My high school volleyball team had one music-related rule during every practice. Whenever “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls came on our warmup playlist, we had to cease our bumping, spiking, and blocking and run laps. Whenever one of the girls sang “want” or “wanna” (that’s 45 times, BTW), my spandex-clad squad dropped to the floor and completed one push-up. By the end, we were bushed—but hey, it was a really good workout.
My varsity experience is proof that when you’re trying to spice up a stale workout routine, letting lyrics be your personal trainer is one, out-of-the box way to make time fly at the gym. Perhaps that’s why beat-based workouts have become a thing as of late, with Instagram trainers like Amanda Bisk posting sweat sessions quite literally orchestrated by the tunes of The Chainsmokers, the reunited Jonas Brothers, and Ed Sheeran. It games your workouts—and there’s way more than one way to do it.
Recently, one Well+Good staffer hit up the Peloton’s treadmill studio in New York City where trainer Jess Sims taught yet another melodious way to take a workout from level one to level five. Just hop on the treadmill, choose one word from a specific song, and up the speed by .1 (or your increment of choice) each time you hear it. If you’re treading to “Cake by the Ocean,” you can make “cake” your magic word. If the opening notes of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” scream through your earbuds, you can be brave and hit .1 for each and every “umbrella” and subsequent “ella, ella.” (Good luck, fam.)
Because music pairs perfectly with every kind of workout, you can translate this same format to all your cardio endeavors (spin, the elliptical, stair climbing), HIIT, or even strength training if you take a page from my volleyball team. To add some strength to a cardio workout, you could start on a run and every time you hear your chosen word or phrase, do a burpee.
If you’re ready for even more intensity, you can create and entire playlist that’s engineered using Sims’ method. Crunches for one song, Spiderman push-ups for another, and so on and so forth. As Selena Gomez once sang, “let the music move you.” But, like, literally this time.
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