18 February 2022

How to create the perfect playlist for every type of workout

Guides & explainers
You don’t have to be a personal trainer to know that music fuels workouts; music’s ability to improve performance is called the ‘ergogenic effect’, and it means that there is such a thing as ‘performance-enhancing drums’!

And it’s why the fitness fanatics among us have all got our favourite running anthems, spin class classics, and ‘back day’ bangers.

So how can you create the ultimate playlist to optimise your chosen exercise?

As the experts of everything audio, we’ve dived into the science and psychology behind music to explore how certain rhythms/tempos can enhance and compliment different forms of exercise. Here’s why you should pump up or tone down your playlist, whatever workout you’re doing!

 

Cardio

Cardio: a word that sends dread through the hearts of many. But don’t throw the towel in yet, because did you know that music can make your workout less painful, and actually enjoyable? Serotonin, also known as the ‘happy hormone’, is produced when exercise and high-tempo, fast-paced music are paired together.

Results gathered by an EEG scan of the brain have determined that when listening to music during low/moderate exercise, the beta waves in the frontal lobe are increased – which causes us to feel bursts of energy, adrenaline and the ‘runner’s high’ we all love. So, next time you’re about to start a heavy cardio session, we recommend spending a few minutes creating a playlist with Dance, Drum and Bass, and/or House tracks that’ll help you get your heart and your positive mindset racing!

 

Weightlifting

Strength training is typically done at a slower pace than cardio, with regular rest time between sets. So, next time you’re on the squat rack or in the free weights area of the gym, listen to music with a constant beat through its entire duration – it’s a great way to help you keep time between reps, maintain your rhythm, and stay on track towards your goals. Studies show that the best tempo for weightlifting is 123-131 bpm (beats per minute), as this is when the ergogenic effect on exercise is at its highest.

Looking to take your performance to the next level? Many bodybuilders and strongmen listen to songs with motivational lyrics to help them feel the confidence they need to smash new PBs. Here’s a few of their classics!

 

HIIT

When it comes to weight loss, high-intensity interval training workouts are the best for burning fat, improving endurance, and pushing your body to the absolute limit – but they’re definitely not easy.

HIIT staples tend to involve lots of kettle bell swings, burpees, and jumping jacks, so you need a playlist that will keep your head in the game, and your movements consistent. Music that maintains a high intensity throughout is essential for keeping your mind strong during difficult exercises, as the fast-paced beat pattern will distract you from physical and mental fatigue.

A study by the National Library of Medicine has found that music with 150-170 bpm caused participants to work 10% harder during the session. Tracks they used to test this theory included Jimmy Eat World’s ‘The Middle’ and The Cure’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’.

 

Yoga

Yoga can have an incredibly positive effect on our mental health and general wellbeing, but did you know that pairing your mindful exercises with calming music can enhance the benefits even more so?

Listening to classical music during yoga and meditation is proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol, create a calming effect in the body, reduce stress, and help the mind remain still.

What’s more, relaxing music also encourages the release of dopamine – the pleasure and reward hormone that helps regulate muscle movement to promote metabolic efficiency. So, next time you’re in child’s pose, or cat and cowing, try adding soft, gentle sounds to your movements, and see how you feel!

 

Cooldown/Recovery

As much as we love getting the blood flowing with loud, fast-paced music, your body needs to restore calm after a workout.

Your heart rate is always high after putting your body under stress during intense exercise, so listening to quiet, slow-paced music is a great way to relax your body to prevent cramping and muscle ache. Studies show that the sounds of nature (like rain) and gentle piano keys can help simmer your senses, and help you recover quicker.

Have other companies jumped on the hype? Well, in 2020, pain relief brand Nurofen released a special track named ‘All of Us’, scientifically engineered with soothing sounds to help reduce aches and pains in listeners, and relax the central nervous system.

The good news is that they’ve also uploaded it to Spotify so you can add it to your faves, and listen to it next time you’re sore after a heavy leg day, or catching your breath after a rowing session.

 

So, how can you use this information to benefit your business, and your customers?

This proves the importance of using music that matches the intention and mood of your communications.

In a radio ad announcing an event that you want to promote and generate attendance at, choose an up-tempo, motivational track; in a social media video where you’re in a more contrite mood, opt for something downtempo that will soothe and calm your audience.

Luckily, our talented musicians can create both up-tempo and more relaxed cuts of the unique track we compose for your business, while ensuring every version sounds authentically like your business.

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