Chris Freytag by Chris Freytag

Workout musicAthletes in headphones are a common sight at the gym or before sporting events. Remember the London Olympics? Watching so many athletes with their ear-buds inserted as they awaited their events, didn’t you want to know what music was pulsing through their bodies to get them “in the zone”? It is well documented that music has the power to change how you think, feel and move and, therefore, plays an important role in most forms of exercise.

When it comes to strength training, listening to adrenaline-pumping music can definitely be a huge motivational force. I bet you can think of a few times when some good tunes distracted you into working just a little bit harder and pushing out that extra rep or performing one more set to take your workout to the max.

When researchers at California State University, Fullerton, asked 20 guys to either listen to their favorite music or nothing while doing squat jumps at the gym, men with music jumped faster and with greater force than those who worked out in silence. Various other studies have repeatedly concluded that music has a positive effect on strength training.

Importantly, music reduces fatigue. A great song has the ability to distract your mind and help you continue your routine for longer periods of time. It reduces sheer boredom and keeps your brain alert and focused.

Another benefit of music is it’s mood-boosting properties. If you have crafted a great playlist, typically you’ve picked songs with lyrics that inspire you or a beat that has a great bass line. The tunes prevent your mind from focusing on negative thoughts or defeat.

Music also promotes improved motor coordination, which can increase the intensity of your workout. A good rhythmic beat can help you maintain continuous movement patterns. I think the ideal speed is between 120-140 beats per minute. When lifting weights you don’t want your music so slow that it’s de-motivating, but you don't want super-fast music that makes you feel rushed or anxious.

In general, taking the time to put together a playlist is a wise thing to do if you want to motivate yourself to last longer at the gym and also train harder and better. I love pop tunes and dance remixes, but you should pay close attention to the type of music that gives you an adrenaline rush or puts you in a motivated state of mind. Services like iTunes and Spotify make it easy to put together your playlists and download them onto your iPod. Want my help? I have several mixes that get me pumped in the weight room—you can find my newest mix, “PUMP IT UP” Vol. 4, on Power Music.

So if you want to feel your blood pumping while working out your muscles, pick out your favorite tunes. With the right tempo to aid your weightlifting performances, you’ll be sure to get the best results from your efforts.

Find out more about how rocking out to the right tunes can boost your exercise intensity.