We all know a good song can be a total game-changer when you’re riding the workout struggle bus. (You’re definitely good for somethin’, Kanye.) That bumping in your ears definitely makes you feel more badass during that last mile—but can the right song actually help you pick up the pace?
According to a recent study, hell yeah it can! Researchers at Dalhousie University in Canada told participants to run as hard as they could for 20 minutes while listening to slow music, then again while listening to quick tunes, and once more with zero music (a.k.a. our personal nightmare).
“When participants listened to fast music, they ran at higher speeds and had higher heart rates,” says the study's author Derek Kimmerly, Ph.D. Bonus: They didn’t feel like they were working any harder. Sweet deal, right?
“Music with more than 100 beats per minute (or BPM) jacks you up,” says Carl Foster, Ph.D., the director of the human performance lab at University of Wisconsin La Crosse.
“The average person takes about 90 strides per minute while running,” says Foster. Our brains respond to hearing a beat and our bodies naturally want to follow along, he says. Hence why tunes with more than 100 beats per minute make you push harder.
Now all you have to do is create the ultimate beast-mode playlist—and we've totally got you covered.
If you’re not super picky about what tunes you pound pavement to, you can use Spotify's “running” mode. The feature creates playlists, like "Top Hits Run" or "Fun Run," and adjust the songs on the list based on the steps per minute your phone detects. (Yay, technology!) You can also choose a faster the tempo if you’re looking for an extra push—and since you're reading this, we're guessing you are.
If you’re a bit of control freak about your workout music, you can check your favorite songs’ BPM on the interwebs, like on this site.
On the other hand, if you're lazy (no shame), in a hurry, or trust us enough to DJ your next sweat sesh, we've made a run-perfect playlist of our own, using songs with 125 to 145 BPM (which was the range used in Kimmerly’s study.)
Try it out for yourself!