With thousands of songs at our disposal through phones and other media players, it feels impossible not to listen to music during exercise. However, the benefits of music go beyond alleviating boredom. Several studies have shown that the right playlist can help you push yourself longer and harder equating to better results.
Researchers have been studying the link between music and exercise performance since 1911, when researcher Leonard Ayres discovered that bicyclists pedalled faster while a band was playing compared to when it was quiet. However, music’s power is more effective during moderate exercise than high-intensity workouts. In those more vigorous cases, when you’re already giving the activity everything you’ve got, researchers found that music didn’t increase performance. That said, it can still improve your mood during those tough workouts.
Musical tastes are by nature very personal, so in this article I am not going to tell you which songs to listen to, just the ideal tempo of the songs at different parts of the workout. You can add your favourite tunes as you see fit!
Every workout should include a warm up. It preps the body for what’s to come, loosens the muscles and gets the blood flowing around the body. Music during the warm up should be at a slightly slower tempo than that during the workout, but quick enough to raise energy levels. 115–120 BPM is a good range. Songs such as “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry, “Blah Blah Blah” by Ke$ha or “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson are good for this.
The right music for weight lifting should strike a balance between increasing your HR, without going too quickly. Listening to music that is too quick could cause your lifting tempo to increase resulting in poor form and potential injuries. Songs with a mid-range bpm of 130 to 140 with a clear beat and heavy bass are best, since it’s easy to hear the downbeat as you lift. Songs like “Somebody Told Me” by The Killers, “Mercy” by Duffy and “The Way You Move” by Outkast all have the right steady beat.
The tempo of music you should listen to during cardio while depend on the intensity of the activity. Going for a fast-paced walk? Choose songs that are in the 120 to 140 bpm range. If you’re looking for your music to help you stay pumped up for faster runs, try using music in the 145 to 160 bpm range. Select music that is upbeat and enjoyable. Not only can the music help you stay motivated and push yourself, you can also use the beat to time your cadence for proper breathing. Songs such as “Run” by Gnarls Barkley, “Speechless” by Lady Gaga and “Run It” by Grandaddy Souf can all help get you in the mood to power through your cardio workout.
Once you’re finished exercising, it’s time to reduce your heart rate slowly to avoid dizziness after exercising. When selecting songs for a cool down, choose tracks that are relaxing and help you top off your workout with positive feelings. You’ll want to drop back down to the 120 bpm area for a cool down that includes stretching and possibly meditation. “Won’t Go Home Without You” by Maroon 5 and “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen can help you mellow out at the right pace to end your workout on a high note.