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Military Muscle: Deal your workout

A fitness trick you can pull off anywhere

Jan. 24, 2012 - 06:05PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 24, 2012 - 06:05PM  |  
(Marcia Staimer/Staff)
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About the author

Bob Thomas is director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. Click here to email him.

Here's a fun way to get a workout when you're on the road or deployed with minimal or no equipment. You have to follow some basic rules, but there are no restrictions on choice of exercises or the levels of intensity that you want to employ. You can change the makeup of the workout as often as you like to keep it fresh. Really, your imagination is the limit. Above all, have fun.

The rules

Eliminate the jokers from a set of playing cards.

1. Assign a specific strength exercise to each suit. For example: spades/push-ups; hearts/body squats; clubs/burpees (stick to the four or six count); diamonds/flutter kicks (counting the rep when either the right or left leg completes the transition from up to down to back up).

2. Assign a specific cardio exercise to each face card. You can use the same time limit on each if you have a limited area to work but can vary the exercise, or you can vary the time if you have only a single piece of equipment such as a jump rope, for example: jacks/two minutes of jumping rope; queens/two minutes of mountain climbers or three minutes of jumping rope; kings/two minutes of running in place or four minutes of jumping rope).

If you have an area to run, you can either vary the pace for each face card or you can vary the time while keeping a set pace.

3. Shuffle the cards.

4. Turn over each card and complete the required exercise. If it's a numbered card, do reps equal to the number on the card. If it's a face card, do the assigned cardio.

5. There is no or only minimal rest between cards.


1. Set a time limit. See how far you make it through the deck. Then aim to get further through the deck in the same amount of time.

2. Go through the entire deck and record the time. Then reduce the time required to complete the entire deck.

3. Add cards until you can complete the entire deck twice.

4. Up the push-up ante. Change regular push-ups to staggered push-ups, diamond push-ups or decline push-ups with feet on a bench.

5. Mix it up. Vary the jumping rope by mixing in high knees.

6. Add-ons. If you have dumbbells and a bench, assign strength exercises to one or more suits and step-ups or bench jump-overs for the face cards.

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