Tuning Out

27 Jan
Once these go in, the world is shut out.

Once these go in, the world is shut out.

Do you remember a few years ago when Jay-Z and Linkin Park released “Numb/Encore?” It had been a while since we’d heard such a perfect melding of rap and rock music. To this day when that song plays, it gets me amped up and motivated.

That happened again last night when Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons took the stage at the Grammys. Their performance was one of the highlights of an otherwise long, dry and predictable show. Post-performance I tweeted, “I’m glad I recorded Kendrick and Imagine Dragons, because I’m watching it again.” What I really want is to add the song to my workout playlist.


A good playlist or album can be what makes or breaks your workout routine. You want a good mix of songs. Every song shouldn’t have beats as fast as “Bombs Over Baghdad.” You’ll wear yourself out. But you do want good energy. The music should keep you moving.

There was an article in The Wall Street Journal last year in which a sports education professor said the musical “sweet spot” for an optimal workout is 125 to 140 beats per minute. To be honest, I don’t count beats per minute. But if that’s your thing, have fun. For me, the songs should be positive and have a quick energy.

Music has been a big part of my weight-loss journey. I get pissed when my Nano battery dies during the middle of a run. I can’t really deal with the music at the gym (too much ’80s rock). I work out best with what I like.

I mostly listen to hip hop and R&B when I work out. The beats are reliably funky and I can get lost in a groove. I’ll plan on a half-hour run and before I know it, I’m at the end of an album or playlist.

The first two songs are key for a good album or playlist. The first song has to have a strong enough beat to get you interested, but it doesn’t have to be the heavy hitter. That role belongs to the second song. The first song gets you moving, the second makes you work. I need my first two songs to drag the workout out of me.

I’ve found a few good albums that do this for me. Some of them are old, but they still do the trick, trust me.

Ciara, “The Evolution”—The first two songs are “That’s Right” and “Like a Boy.” “That’s Right” didn’t play that much on the radio, but when I first heard the song, all I could do was jump around my house. It’s got amazing energy. This is the album I play when I really don’t feel like working out because the energy of the first song is undeniable. Then “Like a Boy” comes on and I can’t be stopped.

T.I., “King”—When I began my weight-loss journey, this was one of the first albums I listened to at the gym. The first song, “King Back,” has a announcer’s intro for a boxer. So if you need to feel like you’re about take over, this is the album for you.

Beyonce Mix—Lately, Yonce has been in heavy rotation for me at the gym. I’ve got everything from “Crazy in Love” to “Partition” and it’s awesome. Beyonce knows how to keep you moving and motivated. My playlist is almost an hour and a half long, and I love every minute of it.

Imagine Dragons, “Night Visions”—As I said earlier, Imagine Drangons’ performance with Kendrick was amazeballs. The album is even more amazeballs. “Radioactive” is the first song to play and it’s got the perfect energy to get you started. As you get further into it, the songs slow down a smidge, so keep that in mind if you don’t like that sort of thing.

Honorable mentions go to:

Kanye West and Friends, “Good Music Cruel Summer”

Jay Z and Kanye West “Watch the Throne”

Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”—When you’re in a class, you’re at the mercy of your instructor. My spin instructors love this song, and it’s grown on me. Don’t let Katy’s bizarre Grammy performance fool you. “Dark Horse” is a banger. I can’t say that for the album.

What’s on your playlists for a good workout? I’m taking suggestions.

photo credit: el patojo via photopin cc

3 Responses to “Tuning Out”

  1. Rosey Dee January 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Hood music all the way. 2 Chainz and Weezy.


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