It is more than likely that most of us will be listening to music when exercising. It is also fairly likely that you will be listening to music yourself while you thrash an hour out on the exercise bike, but have you ever given any thought to exactly what music suits each workout?

Believe it or not, there is actually science behind the notion that certain genres of music suit different kinds of activity. On a general level, a study by Scientific American has shown that music is an excellent distraction from pain and fatigue; both of which are symptomatic of vigorous exercise, and both of which you will want to avoid or, at the very least alleviate, while you’re conducting a work-out. Not only that, but it can reduce stress, lift your mood, and it can even reduce the amount of exertion that you perceive yourself to be putting in.

Many people who work out don’t just see music as something surplus to requirements; instead, it is seen as integral to the workout itself. Without the music, people would not perform as they would if they were heads down, headphones on, going hell-for-leather in the gym. You only need to have a quick scan through social media to see just how much people rely on music to work out. recently posed the following question on Twitter:

What’s worse: forgetting your headphones or seeing cardio on your workout for the day?

How would you answer?

A quick scan through the comments will tell you that ‘forgetting your headphones’ is considered much worse than having a surprise cardio workout lumbered upon you. Proof, in part, that music is just as important as your sweat towel and trainers when you hit the gym. In fact, music is seen as so beneficial to exercise and physical exertion that USA Track and Field has banned the use of music during races, if the individual listening to the music is competing in the race officially, i.e. for a medal or for a cash prize.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that there are certain factors that come into play when we listen to music and exercise simultaneously. Obviously, one of the most prominent characteristics of music to have an effect on the exerciser, is the tempo or speed of the beats they are listening to. Studies have shown that two beats per second (or 120 beats per minute, to use the correct music lingo) being the favoured tempo and while it may be tempting to listen to something with a much higher count of beats per minute in order to go harder and faster, recent research has suggested that we top out at about 145 bpm (beats per minute) so you don’t really need to go much faster than that.

We’ve put together a handy selection of tracks that you can listen to while you work out, and matched it to particular exercises to save you some time - why not put together a playlist based around these tracks to suit your own regime?


A quick, steady pace is required if you want to run efficiently and workout productively. Sandstorm by Darude is one track that works well for the treadmill. Sitting at 136 beats per minute, you can work up a sweat quite easily with this number in your playlist.

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A slower, steady beat with edge is perfect for lifting weights, so something with a hip-hop or rap edge - something with a bit of aggression to it - will definitely help with lifting reps. Try out Lose Yourself by Eminem if this is your exercise of choice. Plenty of inspiring lyrics in this one, too..

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As with running, cycling is something with which you might want to maintain continued pace and a high speed in order for your exercises to be effective. Why not give Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now for an exhilarating ride.

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If you opt for a circuit routine, then something with energetic peaks will fit nicely in with your work/rest sessions during your workout. A good track for this would be Hey Boy, Hey Girl, by The Chemical Brothers.

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