Whether it’s Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (or, um, Kate Bush’s “Running Up that Hill”), exercising in time to music can improve your performance — by as much as 15 per cent, according to Dr Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University.
“Our research indicates that there is a narrow band of music tempi, or ‘sweet spot’, preferred by exercise participants — between 125–140bpm,” he says.
That means anything from Hot Chip’s “Boy from School” to MIA’s “Bad Girls”, should you be making a Spotify playlist. Which you could do, or you could just listen to the one we've put together below.
“High-energy pop tracks can be best for moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, while aggressive, bass-driven music, such as hip-hop, might be used to psych yourself up before a weight- training session,” Karageorghis says.
“Warm up with slower music, and increase the tempo as the intensity builds up, then decrease for the cool-down phase. Pick familiar tracks with strong lyrical affirmations which can be especially motivational and can help you to push through your workout.”
Karageorghis also suggests changing your playlist every two weeks and doing one workout without a soundtrack for every two with music to prevent the tunes from losing their potency as a motivational aid.
Well-selected music can have an untold effect on athletic performance. The right music can really help spur you on during an endurance event, while a relaxing track can help to slow down your heart rate.
Tell me your favourite tracks to train to: @harryjamesonPT
THE SPRINT TRACK : Chase & Status “Take Me Away”
The fast beat and deep bass-line drop is perfect for sprint intervals: a great fat burner.
The Exercise. Try running on a treadmill at your comfortable pace.
Increase the incline to 10 per cent for 45 secs, then flat for 60 secs, repeat 6–10 times depending on your fitness level.
WEIGHT-LIFTING TRACK : Jay-Z “Public Service Announcement”
Listening to hip-hop when doing weights or training clients is a personal favourite, but anything a little angry will do.
The Exercise: Add a twist with an isometric hold for 8–10-secs mid-set (after five reps hold the bar 4ins off your chest for 8–10 secs, then complete with the other five reps).
THE COOL DOWN TRACK: The Marriage of Figaro “Sull’aria...”
Classical music is great to relax to. Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with anything from Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and The Wailers.
The Exercise: my favourite stretch for the hamstrings and calves
is a yoga move. Try performing 3–4 “downward dogs”, holding each one
for 20–30 secs after your workout.
You can listen to our fitness playlist, put together by the Esquire team, below: