Is twerking a good exercise?

Twerking has become a popular dance move over the last decade, especially with the rise of artists like Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion, and City Girls. Videos of twerking have gone viral on social media, and it has become a staple move in hip hop culture. But is vigorously shaking your backside actually a good way to exercise? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Twerking?

Twerking involves rhythmically gyrating the hips while in a low squatting position. The dancer bounces up and down, emphasizing the motion of thrusting the pelvis and shaking the buttocks and thighs. Some key elements of twerking include:

– Bent knees and squatting low to the floor
– Pushing the hips back as far as possible
– Isolating the hip muscles to make the cheeks shake and bounce
– Keeping the back straight and core engaged
– Moving the hips and thighs in a circular, up-and-down, or side-to-side motion

Twerking originated in West African dance moves like mapouka and has roots in traditional African dances from countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Cameroon. It became more mainstream in the 1990s when dancers started incorporating it into hip hop music videos. Today twerking is most commonly associated with bounce, hip hop, and soca music.

Muscles Worked by Twerking

When done properly, twerking is a rigorous lower body workout that engages the core and challenges your balance and coordination. Here are some of the main muscle groups targeted by twerking:


The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the buttocks. Twerking puts an emphasis on contracting and moving the glutes, giving them an intense workout. The glutes are responsible for extending the hips and moving the thighs outward. Isolating and shaking the cheeks engages the glute muscles.


The hamstrings are a group of three muscles located at the back of the thighs. They allow you to bend your knees, extend your hips, and pull your leg backwards. Twerking requires bending the knees deeply and maintaining that squat, which tones and strengthens the hamstrings.


The quadriceps, or quads, are a group of four muscles at the front of the thighs. When twerking, the quads have to work hard to stabilize in the low squat position. Moving up and down recruits the quads to extend your legs from that bent position.


Though twerking emphasizes the lower body, it also requires core strength. Engaging your abdominal muscles helps maintain an upright posture and avoids arching or rounding your back as you dip low and bounce your hips. The core is worked isometrically to keep your body stable.


The calves allow you to point your toes and lift your heels. They are contracted eccentrically to lower down into the twerking squat. As you bounce back up, the calves extend your feet to lift your body and propel the next rep.

Cardiovascular and Endurance Benefits

Twerking can elevate your heart rate and improve cardiovascular endurance when done for extended periods of time. Here are some of the cardiorespiratory benefits of twerking:

– Raises your heart rate – The average person twerking for 30 minutes can burn around 200 calories. The vigorous hip movements require energy expenditure that gets your heart pumping faster.

– Improves stamina – As a high-intensity dance move, twerking helps build endurance for other forms of exercise like running or cycling. Workouts that regularly incorporate twerking will improve stamina.

– Strengthens the heart – Any aerobic activity that raises your heart rate for an extended time enhances heart health. The cardiovascular exercise from twerking leads to better heart function.

– Greater lung capacity – The act of twerking with proper form requires engaging your core to support your movement. This leads to greater utilization of the lungs and increases lung capacity.

Weight Loss Benefits

In addition to providing cardiovascular benefits, twerking can also help you lose weight and burn fat. Here’s how:

– High calorie burn – As mentioned earlier, twerking for 30 minutes burns around 200 calories. That number will be even higher with longer or more intense sessions. The challenging workout torches calories.

– Full-body workout – Twerking targets your glutes, legs, core, and more. Working large muscle groups results in greater overall calorie expenditure compared to isolation exercises.

– Afterburn effect – High-intensity exercises like twerking can produce an afterburn, where your body continues burning extra calories even after you’ve finished your workout. This effect further boosts fat loss.

– Increased metabolism – Regular twerking workouts support muscle building and a faster metabolism. Having more muscle raises your daily calorie needs, allowing you to burn fat more easily.

– Appetite suppression – The fatigue caused by vigorous twerking can reduce your appetite for a period of time afterward. This creates a natural calorie deficit without the need for strict dieting.

Is Twerking High-Impact?

One downside of twerking is that it can be considered a high-impact exercise based on the intensity of the hip thrusting and bouncing motions. Here are some points on the high-impact nature of twerking:

– Jarring landings – Coming down into a squat and thrusting the hips back up puts a lot of downward pressure through your joints with each repetition. This impact can wear down your cartilage over time.

– Risk of injury – The uncontrolled bouncing and speed of twerking makes it easier to accidentally twist a knee or ankle if your alignment is off. Hip flexors and other muscles can also get overworked and strained.

– Hard on knees – Having bent knees for an extended period along with the shock of impact from dropping down can inflame knee joints. Those with knee pain should avoid deep twerking squats.

– Back issues – If your back is rounded or arched during twerking, it can place undue stress on the spine leading to injury. Maintaining good posture is essential.

– Not for beginners – Twerking is an advanced exercise that requires balance, coordination, and hip awareness to execute properly. Beginners are more likely to hurt themselves by twerking incorrectly.

Safety Tips for Twerking

Despite some of the high-impact risks, twerking can be safer if certain precautions are taken:

– Warm up first – Take 5-10 minutes to warm up your muscles with dynamic stretches and lighter hip movements before jumping into intense twerking.

– Engage your core – Activating your core helps stabilize your back and takes pressure off your joints during the squatting and bouncing.

– Land softly – Focus on controlling your movements to land lightly rather than slamming down into each squat.

– Wear knee pads – Cushioning your knees helps absorb some of the impact they’ll take during extended twerking sessions.

– Listen to your body – If you feel pain or excessive fatigue, take a break. It’s better to twerk for less time with good form than push past your limits.

– Stay hydrated – Keep water handy since twerking leads to heavy sweating. Dehydration increases injury risk.

– Work your way up – When first learning, start with basic hip rolls and shallow dips rather than immediately squatting to your maximum depth.

Proper Twerking Form

To maximize the benefits of twerking and avoid injury, it’s essential to use proper form:


– Stand with feet shoulder-width apart for stability
– Slightly bend knees and drop hips back
– Maintain neutral spine by engaging core


– Push hips back to lower into a squat
– Keep knees behind toes without rounding lower back
– Squat as deeply as flexibility allows while keeping heels down

Isolate Hips

– Thrust hips back forcefully to pop your butt
– Contract glutes to bounce cheeks up and down
– Keep thighs relatively stable to isolate hip muscles


– Transition smoothly between squatting and hip thrusts
– Allow hips to move freely in a controlled manner
– Shift weight side to side or in circular motions
– Do not lock knees at any point during motion

Sample Twerking Workout

Here is one example of a 15 minute beginner twerking workout you can follow along with at home:

Warm Up – 5 minutes

– Marching with arm swings x 1 minute
– Bodyweight squats x 30 seconds
– Walking lunges x 1 minute
– Hip circles x 30 seconds
– Side leg swings x 1 minute
– Body rolls in squat position x 1 minute

Twerking Exercises – 10 minutes

| Exercise | Reps |
| Squat bounces | 30 seconds |
| Front-to-back hip dips | 30 seconds |
| Single-cheek isolations | 30 seconds (each side) |
| Fire hydrant circles | 30 seconds (each side) |
| Up-down booty lifts | 30 seconds |
| Twerk jogging | 30 seconds |
| Wide squat twerk | 30 seconds |
| Pulse squats | 30 seconds |
| Forward/back bounces | 30 seconds |
| Transverse twerks | 30 seconds |

Cooldown – 5 minutes

– Walking hip circles x 1 minute
– Side lunges x 30 seconds (each side)
– Forward folds x 1 minute
– Quad stretches x 30 seconds (each leg)
– Figure 4 glute stretch x 30 seconds (each leg)
– Child’s pose x 1 minute


Twerking can provide an intense lower body workout that burns calories and builds muscle endurance if done correctly and safely. While it has benefits for your glutes, thighs, and core, take care to avoid injury from all the bouncing. Listen to your body, master the technique, and incorporate twerking strategically into your training routine to reap the rewards while minimizing any risks. Overall, twerking offers a fun way to dance your way to fitness if treated as an advanced exercise requiring proper form, warm up, and cool down. Just be cautious about overdoing it too quickly as a beginner.

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