ZCUT Power Cardio
with trainer Zuzka Light
You will love it if:
Zuzka isn’t well known for coming up with innovative and exciting workouts. Her workouts are very basic and easy to follow, and there is nothing new-fangled about them. The reason everyone loves Zuzka is because she takes regular old plyometrics and strings them together into simple but nearly impossible workouts that leave your heart pounding, your muscles burning, and your body dripping with sweat. No re-inventing the wheel.
These workouts are basic and to the point. Most include between 4 and 6 exercises (moves like burpees, jump lunges, squats, etc.) that are repeated for 10 to 20 reps. They are simple enough that you can easily jot the workouts down on an index card and then do them independently; you really don’t need to do the workouts with the video. However, Zuzka does a great job of coaching you through the proper form (which I like) and is encouraging to workout with. If you often workout solo (which I do), it’s nice to do the workout with the DVD so you can use Zuzka’s pacing as a guide for how quickly you should be completing the workout. It’s also nice to have company while you workout and know you aren’t the only one struggling through the workout. Zuzka will be panting for breath almost as hard as you!
Zuzka has a sort of soft spoken, cheerful personality that is easy to love, but her workouts are super intense. She calls you a “warrior” throughout her workouts, and you will definitely feel deserving of the title while completing these workouts! There is no music to go with the workouts, so you can simply play whatever music motivates you. (or just focus on the workout and skip the music…) There are no pep talks or sales pitches; Zuzka just gets right down to business. She begins each workout by explaining the moves you will be doing and teaching the proper form. She then does the workout with you. Once you are familiar with the proper form, you can skip through the introduction and go straight to the workout. Most of the workouts are timed trials, so the idea is to do them as quickly as possible. You wouldn’t think that doing a timed workout with a trainer on a DVD would work very well. What if the trainer goes too fast? What if you are faster than the trainer? However, I didn’t find this to be a problem. Occasionally I would finish a move before Zuzka, but she would catch back up with me pretty quickly. Other times I would start to fall behind; then I would simply pause the video for a few seconds while I caught back up. Instead of it being a pain to do the workout with the DVD, I actually found that it helped me with my pacing and helped me to stay motivated.
All of the workouts are pretty similar. They include basic moves like push-ups, jumping lunges, side planks, burpees, high knees, side-to-side jumps, v-sits….mostly plyometric, core strengthening, and full body stuff. The workouts include between 4 and 6 moves that are repeated through several times (like interval training) without any breaks. However, the workouts vary slightly in length and difficulty.
There is a ton of floor work (getting up and down off the floor) in these workouts, so I would recommend a soft carpet or mat. The abs workout and workout #5 require a chair, but the rest of the workouts can be done without any equipment. You will also need a short box or object to jump over in workout #3, but you can do the workout without the box just as easily.
These workouts require very little space. You will need to be able to jump with your arms stretched out over your head and be able to lie down with your arms stretched above your head and out to your sides like a T.
Try doing 1 minute of high knees, 20 jump lunges, 10 burpees, and 10 push-ups without stopping. If you can manage to do all of those things, you’ll at least be able to make it through the workouts. Your lungs and quadriceps might not be too happy with you, but at least you won’t end up in the hospital.
What NOT to Expect
This is not a strength training program or an endurance training program. The workouts are super quick (~10 minutes each) and won’t exactly be getting you in shape to run a marathon. (A 5k, maybe.) There are a lot of push-ups and plyometrics which add strength to your arms and legs, but certainly not enough to make your biceps rival Vin Diesel. And definitely do not expect a relaxing and pleasant experience—you really do need to be a warrior to get through these workouts.
How does ZCUT Power Cardio compare to other similar programs?
Zuzka has a ton of workouts on YouTube if you don’t want to pay for a DVD (check out her website at www.zuzkalight.com). The ZWOW workouts tend to be the most similar to the ZCUT Power Cardio Series. However, I liked being able to bring the DVD with me wherever I go and use it on my computer even when I didn’t have internet connection or play it on TVs that aren’t hooked up to the internet. I want to choose where I do my workout based on the quality of the space, not whether or not I can access the internet. But the YouTube videos are great too if you do happen to have internet access where you workout.
If you want a similar but longer workout, Insanity is your best choice. The Insanity workouts are a bit harder, but mainly because they are a lot longer. Insanity includes more short breaks as well as some easier moves to give your lungs that down time. ZCUT videos do not. Expect 10 minutes of pure intensity. Insanity also includes a lot more upper body strength training moves. Focus T25 offers a good alternative if you are a bit less advanced or you have joint problems. Each workout is 25 minutes with several minutes of stretching after the workout, so they take a bit longer that the ZCUT videos. But neither Insanity nor Focus T25 are simple enough that you can write down the moves and then do them on your own (without the DVD) when you need/want to. You’re pretty much tied to the DVD for both of those programs. Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism is another possibility if you are less advanced. It is much longer, but also much less painful and a more realistic workout for normal people who don't have time to organize their entire lives around fitness....just saying.
If you want a harder workout that is just as short…sorry, you’re out of luck. Nothing like that exists. But if you are a gladiator or something, you could string a couple of these 10 minute workouts together for what would probably be the hardest workout on the planet. Zuzka also offers several other very short, intense workout DVDs ZCUT ZRopes, ZCUT Power Strength, and ZCUT Power Yoga. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten my hands on them yet to compare them to ZCUT Power Cardio, but I’m assuming they are just what they are called.
MORE STRENGTH TRAINING
Ripped in 30
LONGER WITH FOCUS ON BUTT & THIGHS
Killer Buns & Thighs
LONGER WITH FOCUS ON ABS
6 Week Six-Pack
EASIER (BUT MUCH LONGER)
Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism
SAFER FOR PEOPLE WITH JOINT PROBLEMS
LONGER, HARDER WORKOUTS