Friday, January 3, 2014

Travel Workouts - The Deck of Cards

Need a change up to the mundane workout?  Try the Deck of Cards.  It's surprise element adds interest and fun.
One of my all time favorite workouts is the Deck of Cards.  If you're not familiar with it, I bet you might find yourself running out to the store to get a deck after you read this.

I was first introduced to the infamous Deck of Cards WOD by Joe Celso of CrossFit Rochester back in 2010.  The style he followed was that every suit stood for an exercise - sit-ups, pushups, pull-ups and squats.  Face cards were worth 10 reps and Aces cost you 10 of each exercise.  Ouch.  But cool.  We would pair off in teams of two, each team having their own deck of cards.  Each team member drew a card and we all raced to finish the whole deck.  My buddy Mike Z. and I always paired up and I've got some great memories of those workouts.  [I definitely remember the time I picked all four aces :) - don't we all have stories like that?]

There are so many great things about a workout like this:

Strategy - We've all been there...we see the old standard 21-15-9 rep scheme up on the board and begin to strategize our plan of attack.  Maybe it's 11/10 or 11/5/5, then 5/5/5 and 5/4.  The fact is that we all do the math when we know what's coming.  Workouts like the deck of cards add an element of surprise that doesn't allow for a lot of time to think or a time to plan.  And since the rep counts are never more than 10, you can go all out each card.  Unbroken.  I like that.  We never know what life might throw at us each day so the unknown of what card comes next is exciting and fun.

Endless Options - We've written a few blogs on "The Creative Coach" and those that plan workouts like this fall right in line with that group.  Being creative is cool, always adds interest and can energize even your 5AM class.  We are only limited by our imagination in how to apply to four suits to the different exercises and those that think outside the box may add a 500M row for every ace that's pulled or maybe they leave the Jokers in and assign three rope climbs to them.  Or, if you want to really stir things up, maybe assign the Ace of Spades as a penalty where the one who draws it needs to take one card from everyone's deck.  Ha...  All good stuff.

Bringing along a set of gymnastics rings while traveling or on vacation can add variety to the Deck of Cards workout.
Gym rings add variety and difficulty.
They Travel Well - When you are on vacation or traveling for work, chances are you can't take a ton of equipment with you but there's no excuse for not bringing along your deck and a little imagination.  There are always a ton of bodyweight exercises you can do.  I took the family to Surf Side Beach, SC last year and I used this workout a few times.  After I ran thorough it with the old standard - pushups, sit ups, squats and lunges - my heart was certainly pumping but I wanted to add a but higher level of difficulty.  I reached out to an old friend of mine - Gina over at CrossFit Fairport and she gave me an excellent idea - Handstand Pushups.  Winner.

Bodyweight Scale or Crank Up - Even with no equipment this workout can be a great challenge.  If the pushups aren't pushing you enough, get your feet up on a chair.  Sit Ups too easy?  Try V-Ups.  And if Air Squats don't get you gasping for air try Jump Squats.  And if you are traveling and have a chance to grab a couple items from the gym before you leave, try taking your jump rope, gymnastics rings, abmat and a few resistance bands with you.  Even with those few light weight pieces, you just opened up a bunch more you can do.  And the resistance bands can add difficulty to pushups or can be used for shoulder pressing for example.

Today just happens to be a perfect day for a workout like this.  If you can't get out to the gym, pull out a deck of cards and get to it.  I'm in.