I used a weighted hula hoop every day for a week during workouts — here’s what happened to my abs

Woman using a weighted hula hoop during workout
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

One of the latest TikTok trends to hit the world is the weighted hula hoop. It’s been blowing up on socials recently, and I’ve heard even Michelle Obama loves hooping. Curious to understand the fuss, I added one to my workout routine every day for a week to see what, if anything, happened to my body. 

According to some studies and those who swear by the method, the main benefits of weighted hula hoops include sculpting your abs and training your core muscles. Hooping enthusiasts even claim you could lose belly fat, trim your waist and burn a ton of calories with just as little as 30 minutes a day.

Intrigued (and dubious), I decided to hop on to Amazon and pick one up, hula-hooping my way to stronger abs and a toned tum. Here are my results after one week of investigating. And if you plan to try a hula hoop workout, here are the best headphones to motivate your sessions.

How to use a weighted hula hoop 

Here’s how to hula hoop safely:

  • Look for a hula hoop that reaches your waist when stood on its side
  • Wear activewear that won’t get in the way of the hoop
  • Stand tall and keep your back straight, then step through the weighted hula hoop and hold it around your waist with both hands
  • Stand with feet hip-width distance apart, then step one foot slightly forward
  • Tighten your stomach to engage your core
  • Place the back of the hoop to touch your lower back
  • Begin moving your hips back and forth in small circles, transferring your weight from heels to toes as you move
  • Let go of the hoop so that it spins around your waist above your hips
  • Continue for a set time or distance if you walk and hula.

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I exercised with a weighted hula hoop every day for a week — here’s what happened to my abs

Hula-hooping with a weighted hoop was one of the most fun challenges yet. Here’s what happened. 

I had a great time

This challenge transported me back to my school days, hula hooping with friends in the playground (I used to be pretty impressive with the hula hoop if I say so myself).

I had so much fun that I totally lost track of time. You’ll need space to use a weighted hula hoop, but the hoops come in all shapes and sizes to suit most people and are more compact than your standard playground design.

I nearly sent the dog flying several times, but even she was intrigued by my new hobby. I was pretty sad when the week was over, but I plan to keep my hoop on standby for the near future.

The weight and fit matter

I was expecting the weighted hula hoop to be faddy, but I was surprised by the subtle difference it made to my core training, and I could feel my abs working. I even woke up slightly sore the following the first and second days.

Some models have the weight inside, but mine was made with hard plastic detachable parts to suit your waist size and a shock-absorbing massage ring. You can then attach the weighted ball (in different weight ranges), which swings as you hula and provides 360-degree core training, including your abs, sides and lower back. 

It’s a much tighter fit than expected, so you’re not controlling a large hula hoop. Instead, it sits snug to your waist, and the weighted ball travels around your body. The movement is more subtle, with very gentle hip movement as you rotate forward and back, but it makes a massive difference.

It was easy to mix things up

Throughout the week, I adopted a 60-second on, 30-second off format, totalling 30 minutes per day. It might sound boring, but I could still take calls or listen to music while I exercised. After several days, I tested my mind-muscle coordination by switching between clockwise and anticlockwise movements and walking set distances around my flat. I’ve also seen videos of people dancing while they hoop — next-level ability.

On the last few days, I roped my boyfriend in for a hula hoop workout challenge — we alternated 60 seconds of weighted hula hooping with a 30-second plank while the other person worked. It was great fun, and my core felt torched afterward.

Nothing changed aesthetically

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we know that losing fat is a product of regular daily movement (here’s more about the NEAT process if you’re keen to increase calorie burn), a consistent exercise routine, diet and lifestyle factors — to name a few.  Swinging a hoop around your midsection (however fun) is unlikely to sculpt your waist without help, especially after just seven days.

Many people are genetically predisposed to carry more fat in certain areas — often the abdominals and thighs — and you can’t spot-reduce fat, which means fat loss happens across the body rather than in one area. If your goal is fat loss and six-pack abs, here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage and why it matters.

I felt the burn

I had a sore core during and after using the weighted hula hoop every day, and I could feel my abs and hip flexors working. I don’t often program ab workouts into my exercise routine; I prioritize CrossFit and yoga, and as we know, compound exercises and heavy weightlifting recruit the core muscles to facilitate safe movement. This targeted ab exercise shocked the system, and I’m still surprised that my core felt active at all.

The weighted design works your muscles harder through resistance, similar to the best weighted jump ropes. When energy demands increase, so do calorie burn and muscle engagement. But try not to get sucked into the hype of huge results.

There's some science to it

As a personal trainer, I’m dubious about bold claims around fat loss and high-calorie burn workouts, so I was surprised to see studies supporting the benefits of weighted hula hoops. 

A small study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that hooping burned 7 calories per minute during a 30-minute hula hooping session, totaling 210 calories. And that’s without adding other interval training or the best bodyweight exercises. These results show similar calorie burn to a HIIT workout class or gentle 5K run, and the research also found the session ramped up the heart rate of participants, making it a solid cardio-based workout.

Another piece of research that caught my attention was on weight loss. After a six-week program, the study found that weighted hula hooping for almost 12 minutes a day was more effective at decreasing abdominal fat, increasing trunk muscle mass and reducing “bad” cholesterol than walking nearly 10,000 steps.

That's me told. 

I nearly sent the dog flying several times, but even she was intrigued by my new hobby.

I exercised with a weighted hula hoop every day for a week — here’s my verdict

Hello, my name is Sam, and I’m a weighted hula hoop fanatic. What I liked about this challenge was that it was fun and accessible, which means people will be more likely to stick to it as a type of regular exercise. 

Weighted hula hooping could help strengthen your core and engage your upper and lower body muscles, but this requires consistency (some hula hooping companies recommend 30 minutes daily, five days a week). I also recommend lifting weights and checking out these 5 components of physical fitness to build a well-rounded routine alongside hooping. 

For me, this experience was less about aesthetics and more an experiment. But if you want to trim your waist using a weighted hula hoop, consider some of the lifestyle factors mentioned above to help.

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.