The Science Behind 5 Effects Music Has On Your Workout


Athletes and coaches alike are always pushing boundaries; pushing harder and farther than ever before. We all have little habits before a competition or a motivational quote we recite in the mirror or a song that pumps us up. Once again, science has a little surprise for us – turns out your favourite pre-game song is no coincidence.

Scientific inquiry has revealed five main ways that music influences human movement and competitive behaviour: dissociation, arousal regulation, synchronization, acquisition of motor skills, and attainment of flow.


Effective dissociation can promote a positive mood state, turning the attention away from thoughts of fatigue. Training becomes a lot more fun, without the stereotypical perceptions of fatigue and related symptoms.

Arousal Regulation

Music alters emotional and physiological arousal and can therefore be used prior to competition or training as a stimulant, or as a sedative: pumping you up, or calming your nerves.


The tempo or beats per minute (bpm) of a song can help regulate movements and prolong the activity; synchronization of music with repetitive movements increases work out put performed by the athlete.

Acquisition of motor skills

Purposefully selected music positively influences the stylistic movements of sport.

Attainment of flow

For the purpose of this article, flow refers to the optimal experience of intrinsic motivation. Recent research has shown that an athlete’s perception of flow increases throughout their game or workout, if having listened to music prior to the activity

Exercise Stage



Beats per Minute (BPM)

Mental Preparation



92 bpm


Ahot Me Down

David Guetta

101 bpm

Aerobic Warm Up

Get Lucky

Daft Punk

116 bpm

Intense Cardio

Save the World

Swedish House Mafia

146 bpm

Strength Training

We found Love

Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris

128 bpm

Cool Down


Ellie Goulding

86 bpm


Take a look at this playlist – the song’s tempo, or BPM, increases as the intensity of the activity increases. When creating your own playlists songs should be chosen based on the desired level of intensity. Songs chosen should also include motivational lyrics to spark your arousal and push you farther into your workout.

Next time you want that extra push, plug in and turn it up! Music may be all you need to ease the mind and motivate the body. I’m warning you now though, be prepared next time you are at KFS – I’ll definitely be using my playlist to kick you into gear.

Written by Hilary