You know that scene in "High Fidelity" where John Cusack is touting the importance of the perfectly crafted mix tape? A tape that has to kick off with a killer track to grab attention, then take it up a notch, then cool it off a notch? |
Sure, that guy was creating a playlist to woo a girl, but he was on to something. Little did he know, he was also giving us words of wisdom on how to best create a set of tunes for a high-energy workout. Every great workout playlist has a set of components that keeps you feeling inspired, empowered and energized from your warm-up
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1. The Warm-Up Song
As John Cusack says, you have to kick off a playlist with a killer track that grabs your attention. Choose a song here that inspires and motivates you, but has a moderate tempo. During this song you’ll be doing some light stretching and easy movements to warm you up, and you don’t want to be rushed, so choose a song that’s at least four minutes long. Songs like "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson or "Crazy" by Aerosmith are good candidates for an appropriate warm-up song tempo. However, the best warm-up songs are those that build in intensity and have a super inspirational message. "Proud" by Heather Smalls, for example, is an excellent choice.
2. The Get-
The second song
3. The Pump-You-Up Songs
Playlists that feature songs with varying beat speeds are a perfect way to naturally work some intervals into your workout—maybe without you even noticing—because people naturally pick up their pace when a fast song is playing and slow down their pace when a slow song is on. For this reason, be sure to throw at least one or two super-fast and high-energy songs in your playlist. You want these songs to be music that is darn-near impossible to sit still to. Some of my go-to favorites include "Hey Ya" by Outkast and "Maniac," the "Flashdance" theme, by Michael Sembello. The fast tempo will help you to burn more calories and have a blast while doing it.
4. The 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. The 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. The Finale Song
This is the mother of all songs on your playlist. The
7. The 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 too, 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.