Will a weighted hula hoop help you step up your fitness game?
Here's what to know about this trendy piece of workout equipment.
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For a lot of people, the humble hula hoop is nothing more than a beloved childhood toy. But if you’re on TikTok, you know that hula hoops are once again a hot commodity—heavy hula hoops, that is. Users claim that regularly using a weighted hula hoop can help build a stronger core and trim body fat, and a search for “#hulahoop” on the social media app shows more than 980 million views at the time of publication.
Are the weighted hula hoop claims legit, or is this variation of hula-hooping nothing more than a 1960s-style fad? We did the research to find out if they, ahem, hold their weight.
What is a weighted hula hoop?
Weighted hula hoops are hula hoops meant for exercising. They often look like regular hula hoops, but are filled with water or sand. You'll also come across “smart” weighted hula hoops, though they aren't smart in the sense that they are connected to other pieces of technology (like AI-powered workout gear). Instead, they are made of interlocking plastic pieces that you can adjust to your waist size. They also aren't filled with anything and just have a small weight attached with a cord that swings around the hoop as you move. The makers of this type of hoop (and some users) say the design is more comfortable, especially for beginner hoopers who may have trouble keeping the device up around their waist.
Benefits of using a weighted hula hoop
One of the best things about hula-hooping is that you may enjoy it more than other forms of exercise. And if it gets you up and moving because you like it, that’s definitely a worthwhile workout. It’s also a great option for people who want a low-impact alternative to running or jumping rope. A small study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that participants’ average heart rate during a half-hour hula hoop workout was 151 beats per minute, on par with bootcamp classes, step aerobics, and cardio kickboxing.
Using a weighted hula hoop adds resistance to the motion of circling your hips, which can strengthen your core. “By adding a weighted hula hoop to the mix, you're making the hoop harder to maintain in place and encircling your midsection,” says ACE-certified personal trainer Tami Smith. “This extra resistance forces your muscles to work harder to perform the movement, thereby amplifying the workout and its effectiveness.”
Hula-hooping may also help develop your balance and stability. With your hips and core circling but your feet staying planted, your body works to stabilize itself. “Your legs are going to be working to stabilize you throughout the whole movement,” Smith says.
What a weighted hula hoop can’t do
Though hula-hooping is generally considered a fun and effective aerobic exercise, it won’t necessarily give you a “snatched” (i.e. more defined) waist, as many TikTokers claim. “Spot training,” or the idea that training one part of your body can reduce body fat in that targeted area, is a myth.
Hula-hooping is also unlikely to help you develop serious strength. “What a weighted hula hoop cannot do is replace the need for traditional strength training equipment,” Smith says. “Even a ‘heavy’ hula hoop is still likely to be less than 10 pounds and if you're trying to build any kind of appreciable muscle, the hula hoop isn't going to get that done for you. I like to recommend weighted hula hoops to my clients as a fun challenge to their routine, but I never suggest that it's going to be any kind of fitness game-changer.”
How to use a weighted hula hoop
To find a hoop that's the right size, hold it vertically while resting one side on the floor: The top of the hoop should come up somewhere between your belly button and mid-chest. Wider hoops allow you to move more slowly, which is often easier for beginners. As you progress, you can advance to a smaller hoop, which will require you to move more quickly.
Like with any new exercise, take it slow to avoid straining yourself. Start with five or 10 minutes, and work your way up to 15 or 20. One of the great things about hula-hooping is that it doesn’t take much space to do it, and you can hoop almost anywhere (even in front of the TV, for anyone who likes to get some movement in as they catch up on their shows).
If you loved hula-hooping as a kid, then you’re probably familiar with the movement. But if you never quite got the hang of it, try focusing on using your core strength to move your hips. It’s not really a true hip circle, but more of a front-to-back or side-to-side motion that keeps the hoop moving. And, of course, you can also watch some videos for inspiration.
How to stay safe with weighted hula hoops
Though it is rare, bruising can occur from overuse. Many weighted hula hoops are padded to prevent this, but you still have to be careful not to overdo it. Most brands recommend you hoop for no more than 20 minutes daily, and experts recommend adding hula-hooping into a pre-existing workout routine, not using it as your sole form of exercise. “If someone picks something too heavy for their body or their capabilities, there’s always a risk, when adding any kind of resistance, of straining a muscle because it’s a little bit too much,” Smith says.
Smith says anyone with a core, hip, or pelvis injury may want to steer clear of hula-hooping. She specifies the movement might be tough for elderly exercisers or newly postpartum moms.
All in all, using a weighted hula hoop is a fun, low-impact, and low-risk way to exercise. It probably shouldn’t become your only form of exercise, but it's a great way to get your blood moving and have fun while doing it.
Popular weighted hula hoops to try
1. A top-rated hoop for a surefire favorite
One popular option is the Dynamis weighted hula hoop, which comes in two weights, 2.4 pounds and 3.6 pounds. Beginners will likely want to start with the lighter option to get a feel for the exercise, and move on to a heavier hoop if they find they want more of a challenge.
This hoop has a 4.5-star rating with over 2,000 reviews. Reviewers say they love revisiting a favorite childhood activity and the core workout the hoop delivers. However, many warn they were sore or bruised after the first few times they used their hoop, and one reviewer said the hoop may not be comfortable for plus-size customers.
2. A "smart" hula hoop for a more comfortable workout
The Infinity Hoop Plus gained popularity on TikTok and has rave reviews you can see for yourself on its channel on the social media platform.
The Infinity Hoop Plus comes in a regular and a plus size, which means it will fit anyone with a 20-inch to 52-inch waist, though it is slightly pricier than regular weighted hoops.
3. An extra-smooth hoop for comfortable workouts
If you’re looking for a slightly less expensive option, try the HealthyModelLife weighted hula hoop. It comes in two weights, 2 pounds and 3 pounds, both for less than $30.
This hoop has a 4.3-star rating and over 1,600 reviews. Reviewers love how easy it is to put together and how comfortable it is to use, thanks to its smooth, non-lumpy design.
4. An affordable option for when you're just starting out
And for a hoop under $20, try the Neoweek Exercise Hoop. This 2-pound hoop is less than $20, and has a 4.2-star rating with over 4,000 reviews.
Reviewers say it's easy to assemble and has a soft material covering that prevents discomfort around the hips.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.