Does Music Make You Workout Harder?


Good morning!

I was so excited when my alarm went off this morning because that meant that I could run today! :) After a quick check of how I was feeling I deemed that it was a run day. Yippee.

Before I left, I had half of a Glo Bar. This bar doesn’t even exist yet! It is a trial from several weeks ago that I popped in the freezer.



After 15-20 minutes of digesting and reading, I was on the road. It was a cool and sunny morning. Perfect for running! I didn’t bring Dwight with me because I wanted my body to tell me how fast it wanted to go and not have any watch feedback. I find the best way to get back into exercise after several days off is to ease in slowly and let your body tell you what it feels up for.

I ended up running my 3 mile route and I felt pretty good, albeit a bit more ‘rusty’ than usual.

I was excited for my first Green Monster since before the Chicago trip. We haven’t had any spinach or kale in the house, but I picked some up last night when I got a huge craving for a GM.


In the mix…


In the GM = 1 cup Almond Milk, 1 tsp Raw Maca Powder, 1 scoop Amazing Grass Wheatgrass, 1/2 ripe banana, 3 cups organic spinach, 1 juicy nectarine, 2 pieces ice.


Mmmm it was silky and delicious! The nectarine was really nice in it too.

And of course loose leaf…


Does Music Make You Workout Harder?

This morning I read an interesting article on the NY Times website about music and exercise. Tara Parker-Pope writes, ‘It’s music’s dual ability to distract attention (a psychological effect) while simultaneously goosing the heart and the muscles (physiological impacts) that makes it so effective during everyday exercise.”

Personally, I have always been a huge fan of pumping the fast beats during exercise and I do believe that it helps me train harder and not give up. However, I will admit that sometimes music just doesn’t seem to be that effective and can even be annoying.

What I thought was most interesting was that research shows there are limits to the impact music has during exercise, most notably during intense exercise. Research suggests that when you exercise at an intense level music doesn’t really have much of an impact. In a recent review of the research in 2009, Karageorghis and Priest claim that music narrows attention and distracts the mind from fatigue during moderate exercise, however during intense exercise “perceptions of fatigue override the impact of music, because attentional processes are dominated by physiological feedback.” Despite music not having as great an impact during intense exercise, many participants still claimed that they enjoyed listening to the music regardless!

I can totally relate to this research because I find that music works great for me during training runs, but during all of my races, I found that the music didn’t have as much of an impact on my performance. At times I even found the music was annoying during a race, but during other times a certain song got me through a difficult mile. It really varies for me! Sometimes during a race I will turn my music off completely and just listen to my breath and focus on my stride, pace, and the course.

What about you, does music make you workout harder? Does it help your training? What about during for intense exercise?

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{ 105 comments… read them below or add one }

Freya (Brit Chick Runs) August 25, 2010

I think the only way music helps me training is to relieve boredom! I don’t reaaally think it makes me go faster, it’s just nice to have ‘company’ – but maybe i’m totally wrong and i’ve just never NOT used music so i wouldn’t know!


Alex August 25, 2010

Interesting post! I generally find that music helps push me through workouts, unless I’m having a tough day and it just irritates me, so that’s when I prefer to listen to plain sounds like waves or white noise. When I’m doing a workout video, I like muting the sound on that and playing my own mix of music. Oddly enough I’ve found that I complete workout videos when I don’t listen to the “motivating” (read: obnoxious) commentaries of the trainer. Have a nice day!


Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope August 25, 2010

I have found that running is easier for me with music. I learned to run with couch to 5k podcast, which had tacky techno music, so I wasn’t feeling it. Once that was over, I made my own playlist with favorite songs, and I could run much faster and longer, and HAPPIER. However, the worst part about this: over the weekend I did my first sprint triathlon (and first race of any kind), and NO IPODS are allowed, which made the run super hard.


Holly @ couchpotatoathlete August 25, 2010

Music helps me alot during training, but during a race I like to run without any music. I like to hear the crowds cheering, the other runners talking to me, talking to each other, etc. And I like to talk to other runners too.

There have been plenty of times when I am losing steam during a training run and then a great song starts and my speed quickens – it truly is amazing sometimes!


Camille August 25, 2010

Music does make me workout harder IF I am in the mood. If I am feeling really pumped up, music will keep me going, but if I start of with zero motivation, I am better off watching TV or reading a book while working out.


Sabina August 25, 2010

I’ve never exercised with music on, for a few reasons:

– don’t want to carry anything extra around with me
– don’t want anything in my ears
– don’t have the ability (or desire!) to put together exercise playlists
– have spent my whole life exercising without music and it works just fine! :)

i’m totally wary of running with music outdoors… safety, safety, safety!

that green monster looks and reads amazing! we’ve got some kale to use up so I think a green monster is in the near future for us. btw, my lovely husband now refers to smoothies with anything green in them (usually spinach) as green monsters. so awesome! thanks for introducing me (us) to them, Angela! :)


Kristina @ spabettie August 25, 2010

I say yes… I am so so huge into music, and an upbeat beat ;) will get a “charge” out of me and make me want to move!

Running outside, I never listen to music. I like the peaceful quiet and listening to my breathing.


Emmanuelle August 25, 2010

Music usually lifts me up and helps a lot during training. At the gym I always train with music, and now I’m using the couch to 5k app, with a version that picks up music from what I have in iTunes. It has given me a real boost on some running portions! I actually should be careful with this because I almost ended up breathless and panting a couple of times ;-)


Melissa @ Vegan CacaoBee August 25, 2010

Music is definitely a must for me when I exercise. Both the Glo Bar and Green Monster look delicious!


lynn August 25, 2010

I’m a relavitve newbie to the running workout but I have noticed when songs changes if it is a more upbeat tempto i will go faster and I enjoy the more mellow ones to warm up to. I always have the buds in my ears (prevent wind in my ears, get a lot of earaches) but often I will shut it off.

Green monster looks yummy. Does the wheatgrass supplement have any flavour to it?


Jazz August 25, 2010

I never run with music, I’m too lazy to bother with carrying anything and want to hear what’s going on around me since I often run alone… but in the winter at the gym, I love running to music!


Christal Espelage August 25, 2010

Music is great when I’m strength training and makes me push harder. When I run, I usually prefer to go sans the iPod. I found that I don’t usually pay attention to the music when I run. I’m more focused on my form and breathing.


Ashley August 25, 2010

I actually kind of hate listening to music while running/biking/etc. I don’t like taking the time to pick out songs. Then, I usually have a few I don’t really want to listen to, so I hate fumbling to press “skip.” When I did try music a few times, half the time I forgot to charge the mp3 player, so it would run out 1/2 way. Fail. I’m also not a fan of the cord bouncing on me and the ear buds usually make my ears a bit sore too. –Especially with biking but also running, I like to have both ears open to hear things around me. It’s hard enough to hear on a bike w/the wind…have both ears plugged into music scares me!


Jessica @ How Sweet August 25, 2010

I need music to work out! I hate working out without it. I like a good beat to jam to. :)

Reply August 25, 2010

i want that tea cup!!!! thats so precious <3

music definitely pushes me harder. i knock off a lot of minutes on my race time because of it. its amazing!


Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) August 25, 2010

Music definitley helps me get in the groove and keep moving. I like to sing along in my head, it gives me something to focus on!


Nicole @ yuppie yogini August 25, 2010

If I’m doing an intense workout with intervals music is sooo helpful. I also like podcasts and books on tape for long workouts and weight lifting…helps me zone out.


Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman August 25, 2010

Music definitely impacts my workout. The right music can make me push hard than I normally would. On the flip side, softer music slows me down a bit.


Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg August 25, 2010

I love music at my gym workouts, but when I run outside, I usually like to just take in the sounds of nature and my feet beating the path!


Christine August 25, 2010

I don’t usually work out to music in my ears – but sometimes I do in my head! It’s good this way that way I can “hear” my favorite parts – or the most upbeat part–of a song over and over again!

When I attend classes at the gym it goes both ways. Once a teacher apologized for not having music one day – and I didn’t even realize that we weren’t using any until she said that. I used to go to this early morning Pilates class and the teacher blasted the post sugary pop music…not what I would typically listen to – but I secretly loved going to that class for that reason!


Anne @ a daily slice August 25, 2010

Music definitely makes me work harder. I tried to incorporate a couple of “head clearing” runs without music into my 10k training, and I just couldn’t do it. I need the added kick of motivation :)


Veronique @ Hooked on Health August 25, 2010

I can definitely relate to this research too!
I find that music improves my workout most effectively PRE-workout. If I am not feeling up to a run or resistance training routine, I listen to some heart-pumping music and it will get be amped up and actually excited to workout.

As I listen to music while working out, it will pump me up as long as I am doing a moderate level routine. Otherwise, it will distract me and make me lose me focus. If I am near the end of a run and feeling a bit sluggish, that is when music can really push me.

Long story short, music helps my workout routine in some ways more than others, but i find it essential for giving me that energy boost to get moving.

p.s. that mystery glo bar looks amazing! What is in it? :)


Kristina August 25, 2010

That was really interesting! I’ve found that when I’m strength training, I HAVE to have music playing or all I think about is how many more reps I have to do and how my muscles are burning, and it makes me lose motivation. If I have music on, I focus on the rythm and beat and my workout flies by.

The opposite happens when I’m running, though. Because running is really hard for me, I find that listening to music makes me extremely grumpy and annoyed! I can’t focus on my running and I want to give up. I definitely prefer to listen to my heartbeat and my feet hitting the pavement. Did you feel that way at all when you started running?


Alison (Fueling for Fitness) August 25, 2010

When I had a smaller ipod (I now have an iphone which is too big for my fuel belt!) I would sometimes do my solo runs with it but now I don’t run with music at all anymore. When I’m running outdoors, I love just taking in the scenery and getting lost in my own thoughts. Also, it’s a safety thing for me, since I run in the city and I want to pay attention to everything around me. I’ve also heard that music is not allowed for a lot of bigger races (especially in the US), so I’m hesitant to get dependent on it if I find out that I can’t use it.

Having said that, a few of my running friends told me that music may have helped my race experience this past Saturday! May be something to consider for that final lap in a difficult race. :)


Elli @ 16 and Losing It August 25, 2010

Music definitely helps me! Certain songs will come on and I can all of a sudden run faster and harder! Before I was struggling but then that songs comes on and my feet stop dragging! There are definitely days though when music isn’t as helpful but I know I run faster and stinger with it! Its even more important in kickboxing! The music’s beat is really what determines how fast we are moving and the right song just helps you get out of your head and just move.


Heather (Heather's Dish) August 25, 2010

i love music when i exercise but i tend to get lost in it and then overtrain (sounds weird, i know!) so i have t be careful to pay attention to what i am doing so i don’t hurt myself. what am i, 3 years old?! :)


Lizzie August 25, 2010

For outdoor running, I stopped listening to music 3 years ago after I almost got run over by a truck (plus my mum was worried about it), and I don’t really miss it at all. I tend to pay more attention to my surroundings and enjoy listening to and seeing what’s going on. In the gym I have switched to watching some tv shows that I put on my phone – for the elliptical/biking/treadmill it makes the time fly by. Everyone has their own means of motivation and as long as it gets you out there and being active, who cares? :)


Tina August 25, 2010

I don’t often use music for workouts but when i do it motivates me. I just dont own an ipod or any mp3 player. I feel so old school.


AGS August 25, 2010

I think that music assists with maintaining a rythm. For instance, when I run intervals on a treadmill, I find songs with a beat that matches my pace (or that pushes my pace) are very useful. Likewise, I find that certain songs (with certain beats) don’t so much distract me, as much as decrease my perception of excertion. It’s that change in perception that I believe causes you to be able to run faster.

There is a point, however, usually at the end of a hard run, where music becomes irrelevant (which the article you reference suggests), and I have to just focus on my body, breathing, and finishing strong.

I write this with a sign, because the only running I’ve done in 2.5 weeks, is running to catch a taxi to work (this morning). Good news is there was no pain with that little sprint, so I think that my injury is close to gone. Fingers crossed.


Maria @ Oh Healthy Day August 25, 2010

I agree 100% with this. During my moderate-hard workouts, good music makes me kick it up a notch, but during anything super hardcore, I can’t even hear it – all I can focus on is finishing my workout and trying to breathe ;)
I also believe that just as good music improved moderate workouts – BAD music makes them more difficult. I once left in the middle of a spin class because the music was so terrible and I felt like I was wasting my time. Sad, but true.


Krista (kristastes) August 25, 2010

I hear ya on the bad music @ spin class issue…not cool!


Olya August 25, 2010

I agree! In my gym, some of the music they play is great and I feel like exercising more and push myself harder, but sometimes they would play a song that I don’t like and I want to leave the place.


Krista (kristastes) August 25, 2010

I love pumping up the techno on runs — especially when I’m doing a speedy, longer-distance run. It keeps my butt moving! I have total workout music ADD and change the song if I need a boost. Not sure if it actually helps my performance, but I’d like to think it does! :)


Laura August 25, 2010

Music is a definite must for me on my runs. Good music too! (I did my fair share of runs with bad music found in various C25K podcasts when I did the program thi spas winter). I find the better the play list, the better my run. It also helps to strategically place my favourite uplifting songs towards the middle of my playlists so that it helps pick me up when I know my body with start to feel tired.


Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf August 25, 2010

I get bored of my workout if I’m not listening to music. In fact, if my iPod is dead and has yet to be charged, I don’t go to the gym or run! So yes, the music definitely affects me.


Mary @ Bites and Bliss August 25, 2010

I think music really helps my workout..unless a slow paced song comes on. Then it’s kind of hard to keep up the pace/intensity. But otherwise it really gets me pumped! I actually don’t think I could lift weights of jog without some type of my own music. Cause even though the gym plays stuff, there’s still so much background noise it’s hard to concentrate.


Stacey@ August 25, 2010

I think music definitely impacts my workout. When a faster beat comes on or a song I really like it gives me a boost of energy to work harder.


Corey @ The Runner's Cookie August 25, 2010

I like having music most of the time (especially for long runs), but sometimes I don’t think it makes much of a difference. When I’m in need of a motivation boost or when I’m tired, I think it helps, but sometimes I think I just tune the music out anyway and would be better off not having the discomfort of wearing headphones.


monicanelsonfitness August 25, 2010

It is interesting with music. I find it depends on my energy and what type of workout. For weights…NO MUSIC, I believe you should be focused on form and breathing 100%. Cardio for the most part… absolutley music is a must, for ex. a spin class(duh! right) but I find for Tabbata training no music is great beause you are focused on your counts so much more. Nothing sucks more though when you are doing cardio and you are all amped up and then your battery dies on the ipod:( That green monster looks so tasty..Have a great day!


Marcia August 25, 2010

Through experimentation, I found that music makes me run slower during a race. On training runs, it can keep me going longer. But it distracts me from my pace (something my boss keyed me in to.)

When I am focusing on my stride and my breathing, I run faster. With music, I tend to follow the beat, which is most often slower.


Jean@RoastedRootsandPumpkinSpice August 25, 2010

I love being on the elliptical or the treadmill with my music on. I think it gets my heart rate up and makes me work harder. I try to put fast upbeat beats on my playlist because I can always run or exercise to the beats.


Therese August 25, 2010

I can also relate to this research. A lot of the time I actually just ignore the music in my head but it comes in handy when I’m getting bored. But when it comes to trying to push myself to run faster, I find that it hinders me because it feels as if my body just automatically adjusts to the music. When I run harder I need to focus ONLY on running.


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