I used a weighted hula hoop every day for a week - and couldn't believe how tough it was

TikTok made me do it.

Anna Barrter during her weighted hula hoop every day challenge
(Image credit: Anna Barrter)

Of all the fitness challenges I've tried in the name of my job as a Health and Fitness Writer, using a weighted hula hoop every day for a week has, weirdly enough, actually been one of the toughest.

If you're anything like me, you might associate hula hooping with being in primary school - and, aside from a very short (and unsuccessful) flirtation with one when my daughter was little, that's where I thought it would end.

But scrolling on TikTok a few weeks ago (and hear me when I say this makes me sound a lot younger than I actually am), I was surprised to find that there seemed to be some credible benefits to using a weighted hula hoop. Even more surprising, was that the benefits are science-backed (more on this later).

So, convinced, I managed to borrow a weighted hula hoop from a friend, and I was ready to get started. Keep scrolling to find out how I got on.

And while you're here, you may be interested to take a look at our guide to core strengthening exercises for beginners, the many benefits of a strong core, and find out how one of our Health Editors got on when she tried Pilates core moves every day.

I used a weighted hula hoop every day for a week - here's my honest thoughts

What is a weighted hula hoop?

For the uninitiated, weighted hula hoops are exactly what they say on the tin - but there is some variation in style. For the purposes of this challenge, I used a standard weighted hoop, which looks much like a normal hula hoop, except much bigger, and heavier.

To the amusement of my friends, the hoop was almost as big as me - which made me slightly nervous about how on earth I was going to manage to hula with it.

You can also get more fancy hoops that fit specifically to your waist, and have a weighted ball attached - some are even "smart", tracking the duration and intensity of hula-ing. This Gen-Xer was more than satisfied with a bog standard one, though.


♬ original sound - Simmie Kaur

What are the benefits of using a weighted hula hoop?

Short answer - there are loads. But a little disclaimer for you, first - much of what you'll read about weighted hula hooping (particularly on social media) focuses on waist slimming. Many qualified experts we've spoken to have confirmed that spot training is, in fact, a myth, plus, here at MC UK, our whole ethos is to workout for the mental benefits you'll feel as well as the physical (no fad diets or workout routines in sight).

So, onto the more research-backed benefits of using a hoop. Non-aesthetic benefits-wise, I was pleasantly surprised to find research - such as this 2019 research article published in Obesity Facts - showing that weighted hula hoops are purported to significantly reduce LDL cholesterol (considered to be "bad" cholesterol) compared to walking, as well as increasing core muscle mass.

More generally, we all know the benefits of aerobic exercise are myriad, from improved cardiovascular health to better mental health. Adding in some weight to make hula hooping a strength sport (ok, ok, this might be a bit of a stretch) only increases the benefits.

ICYMI, the benefits of strength training are compelling, particularly for women. Improved heart health, bone density, metabolism and reduced risk of injury and type 2 diabetes float your boat? Then it might be time to give strength training for beginners a go.


♬ Steven Universe - L.Dre

I used a weighted hula hoop every day for a week - here's how I got on

Days one to three

Convinced by the benefits, I was super keen to get started - and even better, I didn't need to wear anything remotely sporty to get going, so I was ready the second I jumped out of bed.

All you really need is a decent amount of space (as I said, the hoop is large!) so you don't knock anything over as you spin. I would note, though, that I learned fairly swiftly that loose clothing is a no-no, so you might want to ditch the PJs.

And make no mistake - it's tougher than it looks, although oddly enough I did find it easier to maintain than a non-weighted hula hoop - perhaps the momentum of the weight helped.

I'd read that ideally I should be aiming for a 30-minute session, which quickly became laughable, as I started off managing 30 seconds of spinning. Yes - 30 seconds, much to the delight of my teenage daughter - who, it must be said, was far better than I was.

Undettered, I focussed on really swinging my hips to keep the hoop higher up my body, as I found the lower it went, the more likely I was to drop it. Another tip - keeping your feet in a wide, almost boxing-esque stance really helped me keep my balance and maintain a steady hula pace.

Once I'd mastered my technique, I quicky discovered that hula hooping is pretty intense cardio work. After only a few minutes, my heart rate rocketed and I had a proper sweat on - so it makes a great workout for people channeling the glazed doughnut look.

By day three, I hit a stumbling block - I was covered in bruises around my trunk. Not one to be discouraged, I pushed on through the (slight) pain, delighting in the fact that my teen had long since given up. We've been through worse pain, my body and I. (I'll caveat this by saying that I wasn't experiencing any muscle pain - it was simply bruising - any other pain should be checked out by a professional).

Anna Barrter during her weighted hula hoop every day challenge

Anna during her weighted hula hoop challenge

(Image credit: Anna Barrter)

Days four to seven

By day four, I was managing to keep momentum going much longer - and honestly, if it wasn't for the fact that it's not the most interesting of workouts, I felt like I could go on and on. I was on a roll.

While I definitely felt my cardio fitness being challenged, hula hooping is a relatively static activity. Apart from moving your core, it requires very little movement, so I'm unconviced that it makes for a well-rounded workout - but added into my usual weekly routine of strength training, running, spin and Pilates, I did enjoy it.

The only other negative is that it's also quite dull - I found listening to music and/or watching Netflix helped me to keep going a bit longer - although that said, there is a meditative quality to the movement once you're in the swing of it, so it's actually pretty relaxing.

Lastly, I did revel in being able to keep hula hooping for longer than I ever have before, particularly after watching my husband try - and fail - in his attempt. Competitive, me?

Anna Barrter during her weighted hula hoop every day challenge

Anna with her weighted hula hoop

(Image credit: Anna Barrter)

Shop MC UK's go-to hula hoop workout kit here

Will I continue in my hula hooping ways? Honestly - maybe not. While I absolutely agree that there are benefits - improved cardio fitness, co-ordination and balance, to name a few - IMHO, on it's own, it wouldn't be enough to maintain whole-body fitness.

It is fun though, and if you're struggling to enjoy working out, adding some weighted hula hooping in could be a great way of making exercise a little more appealing, and we're all for that. After all, the best workout is always the one that you're motivated to continue doing.

So, while I don't think I'll be investing in my own weighted hula hoop anytime soon, it's great to know that there are cheap and entertaining ways of shaking your home workout up - and that can only be a good thing.

Shop MC UK's go-to hula hoop workout kit here

Anna Bartter
Health Writer

Anna Bartter is a freelance journalist who writes about health, fitness and women's lifestyle for publications including Stylist, Metro and Psychologies, among others. 

She's always on a quest to find a variety of fun and functional workouts that give you the most bang for your workout buck and she's passionate about championing movement for everyone's mental and physical wellbeing.