Music is a powerful tool to increase fitness motivation for your next workout. It can also enhance the actual work out. Music can increase focus, promote higher functioning levels, and set the stage for a wicked air guitar. Great workout playlists are the Reebok Pumps to your ear! We can’t help you if you have terrible taste in music but at least it can still help you get more out of your workouts. Pop in your ear buds, crank up the fitness motivation and hit the gym!
Pump up the jam, pump it up
While your legs are lungin’
And the jam is pumpin’
Look ahead, to plyo-box jumpin’
Music is a huge fitness motivator because it encourages your body to move rhythmically. It’ll take less than 20 seconds of scrolling to find a TikTok challenge that requires moving to a particular beat. Some are funny, others are hard, but I guarantee you’ll catch yourself somehow moving your body to rhythm you hear. We’ll leave our opinions of other “stuff” we find on social media alone and focus on the funky beats or now, though, we are Tik-Tockers now so follow us! The “Bring Sally Up” challenge is one we can push up on our list of fun activities to try! Okay, we won’t rock the boat anymore with our puns – let’s get back to fun science stuff.
We may differ in our taste of music but most can agree that music makes exercise more enjoyable. There are plenty of days when you won’t feel like going to the gym and music will be the only motivator to workout. Why? Because emotions are triggered by music and we can alter our mood by hearing and feeling different beats. Create playlists so your source of fitness motivation doesn’t become a buzz-kill when songs change.
Pump it up a little more
Get the sweat going on the weight room floor
See, ’cause that’s where the “gainz” are at
And you’ll find out if you do that!
Music during workouts “increases work performance and decreases perceived exertion”. One study shows that the “duration of exercise increased significantly when music was played”. This means music can help pump out more work! (Apparently we aren’t done with the puns quite yet.) The trick is finding the right tempo of music for the type of workout you are going to perform. It’ll encourage your body for the appropriate intensity or pace because it influences your heart rate to speed up or slow down. We measure our heart rate by BPM, meaning beats per minute, and we can use the same acronym for our music tempo. You can either use this website to search the BPM of a song or you can figure it out yourself the same way you would quickly measure your heartrate.
Quick and easy way to measure heartrate: Beats per 15 seconds x 4 = BPM.
Put your finger on your pulse to get your heart rate and put your body on the beat to get the song BPM. Mrs. Mefford was a music teacher at Pine Forge Elementary who had a bigger impact on my life in fitness than she (or I, prior to this post) ever knew. She actually taught me how to pace my workouts! Clap to the beat of the song, the pulse, and you’ll learn its BPM.
Creating a playlist for different types of exercise based on the BPM of its songs. Find songs in the 60-90 BPM range for gentle yoga or walking and 120-140 BPM music for steady state cardio like jogging. Weight training and cycling playlists might include songs with up to a 190 BPM count but, of course, every body and ear are different. The main point is to find the songs you like that will motivate you to move.
Here is a 20-minute playlist I created for my breathwork and mobility flow sessions. It encourages fluid movement and deep, methodical breathing. You’ll hear the last 2 songs increase in tempo a bit which helps me to transition into a higher intensity mindset before I switch to my weight lifting playlist. Fitness instructors select music that will not only compliment but enhance the type of workout they coach to increases each participants focus, shift their mood, and encourage the desired physical movement.
Platinum Fitness and other full-service gyms may choose to play more universally acceptable and neutral music but the best way to reap the fitness motivation beat benefits is by curating your own workout playlists. You should know the type of work you’re going to do so you best understand the level and duration of effort that will be required of your body. Any movement is better than no movement for health purposes, but the best results come from the best preparation so get a solid workout plan ready.
Tip to avoid music distraction: create playlists which will take you through the entire duration of your workout so you don’t fumble around searching for the next song. A typical weight training session for one of our clients is around 30-40 minutes so they may combine songs to last for 35-45 total minutes.