Punk Plyo – A Workout Playlist

Welcome back to Workout Wednesday at The Owl Muse. How are those New Year’s resolutions holding? Yeah, mine have fallen to pieces, too. Well, you can always make new ones on Groundhog Day. Yeah, Groundhog Day resolutions. It’s a thing, I swear.

Earlier this month, The Owl Muse shared Spotify playlists for cardioweight training, and spinning, so today it’s all about plyo. Plyo has gained popularity with Crossfit and their crazy box jumping shit. Oh, no I am not dissing Crossfit. At all. Joining a Crossfit Gym is my Groundhog Day Resolution. I swear.

Plyo, short for plyometrics, is a fancy word for jumping and throwing things, so punk seemed the obvious theme. That took me down a road. A riot grrl road, to be precise. There is surprisingly little overlap between the riot grrl songs in our collection and the ones on Spotify. (Spotify, could you get “In Accordance with Natural Law”, by Bikini Kill, pleeeassse?”). So that slowed down the process of making this post, but the good thing is that I discovered The Dollyrots, who are indeed, awesome.


1. Because I’m Awesome/The Dollyrots – Run in Place

2. Hippy Dippy Doo/Rocket from the Crypt – Squat Jump, Side Hop

3. Real Wild Child/ Joan Jett  – Star Jump, Split Squat Jumps

4. Lucky Guy / The Muffs – Medicine Ball Chest PassSide Pass, & Slam

5. Celebrity Skin/Hole – Stork Hop, Cross Country

6. Take it Off / The Donnas – Medicine Ball Chest PassSide Pass, & Slam

7. Sci Fi Superstar / Bis – Pop UpsBurpee

8. Pretend We’re Dead / L7 – Recover

This is a short workout, it should feel pretty intense. I *aim* for 10 of each exercise, and rest as needed.That’s about 80 jumps and 60 throws, which supposedly “beginner level.” I am waiting for the day when I beat “beginner level.” Some of these I might make 2 or 3. If I’m lucky.

I am indebted to “Boot Camp Matt” for teaching me these moves and I’ll share with you his safety tips. You should strive to land SOFTLY like a cat. It’s more important to land SOFTLY than to get height, otherwise it’s bad for your knees. Also the medicine ball is actually a really good way to break a finger, so think JAZZ HANDS the entire time you are doing them. If you don’t have a medicine ball and a wall and a clear space, you can just do cardio during those breaks. I did not include the box jumps that are so popular because of Crossfit, because I think they are a little too risky. As Matt would say, “I like my teeth.”

*It has come to my attention that Spotify will only let you play these songs in exact order if you have a premium account. If you have a free account it will play them in Shuffle mode. Bummer. I don’t think the exact order is that important here, like it would be in a spinning workout for example. Looking for Work Arounds.

P.S. The awesome photo on this blog is courtesy of Tiffany Findley.

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Disco Spin – A Workout Playlist

Welcome back to Workout Wednesday at The Owl Muse.

Earlier this month, The Owl Muse shared Spotify playlists for cardio and weight training mixtapes, so today it’s all about indoor cycling. You know, like on a stationary bicycle? This particular Spotify playlist for spinning has a distinctly dance music vibe with some of my very favorite EDM, house, and disco tracks.

Indoor cycling is meant to be done in the dark, so I guess I was inspired by the idea of the dance floor. Maybe I should put a disco ball up in my basement, hmmm…


Okay, get your headphones on and get on that bike. I use a heart rate monitor tells me I have the resistance at the right level of intensity.

WARM UP SONGS – Start with light resistance and ramp up gradually during the warm up. I look for my heart rate to be 110-115 by the end of the first three songs.

1. September/Pomplamoose

2. Oxford Comma/Vampire Weekend

3. Shake Your Booty/KC & The Sunshine Band

THE FIRST HILL – Crank up the resistance! For me this is a standing climb, and I try to get my heart rate up into the zone of 130-140 bpm. Cadence is slower, but if you don’t break a sweat on this part of the workout you probably need to add resistance.

4. Details of the War/Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

5. Crown on the Ground/Sleigh Bells

6. Gold Lion/Yeah Yeah Yeahs

RECOVERY – Back off the resistance and get back in the seat.

7. Time to Pretend/MGMT

8. Get Lucky/Daft Punk

THE SECOND HILL –  Put more resistance on your spin bike and get back out of the seat. This is a kinder, gentler hill than the first but it’s still a hill.

9. Woman King/Iron & Wine

10. Let Forever Be/The Chemical Brothers

COOL DOWN SONG – Back off the resistance and bring your heart rate down.

10. Shuggie/Foxygen

STRETCHING – Do your best yoga moves. Or just lie on the ground. Whatever.

11. Agaetis Byrjun/Sigur Ros

I have done this workout many, many times.

There are different genres of spinning workouts and this falls into the strength category. The idea is to keep you HR 75%-85% of maximum and keep your cadence around 60-80. I do like the strength workouts on the bike because I feel like I’m building power in the legs and reinforcing my delicate knees. You can check out Spinning.com for tips on form.

I have two more spotify workout mixtapes/exercise routines to share with you before January is over. Next up, Punk for Plyo! Because I know you LOVE burpees!

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Rock n Roll Lifting – A Workout Playlist

My favorite playlist for weight training is on Spotify. People seem to agree that rock (or metal)  is the way go for weight training. I think the idea is that intense music supports the intense effort and concentration needed to repeatedly lift and lower heavy things.

The weight lifting mix  starts off with “Divine Hammer” by the Breeders, then “Lola” by The Kinks, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop, The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” David Bowie’s “Breaking Glass,” “Sixteen Saltines” by Jack White. The New York Dolls’ “Personality Crisis” adds just a little punk to the mix, and “Foggy Notion” by The Velvet Underground finishes up the set. This list is 35 minutes long which is about right for me.

If you are a guy who works out, you probably have at least considered lifting weights. If you’re a girl, probably not so much. A lot of women avoid weight training and prefer cardio, for any number of bad reasons. Weight training will make your body more compact even at the same weight.

There are definitely people who really focus on weight training as the core of their fitness plan. I have tried this and I was not a fan, but I do try to get a “big muscle breakdown” session in at least once or twice a week and balance that out with cardio intervals, spinning, plyo and circuits. By circuits, I mean a alternating between cardio and body weight exercises. I like mixing it up because it’s fun and functional–that is I am stronger, more agile and slimmer.

My super simple weight training routine is as follows:

1. Squats – 3 sets x 6 reps, with a 3 minute rest between sets.

2. Bench Press – 3 sets x 3 reps, more 3 minute rests in between.

3. Deadlifts – 3 sets x 5 reps, with 3 minute rests in between.

…and you’re done!

Form is important, as is lifting heavy. I keep a little notebook to make sure I’m adding just a teensy-weensy little bit of extra weight each time.





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Eclectic Intervals – A Workout Playlist

Welcome to Workout Wednesday at the Owl Muse!

Around here, January is the month for setting goals and changing habits. For a lot of us who sit around all day, that means moving more. “Move it or lose” it as they say, and I think that pertains to mental health as much as physical functioning. I have zero credentials as a fitness expert, but I have tried numerous different approaches over the years, and I will share with you the routines that I have found to be most effective for me. YMMV, but I have nothing to gain from selling you on a particular approach, so I’m unbiased in that regard.

My basic insight about exercise is just this: doing something is better than doing nothing. If you like cardio, do cardio. If you like lifting weights, lift weights. If you like biking, bike. I also added a couple of workouts inspired by a boot camp (Thanks, Matt!) I used to go to–plyometrics and circuit training–because (i think) they are fun and relatively easy to do at home with minimal equipment.

And, after all,  this is a music blog — so I have developed workouts that are guided by awesome playlists. This one is a real mix — old songs and new — different genres and styles. I have also found that good music really motivates me to work out and not give up after 3 minutes like I would with a workout video. Sometimes just watching Jillian Michaels on the TV is enough work, right?

The first mixtape is a 45 minute workout with a set of two and three minute songs, perfect for cardio. One thing I will say about cardio is that I have found that doing intervals (also called HIIT which sounds more painful than it is) is more helpful than doing steady state cardio. The idea is to go full-on for two minutes, recover for three. Rinse. Repeat. This will work for any type of cardio. Do whatever exercise works for your fitness level and suits your fancy: sprint/run, jog/walk, climb stairs, jump rope, use any sort of cardio machine. The only thing is to go hard, then go easy (lower your heart rate but don’t stop moving!). If it’s too easy, you can switch it up — go hard for three minutes and recover for two. I use a heart rate monitor and keep my pulse between 110 and 135.

OWL MUSE CARDIO INTERVALS < listen to this mix on spotify

1. Blue Jeans (RAC mix)/Lana Del Ray/RAC – warm up

2. Motor Away/Guided by Voices – go fast

3. Huddle Formation/The Go! Team – recover

4. Poppy Day/Brighter – go fast

5. Coma Complacency/Japandroids – recover

6. Something I Learned Today/Husker Du – go fast

7. In Our Angelhood/Cocteau Twins – recover

8. Deep Sea Diving Suit/The Magnetic Fields – go fast

9. Gotta Get Away/The Black Keys – recover

10. Song 2/Blur – go fast

11. Argonauts/The Little Ones – cool down

12. Afternoon/Youth Lagoon – stretch

13. Every Other Freckle/Alt-J  – stretch

BTW, I am just music fan who works out, not a medical or exercise professional, so use common sense and check with your doctor if you don’t normally workout. Also, don’t run outside in the dark or when it’s slippery. And watch for cars!

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The Muse Reviews: Youth Lagoon

True confession: I am more than a little ambivalent about living in the now. I’m nostalgic for old times, even though I was just as disapproving of those bygone eras back in the day as I am with this one now…character flaw, I know, one of many…so, I’m reading my accursed Facebook news feed (it’s 2014 after all) and some kind soul turns me on to Youth Lagoon. THANK YOU. Along comes some random kid from Boise, and all of a sudden I’m sold on 2014. Cheered up, glad to be alive, and looking forward to 2015.

Trevor Powers has said his music is about mental distress. Maybe, but it’s soothing and fun as heck. He has two albums. They are both great. You can order The Year Of Hibernation and Wondrous Bughouse from Amazon.

It’s hard to pick a favorite song, I really like all of them. Maybe Mute17, or Afternoon are good starting points. Through Mind and Back starts out like the Twilight Zone. And..my fave…music about outer space!

Glad to know you @youthlagoon!

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The Muse Reviews: It Might Get Loud (2008)

It Might Get Loud

Three generations of rock guitarists: Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. Davis Guggenheim’s 2008 film is one of the most engrossing documentaries I’ve seen. It’s beautiful to watch and hear. I did feel that I was getting to know guys as human beings, not rock stars. Last night we had really nice dinner and a nostalgic bottle of wine and watched this film. It was a perfect, low key evening at home. If you have kids, there is some language, but we got them in their pajamas and settled in in front of the TV. They were asleep within the first 10-15 minutes; and that, my friends, is the magic of documentaries. On Amazon

Here’s the trailer ….

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The Muse Reviews: Fever Ray

These recordings were released in 2009, but Fever Ray–a solo project of swede Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Andersson–wasn’t on my radar until I started watching Vikings on the History Channel. If I Had a Heart plays during the opening credits creating an eerie, otherworldly feeling that really works for imagining the frightening and magnificent world of Scandinavia before Christianity.

Like the opening track, the rest of the album has an appropriately Nordic feel – a bleak, solitary elegance that that feels both modern and primal at the same time. It’s a good listen at bedtime, or any time you want to chill out and clear your head.

By the way, the series is completely fascinating and enthralling. You have time to catch up on the first two seasons before the Season Three starts next year.

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The Muse Reviews: Alvvays

This album comes in a gorgeous blue vinyl, and it’s been on heavy rotation at our house. Alvvays manages to be both upbeat and relaxing, and very, very pretty at the same time. The album is definitely worth repeated beginning-to-end listens, but my favorite tracks are the hit Archie, Marry Me which is just a fun commentary on modern love. I also really adore the last track Red Planet which is a great contribution to the genre of rock songs about life in space. Brilliant.

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What’s Up And Warpaint

Two weeks since my last post — lots of travel and assorted craziness. Music-wise, we did catch the Warpaint in Milwaukee at The Pabst Theater. It was good, very enjoyable, very tranc-y and atmospheric. I hesitate to call it a show, exactly — it was more like the band was sort of letting you watch them jam, rather than that they were actually performing. I have to say that it was my first time at The Pabst, and I loved it. The crowd was smallish, and friendly. Beautiful theatre, comfortable, and very intimate.

Here’s a video of my favorite Warpaint song.

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Top 5 Favorite Labels

1. Merge Records. Mac and Laura and friends have brought us Superchunk. Neutral Milk Hotel. Lambchop. And many other fine brands. Think of all the more lucrative and less annoying things they could have done with their lives. We will be forever in their debt.

2. Matador. Okay, they had this show in Las Vegas a few years ago that sold out in like 3 seconds. I am not quite over that one yet. But still these are the people who bought  Belle and Sebastian to the US. Also, Fucked Up. Interpol. They also have a ton of great heritage behind them: Pavement, GBV, Liz Phair — so there is the nostalgia factor. And I am sure that they have many fine bands that I haven’t even bothered to get into yet.

3. 4AD. These people have had the best taste since forever.

4. Creation Records. Ok, bias, my hubs was once a roadie for The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy (nice guys btw from Oxford, like the college in England) but these guys are funny. Plus Creation also put out “important bands” like My Bloody Valentine.

5. SubPop. Rough Trade.Touch & Go. How could you decide?

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