How To Make a [DOPE] Workout Playlist
Music can make or break your workout. When I was a fitness boxing coach at a studio in Santa Monica, we used to curate a new 45-minute playlist everyday, and box to the beat of the music--kind of like SoulCycle, but for boxing. At first I thought it was kind of corny, but ultimately, I learned that music does enhance the workout.
The ebbs and flows of a thought-out playlist invoke emotion and energy. That is when I learned how to create a playlist with an arch to it, meaning, we start with a song that has a “warm-up feel to it”, build up to a fast-paced set of songs mid-workout, and then slow down the tempo for the cool down. To do this, I pay attention to the BPM (beats per minute). Certain movements work better with certain BPM.
Once you learn to count the BPM, you can start adding a movement to it (like a jumping jack) and practice syncing movements to the beat. Moving to the beat of the music adds an element of choreography to the workout, and honestly - it’s just fun!
To count the beats of the song, download an app called “Tap Tempo” and just tap the button to the beat as you listen to the song. You can count beat half-time or double-time and match movements accordingly. To curate a playlist, I prefer Apple Music, but Spotify is great, too. I recommend organizing your music based on BPM or by genre, because it will make it easier to curate playlists in the future.
Ready to get started? Here's an example of how to make a dope workout playlist for a 6-round workout.
Warm Up: 120 - 130 BPM
- Raise the heart rate with an active stretch
- Engage the muscle groups that will be used during class
- Get boxers accustomed to moving with the beat of the music
- Recommended exercises: Active stretching, band work and stretching bar work
- Recommended music: Pop workout songs
Round 1: 130 - 155 BPM
- Demonstrate and teach the 6 punches, kicks and 2 defensive moves
- Create a “push” with calisthenics that help to spark the heart rate
- Recommended exercises: Introductory drills and basic boxing punches, kicks, defensive moves, calisthenics
- Recommended music: Anything that energizes you
Round 2: 135 - 160 BPM (Climax)
- Start to create simple, 2 - 3 punch / kick combinations, option to add in footwork (1-2-3, 1-2 step, 1-2 slip, 1-2 rolls)
- Build in calisthenics during the push of the song
- Introduce kicks if it’s a kickboxing class
- Recommended exercises: Simple 2 - 3 punch and kick combinations, footwork drills, basic kicks, calisthenics
- Recommended music: Remixes
Round 3: 150 - 160 BPM
- Review the 6 punches and kicks on the bag with a catchy, easy-to-keep beat
- Half-time to double-time / high and low punches
- Keep it on the heavy bag, no plyos during this song
- Work both stances (southpaw / orthodox) for advanced boxers
- Recommended exercises: Basic boxing punches and kicks, boxing stances
- Recommended music: EDM
Round 4: 170 - 180 BPM
- Faster-paced 3-punch and kick combos (1-2-3 / 2-3-2) or 2 punches + 1 defensive move
- Incorporate sets of plyometrics and calisthenics: Squat jumps, jump switch lunges, etc.
- Recommended exercises: 3-punch and kick combos, defensive moves, plyometrics
- Recommended music: Classic rock
Round 5: 140-180 BPM (Climax)
- Depending on the length of your songs you may have 2 or 3 additional bag songs
- 6 - 7 punch / kick combo (should be built up)
- Off-beat punching sets work great for certain songs where the beat fades away
- Bring boxers back on the beat when the music suggests
- Practice syncopated combinations (sharp punches, fast)
- Continue to incorporate plyometrics and think about varying from strengthening to cardio
- Make it heroic!
- Recommended exercises: 6 - 7 punch and kick combos, fast and sharp punches on the boxing bag, plyometrics
- Recommended music: Remixes
Round 6: Cool Down
- Play something calming and chill to cool down
- Calm the nervous system
- Recommended exercises: Static stretches (held for 10 seconds)
- Recommended music: R&B or reggae
Making playlists can take time, but I do think it makes a difference in the workout. The more you do it, the easier that it gets. When the beat drops, I want you to go HAM! I am excited to see how this adds to your FightCamp workouts. Keep going!
How Can I Stream Music For My Workout?
Follow these 6 steps in the FightCamp App to learn how to stream music through Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and SoundCloud while doing your workouts.
1. Go into the FightCamp app and select the workout that you'd like to do.
2. At the top of the screen select the music icon.
3. The Music Drawer will open and you'll have the option to choose FightCamp Radio, Music Apps, or No Music at all. That's right, FightCamp radio is still available for you.
4. Now, if you'd like to choose your own music select the "Music Apps" icon. This will open up the compatible apps that you already have installed on your device.
5. Select the Music App you want to use, choose your playlist and start your music.
6. Trackback to the workout screen and begin your FightCamp workout.
》You can also find the Music Streaming options by selecting "More" and "Music Selection" under "Settings."
》One more thing... we've also added the capability to control the audio with Music Leveling. Tap the screen during a workout to choose more Trainer, more music, balanced or no music.
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The Author: Aaron Swenson, aka ‘Speedy,’ began his Martial Arts journey under his father’s guidance in the family’s dojo in Chicago. By 2013, Aaron was an accomplished fighter with two National Kickboxing titles and a USA National Kickboxing Team spot and fought for the prestigious GLORY Kickboxing organization. Since then, Aaron has become a sought after trainer in LA known for his technical approach to teaching, fancy pad-work, and utilizing music to make the workout fun and engaging. Aaron is a Founding Coach at FightCamp, where he leads boxing and kickboxing workouts and plans to make his return to the ring. Aaron is also USA Boxing Coach certified.