The Wild Card Workout

Gain strength and tighten your core with this program that turns training into a game.

You probably already think of training hard as a good time. Otherwise, you wouldn't read this magazine. Still, doing the same exercises for predetermined sets and reps (3x10, 5x5, etc.), as you likely always have, can get a little old.

That's why we're shaking things up this month so that you can get stronger and burn fat for beach-ready abs with workouts that are a little less predictable and a lot more exciting.

Grab a deck of cards and get ready to play.

How It Works

Each session begins with a heavy strength exercise that you'll add weight to every week. By the end of four weeks, you'll likely break your previous records on these lifts and be at your absolute strongest. From there, you'll pull out a deck of cards and perform exercises based on each suit. The suit will determine the type of exercise while the value of the card will determine your reps.

Shuffle the deck and deal yourself a workout one card at a time. It may seem unscientific, but it's a fun way to jack up your metabolism and improve your conditioning.


FREQUENCY: Perform each workout (Day I, II, and III) once per week, resting at least a day between each session.

TIME NEEDED: 35 minutes

HOW TO DO IT: For the first exercise in each session, work up to your max weight as directed. For the remaining exercises, use a deck of cards. Each suit will represent a different exercise.

The exercises will change each workout (we've prescribed some here, but also included lists of options so you can challenge yourself accordingly-whichever moves you choose, stick with them for the month).

Hearts are ab moves, diamonds are pulls, spades represent pushing exercises, and clubs are always rope jumping.

The Hand You're Dealt

Simply draw one card at a time and perform the exercise that corresponds with the suit for the number of reps on the card. Rest as little as necessary and continue until you've completed the deck. See the table below for the value of each card.

If you can't perform an exercise for the specified reps, do as many as you can, rest, and repeat until you finish.

For example, if on Day I you draw a five of diamonds, you'll do five assisted chinups. Next, you may draw a queen of hearts, and you'll do 12 V-situps. For the clubs suit, you'll perform rope jumping and multiply the value of the card by 10.

So if you draw a six of clubs, you'll complete 60 turns of the rope.

Attach a weighted belt around your waist or hold a dumbbell between your feet. Hang from the bar with your hands outside shoulder width and palms facing away.

Perform several low-rep warm-up sets until you reach a load that's about 85% of what you think you could get for one perfect rep.

(So if you think you can lift 45 pounds once, stop at between 35 and 40.)

Go a little heavier each week until you hit your absolute max on Week 4.

Attach a suspension apparatus to a chinup bar and adjust the handles so they're at your sternum. Let your body hang directly beneath the handles and then pull yourself up (you can use your legs a bit to help you).

Lie on the floor with your hands at your sides. Brace your abs and simultaneously raise your torso off the floor while lifting your legs so that your body forms a V-shape in the top position.

Day 2

Stand with your feet outside shoulder width, toes pointed slightly outward. Keep your upper back tight and shoulder blades pulled together. Bend your hips back and then your knees (push them outward as you go down) to lower your body as far as
you can.

Try to get your thighs at least parallel to the floor. Keep your posture as upright as possible and maintain the normal arch in your lower back.

Work up to a heavy single rep as you did in Day I and increase it each week.

Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell with one hand and take an athletic stance. Let the weight hang between your legs and then explosively extend your hips. Let the momentum help you swing the weight up.

Hang from a chinup bar and bend your hips and knees 90 degrees. Contract your abs and raise your knees up to your chest.

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and squat down, touching your hands to the floor.

Explosively jump straight up, reaching your hands straight overhead.

Swing the rope backward over your head.

You'll need to jump a little higher to clear it on each rep.

Day 3

Grab the bar with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width grip and hold it at shoulder level.

Squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your chest out. Press the bar overhead and shrug your shoulders in the top position. Work up to a heavy single rep and increase it each week as you progress.

Set up a suspension trainer, grab the handles and hang underneath it with arms extended and knees bent 90 degrees.

Allow your shoulder blades to spread apart.

Pull your body up until your back is fully contracted.

Hindu Pushup

Get into pushup position on the floor, bend your knees a bit and stick your butt in the air.

Bend your elbows and lower your face and then your chest to the floor in an arcing motion.

Then push yourself back to the starting position.

Rope Jumping Jogstep

Jump rope, alternating the jumping leg back and forth and raising your knees as high as you can (you'll look like you're running in place).

Russian Twist

Hold a medicine ball with both hands and sit on the floor with your feet flat and your back at about 45 degrees to the floor.

Extend your arms out in front of you. Rotate your torso as far as you can in one direction, and then twist to the other side.