Hula Hoop Workout – My 15 Workouts To Tone Your Abs, Arms And Legs (+Extra Guide and Videos)

Are your looking for a fun way to work off the extra pounds? Have you tried workouts before and struggled to maintain it?

Are you considering hula hoop workouts?

If so, then you will love this article!!!

Hi, I’m Scarlett from Hoop Plus Fit, professional hula hoop teacher performer with over 12 years hooping experience.

In this article, I’ll show you…

  • … My top 15 hula hoop workouts – guaranteed to work the abs and work up a sweat.
  • … How to choose the hula hoop that is right for you.
  • … Why its important to swing both ways (hoop in both directions)

On top of all that:

Guided hula hoop workouts with me that will get you moving today! Add these workouts to your daily routine and you will see results.

Designed for your level – Beginner and experienced hooper workouts available – find the best hula hoop workout for you!


15 Hula hoop workouts for the abs arms and legs

These hula hoop workouts will make you work up a sweat and work the abdominal area while having fun! The majority will work the abs, however the legs and arms will also get a workout too.

Absolute beginners and experienced hula hoopers can benefit from these exercises.  Put on your favourite your favourite music and give these hula hoop workouts a try! Or try a guided workout with me on my YouTube channel – Hoop Plus Fit.


1# Waist hooping: The core of it all

Waist hooping lays the foundation for all hula hoop workouts – it’s the first and also most important skill. Follow my instructions and you will get a great workout from step 1.

How to do it:

  • Legs: Planted firmly on the ground – work to get your feet together
  • Arms: In neutral, hands by your chest – for more of a workout hold your hands in fists, strong biceps
  • Action: Push from your belly button, back and fourth motion with your hips. Chest up, don’t bend forward.

 

Why you should do it:  By focusing on rotating the hoop in a back and fourth motion from the belly you get a strong core workout. It is possible to hoop by moving your hips side to side however that motion does not work out the core muscles to the same extent.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Wind the hoop up and push with force! The more momentum you give it at the beginning the easier it is to keep it up
  • Tip: Make sure the hoop is flat at push-off. Wonky hoops can cause the hoop to go out of control. No one wants a hoop to the face.
  • Tip: If the hoop starts to fall down, hoop faster. You can also bend your knees slightly, bringing your waist closer to the hoop.

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: Adopt the same position as before except this time wind the hoop up in the opposite direction. This can be a challenge, particularly in the beginning of your hoop journey.

Training out weaker side means that we develop even muscles across the core. In particular we are protecting our backs from injury by ensuring an even distribution of muscle development.  It may not be as fun at first but with practice anything is possible.


2# Christ the Redeemer

Imagine you are the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Bring your arms out to the side, while maintaining your waist hooping.

How to do it:

  • Legs: Planted firmly on the ground – work to get your feet together
  • Arms: Out to the side, fingers together, palms facing the wall – strong arms, like you’re pushing the air in front of you. Shoulders down.
  • Action: Push from your belly button, back and fourth motion with your hips. Chest up, don’t bend forward

Why you should do it: By pulling our arms out to the side we start to elongate the abs as we work them. It makes it more of a challenge to keep the hoop up but also builds greater strength.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Remember to keep your chest up! There is a tendency to lean forward when you start to lose control, this won’t help.
  • Tip: Get the hula hoop comfortably spinning around the waist before lifting your arms

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: If the hoop won’t stay up in the weak direction in this exercise, you can take a step back to the previous exercise – so in this case it would be ‘2# Waist hooping – Arms in neutral – Weak direction’.


3# The Skyscraper

Continue waist hooping and raise your arms to to the sky – This one really challenges you makes an awesome workout! It’s also great preparation for multi hooping.

How to do it:

  • Legs: Planted firmly on the ground – work to get your feet together
  • Arms: Up to the sky, fingers together, palms facing the wall – strong arms, like you’re pushing the air in front of you. Shoulders down, we don’t want to create any extra tension in the neck.
  • Action: Push from your belly button, back and fourth motion with your hips. Chest up, don’t bend forward

Why you should do it: By lifting our arms even higher we lengthen the abdominal muscles even more. This exercise not only works the abs harder, it also prepares you for the first multi-hooping exercise – waist and hand.

Tips:

  • Tip: Push harder to speed up the hoop before lifting your hands. This will give you some time to get comfortable in this position.
  • Tip: Really stretch up top the sky, this will help you to engage the abs in this position.
  • Tip: In order to increase the challenging, you can put one hand in front of the other – really stretch up, shoulders down and push with force from your belly button.

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: If the hoop really won’t stay up in the weak direction in this exercise, you can take a step back to the previous exercise – so in this case it would be back to ‘2# Christ the Redeemer’


4# Ballet legs – Right 

Imagine you’re a ballerina! Point your toes – straight legs. This one is great for improving your balance!

How to do it: 

  • Legs: Weight goes into your left leg, right leg is straight and points forward. Either let your right big toe rest on the ground for stability or lift your foot above the ground.
  • Arms: In neutral, hands by your chest – for more of a workout hold your hands in fists, strong biceps
  • Action: Push from your belly button, back and fourth motion. After 20 rotations point your toe to the side, then 20 rotations later take it to the back. End with feet together – ready to take your left leg forward.

Why you should do it: This exercise helps to improve your balance as well as strengthening the core. By decreasing your stability you force the core muscles to work harder to keep the hoop spinning.

When lifting your leg in the air you also get a stronger workout in the oblique muscles. As well as woking the hip abductors and gluteus maximus and minimus.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Try not to have any weight on your front foot. The goal is to eventually lift it in the air, so get your standing leg used to taking all the weight.
  • Tip: Make sure your hips are square, front leg is straight and toes are pointed.
  • Tip: If you have your leg in the air, try to turn your big toe in slightly – this will help to square the hips.
  • Tip: Keep your body straight. Chest up, don’t bend forward

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: You may be able to lift your leg while spinning in your dominant direction but not in your weal one. That’s ok, we need to build this strength. So if you need to, take a step back and keep your extended toe on the ground for stability.


5# Ballet legs – Left

Now take to the left leg – Go back to hooping on your dominant side, phew!

How to do it:

  • Legs: Weight goes into your right leg, left leg is straight and points forward. Either let your right big toe rest on the ground for stability or lift your foot above the ground.
  • Arms: In neutral, hands by your chest – for more of a workout hold your hands in fists, strong biceps
  • Action: Push from your belly button, back and fourth motion with your hips. After 20 rotations point your toe to the side, then 20 rotations later take it to the back. End with feet together – ready to take your right leg forward.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Try not to have any weight on your front foot. The goal is to eventually lift it in the air, so get your standing leg used to taking all the weight.
  • Tip: Make sure your hips are square, front leg is straight and toes are pointed.
  • Tip: If you have your leg in the air, try to turn your big toe in slightly – this will help to square the hips.
  • Tip: Keep your body straight. Chest up, don’t bend forward

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: You may be able to lift your leg while spinning in your dominant direction but not in your weal one. That’s ok, we need to build this strength. So if you need to, take a step back and keep your extended toe on the ground for stability.


6# The Booty Builder

Want a Beyoncé booty? This waist hooping / Plié squats combo will work your glutes up a treat!

  • Legs: Take your legs slight wider than hip width apart and turn your feet out around 45 degrees.
  • Arms: In neutral, hands by your chest – for more of a workout hold your hands in fists, strong biceps
  • Action: Get the hoop comfortably spinning around the waist. Then bend at the knees and sink down. Keep your back straight as you go down, no leaning forward. Engage your inner thighs to keep you balance and a strong stance. The straighten your legs and come back up to standing position.

Why you should do it: Plié squats engage your glutes and inner thighs. By strengthening these muscles you are working towards a curvier, more lifted booty. It won’t make you look  You’re not necessarily going to look like Kim Kardashian over night but doing this exercise regularly will give your butt a noticeable lift. It also works to open the hips and improve flexibility in this area.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Keep your back straight as you sink down – don’t lean forward. If that means that you can only go down a couple of cm that is ok! Work with where your body is now and with practice you’ll get further.
  • Tip: Press into your big toes and engage your inner thighs as you sink down.
  • Tip: Don’t let your knees turn in. Keep your legs strong.
  • Tip: Get the hoop spinning fast and strong before bending your knees. – It’s most challenging to keep the hoop spinning around the waist when you are at your lowest point. So pump it a but harder before you journey down.

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: Work to get the hoop comfortable on your weaker side with your feet in the Plié position first. Start to sink down only when this feels comfortable.


7# 4 Point Pivot

Turn in a circle – same direction as the hoop spin.

If you’re spinning right-to-left, then your ‘inner foot’ = left foot. If you’re spinning left-to-right then your ‘inner foot’ = right foot.

How to do it:

  • Legs: Put your weight into your inner foot, this one stays on the the ground. Use the outer foot to push yourself in a circle pushing yourself in 4 points. Imagine a cross on the floor, with your inner foot at the centre. You can increase the workout by pulling your heel to your buttocks as you spin.
  • Arms: Can either be in neutral or for more of a challenge you can bring your arms out to the Christ the Redeemer position as your outer foot hits the ground.
  • Action: Get the hoop comfortable in your dominant direction. We are going to turn in the same direction as the hula hoop, put the weight on the inner foot and use the other to pivot around in a circle in 4 steps.

Why you should do it: This workout is great for improving your balance, coordination and timing. The more you put in the more you’ll get out. The waist hooping and arm movement works the abs, while the leg raises work the legs.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Take your time! Your first quarter turn might cause the hoop to be come unstable (or fall). If the is the case work to get the hoop stable again before you turn.
  • Tip: You can speed up the hoop by pumping harder and faster before the turn. This helps to keep the momentum going.

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: Stability is key. Make sure the hoop feels stable before you turn.


8#  360 Anti-Spin

Now you will spin in the opposite direction as your hula hoop. This is harder and you will need to pump harder.

How to do it:

  • Legs: Spinning right-to-left? Right foot = inner foot. Spinning left-to-right? Left foot = inner foot.
  • Arms: In neutral, hands by your chest – for more of a workout hold your hands in fists, strong biceps
  • Action: Get the hoop spinning comfortably and strong. Put your weight onto your inner foot and use your outer foot to pivot around. You can use smaller and more frequent steps to get yourself around a full 360 degrees.

Why you should do it: Spinning the opposite direction as your hula hoop causes you to pump harder and faster. This will raise your pulse and get the blood pumping more. It also improves balance, coordination and timing. All essential skills for hula hooping.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Get the hoop spinning fast before starting this exercise.
  • Tip: Take small frequent steps to get yourself all the way around.
  • Tip: Try this exercise on your tip-toes. This may help you get the speed you need to complete the 360 degrees.

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: Get the hoop spinning fast before you anti spin.


9# Funky Side Step

Introducing the fancy footwork! Getting your feet moving ins the first step to freedom of movement with the hoop.

How to do it:

  • Legs: Start with your feet together (or as close together as possible). Then step your right foot out to the side – hip width apart. The bring your left foot to meet the right. Then back in the opposite direction.
  • Arms:Can either be in neutral or for more of a challenge you can bring your arms out to the Christ the Redeemer position as you step out.
  • Action: Get the hoop comfortable, then work in the side steps. At first this may feel challenging so take your time between steps. To speed up you can space your movements between counts of 4, then 2, then 1. Until you are side stepping to every beat.

Why: These side steps not only engage the core muscles but also improve balance and coordination. If you’re interested in dancing with your hoop then this is the fist step to getting moving.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Try to time your steps with your belly thrusts. So when the hoop is against your belly you push forward and step at the same time
  • Tip: However also try not to think about it too much. Get a feeling for where the hoop is touching your body, closing your eyes could help with this

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: You may need to move a little slower and take longer to stabilise yourself yourself after reach step. However it’s possible! Just keep at it.


10# The Lightning Bolt

This is essentially an air crunch, while using the hoop to keep even spacing between arms and body.

How to do it:

  • Legs: Put your weight into your left leg, with your right foot pointed out to the side. Later we will work the other side.
  • Arms: Hold the hoop with both hands at the halfway point of the circle. Hands are on the inside of the hoop with the wrists facing outward.
  • Action: Raise the hoop above your head and twist to the opposite side as your outstretched leg – With the right leg to the side, twist your upper body to the left. Your right arm should be near your face and the left arm behind the body.
  • Action: Next engage your abdominals (pull them in and flex them – like you’re preparing for someone to punch you in the stomach) as you bring your right knee towards the belly button.
  • Action:At the same time twist your upper body back to centre, bringing the hula hoop down as you go. The left hand should meet the right knee at the centre. Hold for a breath, then twist back to your start position.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Slow it down. Try to do this exercise slowly and with control. This will ensure you are using the correct muscles to lift your leg.
  • Tip: No weight on the outstretched leg. Work towards keeping your pointed toe hovering above the floor. If you need to stabilise yourself you can let it touch the floor but don’t push off from that foot to raise your leg.
  • Tip: Balance! If balancing here is too much at the beginning, you can take the hula hoop to the side (or your hand to the wall) and use it to stabilise yourself. Practice just the leg raises here to grow your balance practice. Once this feels easy you can move onto the original exercise.

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: Maybe your balance is better on one side than the other. That’s ok, thats why we’re here, to work on it.


11# Do the twist

This is an awesome warm-up / cool-down move – Try to time your twists to the beat.

  • Legs: Feet begin planted to the ground, hip width apart. To lengthen the stretch during the twist you can point your outstretched toe.
  • Arms: Hold the hoop with both hands, with your wrists and forearms facing up. The hula hoop rests on top of your forearms and hands.
  • Action: Twist your upper body to the left, holding the hoop in your outstretched arms. You can point your right foot for a further stretch. Then swing the hoop to the right. Point your left toe. Swing the hoop from side to side with control.

Why you should do it: Twisting exercises like this one are great for the digestive system and massaging the organs.  After the ab workouts from the previous exercises this one should feel really great!

My top tips:

  • Tip: The heavier the hoop the more of a workout for the arms.
  • Tip: Slow it down and feel the stretch.


12 # The Smear

Smear the hoop around the body. Keep your body in the centre of the hoop. I love to let myself go in the music with this move

  • Legs: Feet begin planted to the ground. They can be together (more challenging) or hip width apart (more stable), whichever you feel more comfortable with.
  • Arms: Hold the hoop with both hands at the half way point. Hands hold from inside of the hoop, wrists facing out. Bring the hoop to the horizontal plane with your body in the centre of the hoop. Keep it a flat as possible!.
  • Action: You hoop is in the horizontal plane. Imagine there is a surface a small distance below (aprox. 30 cm or 12 inches). Dip the hoop down at the front, so it touches the surface. Then roll it around to the side, keeping only one point of contact with the hoop and imaginary surface. Continue to roll around to the back, side and then to the front again.
  • Action: Once you’ve got this action down, you can get bigger with your movements until the hoop smears across your body. Here you want to rock the hoop across the front and back and smear the hoop at the side by your hip.

Why you should do it: This exercise works into your arms and shoulders. Depending on how big you make your movements, you can also work the abdominals and back muscles. This is also a great one to start dancing with. For those of you out there who like to boogie and want to hoop dance, then close your eyes, listen to the music and try to do this action while moving your body to the beat.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Start off small and work your way up to big movement.
  • Tip: Keep your elbows tucked in and your body at the centre of the hoop.
  • Tip: Experiment with keeping your body straight -the only thing that moves is the hoop and your arms – Like the left image
  • Tip: Experiment with keeping your body in the centre of the hoop – If the hoop tips forward, then so do you! This will create a greater workout for the abs. – Like the right image.

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: I like to pick a point that the hoop has to hit before I reverse it. Wait until the hoop is at the highest point behind your body. Then reverse it!


13# The Vertical Body Blaster

Time to bend over! Bob on your knees and keep the hoop spinning in the no. 7 position.

How to do it:

  • Legs: Feet begin planted to the ground. They can be together (more challenging) or hip width apart (more stable), whichever you feel more comfortable with.
  • Arms: Hold your arms in neutral or let them hang in from of you. Essentially we just want them out of the way.
  • Action: Bend over forward – ideally we are working towards a clean bend at the hip, like a no.7. If this is not possible, thats ok. Work with where you are at now. However try to keep your back straight and engage your abdominal muscles to support you in this position.
  • Action: Wind your hoop up and push with force – Bob on your knees to keep the momentum going

Why you should do it: Simply holding your body in this position is enough to engage and strengthen the core muscles from front to back. Keeping the hoop spinning here intensifies the workout. It’s also makes for a great hula hoop photo.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Try not to use a hoop that is comes up past your belly button – it might start hitting the floor
  • Tip: Heavy hoops make this one easier.
  • Tip: Don’t forget to bob your knees. This will keep the momentum.
  • Tip: If you can already chest hoop, you can try this without bobbing your knees. Essentially, its the same action as chest hooping but bent over – keep your hips relatively still and let eh movement come from your belly thrusts and chest popping.

Now stop the hoop, reverse it and do the same on the other side: Again, the weaker side is challenging. If you can only manage a couple of rotations before the hoop falls, then pick it up, start it again. And again. And again.


14# Hit Me (Baby)

Time to get funky! This one os a light workout for the arms bit also a great  move to start dancing with.

How to do it:

  • Legs: Feet begin planted to the ground. They can be together (more challenging) or hip width apart (more stable), whichever you feel more comfortable with.
  • Arms: Grip the hoop with your hand – try this exercise with your wrist facing up or down, try both!
  • Action: Swing your hoop side to side and hit yourself. You can jazz it up by mimicking your hoop hand with your other hand, bob and dance with it
  • Action: If you have a weighted hoop and want to try something similar out, you can do a simple hand pass – Swing your hoop towards the front – Grab with your second hand, wrist facing down and swing to the back – and back around again.

Why you should do it: This is a great workout for the arms and wrists. Work to keep the hoop as flat as possible, the more you do this the greater the workout for the arm area. For the hoop dancers out there, this is a great transition move when the hoop is in the horizontal plane.

My top tips:

  • Tip: The more energy you put into this one, the more momentum you’ll give the hoop and the flatter it will be

 


15# Side Stretch

This side stretch feels awesome after the workout – stretch it out, you deserve it!

  • Legs: Feet together.
  • Arms: Hold the hoop in the vertical plane behind your back. Hands hold the the hoop from the inside, wrists facing out.
  • Action: Stretch up to the sky. With that length in the body stretch to the left. Don’t collapse into the side, but keep your chest lifted and use your core strength to move with control. Breath in, on the exhale lift your upper body back to centre and then onto the right
  • Action: For a deeper stretch you can bend your left knee in as you stretch to the left. Right knee when you bend to the right.

Why you should do it: This is a great exercise to stretch out the obliques. You can do this before and/or after your waist hooping workout. This should feel really good afterwards – I often use this as a resting pose in my classes.

My top tips:

  • Tip: Keep your body in a vertical plane – try not to lean too far forward and back.
  • Tip: Engage your abs before stretching to the side – this will give you greater strength in your movement.
  • Tip: Start off with a small amount of movement – Left image
  • Tip: When moving further – Right image – then make sure you are engaging the abs throughout, the power should come from there.


Guided hula hoop workouts

If you really want to see results then you should drill these exercises for one minute in both your dominant and weak directions. For a free workout videos click here.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or have been swinging your hoop for a while these exercises are suitable for you. Beginners can benefit from the simplicity of the moves, while more experienced hoopers can work to neaten and perfect their body position.

This hula hoop workout is also lays the foundations for multi hooping (hula hooping on multiple parts of the body). So if multi hooping is part of your hoop goals then this is a great workout to train.

5 minute hula hoop workout for beginners

 

5 minute hula hoop workout for experienced hoopers


Which hoop is right for me?

The answer to this depends on a number of factors:

  • Your size
  • Your experience
  • What you want to get out of your hula hoop workout.

My guide to choosing the right hoop for you

General tips for choosing the right hoop for this workout:

Beginners

  • A general rule of thumb is that the hoop should come somewhere between your crotch and belly button.
  • For beginners large heavy hoops have more momentum and are easier to keep up.
  • Try a large hula hoop (90-100mm dia) with thick tubing (25mm or 20mm) – This is great for getting started.
  • Weighted hula hoops are suitable for this workout routine. These are great if weight loss is your goal.

Experienced Hoopers

  • More experienced hoopers can do this workout with a lighter hula hoop.
  • Try a smaller hula hoop (80-90mm dia) with thinner tubing (16mm or 20mm).
  • If you’re aiming for multi hooping try to do the workout with the lightest hoop you feel comfortable waist hooping with.

Hooping in both directions

Like most people are either right or left handed, the same goes for hula hooping. Ever tried to write your name with your weaker hand?

It usually looks like a three year old has done it. Not the same as the refined script you can achieve with your dominant hand, I’m sure!

However, with practice it is possible to write neatly with your weak hand… And the same goes for hula hooping.

Now, I know it might not be as much fun at first. Beginners might find this really difficult (but not impossible). Experienced hoopers might be taken back to the beginning of their hoop journey. Which, may not feel as good as spinning in the dominant direction.

However! Hooping in just one direction can cause you to develop more muscles on one side of your body. In time this can cause problems with your back. So it’s super important to train both sides.

Getting good in your weaker direction will not only balance you out, but also greatly improve your dominant direction.


Waist hooping

Getting the hoop to spin around the waist is the first step in your hoop journey. It is the core of the hula hoop ab workout, so the first goal is to get this comfortable.

 Beginners – tips for waist hooping: 

  • # Tip 1: Place the hoop around the waist – have contact with the small of your back.

 

  • # Tip 2: Keep the hoop as flat as possible

  • # Tip 3: Wind it up and push with force!

  • # Tip 4: Try pushing back to front – Push forward when the hula hoop is touching your belly.

Experienced hoopers –  tips for waist hooping

  • Work to get your feet together – straight body.
  • Chest up, really pushing with your belly button
  • Strong arms – hold your hands either in fists or flat with tension in your biceps.

In Conclusion

Waist hooping is a fantastic way to get the blood pumping and strengthen the core! By following these 15 hula hoop workouts on a regular basis, I can guarantee that you will feel stronger in the core.

Waist hooping is the first and most important skill to get. It lays the foundation for the rest of the exercises so try to get this one comfortable first.

Be sure to practice in both directions. This may not feel as fun at first, but it’s worth it. It not only protects your back but also makes your good side better!

Practice makes perfect! Some things may be difficult at first, however with every try it gets easier. You just need to keep at it… And once it clicks, it gives you such an extreme sense of satisfaction, that it can become addiction.

 

2 Comments

  • Can you recommend a place to buy a hoop, online or in Berlin?
    Thank you for tips, Kattrin

    Reply
    • Hi Kattrin, there are 2 shops in Berlin that sell Hula Hoops – Kleine Zirkusladen (Kreuzberg & Charlottenburg) and Just Juggling (Schöneberg). Glad you enjoyed the hooping tips!

      Reply

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