Monthly Archives: April 2008

The Cardiac Card Game

In an effort to avoid spending copious amounts on expensive workout equipment, I have started to use a deck of cards. It creates variety, while taking away all the effort and thinking that planning a consistent but varied workout would normally require. It’s very simple.

This is how you play:

Every suite represents a muscle group or exercise. Diamonds are your abs, obliques and lower back. Spades are pectorals and shoulders, clubs are the legs, and if you draw a heart, you’ll be doing cardio. Pick an exercise you like and stick with it. For diamonds, I do a yoga plank pose for as many seconds as the card value. A king is 13 seconds, and an ace is 14. (To avoid cheating I have my watch count seconds for me.) Spades are push-ups, clubs are lounges, and on hearts I do jumping jacks, mainly because they’re easy to do in a small space. At least if you’re not standing too close to the wall.

To get started, do the following:

1. Take a deck of cards and shuffle it, very thoroughly.
2. Make sure you’ve changed out of those tight work slacks and that dry-clean only shirt into sweats or jammies.
3. Make sure you are not wearing high-heeled shoes or heavy and dangly earrings. This cannot be stressed enough.
4. Flip a card, and start the workout.

The card is a nine of hearts, so you’ll do nine jumping jacks. Next card is the Jack of spades, so now you’ll do eleven push-ups. Next card is the five of spades, so now you get to do five more push-ups. After that you get the seven of diamonds, so now you’ll hold the plank pose for seven seconds. Or do seven crunches, if you prefer.

Important side note: You cannot train and build your abs, without also building the corresponding back muscles. Well, you can, but it will lead to very strong abs and back muscles that are too weak to balance it, your torso will be unable to stand up straight and instead be pulled crooked whenever you try to stand up straight, and excruciating back pain and injury will follow. Build your back and side muscles.

Back to the card game. The two most important rules are to keep going, and to never ever skip a card. It’s a cardio workout, and if you pause to catch your breath your heart rate won’t stay up where it needs to be for the exercise to actually benefit you, and then all you did was waste 20 minutes and get sweaty for nothing.

The only time you are allowed to skip a card is if you draw two face cards of the same suite right after each other. However, if you get the eight, five, nine, and four of spades in a row, you unfortunately have to suck it up and suffer through it. That, by the way, is why I suggested shuffling the deck thoroughly.

Having a water bottle handy is also recommended.


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