A great playlist will not only pump you up, but take your workout to the next level. The right tunes can increase your enjoyment and improve your performance. This can be the key to get you through those dreaded intervals, the sticky point of your workout, or through the last leg of your marathon.

“Music does not moderate what you feel, but how you feel it,” said Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., an associate professor of sport psychology at Brunel University who studies the correlation between music and exercise. “It makes the exercise experience more pleasurable.” You can then focus on the music and not on the burning sensation in your legs, or the thoughts about how tired you are.

When choosing the songs for your playlist, it can be tricky to find the right beats per minute (BPM). You can find this tempo in a number of rock or pop dance music. I use SongBPM, which allows you to search for the BPM of a specific song.

Music does not moderate what you feel, but how you feel it

How can you apply this to your workout regime? Here are 5 ways that your playlist can take your workout to the next level.

1.  Find a good warm up song.

This song should be motivating and inspirational. Shoot for a moderate tempo, usually between 115 to 120 BPM. This will get your heart rate up and get you in the mood for a good sweat!


The next song should still be encouraging, but a bit more fast paced. Add some catchy tunes to keep you engaged and get your speed up. Try to correlate your music somewhere between 120 to 135 BPM. Choose a song that you have a positive association with. Maybe your favorite song from a road trip you took last summer, or a song you are always listening to on repeat.

3.  Vary the speeds of your next couple songs.

This is great for intervals. You will naturally pick up the pace for quicker songs and slow down for the slower songs. The slower songs can be used as recovery songs. After a very fast pace, you want to be able to slow down, but still stay motivated. Remember: slowing down doesn’t always mean speed – it might just mean your energy or your breath. Songs that keeps you going will be different from the next person. Pick something you already enjoy listening to!

4.  Bring It Home Strong

The last song should be the most encouraging of all. At this point in your workout you are tired and very close to the finish line. Keep up the energy with the “mother of all songs.

5.  Allow time to recover

Cool down should last at least five minutes, so you may need a few songs to fill that space. Aim for a songs that are around 120 BPM. This will help slow your heart rate down after a great workout.

The most important part of a successful workout is to have fun. Choose your music that you enjoy listening to. Whether you love Taylor Swift or Kurt Cobain, pick tunes based on your taste and you’ll find your performance will improve!

Sources & Further Reading

Colleen Kinsey HeadshotGuest Author Colleen Kinsey has a passion for fitness, traveling, and ukuleles. She enjoys jamming, teaching, and getting others involved in music. Her website, Coustii, focuses specifically on guitars and ukes. Colleen loves to travel and uses her ukulele as a conversation starter on the road.