Why Guitarists beat DJ’s in a Running Playlist

Published on February 6th, 2014


Nothing gets me more amped up on the run than raging guitar chords and a sweet solo. So how is it possible that Rap, Dance and Pop have been declared the best music genres for exercise? Not to dispute the merit of these genres, BUT I must make the argument for good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.

Ordinarily I’m a huge fan of the sport psychologist Dr. Costas Karageorghis, he is responsible for most of the solid research done on work out music. However, his latest “ultimate playlist” created with Spotify and reported by the Daily Mail riles up every nerve in my angsty rock-loving body.

So here’s the deal: Rap/Dance/Pop, all tend to be highly-produced, to the click, rhythmically perfect beyond what any human being could naturally ever do feats of sound engineering. Honestly, I get how this is really satisfying for running, I enjoy running to rap and electronica some times.

The article goes as far as to discourage running to rock because the beat can fluctuate. It is true that finding rock music that’s the right tempo and stays there is a challenge. It’s a lot easier to choose something straight forward like a highly touted pop song when you need to find something quick for the gym.

The thing is, according to Karageorghis’ own research, your music taste is a huge part of the equation. Personally, I can not stomach an entire work out full of rap/pop/dance songs, thanks to my grunge, alternative, punk, riot grrl, indie, and classic rock filled youth. I have to have my ipod to drown out all the crappy poppy music playing in the gym.

Metz Live

Photo by Rebecca Blissett.

What could be more motivating than thinking of Dave Grohl running across the stage, shredding, spraying sweat, spit and then screaming into the mic? To me, nothing. When rock stars play their instruments it’s a cardio event in itself. They don’t need to add choreography and elaborate stage craft to their shows like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga.

Running to fast, guitar-driven, rock gets me high.  It feels like fitting a high energy rock concert into my daily life. In the winter when it’s cold out and I’m doing the majority of my running on a treadmill and a good rock playlist is what gets me there and through it with style.

The Get Off On Guitars Running Playlist

In response to “the ultimate playlist” and all the “best” running playlists out there full of top 40 songs, I put a playlist together of a bunch of heavily guitar driven tracks that keep a quick consistent beat. Each artist I chose only got one track and there were several that got cut out to keep it under an hour. I’ve been doing this playlist as treadmill work out, with the first 30 min SUPER easy (don’t get too excited by all grinding chords boys stay light in the beginning) then I do some strides (30 sec hard and fast with 1 min rests) with some songs as 400m intervals. I can’t resist doing “American Idiot” and “My Name is Jonas” as an all out hard effort at the end. If you can get through that feeling strong I guarantee you’ll have an after glow!

BPM = Beats Per Minute, SPM = Steps Per Min.

The tempos are between 85-97 or 175-193 depending on if you count the basic or double time. To your feet this equals the ideal stride rate

Sample the playlist and find it on iTunes/Spotify through jog.fm:


Song Time Artist Album BPM/SPM
Get Off 2:22 Metz Metz 92/184
Test On My Patience 3:11 Dead Sara Dead Sara 92/184
Blitzkrieg Bop 2:13 Ramones Ramones 88/176
Give It Away 4:43 Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik 90/180
City’s Full 3:27 Savages Silence Yourself 88/176
Younger Us 3:33 Japandroids Celebration Rock 91/182
Creeplife 2:23 Deap Vally Sistrionix 88/176
All Along 1:39 The Offspring Conspiracy Of One 90/180
Bitter Rivals 3:19 Sleigh Bells Bitter Rivals 94/188
No Way Back 3:17 Foo Fighters In Your Honor 92/184
Turn It Around 3:56 The Men Open Your Heart 90/180
It Gets Me High 4:02 Lady Southpaw Marathoners Rocking New York 90/180
Sick, Sick, Sick 3:35 Queens of the Stone Age Era Vulgaris 97/193
Hypnotise 1:48 The White Stripes Elephant 94/188
American Idiot 2:54 Green Day American Idiot 93/186
My Name Is Jonas 3:25 Weezer Weezer 92/184
Hurt Like Mine 3:28 The Black Keys Thickfreakness 90/180



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