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Playlist series: The Gym Playlist – Alternative Edition

Published: 8/5/15

Did you know that there is more to choosing your workout playlist than building your collection of favorite songs? Music in the gym actually stimulates physical responses during aerobic exercise, which increases your heart rate and rate of breathing. Some experts say listening to music while exercising can also help your body to be more efficient with oxygen use. Music can also change your mood and help you to find self-awareness, which can be a valuable tool as you transition into workout mode. It’s been found that music with the right “high-groove” tempo can actually make your body want to move, so a carefully orchestrated playlist can make it easier to exercise. And music can also be a welcomed distraction to power through a tough point when your body wants to stop.


The Power of the Beat

By tailoring a collection of songs to your workout goals you can use the music to enhance specific phases of your workout by matching the beats per minute (BPM) in the song to your specific exercise. Songs with 120–140 BPM appear to have an optimal effect for people during moderate exercise.

In case you don’t have the time to count out the BPMs of your favorite songs to build your gym playlist, you can look up the BPM for a specific song in a free online database of music at For example, a quick search for Lady Gaga songs produced a two-page list with a few favorites falling in the 120–140 BPM range, including “Just Dance” at 120 BPM and “Born This Way” at 131 BPM. If classic music is more your style, you could add “Brown Sugar” (126 BPM) or “Saint of Me” (129 BPM) to your personal workout soundtrack.


A Playlist to Start Your Day

Early morning workouts can be the best time to make sure you get your exercise in for the day. However, it can take a little extra effort to warm up sleepy muscles and shift to the level of energy needed for your best results.

This Alternative workout playlist featured on Running [] can be a great way to start your day. Starting with “Tongue Tied” at 120 BPM this song can ease your body into active mode. Ease your way through Muse’s “Uprising” at 131 BPM and work your way up to “Lonely Boy” at 170 BPM, which will take you beyond a moderate exercise level for some serious calorie burning.


Tongue Tied—Grouplove—120 BPM

Crystal Sounds—Thirteen Senses—127 BPM

Helena Beat—Foster The People—129

Uprising—Muse—131 BPM

Cough Syrup—Young the Giant—133 BPM

Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)—Foster the People—133 BPM

Howlin for You—The Black Keys—136 BPM

Dog Days are Over—Florence the Machine—151 BPM

Faith (When I let You Down)—Taking Back Sunday—161 BPM

Lonely Boy—The Black Keys—170 BPM


For an Alternative playlist that gives you a good range of BPM to get in a strong run and then transition down to a slower pace, jogTunes has a Rock/Alternative collection of songs to start your day off on the right note, and step. The songs are sequenced from an easy walk at 117 BPM then build up to a peak run of 181 BPM. Cool back down with a brisk walk at 123 BPM. You can also tailor this playlist to your running speed by skipping the songs that go over 140 BPM. You can also run the fast tracks at a shorter stride.


War Child [Explicit]—Hollywood Undead—123 BPM

El Dorado—Death Cab for Cutie—150 BPM

Dancing on Nails—We are Harlot—160 BPM

Denial—We are Harlot—166 BPM\

Usual Suspects [Explicit]—Hollywood Undead—174 BPM

One More Night—We are Harlot—181 BPM

Tell Me Why—Three Days Grace—160 BPM

The Ghosts of Beverly Drive—Death Cab for Cutie—155 BPM

I Am Machine—Three Days Grace—150 BPM

Little Wanderer—Death Cab for Cutie—117 BPM


As you set your workout goals and plan your specific exercise plan for your week, don’t forget the important step of choosing your playlist to be ready for your best workout possible to achieve your fitness goals.