Believe it or not, hula hoop workouts can deliver amazing, full-body results! And, they can be a lot of fun, too! While it has its roots in child's play, the humble hoop has quickly become one of the most effective - and inexpensive - fitness tools on the market.
If you think it's just about spinning a ring around your waist, you are in for a big surprise. Some advanced workouts include skillful tricks that will have you twisting, turning, dancing, and....well, jumping through hoops. Literally!
Whether you are old enough to be nostalgic or young enough to be intrigued, hula hoop workouts can be a challenging way to add some excitement to your fitness program.
Tips for Beginning Hula Hoop Workouts
Before you begin, here are a few things you should know:
Get the right hoop. Make sure to buy one designed specifically for hula hoop workouts rather than a cheap, lightweight one made for kids. You will get better results.
Choose the right size. Look for a hoop that weighs between 1-2 pounds and, when standing upright, comes between your waist and your chest. Heavier hoops rotate more slowly around the body, so the larger and heavier the hoop, the easier it will be for you to control. Plus, it will be more effective at toning your muscles.
Wear fitted clothing. Choose clothing that hugs your body because this will make it easier for the hoop to “stick” to your waist. Extra material can twist, fold, or make it more difficult to spin the hoop.
Check with a doctor if you have back problems. Hula hoop workouts use the hips and lower back – a lot! So if you have issues, it is recommended that you check with your health care adviser before doing any of the hula hoop exercises.
Be patient. It will feel awkward at first. You might get a few bumps or bruises. You will likely burn off a lot of extra calories chasing after a runaway hoop. You will definitely feel silly....and frustrated. But, don't give up. The benefits are so worth it!
Keep your head up, shoulders back, and pelvis tucked
Use your hands to start the hoop spinning in a counterclockwise direction (or clockwise if it is easier for you)
Rock your pelvis back and forth, shifting your weight from your front to back leg to keep the hoop rotating
Continue for 1-5 minutes
Begin in forward stance position
Once the hoop is rotating at a steady, controlled speed, try bending your knees deeper or taking a larger step forward into a lunge position.
Continue for 1-5 minutes then switch legs
Begin in a forward stance position
Once the hoop is rotating at a steady, controlled speed, lift your back leg and take a step forward
Continue taking forward steps while keeping the hoop rotating
For an extra challenge, try taking backward steps
Hold the hoop around your waist
Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart
Use your hands to start the hoop spinning
Rock your hips from side-to-side to keep the rotations going
Make sure to keep your abs tight, back straight, and head up.
Side Stance with Squats or Plies:
Begin in a side stance position
Once the hoop is rotating at a steady, controlled speed, bend your knees into a squat position and hold for a couple of rotations
Stand back up and repeat for 1-2 minutes
For a Plie, turn your toes out to a 45-degree angle and bend your knees into a squat position
Keep your head up, shoulders back, and abs tight
Side Stance with Step:
Begin in a side stance position.
Once the hoop is rotating at a steady, controlled speed, take a small step to the side by bringing your right foot to your left foot and then stepping your left foot out to the left side.
Bring your left foot back to your right foot, and then step your right foot out to the side.
Continue for 1-2 minutes
**Be creative with all the above exercises! Try adding some arm movements, dance steps, or move in a circle instead of forward/backward or side-to-side.
Hold the hoop at your right side, palm facing up
Close your hand over the hoop lightly
Swing the hoop across your body and up above your head, opening your hand and using your arm to start the rotations
The hoop should be spinning around your open hand
If you find this too difficult at first, you can also hold the hoop straight out in front of you with your arm parallel to the floor
Begin rotating the hoop around your open hand by moving your arm in a circular motion.
Once you gain momentum, lift your arm up above your head into lasso position
Continue for 1-5 minutes
Switch arms. At first, you will likely have to stop the hoop and begin the process again with the opposite hand; however, once you become skilled at this movement, you will be able to switch arms while the hoop is still in motion.
For an extra challenge, try moving the hoop up and down from parallel to lasso position
For an even greater challenge, do forward lunges while maintaining the lasso movement
Step forward with your right foot into a lunge, then step back into starting position
Step forward with your left foot into a lunge, then step back into starting position.
NOTE: Some people find it easier to maintain the lasso position if the hoop is spinning around their wrist rather than their open hand. If you prefer this method, be careful not to let the hoop travel up your arm.
Side Twist (Ninja):
Stand with your feet about hip distance apart
Hold the hoop in your right hand and extend it straight out in front of you so it is parallel to the floor (horizontal), palm facing down
Twist your body from the waist, moving the hoop to the left as far as you can
Twist back to the front, switching the hoop into your left hand and twisting as far as you can to the right
Continue for 1-2 minutes
For an extra challenge, bend your knees slightly into a half-squat position
Hold the hoop in front of you so it is parallel to the floor (hoop should be horizontal, not vertical)
Swing the hoop to the left around your body, switching hands behind you and bringing the hoop back to the front
Switch hands in front of your body.
Continue passing the hoop around your body for 1-2 minutes.
Hold the hoop in your right hand
Lift your left knee and pass the hoop under it, switching to your left hand as you complete the motion
Move the hoop across the front of your body, grab it with your right hand and pass it under your right knees, once again switching hands as you complete the movement
Continue passing the hoop under your left knee and then your right knee in a figure “8” pattern for 1-2 minutes
**You may find it easier to begin with the hoop in your left hand and move the circuit counterclockwise rather than clockwise.
Benefits of Hula Hoop Workouts
Burns a lot of calories
Targets belly fat (that means you will lose inches as well as pounds)
Provides a total body workout.
Sculpts and tones thighs, abs, arms, legs, back, and glutes
Improves flexibility, particularly in your hips, pelvis, and lower back
Compact. Most hula hoops collapse or disassemble for easy storage and portability. So, they won't take up a lot of room, they travel well, and they can be used indoors or outdoors.
I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or ideas you would like to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum