Openfit Live's DJ Kenny Shares His Tips for the Perfect Workout Playlist
If you can’t imagine going for a run without your headphones, then you’re acutely aware of the role music can play when it comes to exercise.
The right workout playlist doesn’t just squash boredom — it may actually enhance your workout. Research suggests high-tempo beats may increase heart rate and exercise duration. Listening to music while working out has also been associated with reduced fatigue and more positive feelings. (And who doesn’t need some positive feelings at the end of a tough workout?)
So how exactly do you create the perfect workout playlist? DJ Kenny Oyedeji — who provides the soundtrack for Openfit Live workouts — offers these pro tips for constructing a playlist that’ll keep you hyped.
How to Build the Best Playlist for Your Workout
Oyedeji looks for a few key factors in every workout song: an emotional connection, a catchy melody, solid production, and great vocal performance. Here’s how to create a dynamic playlist that checks all those boxes.
1. Always listen.
“I do a lot of listening all the time,” Oyedeji says. Whether he’s in a store, at the gym, or walking down the street, he takes note of the music around him. “If it catches my attention and makes me feel a certain way, it will probably go into a workout mix,” he adds.
2. Pay attention to tempo.
Different types of workouts call for different tempos. “A chill song for a yoga or pilates class is not the right fit for a HIIT or strength workout,” Oyedeji says. For high-intensity workouts, research suggests high-tempo music can prolong exercise duration. Specifically, songs with at least 130 beats per minute (BPM) may increase exercise duration and performance while reducing perceived exertion. (Find your favorite song’s BPM at jog.fm.)
3. Connect with the lyrics.
It’s important to have an emotional connection to the melody, Oyedeji says, but the lyrics also play an important role. “I love a good message and motivating lyrics,” he says. “During those ‘dig deep’ moments in really challenging workouts, encouraging words and positivity often boost our adrenaline and propel us to do a few more reps and finish strong.”
4. Mix old and new favorites.
“Don’t be afraid to check out new and emerging music with an open mind,” Oyedeji says. Mixing in new music keeps the workout experience fresh and helps build new memories and positive feelings around getting fit, he says.
But make room on your workout playlist for some trusty throwbacks, too. Oyedeji says adding in a few oldies-but-goodies can drum up nostalgic feelings and divert your attention away from how tough a workout is.
5. Go with the flow.
When you’re putting together your workout playlist, keep in mind you won’t be jumping right into the toughest part of your workout. Oyedeji recommends starting with mid- to high-tempo songs for your warm-up exercises. Then add the tracks that’ll keep you pumped: “Find a few songs that really get you hyped up and use them as an extra boost when the going gets tough,” Oyedeji says. For the cooldown, opt for mid- to slow-tempo songs.
DJ Kenny’s Favorite Workout Tracks Right Now
While Oyedeji says it’s tough to narrow down to his all-time favorite workout songs, these are his current picks.
“Energy” by Disclosure
“It’s an uptempo bop that has sonic depth and an amazing message encouraging positivity and focus,” Oyedeji says. “Plus the beat reminds me of a carnival celebration in Brazil!”
“Savage” Remix by Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyonce
“This song has swag and attitude,” he says. “‘Savage’ will help you fully embody that inner superhero on a weights or tempo running day.”
“Summer Feelings” by Lennon Stella featuring Charlie Puth
“This song is slathered in sunblock and summer vibes,” Oyedeji says. “It’s nostalgic, especially as we’re still quarantined. It’s a great warm-up song and helps you visualize that summer bod and six pack when doing core exercises.”