The essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that "foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Here's what that means for you: Don't tell me that after doing the same workout day in, day out for weeks on end, your mind doesn't feel like it's shrinking a bit! And if your brain is bored, there's a decent chance your muscles could use a sucker punch as well.
Never fear, here's a way to add some add some instant variety to your routine. All you need is a workout partner (or two or three) and a deck of cards. Say what? Just hear me out.
Meet the Deck of Doom
You might catch some looks from your fellow trainers when you try this. If that bugs you, do it at home, or in the off-hours when you can get a corner of the gym to yourselves.
First step: Agree what you want to do for your first shoulder exercise. Can't go wrong with lateral raises! Next, everyone picks a weight that they can do for 15 reps. Now shuffle the deck (no jokers) and deal out all the cards face down.
The person to your right (if you're the dealer) starts the game by turning over their top card. Continue until everyone has a card face up in front of them. The number on the card is the number of reps that person will do. Face cards are 10 reps; an ace is 15. If you draw a 6 and your partner draws a 9, then you do 6 reps and your partner does 9.
Whoever draws the highest number goes first; the lowest goes last. After everyone completes their first set using these numbers, they turn over their next card and continue this approach for a total of five sets. If you get to the fifth set and draw an ace, you may swear off all card games from this day forward.
After you've all done five sets, pick another exercise. Obviously, light-weight isolation moves work best here. Continue the game until one of the players is no longer able to complete his or her sets, at which point that player is "out." The winner is the lifter who survives to the end and does the most sets.
If you want to get really twisted…
Looking to make it mean? If two or more players draw the same card, they each draw another one—and have to perform the total of the two cards they drew. A nine plus a queen equals 19 reps. A nine and a two: just 11. If you tie on your second draw, someone needs to learn how to shuffle.
Just to show you that I'm not a complete monster, you get to use a 10-second rest-pause during tie breaker sets—that is, if you need a rest to complete the set.
Silly? Yes. But by the end, it'll be no laughing matter. Make games and gains go hand-in-hand!