The Best Workout Music

When it comes to a workout routine, music can make or break your experience. If you listen to music, then you know how important it can be to find the right tune when you go to the gym. Sweating to the oldies may be your favorite music. Likewise, rap can also be the music that helps you become the most motivated at the gym. What is the best music for a workout? It turns out, sports psychologists may have an answer for you. 

At London’s Brunel University, Dr Costas Karageorghis and his team mapped the effect of music tempo on exercise. Some of the findings may help shape the sort of music you consider the next time you work out. The team analyzed 6.7 million Spotify workout playlists and compared the different beats per minute to certain workouts. Certain types of music can sync your body to the rhythm and help you feel motivated during your activity. It’s not so much about genre, but about picking particular songs with rhythms that fit the exercise. Additional benefits to playing motivational, upbeat music is that it can help turn the tables on your mood and fatigue. Your breathlessness and your beating heart can be turned into ways to interpret the music, giving you rhythm to continue with your workout.  

Going for a jog or run? Try rap, hip hop, or dance. This is because we typically jog at 150 to 190 strides per minute which corresponds to most of upbeat music. Warming up? Try pop music. It’s slower and more repetitive and has a regular rhythmic pattern. Artists like Britney Spears and Michael Jackson fit this category well. Similarly, dance music is good for strength training because it’s fast and rhythmical and keeps people awake. You might see these techniques used if you take workout classes. A trainer can time the chorus for a sprint or a heavy lift, while saving slower songs for workouts that simulate going uphill. Steady, consistent beats can help for endurance. Typically, rock music should be avoided, since the tempo often changes.  

Going for a long run or bike ride? Try videogame music soundtracks. This may seem a bit strange, but if you’re taking part in an activity that requires a degree of focus and concentration, such as a long endurance ride, try adding videogame music to your playlist. Videogame music is designed to sit in the background and inspire you without interfering with the task at hand. Plus, videogame soundtracks tend to be longer than traditional albums, so if you are taking part in an endurance event you won’t be as distracted by it ending. Related, movie soundtracks can work as well. One song in particular that can certainly motivate you during your workout? Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now”, the theme from the Rocky film series.  

The main takeaway from the study was to encourage using music that motivates you. The main point of listening of music while working out is to help keep you motivated as you train to grow stronger or work on endurance. The most important thing is to pick music that will keep you motivated until the end to the finish line. Plus, try picking music that reminds you of your youth or early adulthood. It will make you feel youthful and fit during your workout.  

If you’re looking for the best workout playlist for you, take music from the hip-hop, pop, and dance genres and make a playlist of songs that best motivate you. Pick songs that will get you pumped and match the activity at hand. Check out Spotify’s workout playlists here.

What sort of songs do you have on your playlist? Share in the comments!

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Micah Peterson

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