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The Ultimate 2017 Workout Playlist, According to Science

by Lisa Tolin /
NBC News BETTER asked Dr. Karageorghis to compile the ultimate playlist to improve your workout, it included tunes from P!nk, Rihanna and Coldplay.Photo Illustration by NBC News/Getty Images / Getty Images
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Maybe you’re still sweatin’ to the oldies. Or maybe your favorite Hillary Duff mix just isn’t cutting it at the gym. (No judgment.)

Whatever your workout woes, science is here to help.

NBC News BETTER asked a leading exercise scientist to compile the ultimate playlist to improve your workout. Dr. Costas Karageorghis, of London’s Brunel University, has found in his research that adding the right beat can trick your mind into feeling less sleepy and more motivated and even encourage that blissful state state of “flow.”

The secret recipe here is gradually increasing the BPM — from a warm-up around 85 BPM to the sweet spot of between 125 and 140 BPM — to help you gradually increase your intensity until you’re in the zone.

Karageorghis’ list starts with a relatively sedate “Just Like Fire” by P!nk — the slow rhythm (82 BPM) and uplifting lyrics ease you toward more activity. Then it’s on to Bruno Mars “24K Magic” (107 BPM) and Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime” (112 BPM) for a low-intensity burn.

Up the ante to Drake feat. Rihanna “Too Good” (118 BPM) and DNCE “Cake by the Ocean” (119 BPM) for a moderate tempo and pump it up to Sia “Move Your Body” (128 BPM) and Pharrell Williams “Runnin’” (137 BPM) as you build to maximum intensity. Cool down with a little Shawn Mendes “Mercy” (74 BPM) and recuperate with a super soothing Niall Horan, “This Town” (56 BPM).

“Most exercisers will claim that music is a vital component of their daily workout. Even so, many select music in a haphazard manner, without any application of science or consideration of how they might optimize their mindset for the different stages of a workout,” Karageorghis told BETTER.

So stream this playlist above, and consider it a little inspiration for your abs, and our way to help out. (Except with that Hillary Duff thing; you’re on your own there.)

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