I don’t write many workout-specific blog posts, but I thought that the end of the year would be a good time to post a “best of” list of my favorite Zuzka Light workouts (or, “ZWOW”s as they’re titled on her YouTube channel). It also might be helpful for those of you with a “Workout More” New Year’s resolution. I am lucky enough to sincerely enjoy working out, so that hasn’t been on my list of resolutions since I was about 14 years old. The trick for me was finding enough things I actually liked, and being open to changing course when and if it stopped feeling good. My fitness regiment started with Tae-Bo tapes, then turned into long-distance running and group fitness classes, and now is pretty steadily a mix of high-intensity interval training and yoga, with the occasional few mile run. I really believe (or at least hope) there is a workout style out there for everyone!
For those of you who are not familiar, Zuzana (Zuzka) started out on Bodyrock.tv, but after splitting with the co-founder of Bodyrock, she began her own series of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. I became a devotee of the ZWOWs for a number of reasons: they kick your butt, many of them don’t require equipment, they’re free, they’re fast, and, also, Zuzka is super endearing!
The biggest problem I run into with internet trainer videos is that the number of videos can start to get overwhelming. I find that I forget which videos I like or which one is more upper-body focused, or whatever else. Without a detailed overview of the workouts, even Pinterest-ing them doesn’t solve this conundrum. And although she creates preview videos for each workout, those can be long and sometimes you don’t have ten minutes to watch a preview, ya know? So hopefully a blog post with some summaries can help us all!
You may remember that I did a summary of ZWOW #1-10, so visit that link if you want to read about those. Admittedly, I haven’t done every single one of the workouts from #11-49, but I have done most of them. And I definitely have favorites in the bunch. Here’s a breakdown of The Best of ZWOW #11-49:
ZWOW #14: Z starts off this workout by calling out the men in the audience who think her workouts are just for ladies. She challenges them to make that statement after trying this super intense strength-training workout. It’s comprised of six exercises, five rounds for time: push press, thrusters, back curl lunge, preacher curl, weighted lunge jumps, broad jump burpee. I was mega-sore after this one! Most challenging move: thrusters. Equipment: heavy weights (I start with 15lbs, then switch to 10 lbs if necessary). Approx time: 18 min.
ZWOW #16: Awesome strength-training workout that is lower-body focused. Lots of moves that focus on resistance with heavy weights. Five exercises, AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) in 15 minutes.: renegade rows, overhead lunges, squat-jump burpee, crab touches, sumo dead lift. Most challenging move: overhead lunges with 10 lb weights is tough business. Equipment: heavy dumbbells. Approx time: 15 min.
ZWOW #19: This is probably my favorite of the favorites. This full-body workout always makes me feel instantly tighter. It primarily targets the legs, core and abs. Comprised of five rounds, six exercises: water bottle clean, pistol squats, water bottle pushups, russian twists, hip twists, hollow rock. Most challenging move: Absolutely the pistol squats; I still can’t do those with totally correct form. Equipment: water bottle. Approx time: 25 min.
ZWOW #23: This is another favorite of the favorites, mostly because you get to do 100 burpees! It feels a bit more cardio-heavy, but the air squats kill your leg muscles and your core gets a great workout too. It’s comprised of: yoga burpees, ab splitters, burpees, air squats. Most challenging move: the 100th burpee. Equipment: none. Approx time: 20 min.
ZWOW #26: Another one that left me super sore! In an awesome way, of course. There are only three exercises: overhead squats, burpees, walking lunges with weights. This definitely feels more like a strength building routine, but you get bursts of cardio with the burpees. You do three solid minutes of the squats (I used 10 lb weights), then do ten rounds of one minute each of the burpees and lunges. So.Killer. Most challenging move: squats, for sure. she makes you get down loooow. Equipment: heavy weights. Approx time: 13 min.
ZWOW #29: Quick AMRAP workout, but fits a lot in. 4 moves, as many as possible in 10 minutes: pistol squats, side hops, plank row knee tuck, 180 burpee. All of these moves are really tough and intense! Most challenging move: srsly, these are all kind of brutal. but pistol squats still probably win for me, due to my leg injuries. Equipment: something to hop over. Approx time: 10 min.
ZWOW #31: This is a cardio-heavy circuit workout, three rounds for time. I love this because it’s non-stop, but full of pretty familiar exercises: push ups, burpees, jump squats, mountain climbers, sit ups. Most challenging exercise: mountain climbers feel tough by round three. Equipment: none. Approx time: 18 min.
ZWOW #32: This workout is awesome on it’s own, but Z suggests doing a mile run at the end of it, giving packing an awesome cardio-punch. Three rounds, five exercises: side hops, chair dips, broad jumps, thrusters, russian twists. Most challenging move: all the jumps! so intense! Equipment: heavy dumbbells. Approx time: 10 min + mile run.
ZWOW #34: Heavy weight lifting, 3 rounds for time. Squat hops, bent over rows, walking lunges, plank pulls. I love this one because I can tell my muscles are being ripped (in a good way). Just make sure to use heavy enough weights (I use 12 lbs, then sometimes switch to 10lbs toward the end). Most Challenging Move: plank pulls are awesome and tough! Equipment needed: heavy dumbbells. Approx Time: 14 min.
ZWOW #37: This one is six rounds, three exercises, switching every 30 seconds: santana pushups, side hops, squat jumps. Both strength and cardio, but feels cardio-intense because you’re moving so fast! Most Challenging Move: For some reason side hops KILL me! Equipment needed: none. Approx Time: 12 min.
ZWOW #42: This is four rounds of five different exercises: competition burpees with jump tuck, low jacks, mountain climbers, commando pushups, knee hugs. This is a more cardio-centric workout, and also has moves that target the abs. Most Challenging Move: by round four, the burpee/jump tuck deal was feeling super intense! Equipment: none. Approx Time: 15 min.
ZWOW #48: This was a special Christmas workout, which just means that Z wears a santa hat. Cute, and also pretty brutal. I did this on Christmas morning and it was a great short n’ sweet workout that mixed cardio and weight-training. Just three exercises, AMRAP in 12 min: jump squat with weights, break dance push up, leg and butt lift. Most Challenging Move: break dance push up. Equipment: weights and exercise mat. Approx time: 12 min.
ZWOW #49: 365 reps, one for every day of the year. In between each strength move, you do ten competition burpees (!), so it’s heavy on the cardio too: dumbbell swing, reptile, dragon backward lunge, side crunch, side to side sumo squat, spider, strict mountain climbers, knee hugs, lunge press, jump squat, (and the burpees). Ah! It was sooo good, my whole body felt like jello afterwards! Most challenging move: strict mountain climbers kill me sometimes. Equipment: heavy weights. Approx time: 23 min.
I usually do a ZWOW in addition to yoga and/or another short workout video, but I find it’s near impossible—and probably not advisable—to do more than one ZWOW in a row. They’re also great to do on their own if you’re short on time!
Are you a fan of the ZWOW series? Which of the workouts are your favorite? If you don’t do ZWOW, what kind of workouts do you like to do?