A quick glance at the diary and it’s clear to see that you have one busy month ahead!

It’s December; Christmas trees are going up, shopping is being done and social diaries are filling up fast.

You have friends to see, family to catch up with, wine to drink, presents to wrap and Christmas parties to attend…and for you parents out there you also have Santa to visit and Pantos to watch.

It’s going to be a busy one!

Now I don’t say that like it’s a bad thing. It most certainly is not. I love the Christmas period and I’m sure you do too, but it does play havoc with any and all of our usual routines.

We have more stuff to get done, less time to do it in and often long drives to visit family members. Busy, busy bees. Your regular gym sessions are often the first to take the hit.

To be honest, I get it. With so much going on why not just hit pause and pick things back in January?


Leaving you with two choices…

#1 Keep going to the gym following your normal routine despite your clear lack of time.

#2 Hide your gym kit, kick the scales under the bed and cross your fingers until mid-January (because no one wants to brave the scales January 1st right?)

But what if I told you there was a third option?

A middle ground between to the two.  Maintain some regular exercise with a little more flexibility than your usual routine.

And That’s what I want to share with you today…


The ultimate Christmas workout

Why is it the ultimate Christmas workout?

  • You can do it anywhere…
  • … and anytime
  • Requires little space
  • Needs zero equipment
  • It’s different every time you do it
  • You can scale it to your fitness level

It’s not the ultimate workout because of what you do but because it works with the time restrictions we all face during the holiday season.

In my opinion, it’s the perfect go-between from doing absolutely nothing and trying to force your normal routine into busier than normal time.


The Card Throw Down

Here is quick video overview of how to do use this programme. Please read the full blog for a more detailed breakdown.


To do this you will need a set of playing cards (Jokers included) a timer and enough space to swing a leg (6ft x 4ft is great).

The premise is simple you assign an exercise to each suit. That’s one exercise for Spades, Clubs, Diamonds and Hearts. You will also need to select a suitable throwdown if you pull a “Joker” but more on that later.The first step is picking what level you want to do.

As you go through the deck you do the corresponding exercise to its suit and for the number of the card turned. For example, if Hearts = Burpees and you get a Six of hearts you complete six burpees.

This is what I love about this programme. Even if you leave the exercises the same. Every training session will be different as the cards will be in a different order.


Pick Your Exercises

Time to pick your exercise for each suit.

There is no hard and fast rules to what you pick though I will help with a basic framework to pick from.


For me personally, I always like to make this a drill that gets my heart rate up for example burpees, mountain climbers or 25m shuttle sprints. You can also use exercises like the Kettlebell swing if you have one to hand. I prefer to use the shuttle sprint when I can but that’s just me.


I normally go with a lower body exercise such as bodyweight squats, goblet squats (if you have a kettlebell) squat jumps, walking lunges or split lunge jumps. If you pick a lunge movement I count one each leg as one repetition so if I pull a SIX that’s six reps each leg or 12 total. This ensures you don’t walk away wonky.


Upper body- push. This would be any exercise where the main focus/effort is a pushing movement such as press-ups,  shoulder press or dips.


Upper body – pull. This would be any exercise where the main focus/effort is a pulling movement such as superman rows, TRX/ring rows or pull-ups. A small word of warning: unless you can do ten or more pull-ups they would be an unwise choice. Especially if you pull an eight of spades, then a four of spades and finally a ten of spades all in a row (22 pull-ups total)…trust me it happens.

If you struggle with an exercise on the Upper body- pull you can swap this out for another lower body exercise, cardio drill or core exercise (Not sit-ups, long storey but not the best exercise).


Each deck of cards should include two jokers (three if you lucky/unlucky like me). These are your throw downs. As there are only two let’s make sure they are a little cheeky. A few options could be:

  • 400m Sprint
  • 500m Rowing machine (if available)
  • 20 burpees
  • 10 reps of each exercise (spade, club, diamond and heart)

Level I: Beginner

For a beginner, I would recommend playing the 5-card draw. After a suitable warm-up this programme lasts 20-minutes

Select five cards at random and then complete the corresponding exercise for that set of repetitions. When you’ve finished, rest for the total time that it has taken for you to complete those last five cards.

So for example, if it takes you 3-minutes to complete all five cards you get a 3-minute recovery before pulling five new cards. This ensures you get enough rest and maintain good form. This is what is called equal work to rest ratio.

Perfect for those just starting out. If this feels too easy use the time as a maximum recovery time.

If this feels too easy use the time as a maximum recovery time and start when you feel recovered enough rest no longer than that maximum time.

Continue pulling five cards and resting until you hit 20-minutes.

*You can leave the Jokers out at this stage if you like.

Level II: Intermediate

Time to step things up a notch.

You can use one of two systems for the level II programme.

#1 10/8/6/4/2: Pull ten cards and complete them with minimal rest, then eight cards, rest, six cards and so on. Working your way down to only two cards (for a total of 30-cards). The rest between each number group is 60-seconds.

#2 Split the deck: Pretty simple really; shuffle the cards then split the deck. Your aim is to complete half the entire deck, only resting when needed. For this one, I would recommend setting a stopwatch to track your completion time. If you’re time sensitive, you can also set a cut-off time of say 30-minutes.

Level III: Advanced

Time to put on your game face, this is going to be “fun”.

The Full Monty: Give the cards a good shuffle, place them face down and get to work. Rest between cards as needed and aim to complete the whole deck in under 40-minutes.

There you have it a simple, a take anywhere workout perfect for a busy holiday season.

Exercise is just a third of the battle to learn more about how to make the most of your time, take back control of your eating and put your healthy habits on autopilot why not meet up for a coffee and chat. Click here to arrange a time.

Hi, I'm Jamie. My mission is to help busy men and women like you discover that strong, fit and healthy person hidden within so you can grab life by the horns and live with confidence and a smile.
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