A Workout Playlist That Motivates

Living a healthy lifestyle in college can be difficult, but it’s really important. I love working out because it keeps me feeling healthy. But I can’t workout unless I have my headphones in, so this is a motivating workout playlist I listen to in order to stay motivated throughout my entire workout. I separated the workout playlist out by songs to listen to while stretching, doing reps, intense cardio and cooling off. There’s a wide variety of artists and genres, so enjoy!

Stretching Songs

For when you’re stretching pre or post workout…

workout playlist stretch

I See Fire by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran has an amazing voice. This song was featured on The Hobbit soundtrack. It’s quiet, but the instrumentals are full and intense. Quiet but intense songs make great stretching songs.

The Mixed Tape by Jack’s Mannequin

This is an amazing song to listen to, especially when you’re feeling giddy about a special someone. Stretching is a great time to reflect on how hard you just worked and your goals. If your goal is to make it work with the special someone, think about how your hard work will help you be the best version of yourself.

If It Means A Lot To You by A Day To Remember

Jeremy McKinnon and Sierra Kusterbeck collaborate on this track, creating a sort of story between two lovers. Very sweet, and really fun to sing along to. Another good reflection song to listen to when stretching.

Repetition Songs

For  when you’re bench pressing or just doing an insane amount of squats…

workout playlist reps

Somebody Told Me by The Killers

A Great rock song and it has a back beat you can follow. Aim for your reps to match up with the beat and build of the song. Focusing on that can keep your mind from thinking about wanting to quit or how tired you might be.

What Do You Mean? by Justin Bieber

Hey! Stop the groaning. JB is often cringe worthy, but this song has an EDM vibe, which makes doing reps not so bad. Warning: you may have this song stuck in your head the rest of the day. 😛

First Date by Blink-182

A feel good song, that everyone can relate to. We’ve all had that awkward first date when your hands won’t stop sweating. You likely feel the same way in the middle of reps. Let it motivate you!

Intense Cardio Songs

For when you’re really feeling yourself during a cardio session…

workout playlist cardio

All I Do is Win by DJ Khalid

I don’t even play sports and this song gets me hyped up for a big game. Any negative thoughts about not being able to keep running are completely diminished by this song because all you do is win.

Phenomenal by Eminem

This song is the king of the angry fight songs, let’s be honest. Use it to help fight through your workout!

Throne by Bring Me The Horizon

BMTH is often my go to band when I’m working out. They have a strong sound and even stronger vocals. The song Throne is a little more rock than metal, so give it a try.

Cool Off Songs

For when you’re walking and chugging water post workout…

workout playlist cool off

Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns ‘N Roses

You can’t have a playlist without some classic rock guys. This song is slow enough that it won’t get your blood pressure up, but it also keeps you awake. It’s good to keep moving when cooling down.

I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth by Fall Out Boy

Come on. You can’t resist that song title! If you haven’t listened to this song, you need to. It’s got a relaxing, but the upbeat melody is perfect for cooling down after a hard workout.

Reckless by You Me At Six

This song is supposed to be that grand finale to your playlist. It’s fast enough and fun enough to wake you back up after you work out!

I hope this fiery workout playlist motivates you like it motivates me. Have a great workout and an awesome day!

Your Weekly Exercise: Squats

What are squats? Squats are very beneficial for both males and females. Squats work out many different body parts at the same time. Squats, just like the bench press, are a powerhouse of a workout and if done correctly you can really gain some serious muscle and, or strength.

Instructions:  I would absolutely recommend a spotter or partner while doing this exercise. I say this because this tends to be a workout that without a spotter you can hurt yourself very easily. You may also use a squat rack if you do not have a spotter with you. You first want to get in position where you will put the barbell on your upper back. You then want to bend down with your buttocks sticking out as you go down. Your head should be slightly up as well. At this point you should have a tight grip, head slightly up, knees bent and buttocks out. Then you want to rise up, and continue the same sequence for as many as you desire.

Primary Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, Glutes, Quads.

Weekly Exercise: Bicep Hammer Curls

What are Bicep Hammer Curls? Bicep hammer curls are a variation of regular bicep curls. Instead of you using the normal form for curls where the 2 ends of the dumbbells face left and right as you lift up and down, you are now doing a motion with your dumbbells where the 2 ends are facing up and down. The motion you make looks like you are slamming a hammer, hence the name hammer curls. This is an excellent workout for the biceps that switches things up and confuses the bicep muscle because you are using this different motion.

Instructions: You first simply grab dumbbells, ones that are a reasonable weight. You put them at your sides with your clenched fists facing the floor. You bring both arms up towards your shoulder/head area making a hammer motion, up, and down. Continue this motion for as many times as your set requires. A friend to spot you is always a plus, but is not completely necessary for this exercise. As you can see in the picture you can also do this exercise while sitting down on preacher curl machine.

Primary Muscles Worked: Biceps

Secondary Muscles Worked: Forearms

Remember people, don’t ever do weight that you cannot handle. Also, make sure your form is as good as possible for you are risking injury. Attached is a picture giving instructions of what your form should look like.

Weekly Exercise: The Bench Press

What is the Bench Press? The bench press is one of the best workouts you can possibly do in the gym. This workout is great to build a strong, powerful chest. It consists of a flat bench and a piece mounted on so you can mount and dismount the barbell when ready. This is an excellent exercise you can do when starting your workout so you can exert most of your energy into it, especially since a lot of energy is needed.

Instructions: While lying underneath the barbell you want to dismount it from the rack. Remember to keep your feet positioned correctly on the ground. There are usually grips on the barbell giving you a precise read on where to place your hands. If not, you should grip a littler wider than shoulder width. Once you have it dismounted you want to bring it down towards your chest. Then you want to push it back up, lower it back down and continue to do this at a steady pace. It all depends on which type of workout you are doing or how many workouts you have done already but you should aim for about three to four sets compiling twelve repetitions per set.

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest

Secondary Muscles Worked: Triceps, and also shoulders.

Remember people, don’t ever do weight that you cannot handle. Also, make sure your form is as good as possible for you are risking injury. Attached is a picture giving instructions of what your form should look like.

Water Exercises: Work Out While Beating the Heat

In the summer, finding the motivation to exercise can be impossible—especially when it’s 90 degrees out. Instead of hopping on the treadmill in a poorly air conditioned gym or sweating it out on the streets as a heat mirage dances before your eyes, get yourself out to the beach or a pool for some fun in the sun—and exercise too!

First of all, you should all realize what an intense cardio workout swimming can be! If you do some serious laps in the pool or propel yourself against the current of the ocean for a bit, you’re targeting your arms, legs and abs all in one powerful exercise. According to trainers, if you tread water in your pool or at the beach with all of your might, you can burn 11 calories each minute—so a whole afternoon in the water will lead to some serious weight loss potential.

Walking around the town won’t seem as fun once you spend time walking in the water. It might not seem like walking could be as effective as going for a run, but with the water resisting your motions, you’ll be working out like crazy! Walk in the shallow water with long, exaggerated strides. You can also walk on your tip toes in the deep end (if you’re not a good swimmer or don’t like deep water, don’t try this since you’ll most likely fall at some point) for a more concentrated effect on your calves. Add some arm motions under the water for added effect and more calorie burning action.

Simply floating—or floating with a twist—can help improve your abs and core muscles. While you’re lying on your back in the water, make a conscience effort to tighten your abs as you float. You can tighten and relax, tighten and relax, for short spurts of exercise that don’t distract you too much from the task at hand: not sinking. You can make this exercise even more intense on your abs by rolling your body in the water with very controlled motions. As you tighten your abs and hold onto a ball for support, roll over so your stomach is in the water (make sure you hold your breath or hold your head up to avoid sucking in water), and then flip back up.

For those of you who prefer the shallow end of the pool, you can sit back in the water to begin treading, remaining in an outstretched seated position with a bend at the waist—turning your body into a V. Move your hands in circles by your waist to hold yourself up and make your way through the pool. Oppositely, you can also go onto your stomach and try propelling yourself with just your legs, a fun challenge for yourself that will make those quads burn!

There are countless exercises you can easily do in the pool or at the beach, working up a sweat without feeling the effects—unless you’re in extremely warm water. So now you have no excuses to not spend at least part of your summer getting toned, while getting tan and splashing around with your friends. Happy swimming!

The Laptop Fitness Plan

These days, time and money is an issue for everyone. As college students, that problem is often multiplied. With a busy class schedule, who has time to go to the gym? Even summer doesn’t give us a break, since we need to make money to prepare for the upcoming college semesters or an internship instead of classes takes over all our free time. Maybe you just don’t feel comfortable working out in the gym. Perhaps you need some extra encouragement, but your friends can’t put in the effort. An online fitness community might be the right choice for you.

Whether you want to lose weight or tone up, there are lots of options online to target your needs on a personal level while you also engage with a community working towards similar goals.  People seek fitness help online more often than ever before. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found 80% of people online are searching for health related issues, with 52% looking specifically for information on exercise  or fitness. Ted Vickey, a PhD researcher studying the connection of social media and exercise at the National University of Ireland, believes social media could change the health industry forever.

“I believe that social media can be one of most important pillars to fighting the global obesity problem,” he said. “Report after report suggests that the number one reason people don’t exercise is time. Now that technology has given us more time, what if we could create a tool that could persuasively assist a person in finding the time and motivating them to exercise? That would be a great step in the right direction.”

Communities like Blogilates (I personall recommend this as a popster myself), founded by Cassey Ho in 2009, have video workout routines available. Ranging in length fro 10 to 30 minutes, and in targeted zones of the body, you’ll have the opportunity to change your body gradually with a little effort each day. The videos are easy access, posted on YouTube and Ho can be found constantly on Twitter and Facebook, posting workout commands, updates and inspirational quotes to keep you going. The other popsters are also on Facebook often, posting about their success and asking each other questions.

Katy Widrick, another popster, started #FitBlog Twitter chats in 2010. Every week, there’s a new topic, a new discussion leader (usually a health or fitness professional) getting the conversation flowing, and hundreds of participants interacting with one another. If you prefer to blog about your struggles and interact in a more private forum, Roni Noone’s BlogToLose might be the motivator you’ve been searching for. Noone started the platform after she found blogging about her fitness journey in 2005 helped hold her accountable and ultimately got her into shape faster—the community gave her the support she needed and kept her on task with her fitness goals.

Even though this all sounds dandy and fun, you have to be weary of the sites you turn to for help. Anyone online can post about whatever they want to, whether they’re an expert or not. Some people will take it to far, to an extreme of being unhealthy; avoid looking at images of super skinny models as a weight loss goal or blogs focused on thinspiration. Also steer clear of any negative comments. If people come into the online community talking smack about being overweight or unhealthy—especially anonymous comments—you have to keep in mind these people feel good by putting others down.

Ultimately, being online is a balance of the good and the bad. You have to inform yourself and keep on top of the legitimate sources. The best aspect of online fitness is accessibility, time management, and the community, but there’s also some harsh commenting and bad imagery out there. So use your best judgment, put on your sleuthing hat if necessary, and have fun while you get fit.

Happy exercising, friends!

-Toony Toon

The Other March Madness

As the semester comes to a close it inevitably gets harder to hunker down and hit the books.  The weather is gorgeous and the spring fever is tangible.  In one day, I saw 3 girls doing P90x from a laptop, a girl cutting a guy’s hair while he wore a trashbag over him like a teepee, and guys frolicking in grass playing frisbee, all out in the lawn outside my dorm in the space of about thirty minutes.  When studying while people are literally frolicking 100 feet from your window becomes unbearable, try these tips.

String up a hammock.  Back home in south Texas, everyone has a porch swing and a hammock (a little “tex” and a little “mex” I suppose).  Something about the motion and a tall glass of water with lemon in it feels like an instant vacation.  Eno hammocks are a little on the pricy side but they last and are super portable.

Just looking at a hammock makes me feel more relaxed, happy, and recharged.  You get all the benefits of the outdoors with none of the sun’s rays.  Prop up a book and you can be in the action but still get work done!

Do some easy cardio with a book.  High-intensity workouts may be good for burning calories, but some time on the elliptical at a moderate pace, one that still allows you to read, can bring some relief when you’re feeling cooped up with the books.  Finding time for exercise and studying can be challenging when you’re trying to have a life, too, so knocking them both out at once every now and then feels great.  It may sound like a hassle (and I definitely wouldn’t bring my stats homework) but when you get out you will feel doubly accomplished, and that’s a feeling that can get you through the toughest day.

Take a study break with a friend you don’t see very often.  Call that person up you’ve been meaning to get to know better (I feel like we all have one of those) and invite them to get a frappaccino and plop down under a tree.  Aside from the usual fun of getting to know a new person, the added benefit is if you’ve been dealing with the same stresses for a while (i.e., job, school, break up), your usual group of friends has heard it all before.

Spring can be a blessing and a curse, when you can’t go out and enjoy it, but balance your time right and keep that brain refreshed and you’ll be out there in no time!


Brain Foods to Get You Through Midterms

Midterms are approaching and that means it’s time to eat some brain food! The best thing you can do for yourself when you have a test is to stay hydrated. If your teacher allows water in the classroom bring a bottle to sip on when you need a moment to clear your head. If water is too boring for you, add flavor with a crystal light flavor packet; they make multiple flavors and only have 10 calories. If water is not allowed, try to drink as much as you can before a test; just make sure your professor will allow you take a bathroom break if you need one.

Another thing you can do to concentrate is to chew gum. Chewing gum stimulates the brain while maintaining a singular focus.  According to, “Balanced nutrition plays a part in testing well. The Food Research and Action Center discovered that students who eat a complete instead of partial breakfast work more quickly with fewer math and number errors than those who don’t. Healthy eating also contributes to better performance on vocabulary and visual skills tests.”

The night before your midterm, eat a well-balanced dinner. A brainy dinner needs to include multiple food groups. I normally prepare a meal from: Grains (pasta, corn, bread); Protein (chicken, fish, nuts); Vegetables (carrots, peas, baked potato). Choose foods that you like and that are also healthy for you. If you’re up late cramming and get hungry, try eating a yogurt or some fruit. Lighter foods late at night will give you a boost without sticking to your stomach. If you want, reward yourself after you ace your exam with your favorite dessert!

The day of your midterm, eat a big breakfast. Eating breakfast in the morning helps get your brain and metabolism going. A good healthy breakfast could be a bagel with peanut butter, eggs, or cereal. Adding dried fruits to your cereal is an easy way to balance out your big meal. Make sure to include both carbs and protein. Aim to eat a breakfast around 300 calories; anything larger might upset your stomach and do more harm than good. Along with breakfast, try a cup of coffee. The extra caffeine will give you a morning boost; especially if it’s right before a test. Controlling your caffeine intake is key, as it can be a depressant as well as as stimulant, so stick to orange juice if your exams are later in the day.

Studying for a test will only get you so far. If you aren’t in the right physical or mental state during your Midterms, you’ll do worse than you probably should have. So get some sleep, don’t stay out the night before drinking and eat some brain food before your big exams!

-Speedy G.

I’m reading Psychology: Modules for Active Learning