High Tempo Music Shown to Result in Better Workout

Working out and listening to music go hand in hand, but until recently it wasn’t fully understood just how much of a role music plays in motivating people during their workout. When you’re listening to Eye of the Tiger in the homeward stretch of your jog, you might wonder is this actually helping?

According to researchers in Italy and Croatia, the answer is yes. A recently published study reveals that high tempo music with harmonious melodies improves the rate of perceived exertion that people put into their workout at the gym. 

The study assessed the performance of 19 women in their mid-20’s to measure their rate of perceived exertion (RPE) when exposed to popular music with a wide range of tempos;

•       low-tempo with approximately 100 beats per minute

•       mid-tempo music with 140 beats per minute

•       high-tempo music with 180 beats per minute 

•       and no music

To assess the RPE parameters, participants were asked their opinions about how much effort they felt they were putting into the exercise. Physical measurements such as heart rate, breath and perspiration levels were also recorded.

As the tempo in the music they were listening to increased, researchers found the RPE levels decreased. This means participants perceived they were working harder than they actually were when listening to music with a low tempo and less hard to music with a higher tempo.

The best results were achieved during “endurance activities” performed to music with a high tempo of between 170 and 190 beats per minute with an 11 percent increase.

Exercise Music

In the past, studies assessing the effects music had on workout performance discovered that music can distract exercisers from fatigue, enable them to breakthrough pain barriers, improve motivation, and helps prolong high-intensity exercise

Numerous studies show that music has a positive influence on workout performance. However, to gain the maximum benefits, the tempo of the music has to correlate with the intensity of the exercise routine.

Basically, when the tempo matches the intensity of a particular exercise motion, a sort of zen effect can take place.  

High tempo music feels like less effort when performing endurance exercises such as running, swimming and biking. What’s more, RPE dropped when performing high-intensity exercises, therefore enhancing the benefits of workouts.

Ultimately, this makes it easier for people to work harder for longer without feeling the strain as quickly. 

Balancing Music with Exercise

In the future, Luca Ardigò, one of the physiologists involved in the recent study at the University of Verona hopes to conduct further investigations into how music influences how exercisers perceive their rate of effort.

Future studies will include different genres because people respond differently to certain types of music. It also hasn’t been determined how much a role familiarity plays, i.e. whether you know the artist’s songs you’re listening to or not—and, how much you like the song.

But the fact remains, exercising with the tempo of a song gets you in the zone.


Now we know that finding music that has the right balance of properties and tempo does indeed have physical and psychological benefits—at least based on the data observed in this new study.

With that said, having an overhead music system at your gym couldn’t be more important. Zero-In provides a licensed overhead music solution to ensure your members and guests have the tunes they need to complete an optimal workout!