Weighted hula hoops are all the rage in 2019. In this article, we’ll answer some of the biggest questions about them.
• How HEAVY does your weighted hula hoop need to be in order to lose weight?
• Which trend could be moving your weight loss goals in the wrong direction? (and killing your back in the process)
• What’s the perfect hula hoop weight to really work your abs?
• Is front back pushing or side-to-side better for your core?
• Plus, a super simple exercise you can do anywhere to help you fire off deep core muscles!
That’s a lot, so let’s jump in!
A weighted hoop could also be a heavier hoop made from plastic or steel and typically is made with some sort of padding around the hoop to help protect your body from bruising.
A lightly weighted hoop typically weighs from 1.1 - 1.5 pounds.
A heavier weighted hoop can weigh anywhere from 1.7 pounds - 5 pounds. I've seen heavier hoops, but I would NOT recommend them unless you are already very physically fit and have a strong back and spine.
Using a hoop that’s heavier than 5lbs can potentially do more harm than good. Foundation training expert Dr. Eric Goodman explains how our modern lifestyle affects us in his book “True to Form”.
"The muscles constructed to keep her upright against gravity have weakened from lack of use; the joints taking the pressure the muscles should absorb have grown rigid. That’s backward from the way things should work, leaving Hallie with weak muscles and stiff joints." – the exact opposite of what they should be.
"As a result, Hallie’s chest droops downward under the force of gravity, taking her ribcage with it and pressing the ribcage into her pelvis, thereby shortening her torso and further bending the muscles of her lower back out of shape. Inside this drooping structure, everything gets squashed, flattened, jammed together in a body that is pressed forward, collapsed inward squeezed down, out of alignment, and off-balance”.
The problem, as Dr. Goodman explains, is that we are all Hallie. Most of us spend time sitting behind a computer, or in our cars for long commutes, bending over as we text, watching TV. So adding a hoop heavier than 3 pounds to a body that’s already collapsed downward, out of alignment, off-balance, and coupled with poor hooping mechanics is a recipe for disaster.
As a trainer, I would never load weight on to a squat bar for a client that has poor body mechanics while squatting. That’s just asking for injury and does nothing to properly train muscle recruitment.
Nor should we give a client an excessively heavy hoop, just because it feels like good exercise. We reached out to Dr. Keenan Borgardt, a Portland-based chiropractor, specializing in acute and chronic injury rehabilitation. Dr. Borgardt agreed that a heavy hoop provides the ability to create momentum to keep the hoop spinning (not a good thing), and thus does not recruit the stabilizing musculature.
So if too heavy is no good, how heavy CAN you go? Or should you even use a weighted hula hoop?
You absolutely can use a weighted hoop safely to lose weight, tone your abs, and narrow your waist, but to lose weight, your body needs to be in a fat-burning state. And the truth is, no amount of hooping with ANY weight of hoop will get the job done if your body’s fat storage switch is turned on.
Whether your body is in fat storage or fat-burning mode is very much influenced by what you’re eating. To flip the switch to burn fat, we need to focus on whole foods. These include vegetables, healthy fats and proteins, fruit, and whole grains. An overabundance of processed food will keep your body in fat storage mode.
Based on feedback from thousands of clients, we’ve found the optimal starting weight for most people is between 1.3 and 2 pounds.
All of our fitness hoops are weighted in this range to give you the best possible chance of learning to waist hoop correctly and safely.
This weight is ideal to practice regularly for longer time periods to gain both aerobic and core strength benefits. Go much heavier and you risk being able to use your hoop for shorter time periods (5 minutes or less) and with an increased risk of injury.
Hooping is a little different than traditional strength training exercises. When you do traditional strength training, you or your trainer may measure success by how much weight you’ve been able to ADD. Maybe you used to be able to do a set of bicep curls with a 5lb weight and now you can use 10 lbs – that’s progress, right? When we look at hooping, we can get stuck in the “more is better mindset”.
But your optimal weight is the minimum weight YOU NEED to keep your hoop spinning with proper body mechanics. As your technique improves, you can progress with a lighter hoop by controlling and activating your deep core muscles so precisely that you learn to keep a very light hoop spinning. And a lighter hoop means more contractions per minute because it’s going to rotate faster.
Minimum weight needed to keep the hoop spinning WHILE your core muscles contract = maximum abdominal muscle activation.
There’s a progression that happens (or SHOULD happen) when you learn to waist hoop. When you begin to waist hoop your movements tend to be a bit exaggerated to keep the hoop spinning. Side-to-side pushing and bigger front-back movement keep the hoop up in the beginning.
This is absolutely OK and expected because at this stage we are learning basic mechanics and are just trying to have success with the hoop. Success lights up feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine in the brain that make us feel good. This is key to enjoying hooping and that makes you pick your hoop up again the next day.
After you gain control of basic waist hooping in your normal current (the direction your hoop spins), try waist hooping in the opposite current to work muscles equally and prevent imbalances.
Then you want to start tweaking those side-to-side and front-back movements so they become smaller. As you do this, your inner core muscles begin taking over and opposed to hip movement and momentum to keep your hoop spinning.
Both front-back and side-to-side motions are important to try. Our core is designed to work through a variety of plans (front to back, side to side, keeping the spine stable underweighted loads, stabilization during twisting, etc). Most people will find one way that’s most comfortable and stay there without experimenting. But to maximize your results, work both.
Did you know that hula hoop workouts are a fantastic way to lose belly fat? Because hula hooping increases the feel-good neurochemicals in your brain and decreases your stress hormone cortisol (this hormone plays a role in women’s belly fat), it is particularly effective in a weight loss strategy.
If you are battling chronic daily stress (job, financial, marriage, move, etc) and/or are post-menopausal, then you might just be familiar with cortisol’s effect on your body. Cortisol is a hormone that when chronically elevated, can disrupt normal functioning. It can reduce sleep quality, duration, create more stress, cause overeating, and increased fat deposits around the middle in post-menopausal women.
In this lesson, we’re teaching you how to reactivate your transverse abdominis through breathing and apply this new technique while hooping, regardless of what front-back or side-to-side stance.
When we breathe vertically, the vegas nerve puts our body into a fight or flight mode, regardless of what’s going on around us. So if we’re hooping to bring down cortisol levels and reduce stress and fight belly fat, unless we address our breathing, we’re not sending the right signals to our body.