Pumping the right music into your ears doesn't just pump up your workout—it may take you to the next level too. Studies have long shown connections between high-energy music and athletic performance, but new research suggests that exercising to uptempo tunes may improve your fitness more than ever.
According to this data, your body naturally adjusts to make exercise easier. New York Times health writer Gretchen Reynolds recently interpreted this scientific evidence to imply that we're inherently “physiologically lazy.” “Humans naturally aim to use as little energy as possible during most movement,” she wrote.
What she calls “lazy” we call “efficient.” The truth is, our body will do whatever it takes to make activity feel as effortless as possible to conserve energy for when we really need it. Which means we have the built-in capacity to go faster, harder, longer, if we have to (like an impromptu T-Rex chase). We just need the right cues to help us get going.
This is where your iPod comes in. In one new study from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, scientists discovered that music may be one of the best ways to influence your pace, especially it you're trying to break out of your comfort zone. Subjects who were fitted with headphones while walking or running on a treadmill seemed to instantly adapt to rhythmic beats, moving both slower and faster when musically directed.
RELATED: Refresh your gym playlist and your workout at the same time by adding some of the 50 best workout songs to your iPod.
So if you're having a hard time breaking out of your go-to pace—whether you're walking, running, cycling, strength training, even practicing yoga—we've got some great playlists from the pros. Listen up to speed up!
Strength Training Playlist
Length: 60 minutes
Mixologist Marcus DJMarvilous Malloy—who works with Ary Nunez, a trainer who uses a mix of martial arts, dancing, and calisthenics to help superstars such as Rihanna and Alicia Keys tone their bodies—created this workout soundtrack.
1. Rihanna - Diamonds (Dave Aude Remix)
2. Alicia Keys - New Day
3. Drake - Forever
4. Justin Bieber - As Long As You Love Me
5. Future - Turn Out The Lights
6. Ne-Yo - Let Me Love
7. Usher - Scream
8. Danny Howard - S.O.S.
9. Rihanna - Stay
10. Pink - Blow Me A Kiss
11. Bruno Mars - Locked Out Of Heaven
12. Jay Z - E.T. In Paris
13. Alicia Keys - Girl On Fire
RELATED: Be sure your strength routine includes this awesome butt-sculpting, thigh-tightening bodyweight move.
Length: 45 minutes
Jog.fm, a fitness website and app, not only offers suggestions for workout playlists, but also helps you create your own using music from your library set to your desired exercise pace. Check out their list below or listen to it here.
1. Coldplay - Lost+ (With Jay-Z) - 28:16 mph / 87 BPM
2. Ellie Goulding - Anything Could Happen - 23:08 / 105 BPM
3. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) - 20:25 mph / 116 BPM
4. Passion Pit - Dreams - 14:00 mph / 150 BPM
5. The Killers - Spaceman - 13:43 mph / 152 BPM
6. Metro Station - Shake It - 14:00 mph / 150 BPM
7. Bruno Mars - Locked Out of Heaven - 14:55 mph / 144 BPM
8. Soft Cell - Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go - 15:04 mph / 143 BPM
9. Enrique Iglesias - I Like It (feat. Pitbull) - 17:36 mph / 129 BPM
10. Crazy in Love - Beyonce - 24:45 mph / 99 BPM
Length: 53 minutes
Another one by Jog.fm, which also has a built-in mapping system to keep track of your route. You can listen to these songs in Spotify right here.
1. David Guetta - I Can Only Imagine (feat. Chris Brown & Lil Wayne) - 12:12 mph / 128 BPM
2. Journey - Any Way You Want It - 11:12 mph / 138 BPM
3. Train - 50 Ways to Say Goodbye - 11:00 mph / 140 BPM
4. The Cure - In Between Days - 10:30 mph / 145 BPM
5. K'naan - Wavin' Flag - 9:48 mph /152 BPM
6. Kayne West - Power - 9:36 mph/ 154 BPM
7. Wiz Khalifa - Black and Yellow - 8:36 mph / 164 BPM
8. 30 Seconds to Mars - Kings and Queens - 8:30 mph / 165 BPM
9. Lil Wayne & Drake - Right Above It - 9:48 mph / 152 BPM
10. Stereophonics - Dakota - 10:18 mph / 147 BPM
11. Jay-Z - Young Forever (feat. Mr. Hudson) - 11:00 mph / 140 BPM
12. Mumford & Sons - I Will Wait - 11:54 mph / 131 BPM
Length: ~50 minutes
The hottest indoor cycling on the east and west coasts, SoulCycle is famous for combining high-intensity, full-body spinning (that torches some 800 calories) with killer music. This list is courtesy of New York City instructor Lindsay Waxer, who loves a good dance party on two wheels.
1. Madonna & The Eagles (Robin Skouteris mashup) - The Moonlight Hotel
2. Madonna - Like a Prayer (Adi Perez '09 Remix)
3. Britney Spears (Alex Suarez Club Remix) - Till the World Ends
4. Brand-X - 99 Problems Can't Stop
5. Cooler Rock 'n' Roll - DJ Schmolli
6. Skrillex & The Doors (Zedd Remix) - Breakn' a Sweat
7. Depeche Mode (Alex Metric Remix) - Personal Jesus
8. Nneka (Chase & Status We Just Bought a Guitar Mix) - Heartbeat
9. Sarah McLeod - Dancing in the Dark
10. Maxwell (uncut) - This Woman's Work
RELATED: Spin class isn't the same as taking to the road or trail outdoors, but you can get more out of it with these nine ways to maximize your ride.
At-Home Yoga Playlist
Length: ~45 minutes
Bethany Lyons, a veteran Crunch group fitness instructor and former classically trained dancer based in NYC, gave us this lineup. Her yoga practice includes hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, Iyengar, and Bikram.
1. Madonna - Drowned World / Substitute For Love
2. Anthony Hamilton & Elayna Boynton - Freedom
3. Alex Clare - When Doves Cry
4. Elie Goulding - Anything Could Happen
5. Florence and the Machine - Shake It Out
6. SMASH Cast Version (feat. Katharine McPhee) - Brighter Than the Sun
7. One Eskimo - Amazing
8. Sia - Destiny
9. Massive Attack - Hymn of the Big Wheel
10. Ryan Adams - Wonderwall
11. Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard (from the film Gladiator) - Now We Are Free