This article is by new writer Robin Legat.
While many trainers use music to give their clients and campers an extra motivational push during workouts, sometimes it can be fun to use music as part of the workout itself. Whether you’re looking for a quick finisher or just want to change things up in the middle of a longer workout set, a song-based mini workout can be a fun way to go.
While some songs have achieved popularity as song-based workout choices via viral internet videos, there really is a great deal of room for creativity when it comes to using a song as a workout.
That said, there are some basic tips that help determine what types of songs might be better choices, including:
- LENGTH OF SONG – Generally, it helps to use songs that are on the shorter side. While “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly might be fodder for a truly unforgettable workout, this seventeen-minute epic might prove to get old several minutes in, especially if you’re asking your campers to hold a plank the entire time.
- REPETITIVE WORDS – The through line to the examples you’ll see below are repeating words. Usually in this type of workout, there is a trigger word or phrase that is used to get everyone to do a certain exercise. So when looking for new potential songs to use, listen for words that are repeated, and make note of the frequency in which the words are repeated. If the word isn’t repeated for several minutes, think about what you’re having your campers do in the meantime. If you are having them hold a plank, can they reasonably hold for that long? If they are doing another exercise, will they get bored? And conversely, when the words are repeated quickly, can your campers keep up? Is there a way to modify if they can’t? In my experience, I have found that the best songs to use for this type of workout repeat a word with relative frequency throughout the song, while repeating more and more frequently toward the end. Even if the campers can’t fully keep up on the later side, they are often having so much fun and laughing so much that it doesn’t really matter.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE – In my experience, I have found that limiting the exercises to two or three per song is the best way to ensure that campers are able hear the trigger words, know what to do, and be able to return to whatever exercise they need to do in between. As exciting as the idea of having your campers re-enact this Uptown Funk video, they may not be ready for exercise that borders on choreography. (Trust me: I tried it!)
With all that in mind, the following are some examples of some song-based workouts that can be great additions to your bootcamp:
BRING SALLY UP
Buzzword/Phrase: Bring Sally Up, Bring Sally Down
Bring Sally Up may very well be the king of all song-based workouts. It’s great because it pretty much tells you what to do. When you hear Bring Sally Up, do an upward movement, and when you hear Bring Sally Down, do a downward movement. Hold wherever you’re at in between.
More advanced campers can do a push-up every time they hear Bring Sally Down. You can also have them do up/down planks, coming down with every Bring Sally Down and returning to push-up position with every Bring Sally Up.
Squats can also be used for this, as it provides several opportunities for isometric squat holds.
Artist: The Police
Buzzword/phrase: Roxanne, Put On The Red Light
This classic starts off innocently enough, with each word/phrase repeated only periodically. But by the end of the song, the buzzwords/phrases are repeated often and right next to each other, making for a super entertaining mini-workout. And it’s short enough to allow for some intensity in the exercises. For this song, try having your campers hold a plank.
Every time they hear Roxanne, have them do a push-up. Every time they hear Put On The Red Light, they do a half burpee. By the end, they’ll pretty much be constantly going back and forth between push-ups and half burpees, and by the point they think they can’t take it anymore, it will mercifully be over!
Artist: Ray Parker Jr.
Buzzword/phrase: Ghostbusters, I Ain’t ‘fraid of No Ghost”
“Bustin’ makes me feel good!” – and so do burpees! How have we made it this far without a single burpee? Let’s remedy that with Ghostbusters! Have your campers do alternating lunges, with a burpee at every Ghostbusters.
Switch things up with a reverse burpee at every I Ain’t ‘fraid of No Ghost, then return to lunges.
Buzzword/phrase: Thunder, Thunderstruck
Want to burn out the legs in five minutes flat? Get Thunderstruck! Have your campers hold a squat. Every time they hear Thunder, they do a squat jump, and then return to the squat hold. With every Thunderstruck, have them do a short sprint and return to a squat hold at their mats.
Everyone’s legs will be completely thunderstruck by the end of the song!
Artist: Neil Diamond
Buzzword/phrase: America, Today!
For our American friends, this song comes in handy around the 4th of July. A simple way to incorporate this song is to have campers alternate between two different exercises every time they hear America. For example, make this a killer core workout by moving between a superman hold and a banana/hollow rock hold at every America.
Kick up the intensity and simulate 4th of July fireworks with star jumps at every Today! that repeats with great frequency at the end of the song!
Here’s a playlist on Spotify of these songs.
Of course, these are just examples, and there really are no limits when it comes to song and exercise choices. Have your own variation of the above song-based workouts or another song we didn’t mention?
Share in the comments below!
Original image: cassettes
Hi! I’m Robin and I own Power Jam Fitness in Los Angeles, CA. I found my way into training through roller derby, of all things. I’m a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. I originally started Power Jam Fitness to help roller derby skaters get proper strength and conditioning training, but now I’m all about helping people of all walks of life discover their own inner athletes. When I’m not training, working out or roller skating, I’m spending time with my husband Michael and Best Cat in the World Olly, enjoying live music, and pretending to be a rock star on the karaoke stage.