Now that we’re clear of the final summer hurdle – the three day Labor Day Weekend – many of you feel it’s time to buckle down and really work hard on leaning up your body composition, especially before the high-caloric holidays hit us between November and December. So today I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite ways to torture my clients (probably how I got the name “Priestess of Pain”) – the Playing Card Workout.
This workout is so versatile and customizable it can be used with kids or adults, at a gym, or at home with as little as resistance bands and/or just body weight exercises. You can also decide whether you’re going to “play” this workout for as little as 10-minutes, up to 30 or 60-minutes, it’s your choice.
The concept is simple: you assign a type and quantity of exercise to each of the cards Ace Through King (1-13) in a deck of playing cards. Then you shuffle them up, and take one card at a time, perform the exercise designated for that number (or face card), and then go back and pick another. I change up my exercises regularly but here’s one I’ve used on beginning fitness clients who have just some basic gear. Remember it doesn’t matter the suit, just the number of the card:
- Ace (1) 10 Burpees
- Two 25 Jumping Jacks
- Three 15 Push-ups
- Four 10 Single Leg Touch Downs (each)
- Five 25 Biceps Curls (dumbbells or resistance bands)
- Six 30 Crunches
- Seven 10 Incline Push Ups (against a bench or chair)
- Eight 50 Air squats
- Nine 3 30-second planks
- Ten 15 Triceps dips (using bench, chair or counter)
- Jack (11) 30 Mountain Climbers
- Queen (12) 20 Crab Walks
- King (13) 15 Shoulder presses (dumbbells or resistance bands)
It doesn’t matter if you turn over the same numbered card numerous times (i.e., you turn over two 6’s in a row – you’ll be doing 60 crunches). Keep the pace fast if you’re only working out for a short period (10-20 mins). For longer (30-60 mins), every 10-minutes take a 2 minute break for water and to slow your heart rate down.
There’s an even simpler option, assign only 4 exercises, one for each suit, and then perform that exercise for the amount of times of the numbered card you pick (i.e., Clubs = Push ups, a 5 of clubs is 5 push ups). But either way, you’ll achieve great results and it’s hard to plateau with this workout.
This workout routine will keep boredom at bay as it stimulates your brain and challenges your body, and it has effective cardio with simultaneous muscle fatigue all built in to one fun routine. I challenge you to try it with your whole family, and encourage the kids to assign the exercises. For those of you who are excited that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back at Starbucks for the season, you’ll need to work of those calories for sure, and this is a quick easy way to do it. Cheers and good luck!
By now most people who have an interest in fitness, or at least a goal of shedding some fat fast, have heard of Crossfit. For those of you who have not, Crossfit is a trademarked style of gym/fitness approach where workouts incorporate aspects of power-lifting (think Olympic weightlifting), high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and plyometrics (jumping and bursts of speed type movements), etc.
The benefits of Crossfit is rapid muscle gain, rapid fat loss, and an ego boost usually only achieved by completing true military boot camp (the “I survived it!” affect). The down sides are numerous however, the largest danger lies in the “no-quitting” philosophy built into Crossfit.
For the average body (not already athletic or at least genetically athletic) the excessive abuse on one’s muscles for prolonged periods can cause rhabdomyolysis – a kidney condition that can occur when excessive muscle break down releases myoglobin into the blood stream, which clogs up the kidneys and can thereby potentially poison the body. Crossfit makes you seriously sweat too, which can thereby create dehydration. Without proper hydration, your body cannot rid itself of the toxins (myoglobin) and this can lead to kidney failure and electrolyte imbalances that can ultimately affect your heart.
For these reasons, I have never been a proponent of Crossfit. However, recently I have begun incorporating one aspect of this popular fitness trend into mine and my client’s workouts – the power-lifting nuance. While I have always preferred a muscle isolation style of lifting (i.e., focusing my form to only using the biceps when performing curls, etc.), I have come to realize that sometimes lifting heavy enough that you need to draw upon several muscle groups to achieve the desired lift/push/pull, can definitely accelerate certain fitness goals.
Therefore, as an example (see photo below) I might throw in a barbell squat jerk to curl to overhead press with straight arm return. By starting with a heavier weight than I might normally be able to curl 10 times, I use legs, back, and shoulders to power up that weight and then thrust it above my head.
So while I still do not recommend entire daily workouts of Crossfit for the average client, I can advise you to consider incorporating some of their style into your weekly workouts. With careful attention to form and a lessening of the typical aggressive Crossfit style, you can still gain all the benefits, without as much risk. As always, it’s about balance — exercising too hard vs. too little. Find the right amount and take care of your body.
There’s long been a debate in the fitness industry as to whether rapid fire or slow paced workouts are better. As a Personal Trainer I know that both styles have pros and cons in their affect on our bodies, and in fact I employ both styles with my clients and my own workouts. There’s a time and place to perform high intensity, light weight, heart-rate racing routines and the same for heavy weight, slow, low muscle fatiguing routines, and a lot depends upon your body type and goals.
But despite having already written herein about the benefits of HIIT-high intensity interval training (see Sometimes Less Is More), and marketing my practice on 30-minute high-results routines, I still find many people unsatisfied with how long they have to spend exercising. They want to change their bodies for the better in as little time as possible. So the fads continue, whether gear or groundbreaking new approach — each one is designed to make workout quick and painless, and each one fails.
It started with 6-minute abs DVD’s and now there’s 2-minute workouts all over the internet (2-minute arms, 2 minute glutes, etc). At this rate I should create the 1-minute workout DVD’s and retire a year from now off the proceeds. Humor set aside, there’s only so much you can do to trim off time while speeding up the workout and still see results (and avoid injuries). The reality too is that whether you spend 2 minutes or 60 on your abs, unless healthy lean nutrition is involved and consistent workouts with proper techniques you will NOT have washboard abs.
But in the interest of exploring new levels of fitness, I offer you speed-minded peeps (or exercise hating folks) who want to fire off a super-fast workout and then get on with your life, an opportunity to try my new Fast Five Fitness Workout! Get the job done in only 5 minutes!
I have created four routines – the idea being that you would exercise four times a week, each one delivering slightly different assaults on your muscles and stamina. So here’s the first. If you need a detailed explanation of these exercises or more importantly if you want all four routines customized to your specific fitness levels and goals, then contact me. (My blog followers will receive a 10% discount.)
You’ll need a little walking room (enough to do a few lunges forward and back), a yoga or cushioned mat, and a pair of dumbbells ranging from 8-15 lbs. Keep the pace as fast as you can with NO rest until completion (should take ONLY 5 minutes depending upon your speed). Good luck!
- 20 jumping jacks
- 20 DB lunge walks with shoulder presses
- 20 jump squats
- 20 DB biceps curls combo’d with prone DB alternating arm rows
- 20 Running mans
- 20 Alternating Leg Up DB biceps “hammer” curls (10 on each leg)
- 20 Prones to Planks (10 right lead, 10 left lead)
- 20 v-sit side-to-side DB taps