Music helps you work harder during exercise

Have you ever noticed that the playlist you listen to during a workout can truly determine your intensity and enjoyment?

You’re not alone. What you’re feeling is a real thing, and now there’s some science to prove it.

In case you didn’t know, I’m a Les Mills group fitness instructor and teach three different programs regularly. One of the many benefits of teaching Les Mills programs is the continuing education that comes out every single quarter, along with the latest releases of choreography and moves.

Les Mills music and exercise research study

The latest education and research was right up my alley as a music lover: The science behind combining music and exercise.

Group fitness is not only about teamwork and getting fit, but it’s also about the effect of music and movement for participants. Better music, means better movement. Les Mills has known this for a long time, and that’s why the New Zealand company spends so much time selecting the tracks for each of its programs.

Les Mills Music and Exercise Study

Without citing the study word for word, here’s a recap of what Les Mills found out while working with Dr. Jinger Gottschall from The Pennsylvania State University:

  • Music decreases your perceived exertion during low- to moderate-intensity exercises. Meaning, you’re stimulated, so you don’t pay as much attention to how hard your body is working and the fatigue you may have.
  • Music helps you feel more positive during high-intensity exercises. Meaning, even though when you hit the anaerobic zone (high intensity) music doesn’t help your body not feel the work, it does help you commit to finish.
  • Music promotes metabolic efficiency. Meaning, listening to music can help your body achieve efficiency when you’re moving, so you can do more.
  • Music improves your mood. Meaning, music makes you feel good, so you’ll probably have the desire to come back and repeat the workout.

And there are four aspects of music that help drive motivation, including the following:

  1. Rhythm or beat
  2. Musicality, pitch and harmony
  3. Cultural impact or significance of the music within your society
  4. Your associations with a piece of music (For instance, the Chariots of Fire theme)

So it’s true. That movie theme song or tune from your favorite band really can put some pep into your step.

This information was shared with the 100,000 certified Les Mills instructors across the globe, and it proves that during exercise, music makes us work harder, enjoy what we’re doing and want to do it again.

Find the right tunes

This research doesn’t just apply to group exercise, it can also be applied to your own iPod and playlist.

You should take the time to research and create a playlist that is pleasing to you, or those you will be working out with, and you just might have a better sweat session.

Suggest a Les Mills song

If you take Les Mills classes or are an instructor, did you know you can suggest a song? Just visit the Les Mills site here and recommend a piece of music for a future release.

And with that, I’m off to teach BODYATTACK.

Questions of the day

What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when working out? Do you ever work out in silence?

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  1. Hi Ashley! I found your blog via a couple of my other favorite blogs, and I’m instantly hooked! I love that you are a Les Mills Body Pump instructor. It’s one thing that I’d LOVE to do in the very near future. Do you have any posts on how you became one and the process of it all? Or any tips you may have for someone that is an aspiring Body Pump instructor?

    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for stopping by. Great name, by the way. I wasn’t blogging back when I went through initial training for BODYPUMP, but I have plenty of advice and tips. Do you currently attend a gym with BODYPUMP? Because it is a licensed program, your facility must pay to have the class there before you can teach it. I have written about my experience several months ago with BODYATTACK initial training, and the BODYPUMP runs very similar in format, except you are working on resistance and BP moves instead. Training is two days, and you will have to prepare and present a track ahead of time. Your training outcome is based off of your presentations. You will also go through every move in the release (which is the number assigned to each different one-hour BODYPUMP class put out by Les Mills that you are training on) to perfect your technique, learn about Les Mills and complete a BODYPUMP challenge. To get an understanding of what it’s like to be a Les Mills instructor, I have a few posts you may find helpful. Check out all of these, and go to my Fitness page:

      Hope this helps. First and foremost, my number one piece of advice is to attend BODYPUMP as much as you can while you are considering training. The more you know the moves and are comfortable with the format, the better. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks!:)

  2. Working out in silence only works for me if I’m going on a run outdoors. Other than that, I need something to keep my mind off what I’m doing, whether it be the TV at the gym, or having music blasted overhead at the gym – I love it. My favourite kind of music? Something “harder” than I normally would listen to. I really love Queens Of The Stonage and Foo Fighters, so something like that for working out pumps me up hah.

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