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September 29, 2019 4 min read

Peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, red beans and rice. Some things JUST GO together. But some things are better left apart, and today I’m going to talk to you about the number one exercise you should NOT be doing while hooping. (And stay to the end because we are going to give you my number one exercise for reshaping and lifting the butt – it’s not what you think).

Now, back to what you should NOT be combining. If you look at many hoop exercise videos you’ll likely see hooping while squatting (I just caught a picture of this in a popular hoop ad campaign recently that left me cringing). While there are many effective compound movements, or exercises that use many muscle groups at the same time, these two should be done separately. The risk of injury to the knees simply outweighs any perceived benefit. To understand why this is a dangerous combination, let’s first look at the mechanics of squatting.

To correctly perform a squat (see video below), your toes should be shoulder width apart, feet at about a 30 degree angle turned outward. Your gaze should be about six feet out in front of you to keep your head and neck in a neutral alignment. The movement begins with “hinging” at the hips. Think “unlock hips” then sit back and down as you keep the weight on your heels. When you drive up out of the squat, use your glute muscles to drive back up to starting position. How far down you squat depends on experience, flexibility and correct form. Next time you are around a toddler, watch them pick up an object of the ground. They have perfect squat form.

Perform a Basic Squat

Now that we know the basics of squat mechanics, let’s look at why you should not combine this while hooping.The mechanics of these two exercises is completely different. Basic waist hooping calls for your chest to remain lifted and upright, your pelvis be tucked under, producing a flexion (in this case very slight rounding) of the spine, and legs to remain stable as the movement comes from your waist while hooping.

You’ll remember that in waist hooping 101 where your body moves is where your hoop wants to be, so unless you are trying to leg hoop, we don’t have a lot of rocking in the legs while waist hooping. Turning and walking produce leg movement, but don’t create the “rocking through the knees” I am referring to.

Now in a squatting position, we have the opposite. We have spinal extension, the chest angles toward the ground, the legs are bent and we have a vertical up and down movement. Squat DOWN, drive back UP. So problem number one is we have two anatomical positions we are trying to make work together.

When you drop low into a squat, the abdominals contract to stabilize the spine. When you waist hoop, the movement to keep your hoop spinning now has to come from somewhere, which is the hips. And when that happens in a squatting position, you get rocking in the knees.

The only time I would concede combining these two is in a very deep plie squat if someone can isolate their abdominal movement and for short periods of time. The risk of injury simply outweighs any benefit. It’s best to get OUT of your hoop, practice your squats while holding the hoop for balance or added resistance, and resume your hoop dance or other exercises.

Try These Two Squat Exercises With Your Hoop

What’s the Big Deal About Glutes Anyway?

Your glute muscles (made up of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) are the strongest muscle group in the body and activating them is important. Glute exercises boost your metabolism, leaning your entire body out, and do a fabulous job of working your core at the same time. Often, people perform great glute exercises but aren’t activating the muscles properly (squatting and hooping) For example, you can squat and lunge using your quad muscles and spinal erectors, without working what you are really going for. Learning to activate your glues will help all of your lower body exercises, including squats, deadlifts, lunges, and even planks.

Try This Exercise Instead

While squatting is great, there are a series of other exercises that activate your glutes as much and MORE. The video below shows a ball hip thrust exercise which can activate 10% more in upper and mid glutes, and up to 17% more in lower glutes (sagging butt anyone?) It’s one of the core exercises I used to take this client from left to right in a matter of weeks, along with my smart nutrition strategies.

Hip Thrust Exercise With Bonus Additional Lower Body Exercises

Leigh Little
ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist

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