How to select the perfect workout playlist!

How to select the perfect workout playlist!


January is nearly at an end and if your fitness routine is starting to hit the rails already then some gym motivation “tunes” might be just what you need. Remember that your gym playlists are just not for pumping iron or wandering on a treadmill. You could be going for a run, for example, or putting yourself through a boot-camp circuit outdoors, or even just a motivating piece of music whilst on a brisk walk can help get that heart rate and those steps up!

There's so much research out there on why music works so well at getting you pumped up to work out, and I'll detail that below – as well as how to pick your playlist.


A gym playlist can be so motivating and it can really enhance your focus levels and turn your training session from a slog into a high energy high octane experience. 

There's a lot to be said for sticking on your favourite banging tunes – or even a podcast – to help time whiz by during a long walk or run.

One study from the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, found that pumping motivational music enhanced both the affect and enjoyment of sprint interval training. The study highlights included;

  1. Motivational music enhanced affect and enjoyment of sprint interval training (SIT).
  2. Heart rate and peak power output were elevated during SIT in the music condition.
  3. Perceived exertion was similar across music, podcast, and no-audio SIT conditions.
  4. Participants liked, and were motivated by, the researcher-selected music during SIT.

Another study titled “The Psychophysiological Effects of Different Tempo Music on Endurance Versus High-Intensity Performances”  in the journal of Frontiers in Psychology found that;

"music may be considered an important tool to stimulate people engaging in physical exercise", especially in HIIT exercise, where people's perceived exhaustion rate was down by almost 7%, and endurance exercise (such as running on your gym's best treadmill), where it was lowered by 11%”

In other words motivational music will give you a greater chance of having a better workout.


If you check out Spotify you will discover a plethora of workout focused dance music playlists many of which contain tracks that will be phrased at a certain tempo (beats per minute) which is great if you want to do interval training on a treadmill, bike or rowing machine.

You will also find numerous playlists that focus on weight training and will contain rock classics from AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses and the great Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters. Who doesn’t like to chuck on Gun N’ Roses and “Civil War” when you are making a final push on your final set of bench press. Your workout playlist is ultimately about you and I would recommend you create your own playlists with music you like. 

A good gym motivation song should meet the following criteria:

  1. You should like the song
  2. It should be the right tempo for your workout
  3. It should make you feel something

Good workout music kills boredom, reduces the perception of exertion and pain, and fits your own workout. That means whatever your chosen genre, you should pick songs/tunes based on how fast their BPM is, or beats per minute. Too fast and you may accidentally gas out before the end of your workout, while too slow and you'll find yourself changing songs every other set. 

Studies have found ideal performance on the treadmill happens at around 130 BPM, so if you're looking for an intense HIIT sesh, consider upping the stakes to 150 BPM or even higher. A playlist for a relaxing yoga flow, on the other hand, should reduce the BPM down to 60 or even lower. When selecting songs for your playlist, search online for the song's BPM, taking into account the kind of exercise you like to do.

If there's music that inspires you to dig deeper, makes you feel uplifted (or angry, if you're lifting weights!) use that as a tool to take your workout to the next level. 

And finally, here’s one I made earlier :) Click below to bring you to your Spotify account.

- Momentum Cardio Playlist!

Enjoy the tunes!