To do deck of cards push-ups, shuffle a deck of playing cards and put them in front of you. Pick up the first card and flip it face-up. The number on the card indicates how many push-ups you will do. If you pull a 7, do 7 push-ups. Take a brief rest, then pull the next card off the deck and repeat. Keep doing this until you go through the entire deck of cards. You can even assign different values to face cards, aces, and jokers to increase or decrease the challenge rating of this workout.
How Do Deck of Cards Push-Ups Work?
Deck of cards push-ups work according to a straightforward set of rules. Following these rules is a great way to get an exciting push-up workout at home. Here’s how to do it:
- Shuffle a deck of cards and place the deck face-down on the floor.
- Take the first card off the deck and turn it face-up.
- Do the number of push-ups represented by the card (if you pull a 5, do 5 push-ups. If you pull a King, do 10)
- Rest for 10–60 seconds.
- Pull the next card and repeat until you’ve gone through every card in the deck.
We recommend performing this workout with a 54-card deck (a full deck plus 2 Jokers). This allows for a lot of fun variations. Below, we’ll lay out a few deck of card push-up plans that build strength and incorporate variety to keep things interesting.
The Deck of Cards Push-Up Program
Doing enough push-ups to go through an entire deck of cards can seem daunting at first. After all, this workout was pioneered by NFL linebacker Ray Lewis. However, even if you’re not a push-up pro yet, you can still use this program. Here’s how to start with deck of cards push-ups:
- Number Cards: Perform a number of push-ups equal with the value on the card. A 3 means 3 push-ups, an 8 means 8 push-ups.
- Face Cards: Jacks are worth 1 push-up, Queens are worth 2, Kings are 3.
- Aces: 1 push-up
- Jokers: Rest an additional 30 seconds.
- Rest: Take 30 seconds of rest between each card you pull.
- Total: 244 push-ups in 30–45 minutes.
This routine isn’t easy. If you’re doing full chest-to-floor push-ups with perfect form, it’ll tire you out. If you find this program too challenging, begin by treating all face cards and aces as 30-second rests. Then, once you can get through the entire deck, gradually add push-ups to the face cards as you build strength.
Advanced Deck of Cards Push-Ups
If you can power through almost 250 push-ups in the standard workout, you’re ready for an even bigger challenge. This workout is similar to what Ray Lewis performed when he invented the deck of cards challenge. Here it is:
- Number Cards: Perform a number of push-ups equal to the value on the card.
- Face Cards: 10 push-ups
- Aces: 16 push-ups
- Jokers: 25 push-ups
- Rest: Take 10–30 seconds of rest between each card you pull.
- Total: 500 push-ups in 15–45 minutes
This workout will push you to your limit. To keep things fun, perform the workout with a partner. Take turns picking cards. While one works, the other rests. Go through the entire deck twice, so you both get a total workout.
Deck of Cards Push-Up Variations
Add more variety to your deck of cards push-ups by performing a different type of push-up based on the suite of the card you pulled. There are many different push-up variations, and each one targets different muscles. Some focus on the chest, while others will build your shoulders or triceps. Here’s a sample of what you can do with this tip:
- Hearts: Standard Push-Ups
- Spades: Wide-Arm Push-Ups
- Diamonds: Diamond Push-Ups
- Clubs: Alternating Staggered Push-Ups
Because there are many types of push-ups, your workout never needs to get stale. Incorporate T Push-ups to build core strength, or do Single-Leg Push-Ups to engage your glutes and lower body muscles. Either way, you can make the deck of cards an evolving challenge.
How Many Pushups is a Deck of Cards?
You can tailor your deck of cards push-up program to your fitness level. We recommend cutting the number on all number cards in half and performing the resulting number of push-ups for beginners. Round down when you pull odd-number cards (a 3 becomes a 1 and a 5 becomes a 2). Rest whenever a non-number card comes up. This beginner workout will still result in exactly 100 push-ups if you complete the deck of cards. Here are some common push-ups counts for a deck of cards workout.
- Half the number on number cards, rest on all other cards: 100
- Push-ups on number cards only, rest on all other cards: 216
- Fitness Day One deck of cards program: 244
- Advanced deck of card push-ups: 500
Choose a deck of cards program that fits your fitness level. Also, don’t worry if you can’t complete the whole deck on your first try. What matters is that you keep advancing each time. Soon, you’ll be pushing the limits and inventing your own workout variations.
Are Deck of Cards Push-Ups a Good Workout?
The deck of cards push-up workout is one of our favorite workout routines. Push-ups are an amazing bodyweight exercise for building muscle in your chest, shoulders, and arms. By structuring the workout with the deck of cards and resting between sets, you can build strength and muscle.
- The deck of cards push-up routine is an excellent bodyweight workout.
- Push-ups build muscle in the chest, arms, shoulders, and upper back.
- Add more challenge and variety with other deck of cards workouts.
For more variety, you can perform other bodyweight workouts using the deck of cards. Whether it’s squats, lunges, pull-ups, or another exercise, you can use decks of cards to guide your routine. You can even pick 4 different exercises, assign them each to a suite in your deck of cards, and get a total body workout.
What are Deck of Cards Push-Ups?
Perform deck of cards push-ups by getting into a push-up position with a shuffled deck of cards in front of you. Pull the top card off the deck and turn it over. Perform the number of push-ups based on the card you pulled. While a 3 means you should do 3 push-ups, a King may mean you do 10 push-ups. After you complete one card, rest for 10–60 seconds. Then, pull the next card and repeat. Once you’ve gone through the entire deck, you’ve completed your workout.