I know what you’re thinking. You’re expecting a list of super fast-paced songs, perhaps a top-ten type of survey. But, that’s not exactly what this post is about.
Music taste is subjective. What gets my juices flowing isn’t necessarily what will get you to slog through a tough workout. So, while various fitness publications may put out top workout playlist picks annually, if you’re over the age of 35, like me, you may not recognize 50% of the songs on them. Most of us can’t get amped up to workout to a song we’ve never heard before. These published lists may be interesting to peruse, but they’re not practical suggestions for everyone. But there are some parameters we can follow when selecting music that can enhance the quality of our workouts.
The key is to work with your own collection of favorite music whether it be classical, jazz, 60s rock, 70s disco, 80s pop or a mix of different genres from different eras. The more of a connection you have to the music you play during a workout, the more likely it can provide the motivation and push to make it more enjoyable and productive. The important thing is to select the right type of songs from your collection to match your workouts.
Many studies have shown that listening to fast-paced music during a cardiovascular workout correlates with faster times, longer distances and an overall better quality workout when compared to working out to slower paced music or no music at all. Select your fastest-paced songs to accompany cardio workouts like walking, running, cycling or rowing where the quality is measured in distance or speed.
If you’re doing strength-training, it’s helpful to break up the monotony that can sometimes set in when performing several repetitions of an exercise at a time. I find that a variety of music types works best. Mix fast-paced rap with rock ballads, for example. Add some of your all-time favorite songs that might not have quite the right beat for your cardio workouts.
When we think of yoga and other flexibility and balanced-based workouts, we tend to think of New Age music. But you don’t have to stick to that genre if you don’t want to. Select music that makes you feel nostalgic or introspective. This will help you control your breathing, stay focused and self-aware. Music that brings you back to a time when you felt happy, carefree and safe will help you to relax into the movement and get the most out of your flexibility training.
If you’re curious about my playlists, let’s just say I’m child of the 80s. I know no one who can rival the collection of 80s tunes I’ve amassed – 417 songs, thus far. But my playlists don’t consist only of songs from the favorite decade of my youth. I’m always adding Top 40 songs that I like, particularly if they have a great workout beat. Some of my favorite contemporary artists for workouts include Adele, Bruno Mars, Train and OneRepublic. I’m constantly updating my workout playlists, swapping out one song for another to keep them fresh and new, even if a lot of the songs in them are old.
Get the most out of all your workouts by making the most of the music you already own and love.