Music is a powerful tool for an effective workout, a fact that scientists have studied since 1911, when it was found that cyclists pedalled faster with the musical accompaniment of a band. A (much) more recent study found that treadmill runners had 15% more endurance with motivational music, versus running in silence. In fitness classes, race events, and personal workouts, most of us utilise the motivational power of music to keep a consistent pace, coordinate with others, and have a more enjoyable exercise experience.
According to a review published in International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, the motivational power of music lies in four important factors: rhythm response, musicality, cultural impact, and association. Since three of these categories can be highly subjective, this article will focus on the one that’s relatively simple to calculate: rhythm response.
Choosing the Ideal BPM
Rhythm response refers to the pacing of the beat, which has a direct correlation to heart rate when it comes to helping athletes keep pace and stay motivated. 60-100 beats per minute (BPM) is the average resting rate for healthy adults. While working out, individuals experience heart rates that can go as high as 200 BPM.
That being said, it’s important to note that heart rate can differ greatly from one person to another, and determining your ideal heart rate for a warm-up, fat-burning workout, or endurance-building drills is a matter of individual calculation. However, general estimates place a “moderate” exercise level (ideal for aerobic fitness and burning fat) at 130-150 BPM. What’s fascinating is that the majority of popular songs fall within that range, since people gravitate towards beats that pump them up.
Playlists in Group Fitness Classes
When it comes to putting together a motivating playlist for a group exercise class, it’s important to consider popularity as well as BPM. Familiarity with the music that’s being played is just as important in boosting motivation as BPM. Because of this, you should opt for music that is well-known and popular.
If you do run a group fitness class, you’ll also want to ensure you have a quality sound system that compliments your playlist and allows you to instruct your class over the music.