Bob Marley was on to something when he said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” It doesn’t mean the pain doesn’t exist, just that it’s distracted. Why do we go to the gym and turn back only when we forget our headphones? Music is as vital to our workouts as water. Wellwellwell investigates why the two go hand in hand.

Music gives us the adrenaline we need to keep pushing when our minds say no. Trainers often say your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will, and the right songs for your workout help you drive past these limits.

Studies show that there’s a direct relationship between music and movement. The faster the beat, the faster your body will want to move. Nina Kraus, a professor of Neurobiology at Northwestern University in Illinois, who’s studied the effects of music on the nervous system says, “Humans and songbirds are the only creatures that automatically feel the beat of a song.” It’s ultimately what that beat does that makes the difference in workouts.

How it Distracts and Motivates

When we reach a state of fatigue, our bodies tell us that it’s time to stop. Studies show listening to music can help the mind ignore the physiological feedback by forcing it to pay attention to the beat instead.

The Truth about Tempo

The workout does not get easier with fast tempo music. Instead, it pushes us further by creating greater levels of endurance. The faster the music, the greater the rate of positive mind and body responses.

The Catch

As always, there’s a delicate balance to master when it comes to the perfect beat. Too fast or too slow can hinder your workout. The key to achieving a better sweat session is making a playlist of music that mirrors your heart rate.

Hitting and maintaining your target beats per minute (BPM) is where your playlist becomes vital. To find your approximate maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220, then multiply that number by the percentage you’re aiming to reach.

Moderate exercise intensity = 50-70% of your maximum heart rate
High exercise intensity = 70-85% of your maximum heart rate

We broke the BPM down for you in the table below:

Wellwellwell BPM Chart

Now that you have your target beats per minute, find songs that match it. Here are some titles you can add to your playlists to help you reach and maintain that BPM goal:

Low BPM<140

  • The Lumineers: “Ho Hey”
  • Michael Jackson: “Want To Be Startin’ Somethin’”
  • Gym Class Heroes and Adam Levine: “Stereo Hearts”

Mid BPM 140-170

  • Sugarland, “Stuck Like Glue”
  • The Killers, “Mr. Brightside”
  • OutKast, “Hey Ya!”

High BPM 170-180

  • Alicia Keys: “Karma”
  • ‘N SYNC: “Bye Bye Bye”
  • Don Henley: “The Boys of Summer”


So sync your playlists to your goals and jam on to the beats that are right for you.


Author: Frishta Yaqubie