Let’s talk for a moment about the math of workout music. There are three types of songs that dominate Top 40 radio presently: pop ballads, rap songs, and dance tracks. Ballads are usually too slow for working out, but rap and dance music aren’t ideal either. The average rap song clocks in at 80 BPM (beats per minute), and the average dance track at around 128 BPM, but the average runner moves faster than either, logging at least 150 steps per minute. So what’s a sprinter to do? Lucky for you, we managed to uncover several former top-40 hits that can match faster fitness tempos to help you accelerate your run or add energy-boosting intervals to your next jog. We’ve also included a heart rate zone chart to help you understand which zone you want to train in, and choose your jams accordingly!
Target Heart Rate Zones Explained
|Zone||What it does||Heart rate
beats per minute
|Long, slow runs, easy or recovery runs||Training in this zone improves the ability of your heart to pump blood and improve the muscles’ ability to utilize oxygen. The body becomes more efficient at feeding the working muscles, and learns to metabolise fat as a source of fuel.||139 – 152|
|Aerobic zone or “target heart rate zone”||Most effective for overall cardiovascular fitness. Increases your cardio-respitory capacity: that is, the your ability to transport oxygenated blood to the muscle cells and carbon dioxide away from the cells. Also effective for increasing overall muscle strength.||152 – 166|
|Anaerobic zone||The point at which the body cannot remove lactic acid as quickly as it is produced is called the lactate threshold or anaerobic threshold. It generally occurs at about 80-88% of the Heart Rate Reserve. Training in this zone helps to increase the lactate threshold, which improves performance. Training in this zone is hard: your muscles are tired, your breathing is heavy.||166 – 179|
“Red line zone”
|You should only train in this zone if you re very fit, and only for very short periods of time. Lactic acid develops quickly as you are operating in oxygen debt to the muscles The value of training in this zone is you can increase your fast twitch muscle fibers which increase speed.||179 – 192|
While you don’t need to match your beats and steps exactly, getting them in the same vicinity will help you get more out of your workout. The playlist below comprises 10 tunes from hot artists, all at or above 150 BPM.
Take a few of these with you to pick up the pace of your next workout.
The Go-Go’s – Vacation – 156 BPM
Jimmy Eat World – The Middle – 163 BPM
Black Eyed Peas – Pump It – 153 BPM
Neon Trees – Everybody Talks – 155 BPM
The Black Keys – Lonely Boy – 165 BPM
Modern English – I Melt with You – 156 BPM
Three 6 Mafia & Webbie – Lil Freak (Ugh Ugh Ugh) – 154 BPM
Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank – 152 BPM
Avril Lavigne – What the Hell – 150 BPM
My Chemical Romance – Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) – 166 BPM
To find more workout songs, check out the free database at Run Hundred.
You can browse by genre, tempo, and era to find the best songs to rock your workout.