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June 25, 2010

The Best Songs for a Very Fast (or Very Slow) Workout

Songs that will work with slower activities like squats and lifting — but can be doubled up for sprints and cycling.

woman running

Photo Credit: Myles Dumas/Myles Dumas

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There are a few different ways to calculate the BPM of song, though most rely on the beat established by either the kick drum or the snare. However you figure their tempos, though, very few songs clock in above 160 BPM. With the exceptions of metal and some techno, songs that feel faster than 160 BPM are usually within the 80s-90s, with an accent (like a tambourine or high-hat) that's playing in double time.

I mention all of this because folks who are looking for a fast workout — but don't want to run to Slayer exclusively — can find a slew of songs in these lower ranges that might not seem like workout songs. And, by taking two strides or reps per beat (following the lead of the aforementioned accents), you can not only expand the tempo range beyond the usual 160 BPM, but widen the spectrum of available music as well.

Accordingly, the list below comprises a group of songs that'll work with slower activities like squats and lifting — but can be doubled up for sprints and cycling. Among them, you'll find Volkswagen's favorite Grizzly Bear track, Trina's resurgent take on single life, and some excellent roller-coaster sound effects in Freddy Cannon's signature song.

1. Jamie Foxx & Justin Timberlake - Winner - 90 BPM Jamie Foxx - Now That's What I Call Music!, Vol. 34 - Winner (feat. Justin Timberlake & T.I.)

2. Third Eye Blind - Anything - 83 BPM Third Eye Blind - Blue - Anything

3. Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend - 82 BPM Avril Lavigne - Now That's What I Call Music!: 25 - Girlfriend

4. Beastie Boys - Sabotage - 84 BPM Beastie Boys - Solid Gold Hits - Sabotage

5. Trina - Single Again - 83 BPM Trina - Still da Baddest - Single Again

6. The Smiths - Ask - 83 BPM The Smiths - The Sound of the Smiths (Deluxe Edition) [Remastered] - Ask

7. Whitesnake - Here I Go Again - 90 BPM Whitesnake - Now That's What I Call the 80s - Here I Go Again

8. Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks - 80 BPM Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest - Two Weeks

9. Rihanna - Rude Boy - 87 BPM Rihanna - Rated R - Rude Boy

10. Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon - Palisades Park - 83 BPM Freddy Cannon - Boom Boom Rock 'n' Roll - The Best of Freddy Cannon - Palisades Park

MC's resident DJ, Chris Lawhorn, weeds through the Top 40 charts to find the best new workout music. The songs are organized, by beats per minute, into playlists designed to match the speed of your routine while maximizing its results.

Chris Lawhorn spent his teens playing in punk and folk bands in Fort Wayne, IN. Apart from the occasional solo album, the rocking has taken a backseat to deejaying and production for his Case/Martingale label. Thankfully, this means that time once spent sleeping in the back of a van has since been freed up to scour places like Buenos Aires and Osaka for new music.

Chris has a bachelor's degree in English and telecommunications from Ball State University. It finally got put to use in creating RunHundred.com, a website that helps people find music that fits the pace of their workouts.

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