Need Motivation At The Gym? Just Add Music

By Joe Vennare, PT

We will try anything to get a boost in the gym. Caffeine and pre-workout supplements might do the trick for some, but they come with a host of potential side effects in tow. Other people opt for performance enhancing drugs, legal or otherwise. This probably isn’t the best bet either. Breaking the law seldom is.

But, what if there were a performance booster that was legit and legal? What if it were also inexpensive and shown to increase motivation, while upping the intensity of your workouts. No, you don’t have to chug it or pop a handful of capsules. All you need to do is tune in and turn it up — the volume that is. Music is the performance booster that will take your workouts to a new level.

The Magic Of Music

The fact that music makes working out more enjoyable might not come as a surprise. Maybe you already noticed that exercise is better with your earbuds in. But have you ever thought about why that is? What is it about music that makes exercising more manageable?

It’s All In Your Head

Pairing music with exercise packs a psychological punch that makes pain disappear. Research has shown that music distracts us from the discomforts of physical training, such as fatigue. As a matter of fact, jamming while you jog can increase endurance, elevate your mood, and make you forget about how hard you are actually working.

When it comes to weight training, music is a magical motivator. Tuning in before you start to train has been shown to set the tone for an entire workout. Rocking out can help ensure you hit that last rep. Then, in between sets, the rhythm of the music can keep the burn going, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure to keep you in the zone.

Music is a type of legal performance-enhancing drug, researchers say.

Costas Karageorghis, from London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education, is one of the world’s leading authorities on the psychology of exercise music. As part of an extensive review of research related to the effects of music on exercise, Karageorghis compiled a list of benefits for casual exercisers and elite athletes alike. He found, for example, that people who listen to music train more intensely, run further, and bike faster than they do otherwise. The faster the beat, the more effort and intensity. People react this way to music without even realizing it. In fact, music can reduce the perception of effort significantly, making it less stressful, and increase endurance by as much as 15%.

The Best Beats: Up-tempo

The most motivational music is up-tempo and makes you want to bust a move. We want to move to the music. We want to keep up. It happens subconsciously. For that reason, music that is between 125 and 145 beats per minute seems to give us just the right amount of motivation. Hip hop is reportedly the most popular form of workout music, followed closely by rock and pop.

That said, everyone is different and there’s no right answer for what you should be listening to. Simply pick a playlist that motivates you to move more and keep on moving. Let the magic of music transform your workouts into a more effective and enjoyable exercise experience.

Joe Vennare is the Physical Therapy & Fitness Director at , where this article originally appeared. He is a one of the nation’s top fitness trainers, a freelance writer, and a fitness entrepreneur who co-founded of Hybrid Athlete, Kettlebell Cardio™ and Race Day Domination. Follow him on Twitter, @JoeVennare.


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