One of my favorite workouts is simply using a deck of cards and going as far as I can go. He didn't create it but he certainly gave it greater purpose especially if you’re a combat athlete and that was Karl Gotch. If you were to get in superior condition it was important to stick with the fundamentals and that was squats, push-ups and bridging. With the deck, you just shuffle them however you want and when you flip one card you do that many push-ups or squats, face value is up to 15, Aces are 20 and Jokers are 25-50.
Numbered As Is
Face Cards- 15
Once you have it down and you can finish the deck in a reasonable amount of time (keep it under 45 min.), you can switch things around, make certain parts of the cards different types of push-up and/or squats along with an abdominal exercise or maybe add in pull-ups that’ll be an ass kicker. It’s good to switch things up, keep the body working in different directions and ways that’ll keep your heart rate up and challenging your body to a different degree. My shortest time with the cards ever was just over 21 min. and that’s cruising, that’s just on various push-ups and squats, however with only 4 exercises it takes me just under 45 min. at a time.
Gotch always found that conditioning was the base for every combat sport and in general all sports for that matter. You can do all the techniques in your sport all you want but if you can’t last very long on the mat or on the field even on the court you might as well walk out the door. Another legendary sports figure whose conditioning training helped bring a series of championships was the late John Wooden of NCAA Basketball lore at UCLA. If his guys weren't up to par to stay in the game efficiently, they didn't get to play much, it was this golden rule that put his teams in the best of the best during the 60’s and 70’s that had Hall Of Famers such as Kareem Abdul Jabarr and Bill Walton. This type of training gives your workouts a twist because it’s never the same every time so there’s no guess work it’s just there.
When it comes to timing, you should attempt to finish the deck with as little rest as possible to the point where you’re just zooming like lightning. In the beginning, you might need to rest after a few cards to catch your breath and let the tension out because of the lactic acid build up. Each workout should have a little less rest than the last time so you can build that endurance and your mental strength. A key component to learn is that after a while, your form might be a little off, this happens often so do your best to keep your form as best as possible because if you start to get sloppy, it’s going to bite you in the ass.
If you want to jump up to a level of conditioning that is different and a bit more hardcore than doing reps, do the deck in an Isometric format. You’re probably wondering “how the hell do you do that?” Instead of doing reps, you hold a certain position for time either for a few seconds or a few breaths for example, you got a 5 and it’s a squat, you can hold a horse stance or wall sit and hold for 5 seconds or take in 5 breaths. Jokers are a killer and you’d be in great shape if you can hold a position for up to 50 breaths but 50 seconds is still ok. This takes your body to a level most never dare go to. At best this kind of workout can take as long as an hour or more, that’s a lot of trying to hold still.
The deck can work in many ways and no matter how you do it, if you can do the whole deck you’re in reasonably good shape. Gotch took to a level only a small group has ever achieved and that’s doubling the number of squats and kept the push-ups as is. I once read he did the deck twice in a row, no wonder he was a beast on the mat. It’s a lot of fun to work on and you can do it just about anywhere at anytime. See how you do it and how it can work for you.