There are many advantages to supplementing your exercise with music. Not only can music provide a distraction from your environment so that you can focus on your exercises, it can distract you from the aches and pains of a workout. Music can help regulate your breathing and set your pace like a metronome. The perfect song can pump you up and push you to your limit. The perfect workout playlist can be the difference between running an extra mile and giving up after the first.
Creating the best workout playlist isn't easy. You can't just put your iPod on shuffle or stream music from a station on Pandora. First, you'll need to make sure you have a pair of sweat proof wireless earbuds. When your heart rate's up and sweat is dripping off your chin, it's critical that your wireless earphones don't short out from all that moisture. Next, you need to consider the type of workout you're going to do. The same playlist you use for an evening of running shouldn't be the same playlist you create for lifting weights. But most of all, make sure that your favorite songs play during the peak of your workout.
Your warm-up should only consist of two or three songs at most. This is the time where you're preparing your body and your mind for what's ahead. You don't want any songs that are too fast or too aggressive. Rock anthems are great warm-up songs because they aren't fast and the typically epic buildups are a great way to get your heart ready.
Recommendations: "We Are the Champions" by Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, "Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance.
The pace of your songs can have a major effect on the pace of your running. Without even realizing it, you'll match the pace of whatever song is playing. A website called Jog.FM is a great resource for finding the BPM of songs so that you can create playlists to meet your needs. For most people, songs with a BPM between 120 and 140 are ideal for maintaining a brisk pace, though you may need slower or faster songs. It's a good idea to test out different BPMs to see where you feel most comfortable. You should also pick songs with a straight 4/4 beat. Songs with funky beats and odd time signatures can throw you off your stride. Punk rock is rich with these types of songs.
This workout playlist can consist of as many songs as you want, but it's a good idea to plan according to the distance that you're planning to run. For example, if you plan to run five miles at about nine minutes per mile, you'll need a playlist that lasts at least 45 minutes. You should start with a song that's around 120 BPM and gradually add faster songs as the playlist progresses. You may also want to slow it down for the second to last song and finish with the fastest song on your playlist.
Recommendations: "Fun Night" by Andrew W.K., "Ready to Fall" by Rise Against, "Breeding Thorns" by Soilwork, "Turn Soonest to the Sea" by Protest the Hero, "Clayman" by In Flames.
A weightlifting playlist is similar to a running playlist in that the pace of a song can set the pace of your reps and you want songs with comfortable rhythms. Unlike with a running playlist, you want songs with a slower BPM. Picking songs that are on the more aggressive side of your musical tastes is also a good idea. You want your adrenaline to be peaked when you're lifting weights. Testosterone-fueled songs set the mood. While metal and hardcore music are acquired tastes that can take time to develop, they are rich genres full of aggressive music to bring out your inner beast.
Recommendations: "Aphrodite: The Disillusionaire" by The Showdown, "Image of the Invisible" by Thrice, "Digital Veil" by The Human Abstract, "Ultraviolet Suspension" by Cardio Kazan.
Whether you've finished a long run or an hour of CrossFit, you should always spend time cooling down. You want to ease your heart rate down to its resting rate slowly while you stretch. Many people like to turn off the music at this point, which isn't a bad idea. The wrong song can keep your heart rate up, making it more difficult to cool down. If you must have music, you should choose slow, soothing songs.
Recommendations: "Santa Maria" by The Frames, "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers, "State Hospital" by Frightened Rabbit.