There’s No Wrong Way to Build a Workout Playlist

Music, above all other artforms, can physically move you. No matter how good a painting is, it won’t make you feel like boogieing. So naturally, we use music to make us jump higher, run faster and push harder.

Many articles out there use science and analytics to suggest the end-all, be-all way to make a playlist, and it’s not that simple. You can’t quantify what motivates a person and where they find strength on mathematics alone.

So let’s broaden the topic of playlist creation to cater to our differences:

BPM Special

Who it’s for: The consistent and meticulous cardio buffs.

BPM, or beats per minute, is a great alternative for keeping pace. Instead of having to look down at your watch mid workout, you can create a playlist based on desired tempo.

Spotify has these playlists covered for different paces, so have at it:

If you want to make one yourself and you are trying to get as precise as possible, this is one of the better BPM calculators. There are flaws with all of them, but it’s simple enough for you to get an idea of how quick a song is.

Run2Rhythm has a great chart about which tempos equate to which pace, so it’s worth a read if you’re a serious runner who takes their playlists seriously:

Credit: Run2Rhythm.
Credit: Run2Rhythm.

Workout Warrior

Who it’s for: The go-hard-or-go-homers.

“I’ll give this set everything I’ve got and when I’m dead, I’m dead. GATTACA!”

I fall into this category, throwing out numbers and reason while using exercise as a vessel of my rage. It’s why I used to get injured all the time, so you need a lot of discipline going this route.

Working out and pushing past your limits is a mindset that takes training. It’s about strengthening your resolve as well as your body, which “Uptown Funk” isn’t going to do. But I’m ready to ruin some free weights when I hear Fuel growl, “I’m gonna bring you hell.”

This my ultimate playlist. Basically, the theme is about being broken and left for dead then rising from the wreckage. Odysseus is my muse.

If you notice some glaring omissions (Eminem’s “‘Til I Collapse,” for example), they are probably on a secret playlist that is too powerful for the public eye. Perhaps we’ll tackle that roid rage factory another time.

The Go-Tos

Who it’s for: The people who smile while running laps.

I looked at a friend’s workout playlist one day and spotted Jack Johnson and Rascal Flatts on there. That’s locker room music for when your body has already lost all of its ambition, not when you’re in the middle of the gauntlet. Though I couldn’t argue with my friend’s defense: “I like it.”

You perform better when you’re in a good mood and your favorite songs increase your endorphins. It’s not my way of doing things, but I can’t fault people who work out to country music if they are happy while doing it.

So even without the proper tempo or the killer mindset, I’ve seen people succeed just by enjoying their favorites. That’s the secret to life: making every moment as enjoyable as you can. It’s not necessarily my answer to the gym.

There is no wrong way to build a workout playlist, and the beauty is that we can use brains, brawn and emotion when building one. Whether you’re looking for pace, strength or happiness, it all works out the same.

If you have a strong stance on workout playlists or if you have a list with something I didn’t reach here, feel free to leave it in the comments.

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