On social media, pop stars like Beyoncé and Michelle Obama are leading the way, and it seems as if the hula hoop is making a comeback. The hoop from childhood delivers headlines like “Lose weight with momentum”, “More effective than jogging”, “With fun to a slim waist”, “-4cm hip circumference after 3 weeks”. It all sounds almost too good to be true, so I took a closer look at the trend for you, read studies, looked for opinions from sports scientists, and of course tested it myself. Does it really work to simply gyrate your hips for a few minutes and burn a lot of calories in the process?
HOW EFFECTIVE IS A WORK-OUT WITH THE TIRE?
The first question to ask is: Which muscle groups are actually being trained? If you’ve ever hooped yourself, you’ll quickly realize that without body tension, the hoop will land right back on the floor. The training with the Hula Hoop strengthens above all the body center and the following muscle groups are used to 25-50 percent of the maximum capacity:
- Abdominal muscles (also lateral abdominal muscles)
- back (especially back extensors)
- Pomus muscles
Thighs (incl. inner thigh)
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR CALORIE BURNING?
The University of Wisconsin has researched the calorie consumption during hulling and came to the conclusion that on average 7 calories are burned per minute, i.e. 210 calories per 30 minutes. This is roughly equivalent to the calories burned during 30 minutes of walking. By comparison, jogging burns an average of 350 calories at the same time, which is significantly more.
So the Hula Hoop is not ideal for creating a large calorie deficit for weight loss. Especially when you consider that 30 minutes of training with the hoop is only feasible for advanced exercisers. Likewise, it is no longer a secret that it is not possible to “specifically” lose fat on a certain part of the body by training it.
Nevertheless, studies and several self-tests among women on social media prove that hip and waist circumference shrinks even with short, regular workouts. I was able to observe this effect as well, but caution is advised here. I integrated a 10-15 minute hula hoop workout into my daily routine 5-7 times a week and after 2 weeks I could see that my hip circumference had reduced by 1cm. But be careful, this can of course be deceptive because the tape measure can easily slip or the belly can be a bit more bloated than usual that day.
Tip: So don’t concentrate on the tape measure, but enjoy a stronger body, exercise regularly, and make sure you have a calorie deficit. Then the pounds will fall off, whether with a hula hoop, walking or jogging – the main thing is that you enjoy the sport!
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF THE HULA HOOP
The much nicer effect with the Hula Hoop is the strengthening of the body center and the improved abdominal feeling. Hulling uses muscle groups that are not used much in pure strength training or jogging, for example. Strong abdominal, back, and core muscles help us, for example, to sit up straighter and avoid bad posture at the desk.
A few minutes of hula hoop training with good music can be easily integrated into everyday life – whether after walking or jogging, in the evening in front of the TV, or in between in the home office.
Compared to walking or jogging, the joints are not stressed as much. If you swing the tire in the opposite direction and integrate balance exercises into your workout, you also improve your body coordination.
BRUISES FROM HULA HOOP
On the Internet is always warned about bruises after the first hula hoop sessions. Therefore, be sure to follow the recommendation to use the hoop for only 3-4 minutes for the first 3-4 days. This is quite sufficient to accustom the abdomen to the massage effect and unusual load. Bruises and slight pain were not absent in my case either. Knowing that slight pain can be normal in the beginning, I always continued after a break day and after a week the pain was suddenly completely gone even after longer hula hoop workouts.
If you have been infected by the hula hoop virus and want to try out the trend for yourself, you will of course need a hoop first. If you are a beginner at the sport, I recommend a hoop as large as possible (about 90cm average) with 500 – 1200 grams. High-quality tires usually have a stainless steel core with foam lining and can be disassembled into several individual parts. As a beginner, I would leave massage knobs and even heavier tires alone, as they increase the risk of bruises and pain.
All beginnings are difficult. As with all sports, there are naturals who can spin the hoop for several minutes at a time right away and those who need several tries. Don’t let teething troubles discourage you. Practice makes perfect, and that goes for hula hooping, too.
This is how it works:
- Stand hip-width apart
- Place the hoop at the narrowest part of your back and swing in one direction (one direction is usually preferred).
- Keep the hoop swinging with rhythmic movements to the front and back or from left to right.
At first, the movements often seem cramped, but don’t worry, eventually, you’ll get the hang of it. Professionals can keep the hoop up with only very small movements, so try to play specifically with the movements and also change the direction sometimes.
To get started, I can recommend the YouTube channel, Elli Hoop. You will also find other exercises with the hoop that has nothing to do with Hula Hoop. I was surprised how versatile the hoop can be used. You can also do whole workouts with it. In this workout by Anne BodyKiss, hula hoop units are combined with other abdominal exercises.
After the first few times I had pain in my stomach the next day after only a few minutes of hulling, I almost wanted to put the hoop back in the corner. However, I’m glad I just kept going, because once you get used to it, training with the hula hoop is just fun and you improve from day to day. Preferably with music in the garden, that just puts you in a good mood. Whether the trend sport is also something for you, you have to try and decide for yourself:
- It works always and almost everywhere, you do not need a gym.
- With regular training, the belly can be punished and the abdominal circumference reduced by building up strong abdominal and core muscles.
- It’s even more fun with music or YouTube workouts!
- The hoop can also be used for other fitness exercises.
- After the first few hula hoop workouts, you may experience bruising or pain in your abdomen as your body has to get used to the massage effect.
- Hula Hoop workouts burn relatively few calories and therefore fat.
- Unfortunately, hula hoop workouts cannot specifically reduce fat on the abdomen.
- Where the body through a calorie deficit fat reserves, you can not (unfortunately) influence.
Whether you want to achieve a specific training effect with the hula hoop or just want to let your hips gyrate for fun, one thing is certain: you are never too young or too old for a hula hoop. What about you? Do you already belong to the “Hula Club”?