I love the pure
grit of this workout. Yet I donít do it very often because at my age it
would wear me down as a part of my weekly training cycle. There are ways to
tone it down (Iíll explain how later). But when I do it, it is mainly to
test myself. I use a stopwatch and give it about all Iíve got. Anyone young
and tough enough to weave Letís Play Cards into a weekly workout cycle will
get combat hard and super-fit at warp speed.
I also wish I could say I thought up the workout, but I canít. The story
goes that the famous American wrestler Karl Gotch introduced it to Japanese
wrestlers and judoka to get them in shape fast. They still use it today, I'm
told. Here's how it works in the basic Japanese form.
Get a deck of cards. Assign all the black cards to push-ups, and the red
cards to squats. Assign face cards a value of 10. Aces are 11. Shuffle the
deck and draw a card. Let's say it's a red 7. So you do 7 squats. Draw
another card, and say it's a black 9. Now you do 9 push-ups. Keep moving
this way until you've gone through the entire deck, which takes about
30-minutes or less for well-conditioned athletes.
You donít have to do it in the pure Japanese form. Itís okay to be
creative. Personally, I like assigning 4 exercises instead of 2, which I
think provides more balance for a full-body workout. For example, I have
done bodyweight squats (for hearts), push-ups (for diamonds), squat-thrusts
(spades), and sit-ups (clubs). Full-scale masochists may up the intensity
even further by doubling the number of any one of the exercises the card
value calls for.
Beginners can do the routine if they adjust the intensity and duration by
using only the 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s in the deck, for example. They can
gradually ďup the ante,Ē so to speak, by adding additional card numbers as
their fitness improves, until finally they are using the whole deck.