If you search online for “hula hoops” or “fitness hoops” you’ll find a lot of different hoops described as “weighted” or “heavy.” Consumers understandably wonder, is heavier better? For many kinds of workouts, you can increase the weight to work your muscles harder. Is this what you want to do with a hoop? Not necessarily.
First, let’s consider the hoop options out there:
- Toy hoops. These mass-produced hoops can be found at toy stores and discount stores. They are usually about 32″ in diameter and are very lightweight–less than half a pound, probably. For additional kid-appeal, they often have beads inside to make them rattle.
- Dance hoops or pro hoops. These hoops, usually hand-made made out of HDPE or polypro are not quite as light as toy hoops, and not as heavy as standard adult hoops. They are also usually between kid hoop size and standard adult hoop size.
- Adult hoops. Sometimes (confusingly) called weighted hoops, a standard adult sized hoop is made out of a heavier plastic (LLDPE) than toy hoops, but isn’t “weighted” otherwise. The colorful tapes perhaps add a tiny bit more heft. Depending on the hoop maker, these hoops are usually between 40-42″ in diameter and less than two pounds.
- Heavy hoops. Sometimes sold as weighted hoops or fitness hoops. The weighted hoops I’ve seen are generally three pounds. Sometimes they are padded with foam since all that weight swinging around the waist is more apt to cause bruising.
Which kind of hoop is right for you?
A larger diameter, heavier hoop will spin slower, making it easier to keep whirling around your waist. You would have to spin a toy hoop like crazy to keep it from falling and remember, keeping the hoop moving is key to getting a cardio workout. At some point, of course, a hoop would become so large or so heavy that it is impossible to spin. Imagine a twenty-pound hoop, 10 feet in diameter–awkward! Also keep in mind that a heavy hoop could cause more bruising or muscle strain.
On the other hand, a lighter and smaller hoop will force you to move faster, and moving faster means more intense cardio. That is, until it is too light and small, and you cannot keep the hoop off the ground.
In between is the sweet spot: large and heavy enough to spin comfortably, light enough to keep you moving at a reasonable pace. For most people, the “just right” starter hoop is one of the adult sized hoops.
As you become more proficient, you use less body movement to keep the hoop up, so you can add arm movements, stepping, dancing, tricks, and even additional hoops to step up the workout intensity and fun. You can also go down in hoop diameter and weight to a dance or pro hoop to add challenge.
Bottom line: you don’t need a heavy hoop to get a great workout, and a hoop that is too heavy can be counter productive. Start with a standard adult sized hoop and then get moving!