best part of a deck of cards is that you can design it to your liking. You can do a full-body workout, focus on legs, or prioritize cardio-based moves.

The workout you do is in the works.


A deck of cards workout involves assigning exercises to normal playing cards. You can complete the workout by going through the entire deck or as many as you can.

To make your deck of cards workout, you need a timer, a piece of paper, and a card deck.

You may also want to have some exercise equipment depending on the type of exercises you choose (e.g., jumping rope, dumbbells, resistance bands).

Step 1: Decide your workout focus

You need to decide what type of workout you want to do.

For example, if you want to do a full-body workout, then you’ll want to choose a variety of workouts that target your lower body, upper body, and core.

If you want to focus on cardio, you should pick moves that get your heart rate going.

Step 2: Select your exercises

You will want to choose which exercises you do once you have decided on your workout focus. Pick four exercises which you can assign to each suit.

For example:

Feel free to try different exercises because there are so many opportunities.

Step 3: Assign a suit to each exercise

You need to assign a suit to each exercise.

“Let’s say you choose to do a lower body day. It may look like this.”

  • squats are called hearts.
  • Spades are bridges.
  • Diamonds are reverse lunges.
  • The clubs are called the Romanian deadlifts.

You have to decide what to do with face cards. You can either keep the exercise the same or assign a number of reps to the face. For example:

  • Jack = 11 reps or players choice
  • The players choice is Queen or 12 reps.
  • The players choice is King or 13 reps.
  • Ace = 30 seconds rest or players choice

You can assign time-based exercises to face cards to add in a challenge. For example:

  • Jack is 30 second plank.
  • Queen is a 1-minute squat hold.
  • King = 45-second high knees
  • The players choice is 30-seconds rest or ace.

The options are endless, so choose what you think will be the most challenging.

Step 4: Know your reps

Playing cards are convenient because they have numbers assigned to them.

It is easy to assign the number of the card to the number of reps.

  • 2 reps is 2.
  • 3 reps is 3.
  • 4 reps is 4.
  • 5 reps is 5.
  • 6 reps is 6.
  • 7 reps is 7.
  • 8 reps is 8.
  • 9 reps is 9.
  • 10 reps is 10.
  • Jack is the number of reps or players choice.
  • The players choice is Queen or 12 reps.
  • The players choice is King or 13 reps.
  • The players choice is whether to have a 1 rep, 14 reps, or 30 seconds rest.

“Let’s say you chose eight hearts. You will do eight squats or whatever you assign to hearts.”

Step 5: Choose a time limit

The deck of cards workout is up to you.

The goal is to finish the deck in around 15 to 20 minutes depending on the type of exercises.

You can also decide to exercise for a time limit. You only have 10 minutes to spare. You will be able to pick as many cards as you want in that 10-minute period.

Alternatively, you may decide to assign the first 10 minutes (or 26 cards) to a lower body workout and then the remaining 10 minutes or 26 cards for upper body.

Step 6: Get started

“Make sure you shuffle your deck. This is important because you don’t want to do the same exercises over and over again.”

You can list your exercises and assigned cards on the floor by putting the cards on the floor beside your sheet of paper.

Pick a card and start working out. Pick cards until you have completed the entire deck or until time runs out. Try to avoid long breaks between exercises.


To do a deck of cards workout, you need to assign four exercises to each suit and additional exercises or reps to face cards. The workout begins by flipping a card and completing the exercise. Continue until you have finished with the deck.

There are many benefits to a deck of cards.

  • It keeps things interesting. Not knowing what card is going to come next adds a bit of mystery to your workout. This can make exercising a fun activity for you.
  • It’s challenging. The goal is to complete a 52-card deck, which involves a lot of exercises and reps. Limit the number of breaks between workouts for an added challenge.
  • You can do it solo or with a partner. You and a partner can do this workout together. For added fun, have your partner pick your card and vice versa.
  • Improves cardio. Since you’re performing exercises back-to-back, this keeps your heart rate up which can help improve your stamina over time.
  • No equipment needed. Since you’re in charge of designing your workouts, you can select bodyweight exercises that require little or no equipment at all.
  • No two workouts are the same. Since you’re picking cards at random, you’ll never have a workout look exactly the same. This is ideal for people who grow tired of the same old workouts.
  • You can build strength. Just completing the numbered cards (not including the face cards, which adds more) means you’re going to do at least 54 total reps per exercise, allowing you to build some serious strength over time.


The deck of cards workout will help you improve your strength and cardiovascular fitness. Every workout is unique because cards are random.

To get the most out of your deck of cards workout, you need to make sure that it is a challenge for you.

For example, if you can easily do bodyweight squats, try using a resistance band or dumbbell.

“You don’t want to pick exercises that are too challenging or that compromise your form. You may want to try doing modified knee pushups instead of regular ones.”

The key to seeing results is to challenge yourself. Modifications as needed are what you will know.

You may want to change the exercises as you get stronger and more fit. You can perform this workout a few times per week if you choose to do other workouts and exercises.

Regardless, you want to make sure that you’re incorporating at least 2–3 days of strength training and at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each week (1).


To see results, choose exercises that are challenging but doable in proper form.

A deck of cards workout is a great way to add a challenge and some fun to your workout.

It involves doing exercises based on the number of reps that the card says you should do. If you pull a nine of spades, you would do nine reps of the exercise assigned to spades.

Many people enjoy this type of workout because it looks different depending on the order of exercises. It is suitable for people of all activity levels because you can decide which exercises to do.

You can use the cards to get in a good sweat instead of waiting for game night to start.