Tag Archives: Deck of Cards

We took a few days off.  A few days off from eating healthy, a few days off from teaching, and a few days off from training.  It was good.  My wife and I both needed the time to unwind, sleep until we woke up naturally, and catch up on being relaxed human beings.

Our favorite, repeatable, vacation spot is the Napa Valley.  We’ve been there a few times and all you really need is a long weekend to make it worthwhile.  Fantastic wine, great people, and some of the best food in the world.  Top that off with mid-seventies and sun (in February) and it was a fantastic way to spend my birthday weekend.

The exercise side of things pretty much consisted of a couple walks and a good amount of lacrosse ball mobility work.  One day we made a small attempt at a bodyweight workout, but it didn’t really amount to much.  Our goal was relaxation and that was very successful.  All in all we had some great new wine, some great old wine, and ate at some brilliant new restaurants thanks to Dave Cruz of Ad Hoc.  Richard Reddington is my new culinary hero for his tasting menu at Redd while Oenotri and the Fatted Calf are locked in a fight to the death for the trophy of best cured meat.

The break was good.  It was great to actually read a whole book, (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Review coming soon.) and I can’t say enough positive things about being out in the sun in shorts and a t-shirt in February.  I was ready to come home though.  We were feeling the side-affects of some non-paleo options (bread and wine) and my energy level was clearly indicating the need for a return to the gym.

Sunday morning:  gym and groceries. 

I opted for a “Deck of Cards” workout.  Easy to plan, doesn’t require a whole lot of thought during the workout.  I figured that with the couple days off I could up the intensity from my last “Deck of Cards” by swapping push-ups for burpees, and changing the jokers to be a few muscle ups.  I didn’t count on drawing nothing but hearts and spades for the first fifteen cards or so.  That meant by the time I started drawing diamonds it was pretty much all pull-ups all the time.  When I hit the jokers (within five cards of each other) my arms were simply too shot for the muscle ups.   Definitely harder than my last one, and longer as well.  I always seem to forget that pull-ups get a heck of a lot harder when your core is fatigued from sit-ups.

Grocery store was piles of protein and veggies for a Sunday cookup.  Getting the week on track food-wise makes everything that much easier.  All the planning and thinking of eating gets sorted in a single day, and I feel good dedicating some time to just cooking.  Continued thanks to Melissa Joulwan for changing how I think about cooking at home.

Here’s to a good week of teaching nineteenth century economic theory, eating healthy food, and lifting heavy things.

WOD:  (Harder than expected.)
Diamonds:  Pull-ups
Hearts: Burpees
Spades: Full ROM Sit-ups
Clubs: Goblet Squats (24kg)
Jokers: 5 muscle ups (fail)

Cookup:  (Tastier than expected.)
2# grilled chicken (garlic, salt, pepper)
2# browned ground beef (onion, garlic, salt, pepper)
3# Czech Meatballs (subbed the pork for beef)
Mashed Cauliflower
Faux ratatouille (stewed tomato, zucchini,  eggplant, onions, and garlic)
Piles of prepped veggies.  (Cucumber, carrots, celery, bell peppers, cabbage, salad greens)

 The Torn ACLs:  Can’t Say No To Friday

Ace of Hearts: eleven push-ups.  No problem.
5 of Diamonds: five pull-ups.  No problem.  This won’t be that bad.
Four Cards Later
Joker:  25 burpees.  Well, at least that one is out of the way.
Two Cards Later
Joker:  25 more burpees.  Oy. This might be rough.

At this point.  Only ten cards into a deck of fifty-four (jokers stay in) I realized the workout was going to be significantly more challenging than I’d imagined.

The Deck of Cards workout works as such:  for each suit you assign a particular exercise.  For today diamonds were pull-ups, hearts were push-ups, spades were flutterkicks, and clubs were air squats.  You shuffle the deck and do the number of reps according to the card you turn over.  Face cards are ten.  Aces are eleven.  Jokers you make something challenging and extra-hard.  Today it was twenty-five burpees.  I also pushed myself to complete each exercise with full range of motion.  It worked for the push-ups and squats.  By the end of the workout the my legs were barely moving on the flutterkicks and I was primarily doing jumping pull-ups.

My downfall in underestimating the workout was the math.  I didn’t put together just how many reps of each exercise I’d be doing.  I mean, you’d have to get pretty unlucky to do more than a max of fifteen or so at a time, and with proper rotation it shouldn’t be that bad….  It caught up to me.  With a full set of two through ten, three face cards, and an ace it totals ninety-five reps of each exercise.  Ninety-five  air squats isn’t bad, ninety-five push-ups properly broken up is very doable, but I got wrecked by the pull-ups.  Late in the workout I drew multiple diamonds in a row that completely fatigued my arms.

Despite its deceptive difficulty (more likely because of it) I really enjoyed the Deck of Cards.  The random aspect of the workout had me focusing on going hard the entire time instead of trying to be strategic with my energy so that I could make sure to complete everything.  I did catch myself trying to count cards at a couple points but promptly lost track as fatigue set in and I had to use all my mental energy to complete each exercise with good form and intensity.

The workout is beautifully simple.  Pick four exercises.  Pick something nasty for the joker.  Shuffle up some cards and have fun.  You can do it in your living room or you can orchestrate it to involve all the complex machinery your gym has to offer.  I chose a relatively balanced approach today:  a pull, a press, legs, and core.  You could easily destroy your core with four core exercises.  You could do it as an all legs day and dread stairs for a week.  You could do all ring exercises and be a total badass.  Four different Olympic Lifts would be particularly demanding.  (Too much?)  The combination of simplicity and randomness make Deck of Cards an excellent way to add variety to a dull workout routine with the added bonus of funny stares at the gym as you flip over cards and do two reps of one exercise followed by eight of another.

Deck of Cards

Diamonds: Pull-ups
Hearts: Push-ups
Spades: Flutterkicks (4 count)
Clubs: Air Squats
Jokers: 25 Burpees
Time: 18:24

Sunday Cooking WOD (al la Melissa Joulwan):
3lbs Citrus Carnitas
2lbs Garlic Browned (Grass Fed) Beef
2.5lbs Grilled Chicken (Brined TYVM)
2.5gal Chicken Stock
1doz Hard Boiled Eggs
Double Batch of Mashed Cauliflower
A Gigantic Pile of Veggies
Ready for the week?  Check!


Gamblin’ Man