We’ve all experienced those moments when we are struggling to finish a workout and a banger of a song comes on, giving you the motivation to power through. The power of music in training is incredible and by simply tailoring your playlists to your workouts you’ll reap a ton of rewards. Not only will you alleviate any boredom (but let’s be honest, who finds a good CrossFit workout boring??) but you’ll boost your mood, stamina and even strength.
Before we delve into how you should tailor your playlist, or select songs, let’s first look at why you should listen to music while exercising and what some of the benefits are:
- Helps get you started. We’ve all experienced those days where going to the gym can feel like a drag. You can gain motivation to step out of the house and get to the gym (or complete your home workout provided by our wonderful coaches) and feel pumped before you even start exercising by listening to the right playlist.
- Gain a competitive edge. Studies have shown that listening to your favourite playlist actually decreases your perception of effort. This means that you’ll exert more effort into your workout and the workout will actually feel easier. Additionally, music can delay symptoms of fatigue during your workout. This combined effect can help you smash your PR’s and get your body moving in a fun and effective way.
- Calms you down. Before going to your first group-session class or first competition or even just trying to PR your lifting session can bring a host of nervous gitters and while nerves are good they can elevate your heart rate and have some negative impacts on your performance. This is where music ranging between 80 – 115 beats per minute (BPM) can be incredibly useful to slow your heart rate but keep you amped enough to maximize your performance.
As you can see there are several benefits to turning up the music and allowing the beats to help you through your workout. But what music should you include in your playlist? This is ultimately up to the individual as music can be a very powerful but also personal tool. What matters here is how the music makes you feel. Select songs that put you in a good mood and make you feel strong. A recent survey suggested that hip hop (27.7%), rock (24%) and pop (20.3%) make up the most popular exercise music. It has also been suggested that music with 120 BPM is the optimal for general exercise, but this can vary depending on your goal for your workout, type of workout, who you are training with and your own music taste. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow in selecting your music:
- Power song. This is that one song that can get you in a good mood and feel pumped no matter the situation. This is what you want to hit during the middle of your workout when you’re starting to feel drained and find yourself in that dip.
o Examples include: Remember the name (Fort Minor); Till I collapse (Eminem); Turn down for what (DJ Snake & Lil Jon).
- HIIT CrossFit workout. For your typical high-intensity CrossFit workout you’ll want to find the music to match. We suggest looking for songs at around 140-160 BPM to keep you pushing and motivated throughout the workout.
o Examples include: My spine is tingling (Will Sparks), Sick like that (Will Sparks) and as our members know, you can’t complete a good workout without the Jägermeister song 😉
- Running or steady-state cardio. Next time you go for an endurance run, row or cycle you’ll want to select a playlist that gets your heartbeat up but not as high as your shorter high-intensity workouts. For this we suggest finding songs around 120-130 BPM.
o Examples include: And we danced (Macklemore); Bathing suit body (Badpojken).
- Weightlifting or strength. Here you want to slow it down a bit to really focus on your breathing and heart rate to optimize performance and nail those PR’s. For this we suggest songs that are around 90-115 BPM. This is often the range that hip hop and rap music falls (pop fans, don’t worry there are several pop songs falling into that range too!).
o Examples include: You shook me all night long (ACDC); Gold digger (Kanye West); In da Club (50 Cent) and Eastside (Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid).
These are just some general guidelines to help you tailor your playlist to your workout but you can even be more specific by engineering your playlists tempo for interval work, adjusting the bass for strength work or even selecting songs with particular lyrics related to your workout.
In addition to the individual help music gives to workouts, we’ve found that it also brings our community together. Nothing bonds fellow athletes like joining in on an impromptu dance session mid-workout, or sharing playlist ideas before the group training session to help each other stay motivated throughout the workout. Our members know that our coaches love a good jam session too, especially when Dames by Biggy comes on!