Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Playing Card Workout For Shoulders

I love to work my shoulders and my arms… or rather, I love the way my shoulders and arms look and feel when I work them on a regular basis. 
These past few months I have not really been doing that.  I have been doing a series of bodyweight workouts called Metabolic Aftershock, which I really like, but I  have not been hitting the weights at all. It’s a conundrum.
When I work out with weights regularly, I am usually quite tired by the time my session is done and I really don’t have a lot of energy for the rest of my day, let alone for more exercise such as running, or playing tennis.  With Metabolic Aftershock, I really feel I am getting a good overall workout, and even though I follow each session up with a half-hour brisk walk, I can handle more later.  I feel refreshed and energized, not spent.
But, I am not keeping my arms and shoulders looking as fit as I would like them. The muscles have definitely reduced in size and I don’t feel as confident as I would like in sleeveless garments.  A compromise was definitely in order.  And I think I have devised one.
I have decided I can handle one good, hard upper body workout every week, in addition to everything else I am doing.  And, I plan to fit it in on Sundays. I hope it will be enough.  In keeping with my intention of having fun while I work out,  I have come up with a game to help me work my shoulders.  I am using a deck of playing cards with 4 Jokers.  I did a bit of research, looking at several different web sites to help me learn about shoulder muscles to select the exercises I would use (ya’ll know I am not a trainer and need professional advice).
I recall seeing something similar to this on tv last year… was it the Biggest Loser, perhaps?
Anyway, I learned that the deltoid muscle is the muscle forming the rounded contour of the shoulder. Anatomically, it appears to be made up of three distinct sets of fibres.

Source: Wikipedia

Anterior delt: In the front of the shoulder, also known as the front delt
Lateral delt: On top of the shoulder, also known as the middle delt
Posterior delt: On the back of the shoulder, also known as the rear delt

And then I started looking at some exercises that would work each of the 3 muscle groups and chose these out  of all the ones I found:

Overhead Shoulder Press
  • Works the anterior delt.
  • Stand with dumbbells in your hands with the arms at a 90 degree angle. Keeping abdominal muscles taught to support your back, raise the weights up over head. Do not lock elbows at the top. Lower slowly to 90 degree angle and repeat.
Frontal Raise
  • Works the anterior delt.
  • Stand with weights at your sides in a neutral grip. Lift the weights to shoulder height, and slowly lower. Lover slowly and repeat.
Lateral Raise
  • Works the lateral delt.
  • Stand with weights at your side in a neutral grip. Raise the weights out to the side with a slightly bent elbow. Lower slowly and repeat.
Bent Over Lateral Raise
  • Works the the posterior delt.
  • Bend forward from the waist, and, with the arms slightly bent at the elbows, lift the dumbbells straight to the side until both arms are parallel to the floor. Lower slowly and repeat.
Standard Pushups
  • Standard push-ups mainly target the chest and triceps muscles. Pushups also work the anterior and medial delts. The delts assist the chest and triceps in pressing your body weight back up.
  • Perform standard pushups from the toes or from the knees.
Playing Card Workout For Shoulders

Playing Card Workout For Shoulders\

My game takes about half an hour to play and you should feel free to rest when you need to.. and drink lots of water throughout as well.

You will need:
  • A deck of playing cards with 4 Jokers
  • A couple of sets of dumbbells 
  • If you do your Pushups from your knees, you will want a mat or a towel to put under your knees on the floor to protect them.
I started out with a heavier set up dumbbells and after I got tired, I used a lighter set, in order to be able to finish.

I assigned an exercise to each suit in the playing card deck and the Jokers as follows:
  • Spades – Overhead Press
  • Hearts – Frontal Raise
  • Diamonds – Lateral Raise
  • Clubs –  Bent Over Lateral Raise
  • Jokers – Pushup
Start out by warming up for a few minutes… windmill your arms, do someoverhead reaches and stretches. Get your blood flowing.

Then, shuffle the cards and turn them over one by one. When each card is turned, perform  the exercise that matches the suit, as many times as the number that is on the face of the card. The numbers are self-explanatory, and Aces are 1, Jacks are 11, Queens are 12, Kings are 13.
When you turn up a Joker, perform the number of Pushups that match the number on the previous card turned.  For example, if the last card was a 3, do 3 Pushups.

Playing Card Workout For Delts
This card tells you to perform 3 Lateral Raises. If it was followed by a Joker, you would perform 3 Pushups.

It was fun and demanding. I did rest a couple of times, and I drank 5 glasses of water as well.  If once a week doesn't seem to be helping keep the arms buff, I will add another session.

I can see myself developing other workouts using this method as well.  I think it will help keeps things interesting as it will be different every time.

Is this something you would try?  Do you like to work your shoulders?

How do you keep your workouts fresh and interesting?


  1. Fun idea! I do most of those exercises except the bent over later raise. I hate the lateral and front raises, but like the results. ;-)

  2. Oh I need to work on my upper body more! I've been neglecting strength training for a while because I've been so focused on running and yoga. This is a great workout!

  3. i love deck of cards workouts but have never thought about focusing them on just one area of the body! pinned!

  4. Very interesting! I definitely need to hit the weights more as soon as my biceps tendonitis heals! I will definitely give this a try!

  5. Love this idea!! I need to work on my shoulder more.

  6. cute idea :) I love doing interesting things to make my workout fun

  7. I really like this idea to mix things up!

  8. Great idea for variety. Shoulder workouts are a favorite!

  9. Great idea Elle! I love working my delts with cables at the gym - it makes me feel so STRONG!


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