With Heart Zones Curated Playlists
Picture this. You’re on the last rep of a new personal record in the weight room, or you’re on the home stretch of your final lap around the track. Heart is pounding, sweat is pouring down your back, and your headphones are buzzing to the sound of a beat. We all know how powerful workout music can be—it’s our motivator, our gym buddy, our jogging partner—providing us with a beat to sync our movements to, and challenging us to finish strong. The best workout music is our loudest cheerleader, so it’s important we choose a playlist that compliments a killer workout. Knowing the why is important.
People often ask, what is the best workout music I can listen to? First, having a long list of songs to pull from can break up your routine and implement a healthy mix of rhythms to get you rolling. Monotony can squash a good workout, and who wants to listen to the same workout music over and over again anyway? Secondly, it’s key to choose music tempos that establish a good rhythm for you to coordinate movements to. According to Costas Karageorghis, an associate professor of sport psychology at Brunel University in England, one of the most important elements of good workout music is song tempo, which should fall between 120-140 beats per minute (BPM), or preferably “stride matched music” which is when the beat of the music exactly matches the steps of your stride. Rather than a range of music, matching tempo to stride rate is optimum because you perform better:
- Your perception of effort (RPE) is lowered so it is more comfortable to workout at a higher intensity.
- The way the brain works, or coherence, is that with synchronized music to the tempo of your activity results in brain harmony.
- Your performance improves with the sensation of less fatigue and pain and more joy.
This range relates to the average person’s heart rate during regular exercise. Workout music that matches this tempo include “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa and “Umbrella” by Rihanna, to give you an idea. Lastly, when you’re trying to find the best workout music for you, find something that empowers and engages you to push personal limits. If you’re listening to music that you like and you’re in a good mood, you’re more likely to crush your workout. It’s that simple.
Maybe you still aren’t sure how to find music that works for you. Luckily, Heart Zones is the expert in heart-based fitness training and we know a thing or two about a good beat.
Did you know that we have over 30 curated playlists that you can access on Spotify? To access, simply search “Heart Zones” on Spotify and click on our profile. Our workout music was carefully crafted and optimized to match cycling workouts in our Threshold Cycling™ book, but these free playlists can give you a general feel for what you should be looking for in the best workout music.
Sure, workout music can help personalize your workout, but Heart Zones patented heart zone training methodology can make it even more personal. Download the Heart Zones Training application for iOS or Android and take a self-test to set your individual heart rate zones before you start jamming to our workout music. This way, you get a better idea of your performance capabilities in each zone—blue, yellow, and red—and you start to understand what music is best to listen to in each zone, making it easier to synchronize yourself to the beat.
Warm up on low resistance for ~7 minutes with Dog Days Are Over and Take Me Home from the playlist. This workout music is perfect to help you keep the heart rate in your personal blue zone because the tempo is slow and the warm-up is easy.
Now, we’re going to cycle through your mid- and top-yellow zones. Start targeting your mid-yellow zone, aka Zone 3, with a quick cadence and increased gears for ~5 minutes, and listen to This Is War to amp yourself up a bit. Next, move to your top-yellow zone for ~10 minutes by alternating between sitting and standing as you ride. We recommend listening to Wake Me Up and Antidote while you’re in this zone. Before we hit your red zone, drop back down to mid-yellow for ~4 minutes while you listen to Havana, and then start building yourself back up again with Dancing Queen as you ride through your top-yellow zone for ~4 minutes.
It’s time to kick it into full gear for ~8 minutes and bop to the beat of Word Up and Ain’t It Fun as you cruise through your personal red zone, increasing your cadence and resistance while you listen to great workout music.
Hit your mid- and top-yellow zones again before giving it one final push in the red zone. Decrease speed and resistance so that you’re safely in the mid-yellow zone for ~7 minutes while listening to Demons and Madness, two of our favorite workout music jams. Then, head into the top-yellow zone for ~3.5 minutes with Can’t Stop as you prepare yourself for the red zone. Seriously, you can’t stop now!
One final push here in your red zone for ~3.5 minutes! Break on through this tough ending with the song Break On Through—you can do this!
While it’s important to train in each zone throughout the workout, it’s equally as important to focus on your heart rate recovery time to train effectively. Finally, work your way back down to your blue zone for ~8 minutes while you listen to some great cool down workout music—Alaska and Crash Into Me.
Now that you have an idea of what truly makes the best workout music, you can take a stab at making your own workout playlist. Or, you can follow Heart Zones on Spotify and check out 34 playlists that motivate, engage, and inspire us to train smarter every day. If you loved our zone cycling set to workout music, check out our other book and DVDs that help you train your heart and pump up the heat to an effective beat.