Do Workout Songs and Music Make You Exercise Harder?

Learn 3 ways to get a better body with workout music.

Ben Greenfield
3-minute read
Episode #40

How Does Music Motivate You To Exercise?

The mechanisms of how music motivates you to exercise harder are actually not entirely clear. However, it is known that there are two elements at play:

  1. the ability of music to distract your attention on pain and fatigue, which could be described as a psychological effect; and

  2. the ability of music to increase heart rate and breathing, which could be called the physiological effect.

Together, these two components make you exercise harder and hurt less.

3 Ways to Use Music When You Work Out

Now that you know workout music can make you exercise harder, or put you in a better mood and motivate you to exercise in the first place, how can you use it? Here are 3 ways to get a better body with work out music:

  1. Do intervals. After a hard day of work, when your brain is tired and you don’t want to think during a workout, you can hop on the treadmill or bike, throw on your favorite album, or even a brand new album you haven’t heard before, and simply go easy during the verse and hard during the chorus, or easy during the slow songs and hard during the up-tempo songs.

  2. Save the music. The tricky thing about music is that just like caffeine, you can become desensitized to it if you use it too much to get motivated. So you can grab a podcast (such as any of the Quick and Dirty Tips podcasts) and listen to them for most of your workout and then, when the going gets tough or during those last parts of the workout, put on your music and finish up with a bang!

  3. Get motivated by the music. Imagine you’re driving home from work and you know you’re supposed to go to the gym. But going home for dinner and TV seems so much more appealing. Try this: turn on your favorite motivational workout music and pump up the volume. That can cause just enough adrenaline release to make you veer off-course and head for the gym!

And be sure to sign up for the free Get-Fit Guy newsletter, where I just published an article entitled “3 Good Ways To Listen To Work Out Music”. Do you have other ways that you use music? Share them with others at the Get-Fit Guy Facebook page.

Woman Listening at Gym image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.