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How To Build A Motivating Workout Playlist

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How To Build A Motivating Workout Playlist
Workout Playlist

Listening to music while you exercise can make training a lot more fun — whether it’s to pump yourself up during a workout or to give yourself the push you need to keep going, music can help spark your motivation and positively affect your routine. 

In fact, scientific studies have shown that listening to music is more likely to put you in a better mood and may even make you work harder! According to the American Council on Exercise, “by listening to music, people tend to enjoy exercise more because they focus less on their breathing and perceive it to be less taxing. Music can encourage people to exercise harder.”

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some tips to help you create a motivating workout playlist for every training style.

How to choose workout songs

Your workout playlist should include songs you enjoy listening to, but won’t distract you from training hard.

Use these tips to select the best tracks for your workouts:

  • Choose upbeat and energising tracks that will keep you moving.
  • Listen to songs that have inspiring or motivational lyrics.
  • Pick music that suits your workout style — the music you listen to during a HIIT workout might be different from the music you choose for a powerbuilding workout.
  • Consider the beat — working out in time to the music's beat can help you get into your “zone” and make the most of your session.

If the tempo of your favourite song doesn’t match the intensity of your workout — find a remix with a faster beat! 

Sort your songs by beat

BPM, or beats per minute, refers to the tempo (speed) of the music. Organising your music by beat can give you a head start to creating a powerful workout playlist — and matching your movement to the rhythm and tempo of the music can make it easier to get into your “workout zone”.

Music sites and apps like iTunes provide the option to sort your songs by BPM — some sites can even speed up songs, or slow them down!

The American Council on Exercise recommends music with a 120-140 bpm tempo to promote coordination and maintain continuous movement patterns, particularly during strength training. “When lifting weights you don’t want your music so slow that it’s de-motivating, but you don’t want super-fast music that makes you feel rushed or anxious.” Choosing music that gets your adrenaline pumping can harness your motivation, reduce the perception of fatigue and allow you to get that extra rep done.

A cardio session might require music with a higher tempo depending on your cadence (how often you take a step or if you’re cycling, how often you turn the pedal). Runners typically have a high cadence, so an ideal tempo is 150-190bpm. For cycling or walking, 80-110bpm is a good place to start. 

Results from a 2020 study on “The psychological effects of different tempo music on endurance versus high-intensity performances” published in Frontiers in Psychology found that music may be considered an important tool to stimulate people engaging in low-intensity physical exercise. It also has benefits in stressful conditions as well as during endurance and high-intensity training.

Best Workout Songs

How to build the best workout playlist

Ideally, you want the music to flow with you through the workout, with the pace building through the warm-up, climaxing during bursts of high-intensity, and easing as you move into a cool down.

The different stages of your workout provide an opportunity to add variety to your playlist. Follow these seven simple steps to create an organised collection of your favourite workout tunes:

1. Set your intention

The first song in your playlist should set the intention for your workout — uplifting music can be an instant mood-booster after a long day!

2. Move with your breath

Breathe deeply with the second track as your muscles begin to get warm. From this point onwards, your workout playlist should complement your training style. 

3. Activate your muscles

Now it’s time to begin your workout, starting with a warm-up to activate and prepare your muscles for the session. Ease mindfully into each movement — and remember to have fun! 

4. Boost the intensity

Choose music to reflect an increase in the intensity of your workout — utilise the tempo and bass of faster tracks to motivate you to put in your maximum effort. 

5. Keep your momentum going

The final stages of your workout can be tough, so choosing tracks that have an irresistible beat and motivational lyrics can help you stay strong until the end. 

Keep varying the tempo of your songs at this stage of your workout playlist as you near the end of your workout. 

6. Finish strong

The final few “power tunes” should motivate you to end your workout on a high note.

7. Cool down

A cool down is important to help your body recover for your next workout. Allow for 5-10 minutes of cool-down music while you stretch. 

Now that you have an idea of how to create your workout playlist, you can get started today to make tomorrow’s workout amazing! 

An important tip to remember is to make sure your playlist is longer than your workout — it’s better to run overtime than to finish your workout in silence.

Best Songs For Strength Training

Sweat workout playlists for any training style

You can maintain your fitness motivation by updating your workout playlist regularly. Need inspo? The Sweat trainers have curated workout playlists on Apple Music and Spotify with tunes they use to get in the zone and get sweaty!

Simply tap the music icon during your workout, select your music provider and a playlist — then you’re ready to get started.

Workout songs for strength training

If you’re doing one of Kelsey Wells’ PWR programs, you’ll be familiar with the workout structure: After a five-minute warm-up, you’ll complete two activation sets before moving on to the circuits and supersets. 

You’ll want to save the tracks that motivate you most for the supersets — they’ll help you power through until the end of the workout. 

Kelsey has created killer PWR playlists chosen by the PWR Community to get you through each stage of her strength workouts.

Workout songs for high-intensity training

Sweat trainer and co-founder Kayla Itsines’ High Intensity with Kayla (formerly BBG) workouts include four challenging circuits, each one is seven minutes long. They’re heart-pumping sessions, so you’ll need a workout playlist to match. 

Kayla regularly updates her Sweat playlists so you can feel energised, stay motivated and never get bored!

Alternatively, if you love Samantha Ortiz Young’s energy, her Low Impact HIIT with Samantha playlist will get you moving with a smile on your face — right until the very end of each session!

Workout songs for powerbuilding

The workouts in Stephanie Sanzo’s BUILD program begin with warm-up sets, followed by primary movements to get you ready for the supersets at the climax of the workout. 

Steph has prepared a BUILD workout playlist with her top workout tracks to help you stay focussed during every workout.

Workout songs for circuit training

If you’ve tried Chontel Duncan’s FIERCE program, you’ll know the workouts include a variety of training techniques that maintain an upbeat and steady pace. 

Unlike Kayla’s signature short workouts, Chontel’s workouts take around 40 minutes to complete, so you’ll need a longer playlist to suit. Chontel’s workout playlist will get you in the mood to power through your workouts with her favourite energetic r&b and hip-hop tunes.

Anissia Hughes has also created a fun workout playlist that includes a mix of her favourite tracks, perfect for the circuit training you’ll find in her Bodyweight Strength with Anissia program.

Workout songs for high-intensity strength training

If you're training hard with Cass Olholm's High Intensity Strength programs, the right music can help take your workouts to the next level.

Cass has created an energising High Intensity Strength workout playlist with her favourite workout tracks to boost your training.

Workout songs for barre

Barre might be inspired by ballet, but you don’t need to be a dancer to try it — and you don’t need to listen to classical music if you’re doing Barre with Britany workouts! 

Sweat trainer, Britany Williams has created an upbeat playlist to keep you moving — even during the most challenging barre exercises.

Workout songs for yoga

Yoga calls for gentle, relaxed tunes that guide you through your flow and nurture your body and mind. 

You can get inspiration for your BAM workouts from the Yoga Sweat playlist, and there are also playlists available for Yoga with Ania and Yoga with Phyllicia.

Recovery Workout Songs

Workout songs for recovery

Your recovery sessions are the perfect opportunity to bring mindfulness into your week. They can help you recover from your previous workouts and can also help prepare you for your next one. There is a Sweat Recovery playlist available within the app to help you find your own zen state.

Workout songs for the Sweat Challenge

Want a motivation boost while you take your fitness to the next level?

These songs have been chosen to give you a dose of energy on the days you need motivation. You can find a Sweat Challenge playlist, plus challenge program playlists from some of the Sweat trainers on Apple Music and Spotify.

Workout songs for cardio

It is recommended that you complete weekly cardio sessions alongside each of the resistance sessions with any Sweat program to balance your training and help increase your fitness. 

These songs are for those cardio sessions when you need to get in your zone.

Summer Sweat playlist

If you are exercising outdoors during the warmer months, this playlist is packed with summer classics designed to keep you feeling motivated during your low-intensity cardio (LISS) sessions. Whether you’re walking, cycling or running, it’s full of upbeat tunes that will help you break a sweat while you work out.

Make the most of your workout playlists

Saving your workout playlist for your training sessions can help to maximise the impact of the music. 

If you’ve never worked out before, or you’ve taken a break for a while, creating a killer playlist could be the first step towards achieving your health and fitness goals

Have you created an awesome workout playlist or are there more songs you want to see on the Sweat workout playlists? Let us know in the comments!

(This blog contains affiliate links. For more information on this affiliate offer, please visit https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/ and https://www.spotify.com/au/legal/privacy-policy/

* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.

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