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by on April 25, 2013

The A to Z challenge is almost done (thank God). Today is supposed to be ‘V’ but I’ve been a day behind for… yes, some time now.

So I’m thinking about volume! As in, turn it up!

Those of you who can work out without loud music blaring in your ears, you have my respect. I need something to take my mind off, to give me a driving beat and maybe stir up my soul a bit.

Whether it’s a group class like Spin or my own individual time on a machine, I almost will not work out without my music. (Weak excuse.)

I’ve got some of my old favorite rock music, like Guns ‘n’ Roses, Metallica, and Rage Against the Machine. I learned to love Linkin Park’s screamy metal when climbing “hills” in Spin. August Burns Red is a recent addition to the playlist, with several great songs for a hard push on the rowing machine or track.

I mix in a bunch of high-tempo Christian music, but I know that’s not for everyone. Most worship albums have two to four high-speed, high-energy songs at the beginning and end, and those usually find their way into my workout set list.

Then there are the mix albums, with “50 Workout Hits 2011 and 2012.” Those are decent, because they add more beat and energy to a popular song off the radio… but they can be hit or miss. There’s already a few on my iPhone that I tend to skip past. (There are also the Christian music version of these albums… and in my experience they’re of equally questionable quality.)

As I scan through my playlist I see a few other favorites… Nine Inch Nails has a variety of songs that make me push harder. There are some remixes of older classic rock songs which I found appealed to my… more mature riders in Spin classes when I was the instructor. David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, United Live from Hillsong… 12 Stones and The Letter Black for some additional metal… and of course some techno hits like “Sandstorm” for crazy sprints.

“Levitate” by Hadouken! was an easy add once I watched this video:
People are Awesome

What do I do with the music? I mean, other than just having good music to motivate me.

In most cases, I take what I learned from Spin and apply it to whatever machine I’m on. In Spinning, we often make the resistance slow our pace to the beat of the music. When a slower song comes on, we don’t just pedal slow; we turn up the knob so that we’re climbing a steep hill. When the fast songs start up, we drop the resistance to just enough to keep good form, and start pedaling furiously for a sprint. When a fast song has parts with different intensities, it makes for a great sprint song. Sandstorm is one of those… depending on the version, there are at least two or three sections roughly a minute long that make perfect sprints.

The principle works just fine on an elliptical, stair-climber or stationary bike. Rowing machines and treadmills, maybe not so much.

The breaks between songs give me a nice few seconds to relax before turning up either my speed or resistance to match the next song. And more often than not, I’ll turn up the resistance slightly throughout the song as it builds toward the end.

It keeps me motivated and engaged throughout the workout, far more than simply setting a certain level and exercising for an hour at the same intensity. And I’ve found my calorie burn usually winds up much higher, because I’m turning up the resistance and challenging myself based on the added motivation of the music.

So what are some of your favorite jams? What gets the blood flowing and the feet tapping when you go for a run or workout at the gym? Shoot me a comment and let me know. Maybe I need to add to my playlist!


From → Gym Bag

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