Using Music To Supercharge Your Workouts

Music has a profound effect on our psychology. Our psychology affects our physiology. We can listen to music for relaxation, entertainment like when we are hanging out with friends, or to energize our workouts.

In ancient times as well as in modern warfare, music can assist in preparation for combat.


The application of music and exercise goes back 3000 or more years. The ancient Romans used a drum to set the pace and synchronize the oar rowers on their ships.

Music in Athletics and Exercise

Of course, music developed into a significant component in athletics and exercise. Researchers explored music’s ability to allow people to exercise harder or longer before reaching exhaustion. Music distracts exercisers from their fatigue-related bodily feelings.


Boosting Strength and Stamina Through the Use of Psychological Arousal

Researchers examined the effects of music on 25 college-aged men 25 women using a grip strength test. They discovered that those who listened to stimulating music had much higher strength scores. Additionally, sedative music had lower grip scores. (Karageorghis, Drew & Terry 1996)

Improving Motor Coordination

In addition to improved exercise performance, music can also improve motor coordination. Music, therefore, may be featured in rehabilitation treatment.

Gait Training With Music

Rhythm is a crucial structural and organizational in music. Rhythmic music and physical reaction can be effectively leveraged for therapeutic objectives.

Stroke patients often have impaired gait due to motor control issues. Musical stimulation helps improve patients walking. A group of patients who received auditory feedback of their steps while listening to music improved more than a control group who received standard gait therapy, say Schauer and Mauritz (2003).

Music as a Workout Motivator

If you are not listening to upbeat music during your workouts, you miss out on its performance enhancements. Fitness professionals have known about this for years and employ it in their training and training of their clients.

Naturally, the self-selective energetic music you enjoy listening to will be the most beneficial to increase your psychological arousal. How beneficial? Music reduces the perceived effort and intensity of exercise. Thereby allowing you to do more while it feels like you’re doing less. Win-win.

How much more? Everyone’s mileage will vary, but a 15% improvement in intensity and/or endurance with music vs. no-music is a number I saw knocking around.

Intensity Matters

To eke out the most from your music, match your music’s beat and tempo to the exercise.

Getting Your Beats Down

The tempo and Beats-Per-Minute (bpm) are essential factors when choosing songs for your workout playlist.

A playlist made for walking, cycling, or an elliptical machine may have songs with a tempo around 130–140 bpm. However, by creating a playlist for endurance, running, and high-intensity exercising, you want to increase the tempo to around 145 to 170 bpm.

There are three benefits of listening to music during workouts. Primarily it increases your psychological arousal and motivates you to exercise. Two it reduces your perceived feelings of intensity and fatigue of exercising. Thirdly, it improves your motor coordination.



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John Iovine

John Iovine


Science writer, thinker, self-experimenter, focusing on personal development and health —