Listen up: Is this the best one-hour cardio playlist?

Lace up your trainers, hit play, and let the science of music propel you to new heights of fitness.

Woman looking happy while listening to a playlist while running. Image credit: Getty

by Gemma Lavers |
Published on

There's no denying the fact that music has a magical way of energising our workouts, turning mundane cardio sessions into exhilarating dance-parties of sweat and determination, whether you're in the home gym or hitting your favourite commercial spot. But what if your cardio playlist wasn't just a random collection of tracks, but a scientifically curated selection, designed to optimise your performance?

In a study conducted by fitness specialists at Total Shape, research assesses the audio characteristics of tracks that dominated the Spotify global charts during summer this year. The study considers factors such as danceability, energy, stability, and beats per minute (BPM). The outcome is a carefully curated one-hour playlist comprising high-energy songs distinguished by a strong, consistent and uninterrupted beat, falling within the BPM range of 120 to 135.

This playlist is ideal for cardio activities like running, cycling, rowing or stair climbing, ensuring an optimal soundtrack for your workout routine.

Hit play on these 21 songs...

The Spotify playlist features four languages - English, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean, and offers a diverse array of musical genres including EDM, dembrown, reggaeton, R&B, K-pop and funk mandelão. It also showcases tracks from both up-and-coming and well-established artists such as Calvin Harris, Beyoncé, Shakira, Jung Kook, Karol G and Troye Sivan.

Despite their apparent stylistic differences, all the songs featured on the playlist share a common audio attributes that seamlessly complement a cardio workout.

So, prepare hit play on these 21 tracks:

Los del Espacio - LIT killah, Tiago PZK, Maria Becerra, Duki, Emilia, Rusherking, Big One, FMK
• Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53 - Bizarrap, Shakira
• One Kiss - Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa
• El Merengue - Marshmello, Manuel Turizo
• La Bachata - Manuel Turizo
• Lay Low - Tiësto
• Toca o Trompete - Felipe Amorim
• Seven - Jung Kook, Latto
• America Has a Problem - Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar
• Rush - Troye Sivan
• Rauw Alejandro: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 56 - Bizarrap, Rauw Alejandro
• S91 - Karol G
• Queencard - (G)I-DLE
• Baby Hello - Rauw Alejandro, Bizarrap
• Montagem PR Funk - S3BZS, Mc Gw, Mc Menor Do Alvorada
• Despechá - Rosalía
• Tá Ok - Dennis, MC Kevin o Chris
• Peso Pluma: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 55 - Bizarrap, Peso Pluma
• New Jeans - NewJeans
• ETA - NewJeans
• Automotivo Bibi Fogosa - Bibi Babydoll, DJ Brunin XM, KZA Produções

The science behind the playlist

A spokesperson from Total Shape commented on DJ Science, the algorithm behind the playlist:

"You would not be making the most out of your gym session if you run on a treadmill while listening to ballads. This is where the 120-135 BPM factor comes in, which reflects the relatively fast rhythm of a song and helps you to maintain a constant, medium-paced beat, if that is what you are after.

"We also looked at how danceable, energetic and stable the songs are so that they are upbeat enough and do not have disruptive breaks to distract you. We ordered the songs by BPM so that the transition between the songs is as smooth as possible.

"We were surprised to find that DJ Science, as we called the algorithm, produced a flawless playlist that serves its intended purpose – supporting your cardio workout perfectly.”

Pump and jam

Whether you're pounding the pavement on a morning run or powering though a high-intensity session, crafting a playlist tailored to your workout can be the secret ingredient to pushing past your limits and reaching your fitness goals.

The science of music and exercise has spoken - now it's time to grab your headphones, press play and head off to do some cardio, all in the name of, well, science.

Gemma Lavers is a fitness writer for What's The Best. When she’s not travelling or writing, Gemma loves spending her weekend completing home workouts, or attending yoga, Pilates or Zumba classes.

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