Bushwalking Fitness | Using Music BPM to Maintain Your Training Rhythm and Intensity

Find your training regime is a little too boring? Want to train to music but don’t know how to select suitable music? Not sure what BPM ( beats per minute)  you need?

Many people enjoy walking while listening to music but I must admit I have seldom felt the need. I enjoy looking around, listening to the birds and enjoying the solitude or chatting with fellow walkers.

Now for serious training, I have recently changed my mind. When I am struggling up and down my local “mountains” carrying a 15 kg pack,  I need all the assistance I can get to stay focussed and keep in rhythm.

To do this, requires careful selection of the music; just any old music won’t do, even if it is my favourite rock genre. There is no point listening to music which has a slower rhythm than that of your walking or is so fast that you can’t keep up and lose rhythm.

Fortunately there is low cost ( FREE) software available for your computer and iPhone which allow you to analyse your favourite music and work out the beats per minute (BPM). Once you know this you can select suitable music for each of the stages of your walk eg slower uphill , medium on the flat, and faster downhill.

Selecting the right BPM depends on the slope you are walking along not just your speed eg 5 km/hr along the flat will have have a different number of paces per minute than 5 km downhill, since your stride length will vary. It is of course possible to walk fast on the spot.

While there are guides available the final decision will depend on your preferences, how your walk, whether you use poles, and the terrain. Analyse some of your favourite music and then arrange the music by BPM before transferring to your iPod or smart phone. Then as you walk skip from track to track until you find a suitable BPM. Back at home, group similar tracks with the same BPM together as playlists, named 80-99, 100-119, etc. When you are walking you can then swap between playlists as the slope varies or you wish to change the intensity of your workout.

Alternatively, use a pedometer for each stage of your walk to determine steps per minute
 and select appropriate music from your list. Even better, use an iPhone app Cadence to select suitable BPM from your play list without needing to group them at all and easily up or down the BPM to suite the terrain or intensity.

If you search the Web you can find playlists available for download for walking, jogging and running, but there is nothing that compares to your own music.

Next time: selecting suitable genres for training, and some of my selections.

See related fitness posts

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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