Shutterstock / Kaspars Grinvalds

Workouts are just easier with music. Many studies have been done on the effects of music on physical performance and the findings for moderate exercise in general show that working out with a few beats can make you run a little farther and feel better afterwards.

The developers are all well aware of the psychology behind this. That said, these aren’t the apps designed for discovering new music, so don’t download them for that. If you already have a music streaming service like Spotify, there’s usually a workout channel or two, and if you’re actually paying for your streaming, you have more control over your track selection and playlists. Songza is another decent streamer that is often overlooked, but it offers decent workout options. And don’t forget the other biggies, Pandora and Slacker. If you’re not already streaming or have a fitness tracker, here are five apps designed specifically to match music to your workouts.

Spring

spring moves exercise app

A newcomer to the music app space, Spring combines the best features of general music streaming apps, such as curated music playlists and 35,000 songs with the added option of designing your own interval workout. The music will let you know when spring is going to pump you up. Spring knows the science that explains Why matching movement to music is effective and makes full use of it. Spring doesn’t have a selection to match Pandora, but the app does include GPS to track your running basics like distance and your song-based performance so you can see what motivated you. Cons: Spring is only available for Apple devices at the moment, and you only get five hours of free streaming. Pros: Spring works on your Apple Watch and also works with Apple Health. The Android version of the app is expected to launch in late summer 2015.

RockMyRun

RockMyRun fitness music app

RockyMyRun is all about tempo. Also curated, their DJs do workout mixes with regular tempos to keep your stamina up. This writer has personally been a victim of the mismatched station on regular streaming services, where you reach your third mile and suddenly an out-of-place song appears and you have to pull your phone out of your pocket to skip the song. At that point, your stride and momentum are both broken. RockMyRun helps you avoid all that. It can play seamlessly without long gaps between tracks that would otherwise kill your momentum and distract you with the question, “Did I just lose my connection?” Even better, you can listen to music offline.

Another cool feature that keeps RockMyRun highly rated is the cadence matcher; the trademark Body-Driven Music adapts your music to your movement – or rather your steps. It’s like a modern take on those old military marching songs, but for civilians.

Even if you don’t use it, the BPMs of the mixes are listed, so if you already know what works for you, you can go right there. The app works with MapMyRun as well as Nike+, Endomondo and Runtastic. Sign up at no cost and get all playlists under 45 minutes for free. Unfortunately, you need Rockstar Tier ($5 per month or $36 per year) to go ad-free and get all the goodies; continuous play, four hour playlists and access to Body Driven Music. Fair warning, their drum and bass offerings are a little thin at the moment.

A recent update caused some crashing issues, but their customer support is responsive, so hopefully those will be fixed soon. It’s on iTunes and the Google Play Store.

FITRadio

FIT fitness music app

Also unique to iTunes, FIT Radio is one of the original gangster Apple fitness music apps. Their curated mixes come in a bunch of shapes and sizes. They have workout-specific mixes, new daily mixes, and a tap-and-play setup that doesn’t require creating playlists or caching files. Of course the mixes keep the continuity of the BPM and the rhythm.

The free version only offers three to six mixes per genre and contains ads, but you get new mixes and the option to turn off explicit lyrics. Paying the premium grants full ad-free access to the full catalog of mixes, including unlimited skips and DJ profiles. One month is $4, one year is $28, lifetime is $80. A decent genre and station selection completes why it’s a good choice for Android and Apple users.

GYM radio

GYM fitness music app

Everything about GYM serves up true gym rat style with a fist pump twist. It has three main stations depending on what you are doing; Cardio, Gym and Hardcore. Cardio is a bit more upbeat in motivating your cadence. The gym is stable, inspiring, with a strong focus on what’s hot on the streets; it’s definitely not your taxes. Hardcore is music that does not flinch, and that tells you HTFU. New songs are added every day.

One annoying thing about Gym Radio is that between the constant requests to try premium and the ads, it can be hard to get back on the radio screen. Premium gets rid of ads and lets you listen offline, skip, and new songs while they’re still new. However, it does have a “workout mode” that beeps at one-minute intervals to help you track reps. It’s also the best workout radio app for flossing (showing off) because it has a camera button in the app. Share your photo on Instagram and hashtag it (#gymradio) to be added to their pantheon, which you can see in the Gym Radio app. Click on the photos there and you end up on the Instagram photo; great for anyone trying to build an Instagram following for your hot body. Grab it from the Play Store or iTunes.

RhythmDJ

PaceDJ fitness music app

PaceDJ is completely free for Apple and Android users. This is the app for people who already have a long list of downloaded mp3s and want a player that will organize them for workouts. The BPM ID starts by searching for tracks on your phone, then guides you through the process of creating your first playlist for walking, running, biking, or “other.” It starts with a median BPM setting based on your exercise choice (75BPM for cycling, 130 for running for example). It will warn you that it will choose songs that are 10 BPM higher or lower than your target speed, as well as double-tempo or half-tempo songs (again, depending on the exercise choice).

If you’re not sure how comfortable BPM is, it has beat metering and touch drum functions that let you figure out your comfortable range or tap it to fix it. However, if you already know but don’t have a lot of tracks on your phone, you can head to the Pace DJ website to find full exercise-specific playlists with iTunes and Amazon links. . On the other hand, if you have a massive library, be aware that it will take some time for the program to sort through your files.

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