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Music and Exercise -- It's Science!

Have you ever walked into the gym ready to kill a workout and thought- shoot! I forgot my headphones! But beyond the disappointment, is there really an effect on your workout?

Most researchers say yes! If music can trigger emotions, why shouldn’t it affect our training as well? A 2017 study concluded that listening to music during a workout increases performance, delays fatigue and increases endurance, power and strength (Thakare, et al.). More specifically, it can increase the duration of a workout without an increase in perceived exertion, or how tired you might feel.

So how does this work? The mechanisms by which music can infiltrate a workout can be physical or psychological. Physically, music can directly impact your reps. For example, if you are listening to a song while running on the treadmill, you can match your steps to the beat of the song. Listening to a faster song increases cadence. This can also be applied to spinning, HIIT interval reps, or doing bodyweight calisthenics (push ups, burpees, box movements, etc). Having a bpm to match during a workout maintains a consistent rate of reps and can increase your performance by encouraging you to stay at a certain rate (Karageorghis & Priest, 2012).

Psychologically, music can alter your mood and behavior (Karageorghis, et al., 2010). Upbeat music can get you hyped, and somber music can calm you down. Physiologically, the listening of “happier” music releases the hormone serotonin, which is known as the “happy hormone.” And anyone knows if you are in a good mood, your workout is likely to mirror that.

Clearly, music is a key environmental factor in creating the ultimate workout! At PhaseFit, our coaches are dedicated to making sure music helps you level up your workout. We want that newest Kendrick Lamar song to help you push through your last interval on the assault bike and increase your lactic acid threshold. We want Cardi B to be spitting fire so hot you can’t feel the burning in your legs on those lunges. And we want you to level up kettlebell weights faster than Ciara sings. Don’t believe music can get you that much farther in your workout? Come down to PhaseFit and see for yourself!


Karageorghis, C.I., & Priest, D.L. (2012). Music in the Exercise Domain: A Review and Synthesis (part II). International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5(1), 67-84.

Karageorghis, C.I., Priest, D.L., Williams, L.S., Hirani, R.M., Lannon, K.M., & Bates, B.J. (2010). Ergogenic and psychological effects of synchronous music during circuit-type exercise. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11(6), 551-559.

Thakare, A. E., Mehrotra, R., & Singh, A. (2017). Effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate among young adults. International journal of physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology9(2), 35.

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