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Let's Get Physical - The Best Music for Exercise

Let's Get Physical - The Best Music for Exercise

Written by

James Picken


January 9, 2023



Every New Year, so many of us set a goal to focus more on exercise. But what is the best music to listen to for your gains?

If getting in shape is one of your new year’s resolutions, you’re not alone. For the fourth consecutive year, doing more exercise or improving fitness tops the list for more than half of Britons (53%) who intend to make a resolution for 2023. 

One of the most important factors to motivation when working out is the music you choose to listen to. At Startle, we know the impact music can have on behaviour and mood - so what’s the best music to listen to to get motivated in the gym? 

How can it help?

Research shows that the right music can boost workout performance and even encourage you to exercise for longer

“Humans have a tendency to lock into a rhythm, and that has a direct influence on physical work rate.”

-Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., a sports psychology profressor at Brunel University London. 

Listening to tunes while you workout can reduce how tired you feel (studies show that listening to music will reduce your perception of how hard a workout is by 10%), distract you from the strain on your muscles, improve your mood, and it can even influence your heart rate to be faster or slower. Ultimately, if you’re struggling through a set and a song you love comes on, you’re likely to enjoy the exercise more. 

Exercise can be great for our mental health as well as our physical, so the endorphins of the exercise in combination with the influence of music can be a winning combination to make you feel great post-workout. 

Consider the tempo

When choosing the right music for your workout, BPM is one of the most important things to consider. Matching the tempo of a song with your heart rate can keep you motivated to push through. 

Not sure what BPM to go for? Here’s a general guide, depending on the type of exercise you’re doing:

  • Yoga, pilates and low-intensity activities: 60 to 90 BPM 
  • CrossFit and HIIT: 140 to 180-plus BPM
  • Zumba and dance: 130 to 170 BPM
  • Steady-state cardio, e.g jogging: 120 to 140 BPM
  • Weightlifting: 130 to 150 BPM
  • Warming up: 100 to 140 BPM
  • Cooling down: 60 to 90 BPM

Just for fun, we took a look at Men’s Health’s top 10 workout songs, their BPMs, and what type of exercise we think they’d be great for. It seems that despite his controversies, Kanye West’s Power is a popular choice for many workout playlists, appearing alongside some female anthems like Juicy by Doja Cat and Motivation by Normani.

Top 10 best workout songs

Song BPM Exercise
PowerKanye West
154 Weightlifting
Lose YourselfEminem
171 HIIT
Level UpCiara
153 Dance
PressureMartin Garrix & Tove Lo
115 Jogging
"Savage Remix"Megan Thee Stallion & Beyonce
84 A cool down treadmill strut
What's My Age Again?Blink 182
158 Running
JuicyDoja Cat
170 Weightlifting (squatting, obviously)
PynkJanelle Monae
101 Warming up
171 CrossFit
94 Yoga

If you’re really keen on getting the most out of your workout session, why not curate the perfect playlist, transitioning between BPMs?

A carefully curated playlist

Perfect playlists are our bread and butter. 

Preparing your playlist before hitting the gym can really enhance your session. Why not have specific songs in time with specific parts of your workout? That way, you can know if you’re on track time wise and the music will match your heart rate.

You also don’t want to have to dig your phone out from your pocket mid-set - having the perfect playlist set out will stop you from having to have an unintentional break (unless you’re using it as an excuse - we won’t tell). 

Now it's time to hit the gym!

Music for stretching, for sprinting, for spinning and spotting, for treadmills and dumbbells and doing just one more rep. 

Get in touch here.

Let's Get Physical - The Best Music for Exercise

James Picken

Creative Director at Startle. It's my job to produce and execute our music output, making sure everything is sounding, feeling and performing just right for our customers. When I'm not doing this, you can find me either walking my dog, remixing 90s divas on Logic Pro X, returning overdue library books or throwing weights about in the gym.

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