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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #202. Are you up to the challenge? Here's a serious fitness.
May 01, 2017

May 1, 2017

In this newsletter . . .

A Serious Fitness Test

(but lots of fun!)

It's been more than a decade since I've tested myself by doing the Deck of Cards workout. As a test, it’s a real butt-kicker, and in a minute I’ll tell you how it works. However, if you go through the deck of cards workout at a more reasonable pace, it’s a good all-around workout – but without the butt-kicker aspect.

First, though, please understand that if it's done as a fitness test it is not appropriate for out of shape senior beginners. Beginners should start their training with something specifically for them.

For younger seniors who are fit – and ready to test themselves – do the following:

Get a stopwatch and deck of playing cards. Assign an exercise to each suit. Here’s one example that will test your mettle. A set of dumbbells is required in my example. But no equipment is needed if you replace the clean & Press with a bodyweight only exercise.

  • Hearts — Dumbbells Clean & Press (don’t go too heavy or you’ll never make it through the deck).
  • Clubs — Pushups.
  • Spades — Bodyweight Squats (thighs parallel with the floor on every rep).
  • Diamonds — Mt. Climbers.

Now shuffle the deck several times. Place the deck face down. Start your stopwatch or timer.

Turn over the first card. Let’s say it’s a seven of hearts. Clean & Press your dumbbells seven times.

Turn the next card. Suppose it’s a nine of spades. Do nine bodyweight squats.

With each card, do the same number of reps as the number on the card. The face cards are considered tens. Aces are eleven. Remove the jokers or keep them in and assign them any exercise and number of reps you want to. (I removed the jokers. It was tough enough for me without them.)

Keep going through the entire deck -- as quickly as you can. Then check your stopwatch. Write down the time for your record.

If you do it that way, it’s a serious fitness test. Of course, the workout is not as taxing if you ease up to catch your breath when needed. But it’s still a fine workout.

Deck of cards training is supposed to be popular with Japanese wrestlers and judo competitors. Conditioned athletes do the workout in under 30 minutes. They often confine it to two exercises, such as squats and pushups. I liked to do it with four.

How did I do, personally? The first time I tried it, about year 2000, it took me 27 minutes. I tested again in 2003, and did it in 20:53.79. However, I used a different exercise mix the second time, which may or may not have been less challenging. I tested twice in 2004, finishing once in 21:27.75 and once in 22:22.25.

Since the exercise mix was slightly different each time I did it, there was some degree of “comparing apples with oranges.” But probably not very much.

I’ve since done the deck of cards routine as a workout. However, it’s been more than 10 years since I've used a stopwatch and gave it a 100% effort. I have no plans to test myself that way again.

Going through it with a more reasonable recovery time when needed should be appropriate for even older seniors (like me); however, you should be advanced beyond the beginner stage of training.

An all-out effort test is not recommended for beginners.

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Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines and television, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you.

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Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter

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