Music

The ultimate Spotify workout playlist, as determined by science

Jan. 15, 2014 at 1:14 PM ET

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 25:  (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Musician Katy Perry performs during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards in Empire-Fulton Ferry Park on Aug...
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Katy Perry performs during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.

Let's face it; as much as you love "Piano Man," it's not getting you any closer to that six-pack you promised yourself on New Year's Eve.

Don't worry, science has found an answer to your workout woes. Spotify and researchers at Brunel University in London recently teamed up to create the ultimate workout playlist. 

It includes "Get Lucky" from Daft Punk and Pharrell, as well as tracks from other Top 40 staples like Pit Bull, Lady Gaga and Eminem.  

So what is the common factor? It's all about BPM, or beats per minute. Costas Karageorghis, deputy head of research at the School of Sport and Education at Brunel University in London, found that synchronizing your workout to a beat can help you gradually increase its intensity until you reach the sweet spot — between 125 and 140 BPM. 

The idea, according to Karageorghis, is to keep "raising the music tempo by one or two BPMs beyond your comfort zone."

That would explain why the Ultimate Spotify Playlist starts with Katy Perry's relatively slow power ballad "Roar" (90 BPM), works its way up to the frantic EDM hit "You Make Me" from Avicii (125 BPM), and then cools down to "Royals" (85 BPM) from everyone's favorite sullen New Zealand teenager, Lorde.


Of course, it's not just about BPM. If that were the case, putting some Swedish death metal on your iPod would be the ultimate motivator. Ideally, you should be uplifted by the music as well. 

“A suitably motivational playlist can help to 'color' the symptoms of exercise-related fatigue, like breathlessness and a beating heart, in such a way that they are interpreted in a more positive manner," Karageorghis told Spotify. "This means that at the point when your body is shouting 'stop,' the music has the power to lift your mood and beckon you on."

Ultimately, if Hall & Oates makes you feel more positive then, say, the latest Skillrex track, putting on "Rich Girl" will probably get you closer to your fitness goals. But it never hurts to turn up the tempo.

Keith Wagstaff writes about technology for NBC News. He previously covered the tech beat for TIME's Techland and wrote about politics as a staff writer at TheWeek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @kwagstaff and reach him by email at: Keith.Wagstaff@nbcuni.com

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