Fitness Articles

How to Create the Perfect Workout Playlist

Boost Your Exercise Mojo with the Right Music

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4. Recovery Songs
After any pump-you-up song, it’s important to have a moderate- to slow-paced song after it to recover. Because you’ll usually be out of breath from the previous song, choose a track that you really enjoy and find meaning in. During these songs you want to slow down your pace, but still stay motivated enough to keep up your workout. Songs like “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor and “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree are perfect picks.
 
5. In-Between Songs
Unless you plan to do a full workout of intervals (in which case you’d just need a warm-up, cool down and multiple pump-you-up and recovery songs in the middle), you’re going to need some songs that hold your interest and keep you motivated. For these in-between songs, your absolute favorite moderate-paced tracks work best. For example, my guiltiest pleasure is pop music, so every time I head out for a long run, I jam-pack my iPod with Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani. My husband, on the other hand, loves Smashing Pumpkins and Oasis, so he lifts to that. A friend of mine loves Garth Brooks when he cycles. All of our workout playlists are so different, but they all work to motivate us. No matter the genre or guilty pleasure, just make sure that the beat keeps you moving. And try not to sing along too loud!
 
6. Finale Song
This is the mother of all songs on your playlist. The finale song is basically a pump-you-up song times 10 because it has to inspire you at the time in your workout when you’re the most tired—the very end! This song should remind you that you just have a little bit left to do and then motivate you to give it your all. “The Final Countdown” by Europe or “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor are sure to inspire your last few minutes.
 
7. Cool Down Track
The cool down track should be slow and give credit where credit is due—to you, of course! “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera is always a good one to play, as is “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson. Be sure to cool down for at least five minutes—you may need more than one song to cool down to, which isn’t a bad thing since it gives you more time to enjoy music that you love. 
 

You may already have a go-to workout playlist, but structuring it in this way is guaranteed to push you harder and faster! And remember, it doesn’t matter what genre of songs you choose, it just matters that you enjoy them.
 
Looking for Song Ideas?
Check out SparkPeople's Workout Music for pre-made workout mixes availble for purchase, or get more music ideas from Coach Nicole here:
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • LADYJEAN_910
    This is a very energizing idea and look forward to creating one from all eras. BTW-OLD is a state of mind. I have learned to enjoy all types of music from classical to today's tunes. REMEMBER--We are not old, we are just not as young as we used to be. [This goes for all ages so it doesn't matter what age we are.] - 5/3/2015 2:51:06 PM
  • I saw an article somewhere about how many beats per minute to target for various workout activities (e.g. cardio, walking, cool-down), but can't seem to find it now. That's what would be helfpul to me because my workout list is very eclectic - some musical, some singing, in English, French, Spanish, old songs, new songs... There are very few musical styles I don't like, so it's really a matter of variety. One thing I have noticed that works best for me is to have longer songs (e.g. 6+ minutes each), rather than changing songs every couple of minutes. - 5/2/2015 8:31:33 AM
  • Great! - 4/22/2015 2:30:35 PM
  • LEAVES7
    I agree about getting songs for over 50, actually over 70. We need a play list for us slightly over the hill folks - 1/12/2015 11:14:34 AM
  • How about songs from the '60s and '70s? - 1/12/2015 10:44:35 AM
  • CHENABEEBEE
    The problem I have with these workout song lists is they are always oriented towards the young crowd. It would be great to post a list for the older generation - music that we love. - 10/25/2014 12:39:16 PM
  • Good ideas. - 8/8/2014 5:29:09 AM
  • GRATEFULLUZ
    Great article. Thanks for the guidance- I'm off to revamp my playlist! - 8/7/2014 9:56:19 AM
  • I just created a new playlist based on this idea. Great idea!! - 8/7/2014 9:21:27 AM
  • My gym playlist, entitled "RAAAAAAAAH!!!" is nothing but METAL.
    \m/ - 8/7/2014 8:35:37 AM
  • I too also randomize my playlists. I also don't mind adding and subtracting songs once in a while...if it becomes repetitive, it's less motivating. - 8/7/2014 4:43:29 AM
  • I pretty much do the same thing - 6/23/2014 5:57:45 AM
  • MMGAGE1701
    I think the key to building a good workout playlist is to pick songs that make you feel good. They might not ever make a suggested list on a website or be something that anyone else would choose, but if they make YOU feel good then put 'em on your list! - 6/22/2014 11:06:51 AM
  • ETHELMERZ
    I'm not sure I want a "killer" track............
    ......;) - 2/9/2014 1:52:17 PM
  • Good article - music can be the key to pushing through a workout when you want to give up. - 11/28/2013 6:19:16 AM

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