Zuu workout: A new meaning to being an animal at the gym

When someone tells you you’re a “beast” at the gym, they usually don’t mean in the literal sense, unless of course, you’re participating in a Zuu workout.

What’s a Zuu workout you ask? Why, it’s just what it sounds like: a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program that takes its cues from — you guessed it — animal movements.

The Zuu fitness concept

Officially started in the great country of Australia, Zuu fitness is the brainchild of Nathan Helberg, and is a program of bodyweight exercises often used in professional athletics and combat training.

It was designed to provide a full-body strength workout in situations where no equipment is available.

In other words, it’s perfect for those of us who want to strength train, but who don’t have the money (or the space!) for a full home gym.

Don’t mistake lack of equipment as synonymous for an easy workout; these movements aren’t ones you’re used to doing regularly, and you’re muscles are going to let you know afterward!

The Zuu movements

Animal flow exercises are actually nothing new. If you’ve ever taken a fitness class, or even been in a child’s gym class, you’ve probably heard of the classic “bear crawl,” “crab walk,” or “frog hop”.  These fun activities are examples of what you have to look forward to in a Zuu workout — just times 10 and faster than you’ve ever thought to do them before!

Examples of movements in a Zuu program (feel free to try these at home) include:

The iguana

Start in plank position and then alternate moving your hands and feet forward. (So think: right hand forward, left foot forward.) For an example, click here.

Gorilla bounds

Position yourself on the balls of your feet, leaning forward onto your knuckles. Bound forward as far and as fast as you can.

Frog hops

Keep your feet flat and squat as low as you can. From this position, leap up and out as high and far as you can.

Crab walk

Lay on your back and then prop yourself up on you hands and feet, arms extended and knees bent. Your butt should be almost touching the ground. Crawl forward or backward in this position. For a few examples, click here.

Bear crawl

Start with your hands and feet on the ground, butt in the air, and try to lumber forward like a bear.

Sound familiar? We thought maybe you’ve heard of these before, and there are endless variations of the names and the movements associated with them.

The trick is to use these exercises in a high-intensity fashion, and then you’ll truly get to see the benefits of Zuu movements.

Zuu fitness and HIIT go hand-in-hand: Why it’s so good for you

Renowned New York physical therapist, coach, and fitness trainer, Bryan Hathaway, has spoken to saludmóvil™ before regarding the benefits of both body weight exercises and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

“HIIT is an excellent choice for anyone with a time crunch,” said Hathaway. “There are articles on all the benefits, on the biological level, of high-intensity exercise.”

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT workouts such as Zuu movements, maximize the body’s efforts through intense, high-paced exercises, spaced out with brief periods of recovery.

HIIT programs have been shown to improve:

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Blood pressure
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Cholesterol profiles
  • Aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels

And if you’re wondering, “Does Zuu help you lose weight?” The answer is: yes.

When performed as a HIIT workout, weight loss and loss of abdominal fat are benefits noted by the American College of Sports Medicine.

So how should you do a Zuu workout at home?

Hathaway recommends picking four exercises and perform each for 30 seconds, one right after the other for a period of 4 minutes.

After the 4 minutes of exercise, rest for 2 minutes and then do another series of four different exercises.

For beginners, he recommends three different groups of four exercises, for a total of 12 minutes workout time.

If 4 minutes sounds like a long time, you can pick any time amount you want; the formula is just to rest half the time you spend exercising. (If you did bear crawls for 2 minutes, rest for 1 minute.)

And remember: Do as many reps as possible in the time frame you’ve selected. The goal is to push yourself. It’s not called high-intensity for no reason!

The risks of Zuu workout

Like any workout, the Zuu workout isn’t for everyone.

Because this is a bodyweight-focused program, make sure you are in proper physical condition to perform the exercises.

Most animal flow movements are not natural positions for humans (how often do you crab walk around your house?) so make sure your body is up to the challenge.

HIIT workouts also push your internal systems to the limit, so a health check by your doctor is recommended before starting this type of workout. People with chest pain, dizziness, or bone and joint problems may not be candidates for Zuu fitness.

And most importantly, make sure you video your workouts. What’s the point in all these fun animal exercises if your friends and family can’t share in the laughter, too!

Hope Gillette
Hope Gillette

Hope Gillette is a journalist from New York. She specializes in research journalism and has an extensive background in Hispanic health writing. Hope is also a published novelist and award-winning author, as well as a mixed martial arts expert and fitness trainer.