Is Your Playlist Helping Your Workout

Expert Opinion

With Guest Blogger, Andrew Stern

For any group fitness junkie, the music playing can make or break the workout. It plays a huge part in the class experience. Not only does the playlist entertain, it also directly affects how hard we work and how many reps we get in. Many group fitness instructors work extremely hard to pick the perfect playlist to help take your workout to the next level. Should you be putting that same effort into choosing your own workout playlist?

Music Makes the Mood

For most people, going to the gym can seem like a chore. We don’t want to think about squats while we are doing squats, we just want to get it over with. Music plays a role as a distractor. Our brains start to focus less on the exertion and exercise and more on the lyrics and beat. Often, we play our favorite songs because they come with memories and can take us back to when we first heard the song. Hopefully, when working out, we are all listening to songs with positive memories and associations, songs that make us feel good and happy and ready to work hard. The songs you listen to can actually end up changing the entire mood of the workout.

Beat the Workout

Music is especially influential during repetitive endurance activities. The beats per minute (BPM) of the songs play a pivotal role in the tempo of movement. The faster the song (typically 115 -128 BPM), the faster we want to move. Clueing into these time signals helps us use our energy more efficiently, since keeping a steady pace is easier on our bodies than fluctuating through different patterns.

Slower music (80 to 115 BPM), can help you slow your heart rate and also reduce anxiety. Think about yoga and how the music helps connect your breathing patterns to the controlled movements. This is why a good beat makes an aerobic or HIIT class easier to follow.

Listening to music during exercise can both delay and lessen the subjective perception of fatigue. It can increase physical capacity, improve energy efficiency, and influence mood. So, if you are looking to pump out a high intensity training session, plan your playlist out in advance and keep in mind how each song can either help or hinder your workout.

Pump up the Jams

Often times before a race, sports game, or a particularly intense workout, we play a song that pumps us up, a song that gets us in the zone. Listening to music allows us to think about ourselves, who we want to be, and what we want to achieve. It gives us an escape from the present and can help prepare us for the challenge ahead. Choosing the music that you like best can enhance your performance, reduce your perceived exertion, and actually aid your body in coordinating movements.

Music is a vehicle for empowerment and motivation. When music is used before athletic activity, it has been shown to increase arousal, facilitate imagery, and improve the performance of tasks. The music played during an athletic activity can have an ergogenic (work-enhancing) effect, as well as psychological effects. When music is used after a workout, the effects are typically reducing heart-rate and body temperature.

The Playlist You’ve Been Waiting For

If you are looking to take your workout to the next level, with the help of music, check out my favorite playlist below:

1. Paul Revere – Beastie Boys
2. Ante Up – M.O.P
3. Back 2 Back – Drake
4. Power – Kanye
5. Lean Back – Terror Squad
6. Sugar, We’re Going Down – Fall Out Boy
7. Spit Your Game – Biggie
8. B.M.F. – Rick Ross
9. Bugatti – Ace Hood
10. Don’t Worry Child – Swedish House Mafia
11. Reload – Sebastian Ingrosso
12. Blame – Calvin Harris

You can use this playlist or make your own, but keep in mind how music can help make every workout the best workout.