We all know that working out is good for the mind, heart and soul. And while its not easy to get motivated to sweat and burn calories, many of us can get the right motivation from music. For those of us who run, jog, cycle, lift weights and otherwise exercise, music is essential to peak performance and a satisfying workout. In the last 10 years the body of research on workout music has increased considerably. psychologists have found that music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it.
However, in order for your workout to be efficient it is important that your music match the recommended bpm (beats per minute) for your desired workout. After all putting your music on shuffle on your iPhone may bring up Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” just when you are trying to cycle up a hill. The rest of this post will discuss the recommended bpm for your workout.
An ideal warm-up combines the stretching of each major muscle group with dynamic stretching, like jogging on the spot or walking on a treadmill to warm the muscles. Warm-up music should be in the 115 to 120 beats per minute, or bpm, range. The trick is to choose a song that is motivating for you to get started with your workout that has a slow tempo. Try songs such as “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry, “Blah Blah Blah” by Ke$ha or “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.
When lifting weights, it’s important to increase the bpm of the music without going too fast. Listening to a song that is too fast could inspire you to lift faster than you should. Not only could this cause injuries from poor form, but it’s less effective than lifting with slow and steady control. One should choose songs with a mid-range bpm of 130 to 140 with a clear beat and heavy bass; 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 that steady beat.
Slow or moderately pased fast walkers should 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 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 are good examples.
Once you’re finished exercising, it’s time to reduce your heart rate slowly to avoid dizziness after exercising. For a cool down, choose tracks that are relaxing and help you complete your workout with positive energy. You’ll want to drop back down to the 120 bpm area for a cool down that includes some stretching . “Won’t Go Home Without You” by Maroon 5 and “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen can help you achieve that optimal end to your workout.