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  • Dr. Norbert Martin, DPT

Sweat to the Beat: How to Use Music to Maximize Your Fitness Results

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Young lady listening to music with headphones on while resting during a workout

If you're looking for a simple and effective way to boost your workout performance, look no further than your playlist. Music can have a powerful impact on your mood, motivation, and energy levels, helping you push harder, longer, and smarter.

In this blog post, we'll explore how music can enhance your fitness results and share some tips on how to choose the best tunes for your training.

How Music Affects Your Workout

Music can influence your workout in several ways; depending on the type, tempo, and volume of the songs you listen to. Here are some of the benefits of music for your fitness:

  • Music can distract you from fatigue and pain. When you're listening to music, your brain focuses less on the signals of exertion and discomfort from your body, allowing you to endure more intensity and duration.

  • Music can elevate your mood and motivation. Music can trigger positive emotions and associations that can inspire you to work harder and enjoy your exercise more. For example, listening to a song that reminds you of a happy memory or a personal goal can boost your confidence and determination.

  • Music can synchronize your movements and pace. Music can help you coordinate your movements and maintain a steady rhythm and speed. For example, listening to a fast-paced song can encourage you to run faster or cycle harder, while a slower song can help you relax and recover.

  • Music can improve your cognitive function and memory. Music can stimulate your brain and enhance your mental abilities, such as attention, memory and learning. For example, listening to music while doing a complex or unfamiliar exercise can help you remember the steps and execute them better.

How to Choose the Best Music for Your Workout

The best music for your workout depends on several factors, such as your personal preferences, goals, mood and fitness level. However, there are some general guidelines that can help you optimize your playlist for maximum results:

  • Match the tempo of the music to the intensity of your workout. A good rule of thumb is to choose songs that have a beat per minute (BPM) that matches your heart rate during exercise. For example, if you're doing a moderate-intensity cardio session, aim for songs that have around 120-140 BPM. And, if you're doing a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session, go for songs that have around 160-180 BPM.

  • Vary the tempo of the music according to the phases of your workout. To keep your workout interesting and effective, you should vary the intensity of your exercise according to a warm-up, main session and cool-down phase. Similarly, you should vary the tempo of your music according to these phases. For example, start with a slow or medium-tempo song for your warm-up, then switch to a fast-tempo song for your main session, then finish with a slow-tempo song for your cool-down.

  • Choose songs that match your mood and motivation. Music can influence how you feel and how much effort you put into your workout. Therefore, you should choose songs that match and enhance your mood and motivation. For example, if you're feeling tired or bored, choose upbeat or energetic songs that can lift your spirits and get you moving. If you're feeling stressed or anxious, choose soothing or calming songs that can relax you and lower your blood pressure.

  • Choose songs that suit your personality and preferences. Music is a personal choice and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, you should choose songs that suit your personality and preferences. For example, if you're an extrovert or a social person, you may prefer songs that are popular or familiar. And, if you're an introvert or a creative person, you may prefer songs that are unique or original.

Tips for Choosing the Right Playlist

  • Use music to time your intervals. If you're doing interval training, you can use music to time your intervals. For example, you can do a high-intensity exercise for the duration of one song, then switch to a low-intensity exercise for the duration of another song and repeat the cycle for your desired number of rounds. This can help you stay focused, motivated, and consistent during your intervals.

  • Create a themed playlist. If you're doing a specific type of workout, such as a yoga class or a dance workout, you can create a playlist that matches the theme or mood of the workout. For example, you can choose songs that have a relaxing or meditative vibe for yoga, or songs that have a rhythmic or upbeat vibe for dance. This can help you get into the mindset and flow of the workout and enhance your performance.

  • Use music to visualize your goals. If you have a specific fitness goal, such as running a marathon or losing weight, you can use music to visualize your success. For example, you can choose songs that have lyrics or melodies that inspire you or remind you of your goal and listen to them before or during your workout to reinforce your motivation and determination. This can help you stay committed and focused on your goal and overcome obstacles and setbacks.

  • Experiment with new genres and artists. If you're bored or stuck in a musical rut, try exploring new genres and artists that you haven't listened to before. This can help you discover new songs and styles that you enjoy and keep your playlist fresh and exciting. You can also ask friends or trainers for recommendations or use music discovery apps to find new songs that match your taste and preferences.

Remember, the key to using music to maximize your fitness results is to find songs that work for you and your goal; and to use them in a way that enhances your mood, motivation, and performance. With the right playlist, you can transform your workout from a chore to a pleasure and achieve your fitness goals faster and easier.

Some Examples of Workout Songs

To give you some inspiration for your playlist, here are some examples of workout songs that fit different categories:

Fast-tempo songs for HIIT:

  1. "Lose Yourself" by Eminem (171 BPM)

  2. "Livin' la Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin (178 BPM)

  3. "Sabotage" by Beastie Boys (168 BPM)

  4. "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen (154 BPM).

  5. "Happy" by Pharrell Williams (160 BPM)

  6. "Run Wild" by Hardwell (150 BOM)

Medium-tempo songs for cardio:

  1. "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (146 BPM)

  2. "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas (128 BPM)

  3. "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars (115 BPM)

  4. "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor (109 BPM)

  5. "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran (96 BPM)

  6. "Roar" by Katy Perry (90 BPM)

Slow-tempo songs for cool-down:

  1. "Just Like Fire" by Pink (82 BPM)

  2. "Stay" by Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko (111 BPM)

  3. "Breathe Me" by Sia (89 BPM)

  4. "Say You Love Me" by Jessie Ware (80 BPM)

  5. "Someone Like You" by Adele (67 BPM)

  6. "All of Me" by John Legend (63 BPM)

Incorporating music into your workout routine can be a fun, easy and effective way to boost your fitness results. By choosing the right songs that match your tempo, mood, and personality, you can enhance your endurance, motivation, and cognitive function, and make your exercise more enjoyable and rewarding. So, put on your headphones, sweat to the beat, and unleash your full potential!


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