Chest Compressions: At what rate do you perform CPR compressions?


In the 2015 CPR guideline update, the rate changed from 100 compressions per minute. It is the same for adults, children and babies.

100-120 compressions per minute.

If this seems like a fast pace, it’s because it is. You’ll be doing 1 to 2 compressions every second.

Remember, the depth of compressions on an adult is 2-2.4 inches with both hands. For a child, you’ll use one hand, and a baby you’ll use two fingers, and you’ll compress to only 1/3 the depth of the chest.

Metronomes can help keep the rhythm.

A study conducted in 2015 showed that when using a metronome alongside chest compressions, the compression rate was able to be better maintained than with those that didn’t use one. There are many Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) that have a metronome that beeps to the correct speed, to aid in chest compressions, and all training units should have one as well. We recommend that our instructors incorporate the use of a metronome in their classes as well.

Keeping on pace with a metronome can also help with ventilation rate, as you’ll introduce oxygen at the same rhythm. You’ll also be able to pay attention to the depth of your compressions a bit better when you’re not also focusing on your speed.

Music to help with the compression rhythm.

If you want to be sure you’re doing chest compressions at the correct rate, find a song that has a beat that is somewhere within that range.

A classic example is The BeeGee’s Stayin’ Alive, which is often played in CPR classes to help people find the speed. Stayin’ Alive‘s tempo is 103 beats per minute, which is within the range that we need to hit. At the upper end of the spectrum is Lady Gaga’s Just Dance, which clocks in at 119 beats per minute. In the middle is Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust at 110 beats per minute, though that one is a bit macabre.

Here’s a playlist of songs to learn CPR to:

  • “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees – 103 BPM
  • “Dancing Queen” – ABBA – 100 BPM
  • “Cecilia” – Simon & Garfunkel – 102 BPM
  • “Hard To Handle” – The Black Crowes – 104 BPM
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Justin Timberlake – 113 BPM (This is an original song from the movie “Trolls”)
  • “Rock Your Body” – Justin Timberlake – 100 BPM
  • “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor – 117 BPM
  • “MMMBop” – Hanson – 104 BPM
  • “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper – 120 BPM
  • “Just Dance” – Lady Gaga, Colby O’Donis – 119 BPM
  • “Something Just Like This” – The Chainsmokers, Coldplay – 103 BPM
  • “Rumour Has It” – Adele – 120 BPM
  • “Fly” – Sugar Ray – 100 BPM
  • “Hips Don’t Lie” – Shakira – 100 BPM
  • “Work It” – Missy Elliott – 102 BPM
  • “Suddenly I See” – KT Tunstall – 100 BPM
  • “Crazy” – Gnarls Barkley – 112 BPM
  • “Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson – 100 BPM
  • “One Week” – Barenaked Ladies – 113 BPM

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