Hula hoop tubing types & what they are used for

Posted by Aoife Mulhaire on

Buying your first hoop can get a little confusing due to the different types of materials and what the difference is between them. In this post I am going to break down the most common types of materials used to make hoops and what each of them are most suitable for.

HDPE/MDPE (Beginner Hoops) - These stand for high-density polyethylene and medium-density polyethylene. These are some of the heavier types of material that are suitable for a beginner. The reason being, they are much heavier than other materials and when a hoop is heavy it moves much slower on the body and therefore easier to learn ‘on body’ tricks like waist hooping, shoulder hooping, leg hooping etc.

The most common size for these materials to come in is 3/4 inch, however, it is possible to buy in other sizes.

As you progress you will begin to start downsizing this hoop or replace it with a lighter weight material to transition into more advanced ‘off body tricks.’ It is possible to start learning some on body moves with a heavier weighted hoop but over time will cause some bruising and you could hurt yourself.

Even when you advance to a smaller/lighter hoop you will still find yourself revisiting your beginners hoop from time to time when you start learning a new move.

You will see that you come across ‘weighted’ exercise hoops with raised bumps on the inside. My advice is to stay away from these sort of hoops as they can cause damage with prolonged use. If you are hooping for exercise, you will actually burn more calories with a lighter hoop as your body needs to work harder and move more to keep it spinning.

Polypro (Intermediate to Advanced Hoop) – This type of material stands for Polypropylene. Polypro hoops are much lighter in weight and more suitable for intermediate to advanced hoopers who have already mastered the art of on body hooping. The lighter material is also recommended for progressing to ‘off body’ moves, for example, isolations, spinning on your hand, tossing the hoop etc. as it will move much faster and stop bruising your body. These hoops are described as ‘bouncy’ and ‘responsive’ but with this means they are more susceptible to damage by extreme temperatures and the sun, and cracks easier during use. 

It is not to say that a beginner cannot choose a polypro for their first hoop, just make sure to size up and bear in mind it will not be as easy to keep up while waist hooping and you’ll have to work twice as hard.

Polypro comes in two common tubing sizes:

  • 3/4 inch regular tubing, commonly used by people progressing from on body beginner tricks to off body moves. As it is a nice middle range hoop it is suitable for any type of hooper.
  • 5/8 inch tubing which is slightly skinnier and lighter, suitable for more advanced hoopers looking for a faster hooping experience. An ideal choice for double hoops.

Usually people progress from MDPE/HDPE to 3/4 polypro then on to 5/8 polypro.