4 Ways To Use Music For Unforgettable Workouts

Do you find it hard to rummage up the motivation to push yourself in your workouts or to even stick with them?

What you listen to can set the mood to your entire workout. From Jay Z to the Rolling Stones to that coffee shop station, you can start to influence your workouts like a pro.

It can literally rev you up or calm you down. It can create a positive feeling associated with exercise or it can leave you feeling like those ab crunches are going to be dreadful!

What You Listen To Matters

Science and psychology fuel the reasons that what you listen to matters. And, it isn’t all about the beats or the tempos. Some people are fueled by podcasts and others by audio books. Some people prefer music while others prefer the soft sounds of the nature that surrounds them. When looking at a general overall rule for motivating you through your workout, it is about what brings inspiration and lifts you up with positivity.


But it goes deeper than just needing inspiration and positivity. And if that sounds like something you need, then picking the right playlist is going to be your key focus because of how it changes your physiological response. And changing your physiological response will help you get the most bang for your workout buck!

Simply, a faster tempo song will increase your heart rate and increase your workout output. A slower tempo song will decrease your heart rate and slow you down, creating more calmness and relaxation.

But did you know that music that makes you feel negative, regardless if the tempo is fast or slow, can actually slow you down? You bet it can!

Music not only moves your body, but it also affects your soul and it recreates memories – it has meaning. An artist that you enjoy or that makes you feel a certain way taps directly into these key components; A song/artist that makes you feel negative can slow you down, while one that produces inner positivity can increase your energy and your own personal tempo.

Although many people do not feel the need to run or move in exact time with their workout music, synchrony may help the body use energy more efficiently. When moving rhythmically to a beat, the body can adjust accordingly and preserve energy more effectively by not having to consciously adjust and alter your rhythm. Creating a personal tempo that jives with your activity will rummage up even more energy than you thought you originally had!

Distraction Can Be A Good Thing!

woman wearing black jacket with white headphones
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Music is also a great distraction and motivates people to exercise more and for longer periods. Our bodies are quite smart! When the human body senses fatigue, the brain reacts and will send physical signs to the body that fatigue is present and the body wants a break. Music competes with this feedback and allows the brain’s perception to be altered and lengthened.

Music is also quite emotion producing. And those emotions can get pretty intense. It brings memories and perspectives that can either positively or negatively impact you. According to www.scientificamerican.com, “scientists now know that, although different regions of the human brain specialize in processing different senses—sound, sight, touch—the brain uses the information it receives from one sense to help it understand another. What people see and feel while listening to speech or music, for example, changes what they hear. Music and movement are particularly entangled in the brain. Recent studies suggest that—even if someone is sitting perfectly still—listening to enjoyable music increases electrical activity in various regions of the brain important for coordinating movements, including the supplementary motor area, cerebellum, basal ganglia and ventral premotor cortex.”

kettle bell beside adidas pair of shoes
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

4 Keys To Match Your Music To Your Workouts

There are a few key things to keep in mind when picking your songs-

  1. Tempo. If your goal is background music only, try a tempo of 120–130 bpm for low-to-moderate workout intensity and 130–145 bpm for moderate-to-high workout intensity. You can go higher on your beats per minute, but research has shown that higher tempo does not provide much more motivation. If you are running, your bpm should be synchronized with your running pace, for optimal performance. Try picking a song in the range of 150-190 bpm.
  2. Rhythm. Stick with songs that make you want to get up and move your body. If the rhythm doesn’t move you, you will less likely be motivated by it. This is a highly subjective quality of music, but strong beats usually work well.
  3. Familiarity and associations. Not all music affects and inspires each person the same. What may make me want to get up and dance around the room could be totally boring for someone else. Try to find those powerful songs that are strong and upbeat and create a positive vibration inside of you. Find songs that make you want to overcome adversity and push past personal obstacles.
  4. Personal significance. The stronger your emotional response to music, and the more you identify with the singer’s perspective and lyrics, the more motivated you’ll feel. How connected are you to the song, the singer, and the message? Interestingly enough, songs from musicals can produce powerful emotions and connections because they typically are filled with messages of power and overcoming obstacles.

Now it is time to create your own exercise playlist and create multiple ones to match the appropriateness of your activity. You can use apps like Pandora or Spotify (or any of your other favorites) to create just the right mix.  Either download some of your favorite tunes on your iPod or download some of my suggested apps to keep the intensity appropriate and the music varied.

The key is to start using music to motivate you to move your body and stay active! What song gets your body moving? Share in the comments below!

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