Dance Cardio Music: Your Perfect Playlist

For many gym goers, “workout music” is synonymous with “dance music.” But most dance tracks clock in around 128 beats per minute (BPM), which is a little too fast for most dance cardio or step aerobic classes where complicated steps might require a little more time. This playlist focuses on a mix of songs-from the likes of Three 6 Mafia, Coldplay, and Ellie Goulding-in the 119-122 BPM range, just right for stepping to the beat.

Here’s the full list, courtesy of, the web’s most popular workout music website.

Three 6 Mafia & Kalenna – Shake My – 122 BPM

Company B – Fascinated – 119 BPM

The Cheetah Girls – Strut – 120 BPM

Damian Marley & Nas – As We Enter – 120 BPM

Bon Jovi – It’s My Life – 121 BPM

Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall – 119 BPM

Ellie Goulding – Lights (Captain Cuts Remix) – 120 BPM

Timbaland & Justin Timberlake – Carry Out – 122 BPM

Stromae, Kanye West & Wilbere Forte – Alors On Danse – 120 BPM

Usher & Pitbull – DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love (DJ Spider & Mr. Best Remix) – 120 BPM

To find more workout songs, check out the free database at Run Hundred. You can browse by genre, tempo, and era to find the best songs to rock your workout.

  • By Chris Lawhorn

The perfect step aerobics music can make a big difference in your cardiovascular workout. Music for step aerobics has slightly different requirements than music for other types of cardiovascular fitness activity.

History of Step Aerobics

Step aerobics grew to popularity in the late 1980s when gyms and fitness centers began using adjustable steps to increase the intensity of aerobics classes. The inventor of step aerobics, Gin Miller, conceived of the classes in 1989. Soon, individual platforms that could be adjusted by adding risers began appearing in aerobics classes across America. Instructors enjoyed having a new way of teaching fitness to their students, and the steps provided a way to customize intensity. They also provided a platform for many strength training moves used during the classes. Step aerobics remains a popular more than 20 years after its invention.

Important Aspects of Step Aerobics Music

Step aerobics music tends to be slower than regular aerobics music. Where regular aerobics music ranges from about 140 to 150 beats per minute, this type of aerobics music needs to be a bit slower at between 120 and 135 beats per minute. The music needs to be slower both for safety and because the addition of the step generates a greater level of intensity than other types of aerobic activity, so movements can be slightly slower than regular aerobics with the same results. Along with speed, other important aspects of music for step aerobics includes:

  • An easy to follow meter
  • A driving and easily recognizable beat
  • Music that motivates you

In order to design a good step aerobics music program, you need to gradually progress in speed throughout the workout. As with other workouts, step aerobics requires a 10 minute warm up leading into the session and a 10 minute cool down following the session. The progression of the music should be:

  1. Ten minutes of music that gradually progresses from 105-110 beats per minute to 130 beats per minute
  2. Between 10 and 35 minutes of music that is 120 to 135 beats per minute
  3. Ten minutes of music that gradually slows from 120-135 beats per minute to 105-110 beats per minute
  4. Five minutes of slow music for stretching

You can also include music for strength training activities such as push ups or abdominal crunches that is about 130 beats per minute. Strength conditioning activities should follow the cool-down but precede the stretching.

Where to Find Pre-Recorded Music

One good option is to select pre-recorded music designed especially for step aerobics. Many step aerobics instructors use this type of music to make classes flow well. CD, DVD, and MP3 player options exist. Some options include:

  • Power Music has multiple CDs with music in a variety of ranges, including 120 to 130 beats per minute.
  • Faithfully Fit has Christian music for step aerobics.

Tips for Creating Your Own Music Mix

If you plan to create your own music mix for step aerobics, try these tips for success.

  • Choose music that motivates you. Find music that you love, and save it for use during your workout. If you can only listen to the songs when you workout, then you may be more motivated to exercise.
  • If you are a beginner, start with slower music that ranges from 120 to 125 beats per minute for the main body of the workout. As you get in better shape, you can choose music with a slightly quicker beat.
  • Make sure the music you choose has a beat that is easy to recognize and follow.
  • Create a mix on your MP3 player of several songs for step aerobics. That way, you can vary the music you choose for different workouts to keep it fresh.
  • Don’t skip the warm up, cool down and stretching, which can help prevent injury and soreness.
  • Ask friends which music they use and trade songs if you have similar taste in music.
  • Avoid music that is too fast (quicker than 135 beats per minute). Using music that is too fast can lead to safety issues.

Music That Moves You

With some careful planning and an MP3 player, you’ll be able to create your own, motivating aerobics step music in no time. Follow the tips above, and choose music that inspires you to work out.

10 Songs to Put Some Pep in Your Step Workout

Step workout routines come in a variety of forms-some involve plastic steps, some involve actual stairs, and some incorporate games like Dance Dance Revolution.

For most of these workout routines, the ideal beats per minute range is 125-134 BPM. I put together a playlist that starts at the low end and picks up a single BPM with each song, working you gradually through the whole span.

Along the way, you’ll find a dance track by Wolfgang Gartner, a rock song by Guns ‘N’ Roses, a remix of a rock track by The Killers, and more.

Here’s the full list:

Rihanna – Disturbia – 125 BPM

Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine – 126 BPM

Fall Out Boy – Dance, Dance (Tommie Sunshine Remix) – 127 BPM

Wolfgang Gartner & Will.I.Am – Forever – 128 BPM

Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull & The WAV.s – I Like How It Feels – 129 BPM

Green Day – Know Your Enemy – 130 BPM

Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone – 131 BPM

Fonzerelli – Spirit (Wanna Stay Here Forever) – 132 BPM

Three 6 Mafia, Tiesto, Sean Kingston & Flo Rida – Feel It – 133 BPM

The Killers – Mr. Brightside (Thin White Duke Remix) – 134 BPM

To find more workout songs, check out the free database at Run Hundred. You can browse by genre, tempo, and era to find the best songs to rock your workout.

See All SHAPE Playlists >>

  • By Chris Lawhorn

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Adding music to a workout routine can set the pace of your movement patterns. In a form of exercise like step aerobics, where elevating your heart rate relies on maintaining an up-tempo speed, music can help make the workout challenging on an aerobic level. The best music for step aerobics purposefully combines beats per minute, repetitive rhythm, and seamless transitions from one song to the next.

Keep It Upbeat

The beats per minute (bpm) in a song is the base tempo that keeps you and your heart rate moving at a certain speed. When choosing music for the soundtrack of your workout, there is a balance between a bpm that sets the pace and one that promotes proper form, technique, and safety. Sports education scholar Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., suggests music for general exercise be above 120bpm, which can reduce the effort you feel you’re exerting. To avoid rushing movements and compromising step aerobic form, the bpm shouldn’t exceed 128bpm.

Coordinate with Rhythm

The rhythm is the melodic pattern throughout a song. Rhythm is repetition and can assist in synchronizing physical movements based on the recurring sounds. In the context of step aerobics, sound patterns can be used to signal moving from one movement pattern to the next. With the coordination of arm and leg movement integral to step aerobic combinations, using the rhythm of a song to piece together movements throughout the body can assist in building coordination.

Seamlessly Transition

Moving from one song to the next can inform the combinations of a step aerobic workout, however maintaining movement and an elevated heart rate from one song to the next will work to build endurance. Rather than stacking songs in playlist form, try using a mixtape or fusing the songs in your playlist with a music editing program to create a fluidity throughout your music.

Make It Personal

Karageorghis told the “New York Times” in 2008, “ can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent.” Regardless of your musical preferences, it is possible to find suitable stepping music in your genre of choice with an upbeat tempo. For alternative music, “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People is 128 bpm. Sharing the same speed are “Levels” by Avicii (house) and “Amber Cascades” by America (classic rock). “Untrue (David Edward Remix)” by Louis La Rouche (dance) and “Club Can’t Handle Me” by Flo Rida ft. David Guetta (hip hop/ rap) enjoy 127 bpm. Slowing things down, Mumford and Sons “Awake My Soul” (folk/ rock) sits at 135 bpm. Even songs like Tuxedo’s “Do It” (funk) at 120 bpm bring a steady rhythm to set your pace.

Step aerobics music playlist

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