Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, which means 2 things. Everyone delves into a spirit of thankfulness and eats tons of food. So what do I have for you today? Something to match both of those factors, of course! It’s called a worship workout.
What in the world is that?
Well it’s pretty simple. Many of us like to use music when we work out, because it’s a great extrinsic motivator. For the most part, many of us prefer to use upbeat music that has a faster tempo and encourages us to keep going. It’s great for running, nearly essential for spinning, helpful when weight training, and versatile in all workout settings (except swimming unfortunately).
A couple years ago, I was doing an internal debate with myself about how much a waste of time working out was when I had such a busy schedule. I wanted to go workout and my body needed it, but I simply had so much on my plate I just wasn’t sure if it was worth it. Eventually I decided that I was getting so stressed, that I decided to go for a 3 mile run and listen to worship music while doing so.
Listening to the upbeat music and peaceful lyrics, just so happened to be exactly what my body and soul needed. By the end of the run I was rejuvenated and much more equipped to tackle my to-do list. But I also noticed that I actually completed the workout more thoroughly than I thought I would have.
So very often I have started combining my prayer and daily worship along with my workout time. The thing about working out is that it’s the one time of the day when you can focus on yourself and whatever is on your mind. If prayer and worship is something that’s important to you, then it’s a great combo.
To those of you who may think that this seems a little odd, think about it like this: when people lift their hands and dance in services at church, it’s an expression of worship. And if you’re of those people who do that then you understand that its fueled by the passion in the worship. But in this day and age very often the only time and place we worship like that is at church. But if you use your workout as a time of worship, 1) your workout suddenly becomes more meaningful, 2) the passion in the worship can fuel your workout, 3)suddenly working out has become another form becoming prostrate before the Lord.
Now, sometimes I totally understand that worship music is hard to stay motivated to. But a few months ago I did some searching and really found some great songs for particular types of working out. Here are some examples:
For running, HIITs, Spinning, Elliptical, and other cardio I love some Hillsong Young and Free. So that playlist for me looks like this:
1. Awaken Me- Jesus Culture
2. With Everything- Hillsong United White Album
3. Chasing You- Bethel
4. Basically the whole Young and Free Album but particularly: Alive, Brighter, and Wake
5. From The Day- I Am They
For weighted workouts, anything with a good even tempo is awesome:
1. Start a Fire- Unspoken
2. God’s Great Dancefloor- Chris Tomlin (I’m not a big fan of Chris Tomlin, but it’s a good song)
3. Back To Life- Young and Free
4. Nothing But The Blood- Jesus Culture (a little slower, but great for heavier weights when you’re really focusing on pushing through)
5. Always Been About You- Fellowship Creative
For stretching and strengthening like yoga or pilates:
1. Carry My Soul- Phil Wickham
2. Morning Song- Steffany Gretzinger
3. One Thirst- Bethel
4. Thirst- Phil Wickham
So there’s just a few songs for each type of workout. I still mix in a few other songs with those by people like Ellie Goulding, Avicii, Zedd, M83, and whatever else is upbeat but has nice words.
The thing is a lot of workout music can be angry, and while it may help pump the adrenaline, I think it’s much more sustainable to run on worship adrenaline. If you try it and hate it, don’t sweat it. It’s something that helps me personally, but took a little while to get used to. Some of those songs just make me want to dance so I use that and turn it into my workout. If you’re worried about looking silly, don’t.
Very often it looks the same as any other workout. You don’t have to sing or pray along out loud. But I will admit, mouthing the words to the songs not only helps me stay focused on the worship part of it, but it also helps me pace the in and out of my breathing in any and all types of work outs. People may be like “um, what is she saying?” but I’m performing for an audience of One so who cares?
One more benefit, (mostly this is for girls), is that when I’m in the weight room and feel slightly insecure around all the muscley, sometimes judgmental guys, the worship music helps me remember that in Jesus’ eyes I am perfect and I am maintaining the temple He has given for Him, not everyone else. Suddenly I have a much greater confidence than I did before.
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, give a worship work out a shot! You can give thanks to the One who Provides and work off all the calories from that delicious feast you eat.