A fellow DailyMiler'er and marathon runner, Jeffery J. Miller, had posted "I have felt a lot more pain throughout my entire body last two days and I have to assume it was from getting out of bed and jumping right on treadmill. So today I went back to doing my 340 push-ups and 340 pull-ups PRIOR to running instead of after the run and felt much better after the run.".
That's a lot of push-ups and pull-ups to be completing after a 21 mile workout! He explained how he had come to the rather specific number of 340 in the comments of his post, "deck of cards - 52 sets in 52 minutes (spent almost 6 years in federal prison!) I start with the kings and finish with the aces - quality is crappy in the beginning and flawless in the end. King = 10 pull-ups &10 push-ups - I have done a full deck of cards of push-ups everyday since July 6th, 2007 and a deck of cards of pull-ups everyday since Mar 31st, 2009! I am all about consistency, persistence, perseverance etc..." Astounding!
A bit of web research uncovered a multitude of workouts around the use of a deck of cards (1, 2, 3). The gist is to assign from one to four different types of exercises to either the deck, the colors, or the suites and perform a set for each card using the face value as the repetitions in the set. Jeffery assigns 10 points to each face card and one point to Aces. Others assign the Jack, Queen, and King the set values of eleven, twelve, and thirteen respectively. I've seen Aces assigned a value of 20, and Jokers assigned 50. In short, feel free to make up rules as you go.
I see a simplistic beauty in the system: it's portable, consistent, and requires no special spreadsheets, weekly progression charts, or smart phone applications. It promotes quality work on short sets and speed on longer sets. You can apply it to multiple exercises, and as you get stronger, you progress further through the deck or assign higher values to face cards. As a reference tool, it's cheap, ubiquitous, and you can still use it for Poker, Gin, and the best game in the world, cribbage!
I'm certainly not as strong as Jeffery, but I'm inspired to use the deck of cards in my own core fitness workouts. I've started with selecting the aces through fours for all suits as my push-ups workout for a total of 16 sets and 40 reps. A single suit and value-based selection of the cards will probably work better and allow me to throw other exercises into the workout. For example, I'll use the hearts suit, ones through nines for push-ups (Total: 9 sets, 45 reps) and do something similar for pull-ups (once I install a bar in the basement), sit-ups, air-squats or dips. To progress incrementally I could drop the nine and add a ten, or I could simply add in another card of the suit until I'm using them all.
If you can't tell, I'm a fan already!