Pairing the right music with the right workout has become a bit of an obsession of mine over the years, and I think I’ve got it down to an exact science.
Music has been described as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.” Ever since I read about how music can boost your performance in a workout, I’ve been refining endless playlists for every activity imaginable – from running, to yoga, even swimming (not that you can hear much underwater)! Of course, not everyone has the same tastes – so here’s some general rules for your playlist. I’ve even put together a couple that you can subscribe to at the bottom!
1. If you’re doing something energetic, the music has to match it.
There’s obviously no point trying to an intense HIIT session like the ones offered at Lean Fitness on MagnaPass and listening to Adele. As lovely as she is, listening to something bassy, aggressive and fast is going to help you so much more. There’s a connection between music and your heartbeat – so the theory goes that if you’re trying to increase your heart rate with HIIT, you’ll need to pair it with something fast. How about some Drum & Bass?
2. Similarly – slower workouts call for calm.
Ask any yogi, and they’ll tell you that the right music can bring on the relaxation so much faster. When I’m setting up our studio for our Friday yoga sessions I like to put on some relaxing music to try and set the mood. You could always go for something classical here, but I like something a bit more modern – forget about the world to manchester’s own Shura:
3. Lyrics are important!
When you’re 50 minutes into a punishing hour long workout, hearing someone tell you that you’ve got this can be the difference between a crossing the finish line in a blaze of glory, or crashing and burning at mile 23 of your mental marathon. Positive, affirmative lyrics – like those that tell you to “move it” or “push” it – are proven to boost motivation. Plenty of massive dance tunes encourage you to get to work, and hip-hop is full of songs that can make you feel like you rule the world. Whatever works for you, do it.
4. Never underestimate a well timed drop.
Yes, we’ve probably all heard enough ‘drops’ in generic dance songs to last us a lifetime at this point – but there’s a reason they’re popular. When you’re beginning to flag, or you’ve taken a quick break, there’s nothing better than the rush that comes with a massive beat drop to get you back into it. Don’t be ashamed to put on the most obnoxious/embarrassing song you can find – no one else is going to hear it. As long as it gets you moving, you’re good. I’m a big fan of this song that samples a dolphin (amazing!) for putting a smile on my face mid-workout:
5. Build it up
It can be tempting to put all of your favourite songs at the beginning of your playlist, push yourself really hard at the start of your workout, and then find yourself burning out before you’re finished. Resist this urge, and I can guarantee that you’ll proudly make it to the end while everyone else is trying to catch their breath. Sure, start off with something big, but save the one until the end. The feeling of smashing through the end of your routine will be so worth it. If the last minute of this doesn’t get you pumped, I’m not sure I can help you.
Bonus Step: This playlist is for you.
There was a time when I made workout playlists with other people in mind, so everything had to be a bit ‘cool’ and ‘sophisticated’. Then I realised that A) that’s dumb, B) they won’t be hearing them anyway. Don’t be discouraged from putting your favourite and cheesy classics in there – they’re classics for a reason. This is totally my ‘workout jam':