Weighted hula hooping is the new workout trend going viral on TikTok, but what are the benefits?
During lockdown we’ve all been looking for new fitness challenges or training styles to get us out of our exercise rut. From taking up boxing at home as an alternative to running, to attempting the five minute plank challenge to build core strength and improve our desk posture, there’s loads of new and exciting ways to train that promise to keep our bodyweight workout routine more exciting.
The latest in that long line-up of fitness trends is the weighted hula hoop workouts populating TikTok. On the social media app, #weightedhulahoop has over 40 million views, with videos promising everything from a stronger core, to improved endurance and stamina.
When we were younger, hula hooping was a fun game we used to play in the playground without a second thought about how it was impacting our abs. So, can the workout really build strength – or is it all just child’s play?
Is weighted hula hoop good exercise?
“I wouldn’t say hula hooping is a replacement for your normal strength and cardio routine, but it is a great way of adding more movement to your training sessions,” says Emma Obayuvana, fitness trainer from the Strong Women Collective. Emma reckons that hula hooping is worth doing because of the all-over core benefits: helping to strengthen your abdominal muscles, obliques and lower back.
“It will challenge your core muscles throughout your entire midsection as you have to keep the muscles engaged to circle the hoop around your hips. By adding weight with a weighted hoop, you add extra resistance which increases the challenge on your core and helps to build more muscle,” says Emma.
Building a stronger core can improve your posture in general, but learning how to keep your body in alignment while hula hooping will also help you stand and sit upright. “It’s impossible to hula hoop with scrunched up shoulders and a slouched back. You have to keep your chest open, back engaged and stomach drawn in, in order for you to get the hoop around you,” says Emma. “Plus, learning how to keep the hoop up, particularly a weighted hoop, will benefit your co-ordination and balance.”
While hula hooping isn’t necessarily a cardiovascular workout, “it can get your heart rate up a little bit and get the blood flowing around your body,” says Emma. That means if you need a low-impact or more gentle training session, hula hooping is perfect.
Most importantly, Emma points out that hula hooping can be brilliant for our mental health. “You could think of it as moving meditation – you really need to focus on connecting your brain and body to keep the hoop up, so your mind can’t wander,” she says. And there’s a reason that we used to love it so much when we were little: it’s simply a lot of fun to dance around with the hoop.
“It’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking that hula hooping can be a quick fix to a strong core. Nothing is going to rival building strength through resistance training,” Emma reminds.
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Alongside the videos of strength gains, there are plenty of images of bruised midsections from hula hooping being shared on TikTok. Emma says that this is common when people take up new activities with kit that they are not used to, but your skin and muscles will adapt.
Make sure you use your common sense as to whether the bruising is just part of your initiation into your new hobby or if it’s actually hurting you. Emma also suggests making sure you limit the excess swinging of the hoop by ensuring your movements are small and concise rather than creating huge circles with your hips, and having the right sized hoop.
If you’re a beginner, Emma’s number one tip is to be patient. “Regardless of how good you are, whether you can keep the hula hoop going for five minutes or five seconds, you’ll get benefits. Even if you’re just getting into it and the hoop keeps dropping, the mere act of trying and persevering is how you reap the benefits. No one starts any sport as an expert,” she says.
While the weighted hoop may not replace your traditional training, it’s still a great core workout to add alongside your planks and crunches. If you get to build a stronger core while making yourself feel great, what’s not to love?
Where to buy weighted hula hoops
Hoops sizes, weights and prices can hugely vary, so it’s worth weighing up your options.
Opti Weighted 1.8kg Hula Hoop
Powerhoop Adjustable 1.6-2.2kg Weighted Hula Hoop
Bo Padded 1.1kg Weighted Hula Hoop
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Images: Getty / brand’s own
Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).