Sunday, June 25, is Global Beatles Day, a holiday created as a thank-you to The Beatles by an adoring fan in 2009. The date was chosen because on June 25, 1967, The Beatles performed “All You Need is Love” on the BBC program Our World to a global audience. The English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960, is regarded as the most influential band of all time and was integral to the development of 1960s counterculture and popular music’s recognition as an art form.
The Beatles have provided the world with a huge repertoire of great songs in their fruitful career and so many of their songs are an ideal fit for the magic that we employ in the cycling studio. Even if you aren’t a Beatles fan yourself (say it isn’t so!), I bet many of your riders are. By incorporating Beatles songs in your playlists, you can create a sense of nostalgia for older participants. Even if you have a younger demographic, don’t let that stop you from using Beatles songs! Younger riders can certainly gain an appreciation for timeless classics from one of the most influential bands in history. And in terms of how we choose and use music in the cycling studio—taking into consideration the song’s tempo (bpm), energy and enthusiasm, length, emotional power, and lyrics—many Beatles songs score high points in almost every category. What’s not to love?
Let’s explore a collection of Beatles songs and how you can use them in your indoor cycling profiles. Then let us know in the comments what your favorite Beatles song is and how you use it in your classes!
Come Together, 4:19, 165 bpm
This is my personal favorite Beatles song to ride to. The tempo is perfect for cycling at 83 rpm. Use it as a warm-up, a consistent moderate flat, or a gradual intensity build on a flat road. I like to add a little resistance every time they sing the lyrics “come together.” You can also find some great covers of this track, including by Michael Jackson, Ike & Tina Turner, Aerosmith, and Joe Cocker, all at varying tempos.
Here Comes The Sun, 3:05, 130 bpm
The moment the first chords play, your riders will immediately recognize this song. It’s an uplifting song about hope, renewal, and the promise of better days. The lyrics remind us that even after difficult times in our life, which may feel like a long, lonely winter, the sun will still come out. George encourages us to remain optimistic no matter what. At 65 rpm, it’s a great track to use for a gentle climb. You can also use it as a cool-down, dissociating from the beat.
I Want to Hold Your Hand, 2:25, 135 bpm
This is the song The Beatles played live on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 to an audience of 73 million Americans glued to their TV sets. As they began playing, the air was filled with the sounds of screaming girls in the studio audience. This was the “British Invasion” that sparked “Beatlemania”—the music world was never the same after this performance.
You can read more about that consequential moment in television history here. [Speaking of, we have two fun profiles for ICA members, The British Invasion (the early years, started by The Beatles) and The Modern British Invasion (the second invasion, thanks to MTV) that you can find here.]
Many of the early Beatles songs are short and energetic like this track, making them perfect for short and peppy intervals. Climb to this one at 65 rpm, standing on the chorus if desired.
Help!, 2:19, 190 bpm
Need an energetic, fun song for another short, high-intensity interval, but you want to go high cadence this time? Look no further than this classic track! At just over 2 minutes, it slides perfectly into anaerobic efforts well above threshold, this one at 95 rpm. You can even play with the lyrics…as you get closer to the end of the interval, tell your riders, “If you’re at the correct target intensity, you should be thinking ‘help!’ by now. Don’t worry, help is coming—your recovery is only 20 seconds away!”
Speaking of recovery…this song can also work well as a recovery track—simply crank back the intensity and ride easy. It’s fun to use the same artist for successive recoveries in a high-intensity interval ride, and since the Beatles have a plethora of shorter tracks, many of them can be used in this way. A few others to consider are “In My Life” (2:26, 103 bpm), “I Saw Her Standing There” (2:53, 160 bpm), “Norwegian Wood” (2:04, 177 bpm), “All My Loving” (2:07, 156 bpm), “Blackbird” (2:19, 94 bpm), and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” (2:09, 186 bpm). (Note that since song tempo isn’t as important in recovery to guide cadence, you can also use many of their songs that have a tempo you might normally use for a climb, dissociating from the beat.)
Hey Jude, 7:05, 150 bpm
Songs in the later Beatles albums are typically longer than their earlier ones. While you can find a shorter version of “Hey Jude” at 3:58, this 7-minute version is so powerful to use as an emotional climb at 75 rpm. Turn it up and allow your class to ride this song on their own, standing or sitting as needed. Don’t be surprised if you see some of your riders mouthing the “na, na, naa naa” lyrics or even throwing out a fist pump.
Let it Be, 4:03, 140 bpm
It’s hard to find a more fitting cool-down song than “Let It Be.” It’s another poignant song that carries a profound message of acceptance and resilience in the face of life’s challenges and is regarded as a timeless anthem of hope and inner strength.
Other Beatles songs that close out your ride on a good note are “Hey Jude” and “Yesterday.” If your Beatles tribute includes the artists after they left the group, you can add John Lennon’s “Imagine” to that list of quintessential cool-downs.
In exciting news for all Beatles fans, Paul McCartney announced just this week, The Beatles will release a new song this year featuring vocals from John Lennon, with a little help from artificial intelligence.
The legacy and popularity of The Beatles’ music endures to this day and will continue to be cherished for many years to come. They are often cited as one of the greatest and most influential bands in the history of popular music and their impact on subsequent generations of musicians and artists is immeasurable.
Their music appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds, making it suitable for a wide range of indoor cycling class participants. Beatles songs easily complement the diverse techniques we use in our indoor cycling classes. Whether it’s climbing, maintaining a steady faster cadence, pushing hard in an interval, recovering, or even sprinting, the varied musical landscape of Beatles songs ensures that instructors can create a well-rounded and engaging cycling experience that caters to all participants and all techniques.