You want to work out. You don’t want to go for a run. You don’t want to lift weights. You want strength, but you also want some cardio action. You want simple exercises that you can do sans equipment in your living room, and you don’t really want to have to think about it. What’s the solution? Hit The Deck!
The PowerHouse Hit The Deck ($19.99) is like having a personal trainer in a box. The deck of cards includes various exercises categorized by their intensity levels. Five cards warm you up and cool you down. “No Sweat” cards, with moves like lunges and push-ups get you warmer; “I’m Glistening” moves like squat jumps are higher intensity; and the “Sweating Buckets” moves are the most difficult (think mountain climbers and burpees). Who knew a simple deck of cards and a measly little timer could boss you around so much?
Because you’re in charge of the workout, you can decide how many cards to complete and how long your intervals will be. Randomly choose as many cards for each category as you like, choose an interval time (say 30 seconds for your first time), mix up the cards and go. Each time the beeper goes off, pick a new card and go until your timer beeps again.
When I tried it, I went for 30 or so minutes, doing 30-second intervals. I definitely got a great mix of cardio and strength training, and I was definitely sweating by the end. Hit The Deck is an effective, easy-to-use system, with no gimmicks. Is it perfect? Here are the pros and cons!
Pro: Easy to use and no counting repetitions. Just go until the buzzer sounds—no thinking, just doing.
Con: The beeping got annoying, especially when you only go for 30-second intervals. You feel like the timer is constantly beeping, and it kind of is.
Pro: Variety in both moves, cardio/strength, and muscle groups. If you go for at least 30 minutes, it’s a full body workout.
Con: Because you randomly choose cards, you might end up working similar muscle groups for two intervals in a row. The first time through I had two different types of lunges back to back and two Superman-style floor exercises in a row. Go through the deck before the workout to both familiarize yourself with the moves and to make sure similar moves are mixed up (or switch out similar moves altogether) before you start.
Pro: Because no equipment is needed for the moves, this is a workout you can do anytime, anywhere.
Con: Your dumbbells might get dusty!
Pro: If you mix moves by the difficulty level, you can control how much you push yourself. Mix the Sweating Buckets cards throughout the deck between easier moves to guarantee some time to catch your breath between the tough stuff. Customize the amount of overall time you want to work out and interval length.
Con: I didn’t like how the cool down was the same as the warm-up. Shadow boxing and knee lifts just seem weird as a cool down. I’d rather stretch, and that’s what I did for five minutes instead.
If you want a low-tech personal trainer that you can take anywhere, Hit the Deck is a great option. All of the moves will be familiar, but you’ll never have the same workout twice. —Erin