How to Make the Perfect Playlist for Your Workouts

The right playlist doesn't mean just choosing a bunch of songs you hear on the radio. We're talking about creating a scientifically engineered mix that makes torching calories automatic. "Manipulating tempo can work like a remote control, telling your body to speed up or slow down without a heightened sense of exertion," says Carl Foster, Ph.D., professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse.

Makes you wish you were Samantha Ronson? You sort of can be. Here's how to deejay your perfect cardio playlist.

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Warm Up

Whether you're running, biking or elliptical-ing, you need to ease into cardio to prime muscles. So pick two songs at about 120 BPM. That's short for beats per minute and roughly correlates to what you want your heart rate to be. Athletes were able to bike faster after warming up to music between 120 and 140 BPM, an Asian Journal of Sports Medicine study reports.

More: 4 Dynamic Warm-Up Moves

Choose two for your warm up:

  • Tonight, Jessica Sanchez (featuring Ne-Yo)
  • Runaways, The Killers
  • #thatPOWER, (featuring Justin Bieber)
  • C'mon, Ke$ha
  • I Love It, Icona Pop
  • Let's Go, Calvin Harris (featuring Ne-Yo)
  • Scream, Usher
  • Titanium, David Guetta (featuring Sia)

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Kick it up with three fat-burning intervals. You'll select a speedy song, follow it with a slow one, and repeat the combo three times. The quick track—145 BPM or higher—should make you want to haul ass: "As your body matches the faster beat, your brain is distracted, so you don't notice you're exerting more energy," says Dave Elliott, Ph.D., a music researcher at the University of Cumbria.

More: 2 Interval Workouts to Boost Speed

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About the Author

Beth Janes

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

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