Short on time? Can’t get to the gym? Have no fear! The “Deck of Cards” workout is here! OK, enough of the infomercial hype.

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The original Deck of Cards workout was known as the PUG workout (aka Push-Up Game). Many athletes and military personnel are familiar with this game. The rules are simple:

  1. Have a deck of cards
  2. Flip over the first card
  3. Perform the number on the card with pushups
  4. Repeat until the deck is complete


In case you’re not a mathematician that equals 220 pushups! (not counting face cards or jokers). It’s safe to say most of us could stand to do a couple hundred pushups every few days for muscle strength size, and looks. While I love pushups I found this game to get pretty boring after the first week. I decided to change it up and keep my body, and mind, entertained. I started assigning each suit an exercise (i.e. Hearts = Pushups, Diamonds = Pull-Ups, Spades = Squats, Clubs = Sit-Ups). Same rules would apply as the PUG workout but without the boredom and a more overall approach to physical improvement. My version of the the “Deck of Cards” workout  was born!


I did this when I traveled to Israel, Iraq, Thailand, and so forth. It can be done anywhere and get you in great shape as long as you’re creative. For example, not every place has a pull-up bar so I would substitute my luggage as a dumbbell and perform 1-arm rows. Can’t do pushups? Try bench dips instead. The point is almost anyone can come up with a few exercises that you can do while on the road or at home if you can’t get to a gym. And if you have access to a gym? Go nuts! You’ll have so many more tools at your disposal!


My recommendation for following the Deck of Cards workout is as follows:


Hearts: Push Exercise (ex. Pushup, Dip, KB/DB Press, Bench)

Spades: Pull Exercise (ex. Pull-up, KB/DB row, Lat Pull Down machine)

Diamonds: Leg Exercise (ex. KB/DB Deadlift, KB/DB Squat, Pistols, RDL, Split Squat)

Clubs: Core Exercise (ex. V-Ups, Hanging Leg/Knee Raise, Russian Twist)


Face Cards: Cardio (ex. Knee Tucks, High Knees, KBS)

Jack: 1-5 reps

Queen: 5-10 reps

King: 10 or more reps

Ace: 1 min. breaks


INSTRUCTIONS: Perform the number of reps that appear on the card for that suit. Continue until you’ve completed the deck. Use app store to download a deck of cards onto your phone. Perform workouts every other day (ex. Monday workout, Tuesday rest/light cardio/stretching, Wednesday workout, etc.).



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