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The Cooped-Up Coach Blog

A Workout Blog by Chris Boyko, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach/Fitness Center Director

Chris Boyko

Hello, friends of the Amherst College community — I hope you and yours are well and safe during this difficult time. I miss the personal interactions that are integral to my job at the College. Thinking of ways to connect, I decided to create a blog so that I can help us support each other in staying fit. When times get tough, we have a choice: We can dwell on our difficulties and get overwhelmed, or we can see these difficulties as challenges that shed light on how lucky we are. We can show true grit and better ourselves. 

We can embrace these challenges together. I aim to use my experience as a former Boot Camp instructor, strength and conditioning coach, and fitness enthusiast to provide creative workouts. We can adapt these workouts to require little or no equipment, and stay fit while having fun along the way!

About the Exercises

These workouts will be based on common strength-building exercises, including pushups, crunches, squats, and more. We will get creative and use resources we have around our homes, since most of us don’t have access to gym equipment right now.

If you are brand new to strength-building exercises, these workouts may not be suitable for you at this time. 

Please consult your doctor before doing any physical activity, and follow current CDC guidelines regarding health, safety, and social distancing.

Day 15

Hello Friends,

A photo of a rooster

Welcome to the final installment of this first phase of blogging. I want to thank you for reading and I hope this has been helpful and somewhat entertaining.

I wish I had a better way to start this blog, but feel compelled to share some sad news. On Monday evening/early Tuesday am, “Duke the Rooster” left this world and is now in the “Big Chicken Coop In The Sky.” I know you are not supposed to get attached to your chickens, but it was impossible to not get attached to Duke. He was not your standard rooster. Most roosters are usually ________s (feel free to fill in the blank on your own). Duke was kind (he never attacked us) and always took care of his ladies by watching over them and was a pure gentleman by letting the hens eat first at every meal. Duke, you were one of a kind and will be missed dearly by your family, “The Boyko’s.”

I feel better now. Time to get to work out content.

Almost a decade ago, I was fortunate to run across Mike Serricchio. Mike was an undergraduate Exercise Science major at Springfield College, former football player,  and was going into the spring of his senior year. He needed a 400-hour internship and somehow was not turned off by possibly spending so much time with me over the course of a semester. Mike was very intelligent, highly motivated, and very personable. During this particular spring semester, I had some lofty goals to add to the training programs that I offer and Mike was instrumental in working with me to design new programs and train with me to test them out. I owe Mike a debt of gratitude I will surely never repay. One of the results of this amazing spring semester was the “Deck of Cards” workout that I am going to go over today.

Here is how it works. Way back when, our friends and innovators in Advancement gave everyone on campus a deck of cards with fun facts and landmarks in the history of Amherst College.


I took this deck, put it in order, and then systematically separated the cards into two halves as even as you can split a deck of 56 cards, put dots on one half to be able to easlily separate them if they somehow get mixed, and then shuffled up each half separately. Yup. That’s right.  Not a typo. 56 cards.  This deck has 4 jokers in it and of course we are going to use them and of course they will be “high.” Like I said before, the liberal arts are rubbing off on me, and as you can see by my terrible artwork, it is a slow and painful rub.


Now that the deck is split and shuffled, the structure of the workout can now be explained. There are 4 suits. Each suit corresponds to one of the following: push, pull, leg, core. Hearts are a pull, diamonds are a push, clubs are legs, and spades are core. There is an exercise for each suit for the first half of the deck and then the exercises change once you get through half the deck to not overtrain. Cards are face value and you do the number of reps of the chosen exercise for each suit. Jacks are 11, Queens are 12, Kings are 13, Aces are 14, and Jokers are 15.  You can do this workout 10 days in a row and as long as you shuffle well each time you do it, you may get a totally different training stimulus.  Pretty cool!

Here are the specifics of suits and exercises I did in my work out for this blog.

First Half of Cards (I chose the “non-dotted” cards for this workout just to be different as most people start with the “dotted" cards when they do this workout.)

Hearts - Pull - Weighted Backpack Inverted Rows
Diamonds - Pushups - Weighted Backpack Pushups
Clubs - Legs - Weighted Backpack Squats
Spades - Core - Weighted Backpack Sit Ups

Second Half of Cards (dotted cards, I am missing the 8 of spades so always start with this one to get it out of the way so I don't forget about it and inadvertantly cut corners)

Hearts - Pull - Band Bent Over Rows
Diamonds - Pushups - Low Incline Band Press
Clubs - Legs - Weighted Backpack Alternate Backwards Lunge (card number is done on each leg)
Spades - Core - Side Plank on Elbow with Hip Drop (card number done on each side)

Now that I have totally confused you with this, I will tell you that I took a video of yours truly doing the entire workout (sans the end due to the fact I was an idiot and didn’t charge the camera battery) and put in educational slides along the way.  I used the jackrabbit feature to make the video a tolerable length and sped up the film between slides.

There is a very special guest appearance at around the 2-minute mark.

I don’t think there is much to go over in the video as the slides I put in should take care of everything. One thing to note, Woodchips not only act as a good weed block, keep the soil moist for plants, make for a good weekend workout, but also make an excellent low incline! You need a low incline so the band does not roll up your back on the second half of the deck incline band presses.  I pan in to my sweet card table after the end of the first half so you can see how they played out.

The wool flannel came off for the second half of the deck as I was getting warm after a cold start to the morning. Try not to stare too long at the iPod Nano that is strapped to my upper arm blasting heavy rock music.

Here is a picture of the second half of the deck as it played out for me this morning.  Wasn't too bad except for the monster set of lunges.

dots finished

I want to wish the students that are graduating the best of luck moving off into “The Real World,” and thank all the faculty and staff that helped them along the way. I hope to see you soon in the future.

Bye for now,


Day 15: Deck of Cards

Instructions for doing the “Deck of Cards” workout.

Workout Library

As workouts are posted, they wil be added to the All Workouts page.

Chris Boyko

Chris Boyko

Strength and Conditioning Coach

Disclaimer: No liability is assumed for the information provided on this website. The text on all pages of this site is intended for informational and educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice on exercise or diet. Specific medical advice should be obtained from a licensed health-care practitioner. Always check with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program or diet.