Think about the last time you went to a gym class; did you notice something in the background? Practically every gym class has it…Music! It doesn’t matter what kind of class you attend, whether it’s a Zumba, HIIT or a Yoga class, there will always be music playing.
Why do we have the need to listen to music while we exercise?
The short answer is that it makes us feel good and stay motivated throughout the workout. Some music, in particular high-tempo and high intensity music can improve our performance while we work out. Carl Foster Ph.D., a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse explains that “Manipulating tempo can work like a remote control, telling your body to speed up or slow down without a heightened sense of exertion”. With this in mind, you are able to create your own scientifically engineered playlist that will make you feel like a champion each and every time you are at the gym.
Music can also influence your performance is many ways such as reducing fatigue, distract you from the strain of training, move faster, improve your mood, as well as make your workout more enjoyable.
So, what constitutes as the best type of music to listen to while training?
It is actually really straightforward; all you need to focus on is the tempo and what kind of workout you are doing. For example, if you are doing an intense workout such as HIIT than you should listen to something with a more upbeat tempo.
Another thing you should look out for is the BPM (beats per minute). Matching the BPM of each song to each of your specific workouts can really make a positive difference. Insurefitnees.com state that the BPM in a song “can help you time your reps, know when to boost your cadence, focus you in on your workout, and even help you regulate your breathing and heart rate”. Some people are more musically inclined, thus, they can easily count the BPM in a song, however if you have trouble doing so, then you can use this tool which would do it for you.
According to health and fitness writer Amanda Capritto, here is what BPM you should look out for in each specific workout:
Yoga, pilates and other low-intensity activities: 60 to 90 BPM
Power yoga: 100 to 140 BPM
CrossFit, indoor cycling, or other forms of HIIT: 140 to 180-plus BPM
Zumba and dance: 130 to 170 BPM
Steady-state cardio, such as jogging: 120 to 140 BPM
Weightlifting and powerlifting: 130 to 150 BPM
Warming up for exercise: 100 to 140 BPM
Cooling down after exercise: 60 to 90 BPM
Incidentally, the statisticians at Betway conducted a comprehensive research that found that one of the most popular songs in Mexico of the past decade was by Camilia who sang ‘Bésame’ with an average tempo of 128 BPM.
However, what matters most is what music feels right for you personally. Some people prefer rap music and some people prefer rock music when they do their work out. If you listen to the music you love, you will guarantee to have a more enjoyable and productive work out which should garner better results. Nevertheless, if you aren’t bothered to make your own playlist, then platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, already have some premade workout playlists.