Weighted hula hoops are the latest workout trend having a moment on social media.
Like weighted jump ropes, they’re a throwback to a favorite childhood pastime.
But do weighted hula hoops actually work?
Yep! It’s not all fun and games — hula hooping can offer a serious workout.
Read on to get the full scoop on weighted hoops.
What Is a Weighted Hula Hoop?
A weighted hula hoop is pretty much what it sounds like: a heavier version of the hula hoop you loved as a kid.
Weighted hula hoops are available in different weights, from less than one pound all the way up to four pounds or more.
They’re typically lined with foam padding, and some weighted hoops also have grooves or ergonomic bumps along the inside for a massage effect.
Many hoops break down into sections you can click together, making them ideal for packing in your suitcase or carry-on bag for travel workouts.
Do Weighted Hula Hoops Work?
Hula hooping offers a calorie-burning cardio workout. According to the American Council on Exercise, a 30-minute hula hooping workout can burn an average of 210 calories.
The added weight in a weighted hula hoop helps drive momentum, which makes it easier for the hoop to stay up, according to Rachel Jade, a UK-based trainer and creator of Hula Dancercise, a workout that blends dance and hula hooping.
This, in turn, enables you to twirl for longer periods of time, since you won’t drop the hoop as often.
Weighted Hula Hoop Benefits
Hula hoops are more than just child’s play. Here are a few perks of this fun and effective workout tool.
Improve cardiovascular fitness
“Hula hooping can help improve cardiovascular fitness,” Jade says.
Once you get into a rhythm, all that repetitive spinning will get your heart pumping.
Even if you drop the hoop, stopping to pick it up and finding your groove again ensures you’re always moving.
Build core strength
To keep the weighted hoop spinning, you’ll use the power of your abs, lower back muscles, and glutes.
Over time, this translates to core strength, according to Jill Brown, ACE-certified personal trainer and owner of Jill Brown Fitness.
Just make sure you twirl the hoop in both directions!
“Everyone has a preferred direction in which we hula hoop, but it’s really important to do it in the opposite direction because you really want to even things out,” Jade says.
Imagine what would happen if you only did biceps curls with your dominant hand — it’s a similar concept.
Challenge your coordination
In particular, spinning in your non-preferred direction calls for next-level focus and coordination, according to Jade.
Help with fat loss
If you’re looking to shed inches from your waist and hips, twirling a weighted hula hoop may do the trick.
In a 2019 study, researchers compared weighted hula hooping for an average of 13 minutes per day to walking roughly 10,000 steps per day.
While both activities burned a similar number of calories, hula hooping had a more significant effect on increasing muscle mass and decreasing abdominal fat and waist circumference.
How to Use a Weighted Hula Hoop in Your Workouts
Just like any other piece of fitness equipment, it may take some time for your body to adapt to using a weighted hula hoop.
Here are three tips that can help.
1. Start light
Jade recommends starting your fitness hula hoop journey on the lighter side. (A one-pound hoop may be best for beginners.)
Once you feel comfortable with the lighter hoop, feel free to try heavier ones.
And don’t be alarmed if you notice bruising around your hips after the first few sessions.
“It’s just your body easing itself into hula hooping,” Jade says. Rest assured the bruises are only temporary.
2. Ease in
It’s also a good idea to ease into weighted hooping by twirling just five minutes a day for the first week.
If all goes well, go up to 10 minutes a day the second week, and keep building up from there.
“Get the basics of building a rhythm, and then start incorporating longer workout sessions,” Jade says.
3. Mix it up
You don’t need to do 20 or 30 solid minutes of spinning your hips, Brown says.
You can also use a weighted hula hoop to spice up your strength sessions.
Drop the hoop and blast through some squats, jump in and out of the hoop for some agility training, or take turns twirling it around each arm.
Once you get really good at hula hooping, you can even incorporate dance moves like Jade does.
4. Find a class
Need some extra inspiration or guidance? Brown suggests looking for hula hoop classes — either virtual or in-person.
“If you take a class, they can teach you some other things to do with the hoop, and it’s probably more motivating to follow the instructor than stare out the window,” she says.