Love the funky beats of hip hop? Then why not use it to help you shed those extra pounds? Hip hop has become a popular workout music choice due to its upbeat tempo and engaging lyrics. But the real benefit comes from its ability to make exercising more fun, to help you stick with it long-term. According to research, fun and enjoyable exercise is more likely to be done regularly, leading to better long-term success with weight loss. Additionally, habit formation becomes more likely when you consistently engage in an activity. What you have then is a recipe for success that is both fun and effective.
So, how can you make hip hop work for you? Here are a few tips:
1. Know Exactly How Many Calories A Hip Hop Dance Workout Burns
Calorie expenditure is at the heart of successful weight loss (9). The math is deceptively simple—you need to burn more calories than you consume. Yet, many who try to lose weight get frustrated because they overestimate how many calories they are burning. They also under-estimate their calorie intake, leading them to plateau or even gain weight.
So, how many calories does a hip hop dance workout burn? On average, a person who weighs 160 pounds can expect to burn around 250–400 calories in 30 minutes of dancing (7). This is an estimate only and the actual calorie burn may be higher or lower depending on your body type, size, and how hard you are pushing yourself.
With the estimated calorie burn in mind, you can better plan your meals and snacks to ensure that you are not consuming more calories than you are burning. You can also tailor your workout to meet your calorie goals.
2. Up The Ante By Adding Intensity
Exercise intensity matters because higher intensity means greater calorie-burn. Not only that, research shows that increasing the intensity of your workout can also lead to:
- Improved insulin sensitivity (when your body is better able to respond to insulin released into the bloodstream) (2). This helps reduce fat storage and can also lead to improved weight loss.
- Improved lactate threshold (the point at which your body starts to produce lactic acid, leading to fatigue). This can help you push yourself farther and improve your overall fitnessn (8).
- Improved cardiorespiratory endurance (the amount of time you can exercise before becoming tired). This translates to better performance and improved weight loss over time (6).
So, how can you increase the intensity of your hip hop dance workout? Here are a few ideas:
- Dance to a faster beat. Pick songs that have a faster tempo and pump up the volume. Not only will you get more out of each dance session, but your body will also become conditioned to dancing at a higher intensity—so you can push yourself even further.
- Mix up your moves. Add in some squats, lunges or jumping jacks to your hip hop dance moves. This will help you target different muscle groups and make each dance session more challenging.
- Work in weights or dumbbells. Adding weights to your dance routine will increase your calorie burn and help you build strength while you are at it.
- Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) (3). HIIT involves alternating bursts of intense activity with periods of rest. This means that you can really push yourself and get the most out of your workout.
3. Gradually Increase The Duration Of Your Workouts
How many calories you burn in a hip hop dance session depends not only on the intensity of your workout, but also on how long you are dancing. For example, if you increase the duration of your hip hop dance session from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, you can expect to burn around double the amount of calories (7).
That being said, increasing the duration of your workouts too quickly can lead to burnout or injury. It is important to gradually increase the length of your dance sessions in order to give your body time to adjust.
How do you know when it is time to increase the duration of your workouts? Start by monitoring how you feel. If you still feel energized and motivated after 30 minutes of dancing, gradually add on a few minutes every week until you reach your desired duration.
Another indicator you can use to measure your progress is time, especially when you’ve been consistent with your hip hop dance workout for several weeks. If you consistently find that you can complete a 30-minute dance session in less than 30 minutes, then it may be time to add an extra five minutes or so.
Finally, pay attention to your body’s limits. If you start to feel fatigued, sore, or lightheaded, it is time to take a break and rest as you might be overdoing it.
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4. Create A Calorie Deficit
Calorie expenditure is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to losing weight. The other important piece is creating a calorie deficit. No amount of hip hop dancing will help you lose weight if you are still eating more calories than your body needs.
So, how do you create a calorie deficit? Start by determining your baseline, i.e. the amount of calories your body needs to maintain its current weight. This number can vary depending on a variety of factors such as activity level, age, and sex (1).
Once you have determined your baseline, aim to create a deficit of around 500-1000 calories per day. Assuming your baseline is 2800 calories, this would mean eating 2000-2500 calories per day.
You shouldn’t cut out too many calories as this can lead to health problems and make it harder for you to stick to your diet in the long run. Furthermore, eating too few calories can cause your body to go into “starvation mode” and reduce its metabolic rate over time. Not to mention, you’ll hardly have the energy to keep up with your hip hop dance workouts.
A good approach is to use both diet and exercise to create your calorie deficit. This means a reasonable deficit (say 500-750 calories) of what you eat combined with burning an additional 300-500 calories through hip hop dance.
Below are some tips to help you cut 500-750 calories from your daily diet:
- Review your meal portions – Cut down on the size of your meals and snacks by using smaller plates, bowls and glasses.
- Choose whole, nutrient-dense foods – Fill up on nutrient-dense whole foods such as lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.
- Avoid processed and refined foods – Limit your intake of processed and refined foods like white bread, pastries, chips and candy.
- Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated is key to staying healthy and feeling energized for your hip hop dance sessions.
- Plan ahead – Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time so you can stick to a balanced and healthy diet.
5. Prioritize Rest And Recovery
The role of stress in weight gain often goes unnoticed. Yet research shows that high levels of the hormone cortisol (released due to chronic stress) can slow down your metabolism and increase fat storage (4). Cortisol can also lead to fatigue and cravings, making it harder for you to stick to your diet.
Not only can stress interfere with your motivation to hit the floor for a hip hop workout, the reverse can happen. Hitting the floor too often without enough rest can increase your cortisol levels and make it harder for you to lose weight.
Overtraining aside, below are other sneaky causes of chronic stress:
- Not getting enough sleep – Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
- Skipping meals – Skipping meals can mess with your blood sugar levels and increase stress hormones.
- Poor diet – Eating processed, refined foods can lead to inflammation and stress.
- Work and life responsibilities – Balancing your work and personal life can be stressful.
How do you combat stress and ensure you stay healthy? Make sure to prioritize rest and recovery. On top of getting enough sleep:
- Schedule rest days – Take at least one day off from hip hop dancing each week to give your body time to relax and recover.
- Practice mindful activities – Consider taking up yoga, meditation or another calming activity to help lower your cortisol levels (5).
- Ensure adequate nutrition – Eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet will help you stay energized and reduce your stress levels.
6. Implement Cross Training
Cross training is a great way to switch up your hip hop dance routine, challenge your body and increase the intensity of your workouts. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), some of the benefits of cross training include increased muscular strength, improved cardiovascular capabilities and reduced risk of injury (10).
For those looking to lose weight, these benefits translate into more energy and calorie burning potential. Not familiar with cross training? It’s a type of exercise that combines different forms of physical activity, such as hip hop dancing and strength training, to provide a comprehensive fitness program.
The exercises you choose to include in your cross training routine will depend on your goals. For example, to strengthen the muscles you need for hip hop dancing, you may want to try Pilates or yoga. Alternatively, if you’re looking to increase your aerobic capacity, consider adding running or swimming.
When engaging in a cross training program, remember to take regular rest days throughout the week and adjust your intensity level as needed. You’re more at risk for injury when pushing yourself too hard, so make sure you listen to your body and adjust accordingly.
Not sure what type of cross training activities to try? Here are a few ideas:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT) – HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercises followed by periods of rest. You can either combine dance and strength exercises or try a HIIT-specific dance routine (3).
- Cardio activities – Incorporate running, biking, swimming or rowing into separate workouts to supplement your hip hop dance sessions.
- Strength training – Incorporate weightlifting, calisthenics or Pilates into your routine to help increase your muscle mass and boost your metabolism.
- Flexibility training – Try stretching or yoga poses in between dance days to help keep your muscles healthy and improve mobility.
7. Practice Pre And Post Dance Stretching
If you want to reduce your risk of injury and stay limber for hip hop dance, you need to practice stretching before and after each session. Pre-dance stretching helps warm up your muscles and joints, while post-dance stretching helps to cool them down and reduce lactic acid build-up.
When stretching pre-dance, focus on dynamic stretches that involve movement and help to warm your muscles up. Dynamic stretching can include exercises like lunge walks, torso twists or arm and leg circles.
When performing post-dance stretching, focus on static stretches that involve holding a stretch for up to 30 seconds. Static stretching can include exercises like cat-cow poses and hamstring stretches.
Including stretching into your hip hop dance routine is an important step to ensure proper form, extend your range of motion and prevent injury.
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8. Wear The Right Shoes And Sportswear
The gear you have for hip hop dancing can make a big difference in your performance. Increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts to amp up calorie expenditure is only possible when the right shoes and sportswear are worn.
Proper shoes should provide adequate cushioning and support for your feet and ankles, while still being lightweight and flexible enough to allow you to dance freely. Look for shoes that are specifically designed for hip hop dancing or cross training activities.
Sportswear for hip hop dancing must be breathable, form-fitting and flexible enough to allow you to move freely. When choosing clothing items such as tanks, shorts or leggings, make sure they fit you snugly but aren’t constricting. Consider a combination of fitted and baggy pieces for added style and comfort.
Check out this catalog of BetterMe sportswear that’s perfect for hip hop dance workouts. Soft, breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics and stylish, hip hop-inspired designs will keep you looking and feeling your best during every session. Supportive sports bra tops and fitted leggings will help you stay comfortable, confident and supported during your workouts.
The Bottom Line
Can hip hop work for weight loss? Yes, it can. Hip hop dance is an effective form of exercise that can help you burn calories and improve your aerobic capacity.
When performed regularly and alongside calorie tracking and healthy eating habits, hip hop dance can support your weight loss goals. Try incorporating some of the tips from this article into your regular hip hop dance routine.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Body Weight Planner (n.d., nih.gov)
- Exercise and insulin sensitivity: a review (2000, nih.gov)
- Evidence-Based Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training on Exercise Capacity and Health: A Review with Historical Perspective (2021, nih.gov)
- Effects of Chronic Social Stress on Obesity (2013, nih.gov)
- Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life (2011, nih.gov)
- High-Intensity Functional Training Improves Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Neuromuscular Performance Without Inflammation or Muscle Damage (2022, nih.gov)
- How many calories do you burn with Hip Hop dancing? (n.d., calorieburncalculator.org)
- Lactate threshold concepts: how valid are they? (2009, nih.gov)
- Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2022, nih.gov)
- What is cross training and why is it important? (2009, ace.org)