If you’re anything like me, music is a powerful motivator to get moving. Heck, let’s be real; if you’re a human with a pulse, music is a powerful motivator to get moving. I made a goal for this week: to do something exercise-ey every day. Today I set the alarm early to get up for a 40 minute Booty Call, and I’m goin’ a-running! I’ve had the idea to make a playlist specifically for interval running sessions – because I find it so much more satisfying to run intervals based on the length of a song than on an alarm on my watch – so I thought I’d take today’s How Tuesday to share mine with you, and show you how to take all the guess work out of making a rockin’ playlist of your own, custom made for your workout needs.
Decide what type of a workout you want to make a playlist for. I wanted about an hour of music for interval training. Interval training means changing up your pace, so I decided to shoot for a more-or-less equal number of songs falling within three ranges of BPM (beats per minute). For hard running I wanted a BPM of between 180 (optimum running tempo) and 170-ish, for jogging I wanted songs in the 160’s – 150’s BPM range, and for walking any BPM’s in the 140’s to 120’s would do me just fine.
Head over to jog.fm to start looking for music. What’s that? You haven’t heard of jog.fm? Honey, you need to head over there! It has never been so easy to find exactly the music you need to get you going! Jog.fm lets you search music by name, genre, hottest or most added, and – most importantly – by your target mile time or BPM! I spent hours sitting in front of my itunes with a metronome trying to figure out how many BPM my favorite songs were. This takes all the stress and guess-work out of finding exactly the music to motivate you. From jog.fm you can listen to your music for free on Spotify, which is convenient if you have a printed out workout or one from a magazine that you can do at home, near your computer. Jog.fm also links directly to iTunes or AmazonMP3 so you can purchase the music to make your playlist.
Narrow your choices. I searched for music in my ranges and click-clicked away to add to my playlist. Since I love a lot of music, I ended up with over three hours worth of songs. (Jog.fm also tells you how many songs you have on your playlist and how long it is. So handy!) This is good and bad, good because you can make several playlists with different lengths for different workouts, bad because you have to cut so many great songs. Be brutal though; the song you sing your heart out to on your evening commute may not be the song that makes you push through that last ten minutes. Like Indiana Jones, choose wisely.
Song order. Arrange your songs thinking about how each one begins and ends. You want to feel like one song leads into another, or at least makes sense for your musical sensibilities right next to each other. For example, I would feel jarred and disjointed going from Bjork to Bon Jovi, but Bjork to Portishead? Now we’re talking.
Another thing to consider when deciding the order of your songs is how you want your workout to go. Do you want to let your tempo rise and fall, or do true intervals by alternating faster and slower songs? I chose to do the latter. I made sure to start with a slower song for a warm-up. In the last four songs I stacked two fast-paced songs followed by two of the slowest songs on my list. I wanted to really have to push at the end, then have plenty of time for a cool-down. I plan to listen to my playlist as-is until I get tired of it, then change things up by hitting shuffle. I think it’s fun when I don’t know what’s coming next, plus shaking up your routine is great for optimizing fitness.
Download your playlist to your music player of choice, lace up your shoes, and get your booty moving!
As promised, here is one of the playlists I came up with. There’s a little bit of everything on there, and it really gave my morning run a boost. I went ahead and included the song titles with BPM’s listed below the image.
- Viva la Vida by Coldplay – 138 BPM
- Hey Ya! by Outkast – 160 BPM
- Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz – 139 BPM
- Paper Planes by M.I.A. – 172 BPM
- Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springstein – 148 BPM
- Ignorance by Paramore – 171 BPM
- Spiderwebs by No Doubt – 142 BPM
- Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz – 168 BPM
- Suffragette City by Bowie – 137 BPM
- Objection (Tango) by Shakira (total guilty pleasure) – 179 BPM
- Born to Run (natch) by Bruse Springstein – 147 BPM
- Misery Business by Paramore – 173 BPM
- Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benitar – 181 BPM
- The Edge of Glory by Gaga – 128 BPM
- Raise Your Glass by P!nk – 122 BPM
What songs do you love to sweat to?