Pump Your Playlist with Music that Motivates

What music you choose could make a difference in your workout

Entertain Your Brain

When your workouts start to dull, listening to music can help break the monotony by keeping your mind active. With each new song, your brain sorts through tones, rhythms, and the sequence of pitches and sounds in an effort to appreciate the music. When you tune into your favorite songs while training, you’re giving your brain something to do. And when you give your brain something to do, you’re less likely to get bored and more likely to train longer.

An Ohio State University study found that those who listened to music while walking did four more miles on average than subjects going tune-free. The distraction music provides allows people to focus on things other than the arduous physical task they’re performing. In London, an annual half-marathon called “Race to the Beat” takes this message to heart by playing invigorating music throughout the route to motivate runners to go the distance.

Along with helping to prolong workouts, stimulative songs have also been shown to increase muscle endurance and strength. In one study that examined the effects of music during a muscular stamina test, findings revealed that those holding a dumbbell in front of their body to the point of exhaustion while exposed to certain songs produced significantly longer endurance times than those subjected only to white noise. Another experiment examined the effects of music on grip strength. Again, participants listening to a selection of upbeat songs achieved greater results by demonstrating significantly higher strength scores.

What Types of Tunes Work Best

It’s undeniable that the benefits of music are powerful, but are some types of songs more advantageous than others when it comes to working out? Movie star Hugh Jackman thinks so, and he credits the music of Metallica and Godsmack for helping him to pack on muscle for his Wolverine character in X-Men. On contactmusic.com, Jackman admits he cranks up his favorite heavy metal tunes to give him that extra adrenaline rush for a “bitch of a workout.”

“Everyone has their own unique playlist for getting amped during exercise, but certain types of music definitely produce better results when it comes to strength training,” says Aaron Bradley, television music composer and founder of Music for Muscles. Recognizing that not all tunes are created equal in the weight room, Bradley composed a variety of motivational soundtracks for the sole purpose of maximizing his lifting efforts. Along with adding the popular rap and rock genres, he upped the testosterone levels by mixing in some epic battle-themed scores to give the listener a “warrior-like” mentality for the drive to keep pushing forward through all challenges.

Of course, not everyone needs to feel like they’re going into battle to get jacked in the gym. What works to motivate some may be of no value to others. One thing that seems to work for everyone, however, is synchronizing the music with the movement. This is where the beat comes in.