Bob Harper’s “Hit the Deck” Workout

On Monday night, Andrew and I sat down to watch our my favorite show, The Biggest Loser.  In case you aren’t a faithful viewer (although I can’t imagine that such a person exists…), this is how the show typically progresses:

When the show opens, the contestants are either in the gym walking effortlessly on a treadmill or standing around in the kitchen making breakfast.  There is likely some heavy product placement happening at this time.  Then, host Alison Sweeney enters the room and presents a challenge that will introduce some type of twist into the game–a temptation challenge that allows the person who eats the most donuts to rearrange the teams, a trivia game that gives the winning team a 5lb advantage on the scale, etc.  It could be anything.

Once the challenge is complete, we see the contestants break the news to their trainers that they have no gym access for the week or that they ate 23 double cheeseburgers (but have a 2lb advantage!)  The trainers are astounded.  Every time.  They had no idea this twist would be thrown into the game this week.

They somehow make do, and the contestants workout, learn about healthy living, and have tearful breakthroughs with Jillian Michaels.

Next comes a second, physical challenge that no doubt required a team of civil engineers to construct: one member of each team is harnessed in and suspended 20 ft in the air and from their aerial view must guide their teammates through a goo-filled maze; each contestant holds a rope that’s connected to a pulley system that is holding their trainer on a platform, and if they all let go, their trainer will will fall into hot lava a swimming pool. This could go on for hours.

The Biggest Loser       biggest-loser-water-challenge

The show ends with the weigh-in and one person being sent home, but immediately before that, the contestants endure the Last Chance Workout.  Basically, the trainers kick their butts in the gym.  No fewer than two contestants will cry, fall off a treadmill, and/or vomit.  Jillian Michaels will likely be on someone as they do push ups or push a giant tire across the room, and Bob Harper will be laughing at the crazy workout he has dreamed up for his team.

I was quite intrigued by Bob’s Last Chance Workout this week.  It looked grueling.  I decided to give it a try.


Bob Harper’s “Hit the Deck” Workout

Equipment needed: deck of cards

He started with a deck of cards and assigned a different exercise to each suit.  Then he drew the cards, one-by-one, and the contestants had to do the exercise and number of repetitions indicated by the card (with face cards being 10.)  For example, a jack of hearts meant 10 push ups, and a nine of clubs meant nine burpees.


I couldn’t remember exactly which exercises were assigned to each suit, so I modified:

Diamonds= Sit ups

Spades= Squats

Hearts= Push ups

Clubs= Burpees

DSCN7198   DSCN7200 DSCN7208   DSCN7215

It took me roughly 30 minutes to make it through the deck/workout, stopping briefly a few times for water.  For the sit ups I used our ugly ottoman to hold my feet– it’s just heavy enough to provide some resistance, but light enough that I had to use my abs rather than my legs ;-).  If you have something you can tuck your feet under, I’d recommend using it; if not, crunches will get the job done.  When I’d finished, I didn’t feel as rough as TBL contestants looked, but it was definitely a good workout!  The cards are shuffled (obviously), but for each exercise you’re doing 5 sets of 10 repetitions (that’s a lot in and of itself) plus 1 set of 9, 8, 7…2.  By the end, my burpees were nothing to be proud of, and I may have done a few sets of “girl” push ups.

Will I do it again?  Absolutely.  Not this week–my chest is going to be sore for a few days, I think– but it’s an excellent workout to shake up my routine a bit.

Bob Harper, you ‘da’ man.

5 thoughts on “Bob Harper’s “Hit the Deck” Workout

  1. I don’t watch the show but, a guy I workout with brought a deck of cards with him one day and said he uses them for a workout. I meant to research it at the time but, I forgot. Anyway, I stumbled on your blog and their it is. Looks like a great home or on the road workout. Do you give aces 1 or 11?

    • I gave aces 10, but I think they did 11 on the show. Also, I think they did some sort of overhead press instead of sit ups, but I wanted to do some ab work. It really would be a great on the road workout… very little equipment needed!

  2. Awesome! I have been looking for Bob Harper’s Deck Workout, ’cause my 6yr old wants to join me, but the exercise videos are too fast for him and this we can do together. Even if we can only do 15 minutes of it, it’s better than nothing. 🙂 Thank you for posting this!

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