Anyone that hits the gym can vouch that although working out can be both fun and a stress relief, it can also get a bit tedious if your're there for over an hour with no music or worst bad music. Ever notice with the right song playing, you feel like you can just blow through a workout.
Well turns out there actually is science behind this. Scientists have actually been studying the links between music and exercise since 1911, when US researcher Leonard Ayres discovered that cyclists pedaled faster with a band playing. In the time since the field of research has only grown.
What has been discovered is that the body naturally tends to synchronize its movements with music and its rhythms, so the right kind of playlist will help maintain your stamina for longer periods and cause you to speed up and slow down in accordance with the songs you’re listening to.
Much of this research has been summarized and improved upon by Brunel University London’s Dr. Costas Karageorghis, a leader in sports psychology who found across 60 studies that music can help maintain stamina and positivity while also lowering levels of fatigue.
With the right musical motivation, you can enter what is known as a “flow state” while working out, wherein music helps induce the same kind of alpha wave brain activity we usually experience in our resting state. Basically, the best workout music should help immerse you completely in the routine and give you the feeling of working on autopilot rather than overexerting yourself.
But what songs specifically drive you to finally achieve that personal best? World record-holding marathon runner Paula Radcliffe loves listening to “Stronger” by Kanye West. Which I will admit is a good gym song, I have it on my play list and it really gets me turned up on the tread mill. But not to worry, if ur not a fan of Kanye theres plenty of other stuff you can sub for.
According to Scientific American, the key to crafting the ultimate workout playlist is a phenomenon scientists call rhythm response, in which your body tries to align its respiration rate and heartbeat with the music you’re listening to.
Dr. CK and his team of psychologists conducted an analysis of 6.7 million Spotify playlists with the word “workout” in the title and compared the beats per minute (bpm) of each song. They discovered that certain music genres are more effective than others, and to complicate things further, the type of music you should listen to also plays a role as well which I'll get into more a bit later.
Results are obviously going to vary depending on the person and the type of music ur into, but it seems that pop music contains the best bpm to get things started in the warm-up and again while cooling down at the end. Whether running on a treadmill or out in the open, hip-hop provides the best beats, while dance music is more effective if you’re focused on high-intensity workouts such as strength training.
Some may think that rock and dub step would be great for the gym but turns out, Frequent changes in tempo can actually disrupt your rhythm. Of course it's not an exact science, but if you’re not into switching genres mid-workout, it seems like hip-hop the best bet, which you probably guessed already.
Most hip-hop songs have a bpm of between 65 and 75, which is what many scientists consider to be the optimum range. Things actually top out around the 145bpm mark. According to research, songs faster than that won’t make you work out any harder, so finding your sweet spot is key.
Personally I found that there's way too many sing songy rap songs these days. The last time I tried to work out to the rap caviar playlist, I sent more time hitting the skip button than I did hitting the weights.
But studies show, People are more likely to maintain their exercise regime with songs they’ve picked themselves, and it’s also vital to keep mixing things up to stave off boredom over the long term.
Dr. CK suggests that workout playlists should only be listened to during the workout itself, or you run the risk of becoming desensitized to the music’s positive effects.
Don't forget to double check that your phone and headphones are charged, least you be subjected to that bad music that I mentioned earlier. Lucky for me the desk girl/DJ at my mma gym has good taste since I obviously can't wear headphones and fight so good deal.