Exclusive: Best Exercise Music

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It's Gym Time at Riff Raff

Been a while since we've talked about the intersection of health and music here at Riff Raff--not that it isn't important. Since the concept of ripsters has moved past a hilarious thing I saw happen at gyms to a slightly less hilarious thing I watch myself do in front of the mirrors by the stretching area, I've been forced to think more about how--and, crucially, why--health and music should intersect when I'm ripping it. I'm talking about making exercise playlists.

Lots of short songs vs. one long song, rock music for jazzercising vs. jazz music for rockercizing (i.e. butt busting)--these are the exercise world's two big debates, and different people are going to tell you different things. My advice is: Take advice from your fattest friend--he never gets to the gym probably because he can't stop thinking about stuff like this.

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New ripsters have found the short songs approach to work best, idea being, you are rewarded with a new song for every two minutes you keep going. It slices the workout, particularly in a cardiovascular situation, into small, manageable battles--sort of like cutting a pizza into eight slices, or cutting a pizza into four slices but remembering to do the napkin-grease thing too. 2manyDJ's As Heard On Radio Soulwax Vol. 2 seems to be a big hit in the short song circles; Haunted House Sounds Volume 4, a collection of 168 Halloween sound effects including four separate sounds made by ghost spiders, does not exist yet--but that hasn't stopped ripsters from ripping it on the treadmill to Volume 2's suite of angry snakes singing showtunes.

But say you've never ripped it. The worst possible thing to happen is: You've made it through 12 songs, but you've only been at the gym for about five minutes, which means you've gotten zero out of your workout. Take it from somebody who listened to snakes belting out the overture from Damn Yankees twelve times in a row--it's pretty disheartening.

If you're like that, might I suggest a different exercise playlist: one long, awesome track. The idea is to pick a song that can take you through your gym time start to finish, from swiping in at the door, to hiding your stuff in an unlocked locker because you don't want to pay an exorbitant locker fee, to ripping it, to yelling really loudly because the maintenance people stole your shit out of the unopened locker again.

Hey though, that's just cardio--that's where the big debate is. The weird thing is that everybody in gyms agrees on the music you're supposed to listen to for different exercises: rock music (benchpressing), Eiffel 65's "Blue" (hanging out in the locker room), microhouse (biceps), deep house (punching stuff), grime (returning the towel to the front desk), Wu-Tang Clan (eating sandwiches at the snackbar), Wu-Tang solo albums (hitting on girls), Daft Punk's "Harder Better Faster Stronger" (complaining about how expensive the gym is), "Harder Better Faster Stronger (Neptunes Remix)" (cancelling your membership).

And because I love all you crazy Brits threatening how you're going to beat me up the next time you see me on the BBC: Now's your chance to weigh in. What's your exercise playlist strategy?

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