Gregory Hildstrom Projects Publications Resume Contact About Youtube Donate

Random Workouts With Playing Cards


I have to give original credit for this idea to my brother Daniel. He sent me a photo of a whiteboard he was using with playing cards to randomize a workout challenge with a friend. His version keeps it simple, but that got me thinking about variations on the same theme. All you need is a list (phone, printout, whiteboard, notepad, etc.) and a deck of cards. This approach is much more versatile than workout-specific cards.

Shuffle the deck. Draw a card. Lookup the exercise and number of reps (if applicable). Set the card aside. Repeat.

After wanting to get in better shape during the pandemic and purchasing some gymnastic rings for my pull-up bar, I picked up a set of QuickFit exercise posters. These are a great reference to jog your memory on a wide variety of exercises. The exercise names below are from the QuickFit posters.

Original Bodyweight Variation

The original challenge involved doing the whole deck, but you could easily cycle cards until a goal workout time is reached. In this variation, the suit determines the exercise and the card value determines the number of reps.

Exercise Map
Suit Exercise
Clubs Crunch / Reverse
Diamonds Burpee
Hearts Squat
Spades Push-Up / Pull-Up
Joker Mountain Climber

Rep Map
Card Value Reps
Normal 2-10
Face (Jack, Queen, King) 11
Ace 15
Joker 15

Medium Variety Variation

This variation flips the role of the suit and card value. This achieves higher exercise variety with less rep variety. You can use a single exercise column or you can cycle through different exercise types.

Exercise Map
Card Value Bodyweight Suspension Rings/TRX Kettlebell Dumbbell Resistance Band
Joker Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild
2 Pull-Up Chest Press Clean Hammer Curl Bicep Curl
3 Push-Up Curl Turkish Get-Up Side Raise Tricep Kickback
4 Tricep Dip Tricep Press Alternating Curl Shoulder Shrug External Rotation
5 Crunch Chest Fly Side Raise Tricep Kickback Internal Rotation
6 Side Plank Chest Dip Side Swing Alternating Front Raise Should Press
7 Hanging Knee Raise Low Row Thruster Shoulder Press Chest Fly
8 Mountain Climber Ab Roll Out Single Arm Swing Dumbbell Pullover Side Bend
9 Burpee Face Pull Overhead Squat Bench Press Lying Pullover
10 Bird Dog Mountain Climber Russian Twist Reverse Fly Bent Over Row
Jack Squat Reverse Mountain Climber Pullover Single Arm Row Hip Abduction
Queen Glute Bridge Side Lunge Side Bend Squat Hip Adduction
King Jumping Jacks Suspended Lunge Woodchop Calf Raise Sumo Squat Pull
Ace Swimmer Y-Fly Around the Body Plank T Pull Through

Rep Map
Suit Reps
Clubs 2
Diamonds 5
Hearts 10
Spades 15
Joker 20

Maximum Variety Variation

This variation achieves maximum exercise variety. You choose the reps or use one of the two rep approaches above. You can fill in empty cells with your favorites, consider those cells wild, or draw another card. You can use a single exercise column or you can cycle through different exercise types.

Exercise Map
Card Value Suit Bodyweight Suspension Rings/TRX Kettlebell Dumbbell Resistance Band Stability Ball Barbell
Joker Joker Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild
2 Clubs Pull-Up Push-Up Alternating Curl Hammer Curl Bicep Curl Shoulder Press Bench Press
3 Clubs Push-Up Curl Tricep Dip Concentration Curl Tricep Kickback Incline Chest Press Close Grip Bench Press
4 Clubs Tricep Dip Tricep Press Chest Press Tricep Extension Tricep Extension Chest Fly Landmine Overhead Press
5 Clubs Push-Back Superman Side Raise Side Raise Internal Rotation Decline Push-Up Push Press
6 Clubs Side-to-Side Push-Up Chest Fly Side Swing Shoulder Shrug Shoulder Press Tricep Dip Tricep Skull Crusher
7 Clubs Crunch Atomic Push-Up Push-Up Grip Curl Push-Up Chest Press Bicep Curl
8 Clubs Cross-Body Crunch Chest Dip Tricep Extension Tricep Kickback Tricep Pushdown Alternate Lateral Raise Incline Bench Press
9 Clubs Windshield Wiper Face Pull Shoulder Press Alternating Front Raise Face Pull Incline Push-Up Overhead Press
10 Clubs Side Plank Single Arm Row Front Raise Shoulder Press Chest Fly Bicep Curl Reverse Bicep Curl
Jack Clubs Leg Pull-In Chest Press Around the Body Wrist Curl External Rotation Tricep Extension Upright Row
Queen Clubs Scissor Kick Crunch Russian Twist Dumbbell Pullover Crunch Crunch Twist
King Clubs Reverse Crunch Crunch and Curl Straight Arm Sit-Up Bench Press Reverse Crunch Knee Tucks Roll Out
Ace Clubs Lying Leg Lift Ab Roll Out Side Bend Incline Bench Press Side Bend Bird Dog Overhead Sit-Up
2 Diamonds Plank Plank Pullover Chest Fly Alternating V-Ups Ball Leg Lift Side Crunch
3 Diamonds Hanging Knee Raise Standing Hip Drop Half Turkish Get-Up Reverse Fly Reverse Wood Chop Leg Extension Zercher Carry
4 Diamonds Superman Oblique Crunch Goblet Squat Side Bend Kneeling Crunch Oblique Crunch Bent Over Row
5 Diamonds Dolphin Kick Pendulum Deadlift Bow Extension Lying Oblique Crunch Rollout Landmine Row
6 Diamonds Bird Dog Pike Single Leg Deadlift Russian Twist Bicycle Russian Twist Pendlay Row
7 Diamonds Side-to-Side Pull-Up Side Plank Lunge V-Up Side Plank Plank Shrug
8 Diamonds Swimmer Body Saw Side Lunge V-Sit Cross Jab Sit-Up Pike Crunch T-Bar Row
9 Diamonds Squat Row Bob and Weave Single Arm Row Pull Apart Lower Back Extension Back Squat
10 Diamonds Wall Squat Inverted Row Bent Over Row Incline Row Lying Pullover Lat Pullover Front Squat
Jack Diamonds Skater Squat Low Row Renegade Row Floor T Raise Bent Over Row Reverse Fly Landmine Front Squat
Queen Diamonds Single Leg Squat Power Pull Single Arm Row Renegade Row Squat Row Y-T Extension Romanian Deadlift
King Diamonds Donkey Kicks Y-Fly Double Arm Swing Seesaw Row Split Row Wall Squat Suitcase Deadlift
Ace Diamonds Fire Hydrant Glute Bridge Windmill Squat Squat Single Leg Squat Bulgarian Split Squat
2 Hearts Glute Bridge Knee-Dive Jump Overhead Squat Goblet Squat Lunge Hip Extension Good Morning
3 Hearts Lunge Side Lunge Single Arm Swing Sumo Squat Romanian Deadlift Side Leg Raise Landmine Single Leg Deadlift
4 Hearts Calf Raise Single Leg Squat Woodchop Jump Squat Hip Abduction Glute Bridge Single Leg Hip Trust
5 Hearts Sumo Squat Single Leg Deadlift Thruster Romanian Deadlift Calf Raise Hamstring Curl Sumo Deadlift
6 Hearts Jumping Jacks Hamstring Runners Lunge Press Glute Bridge Hamstring Curl Reverse Lunge Deadlift
7 Hearts Box Jump Suspended Lunge Snatch Reverse Lunge Lateral Lunge Superman Ball Lift Hip Thrust
8 Hearts Crab Walk Squat Turkish Get-Up Side Lunge Glute Bridge Squeeze Curl and Lift Reverse Lunge
9 Hearts Army Crawl Squat Jump Farmer's Walk Step-Up Donkey Kick Single Leg Bridge Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
10 Hearts Mountain Climber Sprinter Start Clean Calf Raise Hip Adduction Butt Blaster Sumo Squat
Jack Hearts Bear Crawl Split Plank T Thruster Overhead Ball Squat Hang Clean and Press
Queen Hearts Crocodile Crawl Squat and Row Swing Mountain Climber Ball Transfer Hang Clean
King Hearts Push-Up w/ Extension Spiderman Push-Up Farmer's Walk Pull Through Mountain Climber High Pull
Ace Hearts Burpee Mountain Climber Thruster Swing Squat and Press
2 Spades Reverse Mountain Climber Woodchop Sumo Squat Pull
3 Spades
4 Spades
5 Spades
6 Spades
7 Spades
8 Spades
9 Spades
10 Spades
Jack Spades
Queen Spades
King Spades
Ace Spades