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Does fast tempo music affect your workout?

May 24, 2015 2 min read

Something crossed my mind this morning when I was running 3 miles, does listening to fast/upbeat music make you workout out harder?

I was listening to a playlist I created on Spotify and I noticed that certain songs made me run faster and even focus more on my run. One song even felt like it put me in the zone and I was able to increase the speed on the treadmill. I have also noticed in certain exercise classes like spin and Zumba that some songs make you want to work your body harder.

In a study done at the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University, in 2009, researchers had 12 participants ride stationary bikes for 30 minutes at a pace they could sustain for the entire 30 minutes. The participants were allowed to listen to whatever music they wanted to listen to.

The researchers then had them ride the bikes again but with their music’s tempo increased or decreased by 10% without the participant knowing the music was changed at all. The researchers found that the rider’s heart rate and mileage decreased when the music decreased in tempo. And when the music’s tempo was increased so did the rider’s mileage and heart rate.

They also found that the participants enjoyed the ride more when the music was increased and even though the ride was harder with the music tempo faster, the participants choose to ride harder and faster.

I completely agree with this study but had no idea playing fast tempo music could affect my workout in such a tremendous way. I have been to many SoulCycle classes and I always leave those classes dripping with sweat and part of that is the playlist during the class, the songs they choose make you want to push yourself and keep up with the tempo of the music.

In another study done by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2003, had 20 participants ride a stationary bike while listening to a 13 song playlist of their choosing. They found that the participants who chose to listen to upbeat/fast tempo music increased their level of work by 15%. They also found that heart rates went from 133 to 146 beats per minute when listening to fast tempo music.

Next time you are going to exercise on the stationary bike or run on the treadmill, make sure you have a fast tempo playlist and you will get more out of your workout guaranteed.


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