Playing Music During Exercise – Better or Worse for Your Workout?


Go to any gym at peak time and you’ll see that 90% of the people have headphones in. But does playing music during exercise help you ramp up your workouts, or is there a downside?

In a study last year, 3 British researchers asked this question.


To find out the answer they had 3 different groups of fit males ride spin bikes for the duration of 6 popular songs.

1 group listened to the songs as is, 1 group listened to the songs that had been sped up by 10%, and one group had their songs slowed by 10%. None of the groups were notified about the changes to the tempo.

The results were relatively unsurprising. The group that had their music speed increased rode faster, and ended up with a greater overall mileage than the other two groups despite the fact that their total time was decreased by 10%.

The group with the slower music had lower mileage, Average RPMs, and heart rate.

The interesting part was that the group with the faster music actually reported that their perceived exertion was actually higher than the other groups, by 2.4%. Not super significant, but this shows that even though playing music during exercise helped them work harder, it didn’t necessarily make the exercise easier.

So yes, playing music during exercise is better for your workouts because it helps you actually work harder. This is good, because hard work is good! And the harder you work at the gym, the better you’ll feel outside of it!

Some people tell me that it helps them zone out as well, but zoning out during strength training isn’t a good idea.
Cardio – sure. Front Squats – No. Focus up buttercup.

A lot of my clients have told me that they like training with a personal trainer because it allows them to turn their brain off and just do what they’re told.

That’s great.

But at some point, you need to take control of your fitness routine, and learn how to train yourself. If you want to make fitness a part of your life, and not be forever beholden to a drill instructor telling you how and when to do burpees

If you fall into this camp, not to worry. Just like playing piano, or riding a bike, learning how to train correctly is a skill.

Invest in yourself and learn how to train correctly, and then you’ll always have that skill.


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Once you reach this point, training goes from being mentally taxing, to being a energy boosting invigorating experience. My clients report being more creative, and having more energy for work and family after training, than when they were not training.

/micro rant – back to music

Studies have also shown that while music can boost a workout, it doesn’t affect workouts that are done at 90% of your maximum effort or higher.

So when sprinting, finishing a hard MetCon or Crossift WOD, you could be bumping your nastiest workout Jam that normally feels like an auditory Red Bull – but it wont have any effect.

This was not a part of the study, but empirically my guess is that this is because all of your energy is going towards not dying or throwing up or both, so that you lack the additional ability to process music and get pumped up, bruh.

Here are my favorite workout songs recently, plus a few old favorites for your enjoyment. Don’t judge me. Or do. Dgaf.

Playing Music During Exercise – Recommendations



DJ Shadow – Nobody Speak

Yelawolf – Fiddle Me This

The Roots – Don’t Say Nuthin’


5 Finger Death Punch – Lift Me Up

Shaman’s Harvest – Dragonfly

Papa Roach – Be Free


Diamonds – Rihanna (Flaxo Stadiums Remix)

Notorious B.I.G – Gimmie the Loot (Superginger Remix)

Movere – Episode 24 (hour long mix by DJ/Coach Nick Winkleman)






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