Anyone consider themselves “skip” happy? Most of the time I am not and I have never really been one to make playlists. I typically just go into my Apple Music or Spotify, search for pre-made lists and go with it. Over the last few months however, especially during my workouts, I have noticed myself spending more time hitting “skip” than actually letting songs play. This is either due to the fact it’s a song that’s currently overplayed, one I’m not a fan of or it just did not fit the vibe of my workout. This becomes very annoying during a workout and at least for me throws my off my game and out of rhythm.
I have always heard that there is a science behind the BPM (beats per minute) of a song and the quality and intensity of a workout, but have never looked into it much. Last night at the gym as I reached for the next button several times in a row I decided enough was enough. When I got home I found myself googling good songs for a workout as well as reading up on beats per minute. While I read about beats per minute it hit me that music really does have an effect on your workout and I started to think to my own fitness routines. The difference between group fitness classes I have taken and how I always feel like I leave those with a “better” workout than that of one on my own. What is it about them? The fact theres other people? Well, yes. But the one thing that came to mind was that they all have kick a$$ music.
So what is BPM? As mentioned above it stands for beats per minute. This acronym might usually be associated with that of the medical field, more specifically ones heart rate. However, it also used to measure the tempo (pace or speed) of a song. The tempo correlates with the tone/mood set by the song being played thus the higher the BPM, the faster the song and the more energy one may feel from it as they listen to it. So then in contrast songs with a lower BPM have a slower tempo and may be useful for warm-ups, cool downs or one of those “chill workout” type days.
One can manually figure out the BPMs in a song by figuring out the time measure and counting the amount of beats within 60 seconds. If you are pressed for time you can also count the amount of beats within 15 seconds and then multiply that number by 4. But if you are like me and want a quick (and easier) way to figure it out there are several sites that will do it for you. Out of many that I played around with last night one that hit the top of my list is call Song BPM.
Now that we know what BPM is and how to figure it out, the new question posed is what BPM is best for what workout? I myself was unsure where to start. And long behold…. Google to the rescue again! Fun fact, while searching BPM make sure you include the keywords music and or song otherwise your feed will be filled with medical results. But I digress. Back to the topic at hand; tempo & workout. Via Cnet, I was able to find a list of workouts with target BPM ranges.
- 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
Knowing which BPM supports what workout can be beneficial to formulate your playlist to enhance your specified workout based on the goals you want to accomplish. This includes type and length. While playlists used to seem tedious to me, I am now excited for the potential to have music guide my workout over the clock. In a pervious post I shared with you my love of interval training and so one can assume playlists I make from here on out will most likely follow that pattern, i.e BPMs intermediately changing from the range of 140-180 to 120-140 and sometimes the occasional 100-140. However, if you are unsure what workout goal you intend to accomplish I would suggest making generalized playlists by BPM so you can just click in accordingly.
With that all said, I gave my first run (no pun intended) at creating a playlist. This is about a 30 minute interval playlist with about a 6 minute warm up and 6 minute cool down. The BPMS vary from 78 to 180. The first 2 songs are the “warmup” then the next 10 go in a 1 – 2 pattern and the last 2 are the “cool down.” What I mean by 1 – 2 pattern is that one song is in the steady-cardio range (120-140 bpm) then the next 2 are in the HIIT range (150-180) and then back to one song with in steady cardio and the pattern repeats. Once you hit the 13th song on the playlist this is where the cool down begins.
The thought process behind this playlist is to correlate with that of a HIIT workout. However, I did not attach a specific number to a specific song, just created ranges of intensity to reach. For the first 2 songs and the last 2 songs I would have the treadmill around 3.5 – 4.2 mph or the elliptical around a 1 or 2. For songs 3, 6, 9, and 12 (steady-cardio bpm) I would vary the treadmill each time between 4.5 and 6.0 mph or the elliptical around 3 to 5. Lastly, for songs 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11 (HIIT bpm) I would jump the mph on the treadmill to vary between 6.5 and 8.5 or the resistance on the elliptical from 6 to 8.
The playlist can be found on Spotify here.