How to Increase Your Workout Performance by 15% (Legally)

What if I told you, you could increase your endurance, move at a faster pace, distract yourself from pain and fatigue, facilitate strenuous workouts, and improve overall performance in athletic activities? Plus, all these improvements would be legal and you'd never fail a drug test. Well, the solution is quite simple... your favorite music.

Yes, playing your favorite music, song, and/or band has been shown in studies to improve the above statements.

In 2012, British Psychological Society presented the following conclusions from Dr. Lamont's study. Dr Lamont, a professor and researcher in in positive psychology, developmental psychology and in research methods, as well as my specialism in music psychology, said:

By playing their favorite tunes, we found that participants' exertion levels reduced and their sense of being 'in the zone' increased, when compared to listening to no music at all. The greatest effects were found for music used during training. For this study, three competitive sports groups -- with 64 participants in total -- were compared: football, netball and running. The groups were first polled to establish their favorite type of music, which was different depending on the sport. Female netball players, for example, preferred RnB music. Each group was assessed before and during training, and before competitions or races, with and without their favorite music. Each session was rated by the participants for perceived motivation, focus, enjoyment, challenge, awareness and rate of perceived exertion. Listening to favorite music improved ratings of being 'in the zone' across all groups, with the biggest effects occurring during training sessions. A reduction of perceived exertion happened during most sessions.

Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London, one of the world's leading experts on the psychology of exercise music, wrote that one could think of music as "a type of legal performance-enhancing drug." In a 2014 case study, he writes:

Carefully-selected music is now proven to reduce the perceptions of exertion by up to 12%, improve the beneficial exercise effects by up to 15%, movement efficiency by up to 7% and extend voluntary endurance by as much as 15%. The research also confirms that faster music works best at higher exercise intensities, but the relationship is not a simple linear one. Instead there is a series of dips and plateau within a much narrower band than expected (125 – 140 beats per minute).

Costas concluded that music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, and reduces perceived effort.

In 2010, Waterhouse, Hudson, and Edwards published the "Effects of Music Tempo Upon Submaximal Cycling Performance." They discovered that when listening to faster music, participants had power and pedal cadence increase by 2.1%, 3.5% and 0.7%. When the music slowed down, the power and cadence fell 3.8%, 9.8% and 5.9%. Average heart rate changes were +0.1% (faster program) and -2.2% (slower program). Perceived exertion and music preference increased (faster program) by 2.4% and 1.3%, respectively, and decreased (slower program) by 3.6% and 35.4%.

What are you to do?

Listen to your favorite music during your workouts to increase your endurance, move at a faster pace, distract you from pain and fatigue, facilitate strenuous workouts, and improved performance in athletic activities. If pace is important, choose music which has a faster beat to maximize your speed. If listening to music during an athletic event isn't an option, listen to it prior to get your Mind Right. (Refer to the “MindRight” Mentality Will Change How You Workout).


According to Waterhouse, you could consider giving an opponent a slower paced song to decrease their performance by 3.6-35.4% and give yourself that competitive advantage.


Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

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