Can Music Improve Your Workout?

Music — your all-natural pre-workout supplement.

By: Emily Freeman

You turn on music to get ready for a night out, in the zone at work, and/or make a road trip more fun. And if you love to blast your favorite music during a workout, you may be onto something. Playing music while working out may seem like a way to pass the time, but science suggests there’s much more to it. Studies have examined the psychological and physiological effects of music on exercise performance and the benefits are clear. In fact, the relationship between music and exercise has proved to be so significant that athletic officials have even banned some athletes from listening to music while competing to avoid unfair advantages! 

So, whether you’re mustering up the motivation to hit the gym, push through your favorite FitOn workout, or compete with some friends in a fun workout class, it may be worthwhile to press play on the tunes. And if you’re like me and love to listen to hip-hop, EDM, and throwback pop hits, there’s a reason for that too. Studies suggest listening to fast-paced music or songs can have positive effects on exercise performance. The same was true for working out to tunes that evoke an emotional response like nostalgia, excitement, hope, or even anger (yes, we love sweating out the negativity in a cathartic kickboxing class). 

So turn up the sound and get ready to sweat — here are five ways music can improve your workout.

5 Ways Music Improves Your Workouts

#1 It May Help You Push Through Your Last Rep

There’s something about the relationship between music and exercise that helps us power through that last mile or push out that last rep. Science suggests the psychological effects of music on exercise performance reduce your perceived exertion (or how hard you feel like you’re working) by up to 10%. So, music may be especially helpful during those tough HIIT classes! 

Note: Music shouldn’t be used to ignore what your body may be trying to tell you. It’s important to remember to always listen to your body and take breaks when needed!

#2 It Can Make You Move Quicker 

A 2006 study found that listening to music with a higher BPM increased the speed of runners. While strength workouts should focus on form and the muscle-mind connection, listening to upbeat music with faster tempos during your cardio workouts (running, cycling, walking, rowing, swimming) can help you increase your speed without even realizing it! 

So what’s the right music tempo for optimal performance? Research regarding the relationship between exercise and music found the optimal range to be 120 to 160 bpm

#3 It Helps Your Coordination

Just as music helps you feel smooth on the dancefloor, pumping the beats could offer a similar benefit to your workouts. When it comes to the beneficial effects of music and exercise performance, jamming out could increase your motor skills during physical activity. Rhythm helps the body navigate effective movement patterns with more flow this makes performing more technical exercises (like squats, deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, and even agility exercises like battle rope) easier. 

#4 It Improves Your Endurance

For repetitive exercises (such as running, rowing, swimming, or the elliptical), the beat of the music not only helps you move quicker, but it keeps you moving longer, too. As your movements become synchronized with the beat of the song, energy use becomes more efficient. A 2008 study showed the beneficial effects of music and exercise performance on cyclists without changing the amount of work, simply listening to music was shown to reduce oxygen usage by 7%! 

#5 It May Increase Your Caloric Burn

Yes, music helps you burn more calories! The beneficial effects of music and exercise performance are similar to the effects of caffeine listening to your favorite workout playlist could act as a natural energy boost! This buzz (combined with lowered perceived exertion, increased endurance, and higher performance) increases your capacity for energy expenditure. 

Turn up The Tunes 

Planning a playlist for your next workout is when the fun begins! To fully receive the beneficial effects of music on exercise performance, take into consideration what type of activity you’ll be doing. Running for speed? Consider quicker songs with energizing beats. Calming your mind with a zen yoga flow? Press play on meditative music that helps you feel grounded. Mentally preparing for a sweaty HIIT or strength class? Choose songs that give you an emotional boost. And when you want to feel like a total rockstar, you can never go wrong with some Beyonce or Kendrick Lamar (in my opinion). 

Want done for you playlists to complement your workout routine? Sign up for FitOn PRO, where you’ll experience premium music to supercharge your workouts with different music stations packed with hits from top artists.