Best workout playlists

Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies
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Best workout playlists


Jan 21

Who else likes to move to music? A lot of us do! And so we thought it about time to collate our best workout playlists and share them with you. Music and beats get most of us moving when we’re in cardio mode or pumping weights, but music also supports our movement when we’re stretching out or working through a yoga flow. 

Unsurprisingly, there’s a science behind music and the mind. This Fast Company article talks you through the clever stuff and how different types of music influence what our brains want and are able to do, and feel. But briefly, and in layman’s terms, music activates the cerebellum in the brain – the part that drives motor skills. The cerebellum is also connected to a part of the brain called the limbic system, which controls emotion and memory. Put the three together and you’ve got all the feels and moves you need – we can’t guarantee coordination, sorry!

But right now, we’re all about keeping moving and how movement supports our sanity. So let’s get down to the details.

Our best workout playlists

We used to call them mix tapes that slotted into a Walkman. Then there was the Discman, probably then the iPod. Nowadays we imagine most of you are working out to music via your phone, watch or another device. And whether you use Spotify, Apple, or Prime to compile your music, let’s see if you recognise any of these tracks in your own playlists. 

Best running playlists

Depending on the session, perhaps you switch up or switch down the beat. 

For fast runs or interval training we turn to dance tracks and Ministry of Sound Anthems. For long runs we take the middle ground and mix up some of our all time favourite feel good tracks with some upbeat dance vibes, and a bit of grunge for when we need some extra grunt. For loosen up runs it’s all about the happy tunes, which in our case is often a mix of Indie classics and cheesy pop tunes. 

This is Kate’s sprint playlist and Hannah recommends this one whether you’re walking, running, or both.

Best yoga playlists

Calming music soothes us into a serene yoga practice. 

Even listening to one now as I write I found myself drifting off a little. I could quite easily relax into a massage listening to some yoga playlists. Spotify’s Vinyasa Flow playlist is suitably adept at relaxing the breath. But one that may surprise you or change the mood of your flow is rather subversively titled Breaking Bad; it’s not based on the TV series, thankfully. Find out more about it in this article on Yoga International and have a listen to it here, it’ll certainly bring an energy to your flow.

Best weights playlists

Edgy, challenging, opinionated is how I’d describe most weights playlists I’ve tried or trained to.

Cavernous gym, cold bars, heavy weights, concrete floor. It sounds rough round the edges and the best free weights gyms often are. And so we quite often find ourselves getting stuck into a weights workout to rap or old school rock. Drake features regularly alongside Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. And that track featuring Morgan Freeman – that’s on the list too!

This is Emily’s weights playlist, which she interchanges with this CrossFit playlist

Best spinning playlists

It’s a controversial topic, cyclists listening to music. So we’re taking the spinning playlists approach here.

There are plenty of cycling playlists to choose from whether you’re on two wheels indoors or out. Spotify leans mostly towards rock music for cycling, while the spinning tunes have a broader motivational vibe from across a range of music genres with a notable rise and fall of beat. 

Best HIIT playlists

High intensity workouts call for hardcore dance tracks.

When you’ve got to keep going, interval after interval, you need tunes that just keep pumping. Stalwarts of the ‘NOW’ albums will be cheered to discover there’s a ‘HIIT 2020’ take on the concept, which is probably our go-to HITT playlist. Quite frankly you could do any high paced aerobic workout to this – imagine ‘stepping it out’ at speed! It definitely has movement and feel good triggers.

Here’s Louise’s mega decade mix playlist to try too

Best erging playlists

Erging hurts whatever type of session. It just hurts more if we’re doing pyramids!

Our steady state erging playlist plumps for rhythm, so we can focus on the beat of the music alongside the movement of the stroke. The aim being not to get distracted by the pain! The rhythm you’ll usually find pumping out of a boathouse or rowing club gym veers towards dance, techno, trance, but if that doesn’t work for you don’t listen to it. Speed erg or erg test music is very individual. Either opt for the movement enhancing beats or mental feel good of your favourite tunes. Good luck! 

P.S. If music isn’t your thing, we’ve also heard great things about this erging podcast, As The Flywheel Spins. And if you’re used to erging with your crewmates and can’t during a lockdown, check out Zoom Ergos to join a session led by some of the world’s greatest rowers.

Best exercise playlists

Exercise and music have evolved in almost equal measure, so naturally, exercise playlists from back in the day have a slightly different ‘edge’ to them.

We’ve found some great playlists for low intensity, low impact workouts when all you need is something on in the background. Go back to 80s or 90s exercise playlists for classic one hit wonders like Ace of Base, Simple Minds ballads like Don’t You and MJ’s Billie Jean. These aren’t quite what we had in mind but music is all down to personal taste, right?! Spandex is optional too.

Emily has collated this cool disco boogie playlist for the fun times.

What’s your favourite workout playlist?

We’d love to know – drop a comment below or message us on Facebook or Instagram to tell us your favourite workout playlists and exercise tracks.

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