TIPS – How I choose music for a workout playlist

I’ve learned a few things along the way when it comes to workout music.

One of the toughest things about getting on the workout train is I struggle getting outside (even in the sun). But when I know I’ve got a kick ass playlist to look forward to, I am a little more get-up-and-go.

Generally, I have an appreciation for almost all kinds of music (sorry Country music people — you’re the exception) and will listen to almost anything.

I’m not going to give you songs to listen to — what I’m going to do here is similar to that ‘teach a man to fish’ adage: pass on some advice to you that might be useful for picking music for a workout playlist if you’re struggling to find beats that make you want to walk 5K or run 10K.

Pick more obviously upbeat music

Anything with a solid back beat is good (a back beat usually places emphasis on the second and fourth beats of a song). Particularly where I’m doing something like walking, for example, I like the extra ‘oomph’ on my second and fourth beats because it gives me a push. I like something I can also bop my head to when I’m lifting weights, because while I generally like doing arm exercises, I don’t like lifting heavy things repetitively. Having upbeat music to distract me gets those reps done pretty fast.

Your favourite artists are a good place to start, but…

I have a LOT of favourites. At the start, very few of my songs were from artists that I had just discovered or wasn’t really into. Most of my music is mainstream dance/electronic, K-Pop and alternative, but I do have some rap on there. I also have a lot of “throwback” stuff I’m still in love with to this day. I don’t let what’s coming out on the airwaves now prevent me from listening to stuff from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and more!

…if you have a music subscription service, click on the “more like so-and-so” options!

I use Google Play, which I like more than Spotify. What sells me on Google Play is I get way more recommendations for similar artists or songs I might like because I listened to [insert song or artist here] than I do on Spotify. The range of options are better in my opinion on Google Play than on Spotify. I also generally don’t like iTunes and it’s been a while since I’ve been on there so I unfortunately can’t draw any comparisons, but I find there is far more effort by Google to explore music in the Play store than anywhere else. I’d say about 40 per cent of my music library has come out of the recommendation options, which gives my music list more variety and keeps me moving.

Don’t be afraid to extend your playlists — or just get rid of them altogether

I don’t really have playlists anymore, and just hit ‘shuffle’ on my entire song list. That allows me to rediscover old favourites, and incorporate new songs. For example, I like to work out to Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Spice Girls, Linkin Park, Kanye West’s older stuff (think College Dropout and Late Registration) Carpenter Brut, Psy and Zedd. You can’t get more eclectic than that!

If you can, try to stay away from depressing lyrics

I just cited Linkin Park, and they are an example of some of the moodier artists that I’ll listen to. When something that doesn’t motivate me to keep going comes on, I simply skip it. I am a massive Linkin Park fan, (with the death of Chester Bennington it’s recently been a little tougher to listen to their music) and while I’m likely to listen to quite a few songs from them while working out (I still love “Points of Authority” for when I’m warming up for a longer workout, for example), I’m also likely to skip some of their music, too. (I won’t listen to “Shadow of the Day” at all during a session.) If you’re super lazy about skipping songs, this is where I’d probably bring the playlist back — and just put all your workout favourites on that roster.

What kinds of songs do you go to when you work out? Have any suggestions for my playlist? Drop me a line in the comments section, or on Twitter! 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.