How to Make a Workout Playlist in 3 Steps

How to Make a Workout Playlist in 3 Steps

Learn how to choose the right playlist for whatever workout you’re doing in 3 steps!


By: Adam Easterling

It's a perfect morning for a workout. You're fresh, motivated and ready to feel the burn. Just a quick exercise inventory and then off you go.

Awesome running shoes? Check.

That cool exer-tracking wrist thing that monitors your distance and vital stats? Check.

Leg warmers and a half-sweatshirt to wear over your leotard? Check and check. Let's do this!

Wait. You forgot something. If you're going to be sweating, straining, stretching and cycling — you'll need a soundtrack!

The right exercise playlist can tailor your workout perfectly, whether it's a high-energy force explosion, a more regulated endurance test or anything in between. Your musical journey can rev up, maintain, motivate and help you wind down with the right structure. And you don't need to be a DJ to know what tracks to spin for your spin class.

Step 1: Decide on Your Workout
If it's a traditional warm-up/cardio/pump up/transition/cool down type of workout, tailor your playlist to each phase of exercise. For warming up and stretching, pick a song with a mid-tempo.

Keep these songs at an average length (3-4 minutes), with a more aspirational tone — light, but determined.

Once you're warm and into your cardio, let the rhythm hit 'em! Your favorite hip-hop and dance numbers should be spurring that workout on big time. Choose the fast tempo that fits your speed and intensity, while letting your pace sync up to the beat.

Once you get to the pump-up stage, it's nice to mix and match a little bit. Transition your songs and get a bit more eclectic. Super-fast rock and rap can meet more laid-back country and reggae.

As your reps and pace vary, so can your tunes.

Once your workout winds down, so does your music. Choose more inspirational tracks, something to find a sense of accomplishment in what you've just gone through. Pick a favorite song as a final motivational push before cooling down, which should feature slower-tempo songs until you're finished.

Step 2: Add Variety
Thanks to all the assortments of MP3 players, your workout playlists are virtually unlimited:

  • Make a dozen or so playlists at a time, so you don’t get tired of any.
  • Make different playlists for different kinds of workouts.
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Step 3: Let the Workout do the Picking
Doing yoga? A calming set of tracks to get you into the right frame of mind is just the thing.

Ready to do some intense strength training? A nice variety of heavy rock might be pumping out of those ear buds.

Whatever type of workout you're into, there's sure to be a playlist for you. So get busy sorting out the perfect music for your exercise routine!

Do you have a go-to workout song? Share it with the community in the comments below! 

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