The perfect workout playlist

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As summer is officially over, workout playlists are replacing the summer soundtracks at the top of the iTunes and Spotify charts. The acoustic indie chill will soon be changed to pumping EDM ready for a fitness surge. MF investigates the scientific premise behind the success of workout playlists as Dr Karageorghis from Brunel University gives insight into creating the perfect gym mix.

Karageorhis, an expert on the effect of music on exercise and the leading coordinator of live music for London’s ‘Run to the Beat’ marathon, revealed that the vast majority of playlists and workout CDs don’t have any scientific premise and are based on the preferred genres of people brought up in certain eras.

Creating a workout playlist should be based on personal preference, it can reduce the feeling of physical strain by 10%, increase focus and reduce boredom. To reap these benefits in your workout regime follow this 15-track playlist model.

Click here to find the best Spotify workout playlists

Lasting an optimum 45–60 minutes the playlist will help get your workout done before your hormone levels drop at the hour mark - when training becomes less effective. It will keep you motivated and add excitement by inducing memories from the past.

Tracks 1-3: Lyrical affirmation as you enter the arena and warm-up

The first few songs on your playlist are designed to fire you up and add motivation so you strut into the gym, brimming with confidence. Maintain these levels of motivation as you complete a short warm-up by choosing songs with lyrics you can personally relate to.

Karageorghis says: ‘Having a close relationship to the lyrics of a song will help you gain focus - a perfect example is Michael Phelps. As he entered the pool at the London Olympics he used songs with lyrics he could relate to. His most used track was ‘I’m Me’ by Lil Wayne.’

MF’s pick:

1. Eminem – Lose Yourself BPM 86

2. Jay Z - 99 Problems BPM 93

3. Kanye West – Stronger BPM 104

Tracks 4-7: Sync to the beat as you take to the weights

Think of a song with a repetitive beat and tempo that you can begin to sync your movements to. You can control the motions of lifting weights in time with the music and use it to feel each muscle being isolated.

Karageorghis says: ‘With the right training you can sync your exercise motions to the rhythmical aspects of the music and work at a high intensity tempo. Overall this can improve your endurance, make you more energy efficient and have a work enhancing effect.’

MF’s pick:

4. Disclosure – White Noise BPM 120

5. Kiesza – Hideaway BPM 123

6. Route 94 – My Love BPM 120

7. Breach – Jack BPM 124

Tracks 8-9: Film songs as you move on to the next set of exercises

Having a song or theme tune from one of your favourite films is a must have track in your playlist. It will suddenly mix up the type of music you are listening to and kick-start new momentum when you start feeling tired. Think of a scene or inspirational moment where your favourite character triumphs.

Karageorghis says: ‘Film songs can work particularly well because of the association with a films character, scene or morale of the story. Take Superman, Indiana Jones or Rocky for example. A lot of people report that those sound tracks have a potent effect on them.’

MF’s pick:

8. The Power Rangers - Theme Tune BPM 100

9. Rocky – Training Montage (Not eye of the tiger) BPM 116

Tracks 10-12: Favourite genre to see past the half-way burn

By delaying your favourite genre of music until after the mid-way stage in your workout it will stop you getting bored and wanting to throw the towel in early. Your favourite genre will help you zone out from all outside distractions and keep you working focused on your goals.

Karageorghis says: ‘Ultimately listening to your favourite genre will reduce the boredom factor and make training more enjoyable. Unfortunately if you are into classical music this probably won’t work. Slow and ambient music is not useful for training unless it is during the warm down stage.’

MF’s pick: (Genre – House Music)

10. NiCe7 – Time To Get Physical BPM 124

11. Eats Everything – Jagged Edge BPM 122

12. Marlon Hoffstadt Dansson – Shake That BPM 121

Tracks 13-15: Blast from the past to finish the workout strong

To finish the session strong listening to music from your upbringing will induce positive memories and a desire to stay to the very end. Think of a variety of songs and genres that played a pivotal part in your teenage years or as a young adult.

Karageorghis says: ‘Some of the best songs for playlists are based on what the individuals are exposed to during their formative year. If somebody has been brought up on urban music then listening to something like hard rock can have a negative influence on them. Go for something inspiring from your past.’

MF’s pick:

13. Dizzee Rascal – Just A Rascal BPM 90

14. Limp Bizkit- Rollin BPM 97

15. Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive BPM 104

MF likes to hit every session with high intensity and crawl out the gym just about Stayin’ Alive.