Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
My Ultimate Gym Playlist
My Love of Music and A Rather Cool Competition
It’s no secret that I love to exercise but I talk less about my overwhelming love of music. I adore music, I couldn’t imagine a life without it and so it’s perfectly natural to me to make it an integral part of my workouts. I’m so particular about the music I listen to, I learned to DJ simply so that the mixes I listen to don’t have a single tune I don’t like and so I choose my workout tunes with care.
I’d been thinking about blogging about music I like to listen to during a workout for some time and was spurred into action after seeing a competition on Pure Gym’s blog. The name of the game is to list your 3 top workout songs for an ultimate playlist and I thought, ‘why not?’ There are 3 fab prizes up for grabs – 1. A Maxi Nutrition Bundle worth £500 2. and 3. A Fitbit Zip and £100 to spend at Sweatshop. You can find out about entering here yourself (ends 31st July).
First up, let’s get something straight, it has to be electronic. I enjoy a wide range of different styles, from Led Zeppelin, through experimental psychedelia like Pond and Tame Impala right to the other side of the aural spectrum into soul and funk but, when it comes to working out, it has to be banging, it has to be repetitive and it has to be going at warp speed. Music isn’t just something to distract me or take me somewhere else, it’s the soundtrack the focuses my mind on what I’m doing, it sets my pace, influences my emotion and helps me smash it when my body is telling me ‘no more’. So here’s three tunes I consider gym essentials. My exercise is almost entirely cardio so when I get into it I’m going to have to keep going for a long time at high speed. Physically it’s a big ask and so the music has to be uncompromising.
1. ‘If You Have It’ by Base Graffiti (2002 remix)
Strictly speaking my first choice should be a warm up tune, something easy going to get the workout moving but the fact is, I don’t warm up. I’d like to start cardio slow and build up to a decent pace but the when I start going, I lose sight of all of that good logic and let rip. So my first tune isn’t about building up, it’s about keeping up and pushing me faster. I might settle down a little later but for the first 15 minutes I want to work as hard as I can. Newton’s fifth law of motion is simple, bass-line moves booty so the most basic requirement here is a monstrous bass-line and drums that go like the clappers. There really is only one kind of music that I’m looking at here, my first love affair in electronic music, hard house. I’ve chosen ‘If You Have It’ by Base Graffiti (2002 remix). The drums start heavy and get heavier early on, the percussion is stripped back, clean and super hard, the kicks drive my feet forward while the bass thumps into my lower back. A funny thing happens about 3 and a half minutes into a run for me, it’s when my lungs realise I’m not just sprinting from danger but in fact I’m doing that bloody exercise thing again, and then the pain hits. Thankfully that’s also when ‘If You Have It’ breaks down and switches from menacing kicks and bass to dark but uplifting synths playing from left to right. Abruptly my mood changes, the pain is gone and I’ve got my power back, I step it up, wait for the drop and blast off into the workout.
2. ‘You’ve Got The Love’ by Florence and the Machine (Mark Knight remix)
The next tune in my selection is the perfect mid-workout smasher. This is the point where I’ve really hit my pace and everything is working nicely and feeling good. The sweat is pumping, my heart rate is up around 170bpm and I’ve got plenty of gas in the tank. Tempo wise I am looking for something mid-tempo and in terms of feel, it has to be uplifting. This is definitely the peak of the session for me so I’m looking for a massive tune that’ll really make the hairs stand up on the back of my arms. There’s nothing that ticks those boxes like the Mark Knight remix of ‘You’ve Got The Love’ by Florence and The Machine. I’m a huge fan Mark Knight’s sound, here he marries a solid driving bass-line with ethereal synths to barrel us towards a monster breakdown with ‘that vocal’. ‘You’ve got the love’ has been a massive tune for many years but the combination of Mark Knight’s pumping house and Florence Welch’s amazing voice take this to a special place. I’m not ashamed to admit that if this comes on and I’m trail running I reach for the lasers as I go, quite frankly it has to be done. This tune is the exact right tone for me mid-workout, it rolls along nicely, keeps me pumped and most of all the super positive vocal puts me on a great emotional high.
3. ‘Slip Thru’ by Ed Rush and Optical (original)
Fast forward to the end of the workout and I’m starting to hurt (if I’m doing it properly), it’s not about awesome hands in the air breakdowns, it’s about keeping the machine running and there’s nothing better for doing that than D&B goliaths Ed Rush and Optical. The tune I have chosen is ‘Slip Thru’ from their ‘Wormhole’ album. I like to do cardio and I like to do it for sustained periods, so towards the end I’m fighting fatigue big time and I need simple, clean and, most of all, fast beats. When ‘Slip Thru’ comes on I can hear it coming from the first funky drum fill. I often put it in the last 3 -4 tunes of a mix simply because I know that when I hear those super heavy drums coming I’ll perk up and start gassing it for one big push. The fat, growly bass-line helps tired legs lift and banishes lactic acid while the cyclic vocal gives a tired mind something to grab on to and fixate with. The breakdown isn’t too long and that’s a good thing as I need constant drums at this stage of the game. The fact that this is at the quicker end of the music I listen to, while keeping the bass low and pumping gives me the last burst adrenalin I need to pick the pace up and hammer it right to the very end.
So that’s a window into my workout listening. The music keeps me in the right head space to stay pushing hard for the whole time and enhances my experience no end. Admittedly my choice above are somewhat extreme but that matches the way I like to approach my workouts in general. With the time I have I have to make every second of my workout time count so the tunes above represent my means of getting maximum cardio. So if you ever see me out running, and I speed up and start looking really serious, you’ll know that ‘Slip Thru’ just dropped.
*This is a collaborative post.
*This is my entry into Pure Gym’s – ‘What’s Your Dream Gym Playlist’ competition