“My uptown girl! You know I’m in love with an uptown girl!” As these lyrics pump through your headphones, it’s easy to forget that while Billy Joel sings to you, you’re actually running on the treadmill. This is the power of music during a workout. While Billy’s girl is looking for a “downtown man,” you’re busy burning calories as the minutes just fly by…
Music can be an important addition to your workout routine, something that can make a good workout great. Often, if you are concentrating on music, you can workout at a higher intensity than normal. Tunes can distract you from mild pain and muscle fatigue, allowing you to push your body harder. Just like it is important to customize your workout routine, it is also beneficial to tailor your musical choices to fit your tastes. If you are lucky enough to enjoy the music played in your gym, then it isn’t any extra effort to enjoy this source of motivation. If, however, your gym’s choices leave much to be desired, simply create your own mix and tote your headset to your workout.
If you don’t have a workout buddy, use your “mix tape” to psych yourself up and get the energy flowing. You might try listening to fast-paced music on the way to the gym just to get into a better mindset. Once you are there, that beat can help you ease into a comfortable rhythm while running, walking, or biking. For some extra variety, switch-up the pace (or even machine!) every time the song changes. Do this for 30 minutes, and you’ll have completed a great cardio workout.
There is a lot of technology that makes listening to custom music choices much easier. From portable radios to CD players, you can bring an entire music library with you to the gym. Perhaps the ultimate, however, is a personal MP3 player, which can often hold thousands of songs that you pick and legally download. All you need to do is put on the earphones and hit play.
There are countless CDs available that are specifically mixed for working out. Some are specific for different workouts, from syncopated songs for kickboxing to disco-themed melodies for step aerobics. Try one that fits both your musical and workout tastes. 80’s music might motivate you, while hip-hop is better for your workout buddy. Expect to pay anywhere from $15-25 for any given CD, available online or even at your local music store.
Perhaps the best option is creating your own custom CD or MP3 playlist. Start with a slower song, work up to several more up-tempo songs, and then include one or two tunes to cool down at the end. Coordinate your workout intensity with each song, picking up pace as the beat speeds up. Depending on the length of each song, expect to listen to around 10 different songs during a 30-minute cardio workout.
Click here to learn more about exercise intensity, including how to use the RPE scale.