By Emily Sabbah
With a wealth of information available in the fitness community, there are hundreds of ways to optimize your workouts. A shift in programming, gear or even apparel can help you up your game and reach your goals. I’ve recently learned that there’s one minor change that, with very little actual effort, can have a huge impact on my workouts and results. What change is that? My workout music.
Benefits of Music During Exercise
Is it better to work out with music? Yes! Working out to music has a number of incredible benefits. It can motivate you to get started, improve your mood, help you keep your workout on pace, and even distract you from the inevitable physical fatigue. Plus, choosing music you like will help you build positive associations with exercise. I love to save my favorite songs for moves that I’m still learning to love (looking at you, pushups and tricep overhead extensions).
Finding the Right Music for your Workout
When choosing music for your workout, there are two important factors to consider:
- Rhythm Response
Tempo refers to how fast or slow the music is, usually characterized by BPM (beats per minute). Matching the tempo to your exercise can be extremely beneficial. If you’re going for a walk, for example, a song around 120 bpm will help you keep a good pace. When running on the treadmill or doing other moderate to high-intensity cardio, shoot for something closer to 160 bpm.
As a general guideline, shoot for these ranges based on the type of exercise:
- Yoga, pilates, and other low-intensity activities: 60 to 90 BPM
- Power yoga: 100 to 140 BPM
- CrossFit, indoor cycling, or other forms of HIIT: 140 to 180-plus BPM
- Zumba and dance: 130 to 170 BPM
- Steady-state cardio, such as jogging: 120 to 140 BPM
- Weightlifting and powerlifting: 130 to 150 BPM
- Warming up for exercise: 100 to 140 BPM
- Cooling down after exercise: 60 to 90 BPM
Additionally, working out to music that matches the tempo of your exercise can actually help your body use oxygen and work more efficiently. That’s an optimization win for sure!
Rhythm Response is essentially how much a song makes you want to move! What type of music elicits this response varies across individuals and cultures. So, if you're wondering, what music is best for exercise, pay attention to the type of music that gets you up and motivated, and add it to the beginning of your workout playlist. It may not be the fastest songs that get you into the groove, so try adding them to your warm-up to help you get in the game mentally before upping the intensity.
Don’t Forget about the Cool Down
Just like getting your heart rate up during a workout, music can help calm your body and lower your heart rate during cool down. Adding a few slower songs toward the end of your playlist can help you prepare your mind and muscles for recovery. And let's be honest- adding a few favorite songs to your cool down can help prevent cutting short this important step or skipping it altogether!
Just as my workouts are constantly evolving, so does my workout playlist. I love adding new favorites and challenging myself with fresh beats.
What are some of your favorite exercise hits?
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