Spare some time? Is it cold and wet out on an Autumn Day in October? Can't get to the gym or just don't want to deal with traffic? Got any room in your hotel? All of these can still be your asset to getting a workout in. I have gone through some very effective workouts over the years and nearly at the top of the list is the Deck Of Cards Workout. It was made famous believe it or not by Late Pro Wrestler Karl Gotch who believed this workout helped enhance a man or woman's conditioning to last in a good old fashioned match and have reserves in the middle and ending of a fight. For the most part the only exercises he would put in would be the Hindu Push-ups & the Hindu Squats.
In Japan where Karl was praised as a Wrestling God, the wrestlers who trained under him would go on to be successful wrestlers and passed on the conditioning to students of their own. It's evident that if you want to get in shape fast this is a hell of a way to do it. The objective of this "game" was to get through each card that had specific exercises attached to it and as you got better, you reduced the rest periods each workout until you can burst through it without much problem. The one thing to remember especially if you've never done it or haven't done it in quite some time was to see how many cards you can go through without fatiguing and rest as long as needed and move onto the next card. I admittedly was stupid and got my ego in the way knowing I was in good shape but my body needed a little time getting back into it and ended up hurting my elbows. Don't ever make that mistake because this workout alone can get you in supreme cardio shape for practically any sport but like everything else, ease into it and build up.
Now in terms of exercises, Karl used mainly 2 exercises or variations of and made it a point to go as fast as possible and build up those lungs to where no matter what sport you're in you'll be in shape throughout the duration of a game/match. Some people do 4 exercises, some will do 3, some will do multiple variations and take on different style of repetitions. For me, I like the concept of Squats and Push-ups and have gone through the deck multiple times ranging from 20 min. workouts to just over an hour and the reps are set and stone and rarely if ever change.....
2-10 are at face value
If you really wanted to be a stud and make it a little more interesting; you would double the squats and keep the push-ups at face value. Some people go way over the top and sometimes triple the numbers in all the exercises. Ric Flair in his heyday would go as far as doing a total of 440 Squats, 440 Push-ups & 440 Sit-ups with the deck and if anybody knows what Ric did in the ring or how long he could last every night you know why those cards were effective for him. For the average person, you don't need extreme high reps to be in good shape. If all you care about is getting lean and mean and have good cardio to go along with it, this workout will do it. I've seen guys in videos do things like Burpees, Mountain Climbers, Pull-ups & even used kettlebells its all about your creativity and seeing what can challenge you. I'm going to tell you its no cake walk and it never gets easier but it can be more interesting in seeing what you can come up with.
Why is it so effective? Did you not read what it could do for the Dirtiest Player in the game? It's effective in the sense where it challenges the norm and unlike other routines it changes every workout. You're not doing the same cards every time and you can change the repetitions depending on your level of fitness. When it comes down to it, it blasts your cardio greater than being on a treadmill for an hour and it gets you lean fast and I mean really fast, like you'll lose weight and drop fat almost in the same workout on the first day. During my small stint with the cards recently without ever changing my eating I dropped 3 pounds in under a week. You can take it anywhere with you and it can be done on your own schedule; if you're short on time, have an hour lunch at work, do it in your hotel room before leaving for the day or do it a park and really go nuts. The only equipment you need is 52 playing cards that's it.
Now how often should you do it? For those who are beginning to do it, start with how many cards you can do and each workout add one or 2 the most. Once you can do the full deck in a workout, start with once every 4-5 days because it is very intense and it can drain you. Once your cardio id better, do it once every 2-3 days. If you need to back off a day or 2 because you're either sore or don't have the energy than do so, you can always go back when you're fresh and ready. To really go sadistic, some people are in such world-class shape they'll do it everyday, sometimes as a warm-up before their other routine. I use to be able to do this every other day for weeks at a time and would get it done in under half an hour. My best time on the cards is roughly under 23 minutes. Now that i'm healing and really want to get back into it once i'm 100% I'll be doing once every 4 days or every other day in between workouts for HIIT. I have learned my lesson and going to instead do the 2 upper body movements I was doing before, I'll be taking on multiple variations of the Push-up and stick with Hindu Squats/Jumpers & the V-Ups. That way i'm not putting my elbows in jeopardy on one or just 2 variations and be able to hit muscles from different angles.
Here's a bonus for you.....What kind of deck is good for this workout? Well, any type of 52 cards will do but for me I like the themes and having different cultural references on the cards for motivation and having pictures and such to keep me pumped. My all-time favorite is using my Indiana Jones deck where it has scenes from all 4 movies and there's three jokers in the deck so I'm doing not one not 2 but 3 sets of 50 Squats that could start at the beginning, the middle or at the very end of the deck and its going to be challenging either way. If I don't have a deck on hand, I find an app on my phone and do it that way, typing down the exercises for each card and have it. Some apps have jokers, others don't so find the best one for you. Have fun with this workout and write me a note on how you do or have any questions on conditioning or what exercises you can start with and if you have injuries but still want to do them, I'd be happy to give you tips on that as well.
Happy Halloween Everyone and have a great night getting candy around the neighborhood and dress up like a boss. I'm rooting for ya in the Costume Contest wherever it is.