An exercise playlist is key.
As we have mentioned on the blog before, working out with a music playlist is scientifically proven to be of a great benefit. The two leading reason for this are distraction and motivation. Distraction in music can help us overcome the physical tension our muscles go through when the going gets tough. Motivation plays on a more emotional level – we focus on the music we love. Lets be honest here: if you don’t feel the strain and need motivation to keep going… then your exercise routine is probably not challenging enough.
Many soon understand, that not just any playlist can help you achieve their workout results. A smart playlist is the key. That is largely due to a musical factor, one that actually determines how fast we will run or train. It’s called BPM, or Beats Per Minute, and the reason it is so crucial is because it seriously tricks our bodies and minds.
Over and above, a smart playlist can be further enhanced with a haptic wearable like the Strap. Haptic technology makes you feel the beat and tempo — so your body is even more pumped up and motivated by the music.
BPM tricks our brains. Let’s make it work for us!
According to the leading publication Scientific American, using music during workout distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces the perceived effort and can promote metabolic efficiency. So many advantages that its effect is almost comparable to that of a legal performance-enhancing drugs!
The science about music and working out can be traced back to the 1910’s. It has been repeatedly proven that two major factors determine the way music tricks us: Tempo, and rhythm-response. A study found out most people’s innate preference for rhythms is at a frequency of two hertz, which is equivalent to 120 beats per minute (BPM), or two beats per second. However, this changes when on the treadmill: then a higher beat is usually preferred*.
* It is important to note here that this article contains general rules, and you need to apply them with care. Consider your individual tempo based on your health and take other factors into consideration. Definitely consult with a medical doctor if you have certain health problems.
There are several super easy ways to find a song’s BPM. You can search on either Google Play or App Store for ‘BPM Song’ and choose one app that fits. If you want to try it online without an app, go to SongBPM.com
Here it shows that ‘Despacito’ has a BPM of 88, which fits perfectly a song that translates as ‘slowly’ 🙂
So how do you build a smart playlist? Let’s discuss some short essential steps and tools to help you build a great playlist. Ready, set, play!
1. Start with a motivational tune
A good exercise starts with a warmup. It can be a few stretches or just doing some light moves before you go for it. A motivational song for the start, one that brings you good vibes, is a must.
Check whether the song is in the 115-120 BPM range. If it is, then group it together with some other songs in this range and place them at beginning of your playlist. If you have several favorite songs in this range – even better.
Remember it is also proven that emotions play a major role in music. So while BPM does count, the memories, associations and your identification with the song’s mood complete its effect. If you have special songs, apply them and they will work better for you in performance-enhancement terms than a random song.
2. Find your top BPM
What is the nature of your workout? Is it a leisurely walk or a fast run? An intense gym session or peaceful meditation?
These are important factors to consider as a starting point. Every workout calls for a different range of BPM for music, depending on intensity level. We will discuss the more common ones here:
For leisurely mode activities like Yoga, meditation and Pilates – stay at the 120BPM zone. If you go for weight lifting, 130-140BPM is your top range. For walking, power walking and jogging, 140BPM is the top ideal BPM and if you train by intense fast running, then you can push yourself and jump up to the 140-160BPM range.
This is a general guide, but remember to keep it real. Every one of us has a unique tempo. This tempo is based on our fitness level, and on the intensity of the workout. For example: The average 30-year-old male or female has a maximum heart rate of 190 BPM. Unless you are a pro athlete, it is usually recommended to stay in the 50%-85% heart rate zone. Check your heart rate and view this chart to see how it applies to BPM. With some mindful consideration, an ideal balance between health and music can be achieved.
3. Build a gradual playlist to work out smarter
Your top BPM and heart rate are still not the last step to the best musical playlist. Expert fitness trainers know it better than anyone else: you have to build your playlist carefully, and gradually.
Music with a high BPM rate can trick you. For example, if you start your run with songs that all are in the 160 BPM zone, you might press yourself too hard. You can find yourself wasting all your energy at the beginning, then having no stamina to last for the whole workout.
So, ideally, aim to build a gradual playlist. Start by slowly building up BPM rate up to the top, and then let it fall a little bit to assure some rest. You can then build up more intensity after you rest a little – it all depends on your workout style.
Gradual intensifying playlist is important, because we are dealing with very old hard-wired and almost ‘primitive’ impulses. These are very critical features in our brain, affecting direct connections from auditory neurons to motor neurons. Listening to enjoyable music increases electrical activity in various regions of the brain that are important for coordinating movements, including the supplementary motor area, cerebellum, basal ganglia and ventral premotor cortex.
4. The playlist has to serve YOU
This one can be a no-brainer, but you need to understand that it has to be your music. So what kind of music do you actually enjoy? For example, let’s say that you are a runner, and your top BPM is 160. Still, there are many types of 160 BPM music tracks out there! It can be progressive rock, hip-hop or even some dance and trance tunes. Keep yourself in mind and use tracks that will excite you the most, even if they are not necessarily cool or popular on Spotify and iTunes.
So do not let anyone or anything define your ‘style’ as not right, or less ‘acceptable’. Be satisfied with your favorite tracks and cherish them.
5. Keep editing! Practice makes a perfect playlist.
The first time you try to build an effective music playlist for your next run or weight lifting session, might be challenging. However, remember this is only the beginning. Also remember that after you try it you can go back home and make the needed changes.
There are countless resources on Youtube to give you some ideas of ‘good workout songs’. You can also use resources like jog.fm to find more songs around your preferred BPM rate.
Remember that by adding a haptic Strap to the perfect playlist these differences will be even more noticeable – and your motivation will skyrocket too!
How has been your experience working out with music?
Do you have any personal tips?
Share with us in the comments below!
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