Music has always been an important part of my life.
Whether it’s an epic soundtrack in a film, going to see your favourite band or just singing along to a cheesy theme tune, music has the power to motivate, inspire and move you.
I’ve trained alone for the past 8 years, but it’s rare that you’ll see me without my headphones.
Music helps to keep me focussed and gives me an extra boost ahead of a heavy set.
The name of this website will give you a clue to what I personally like to listen to but what about everyone else?
Do others follow the same principle of “the heavier the weight, the heavier the music” or do they prefer something upbeat?
Is music even important or does something else help them to get the most of every workout?
I reached out to the experts once again and asked them:
“What’s your favourite music to listen to when lifting?”
Here are their answers…
My favorite music is actually ‘epic music’ that you would find in action movie trailers.
I of course like heavy metal such as Disturbed, Sevendust, Chimaira, and Breaking Benjamin.
But whatever I listen to needs to have good lyrics.
I’m a big fan of musical scores & soundtracks. Sometimes I train twice per day and getting amped up two times is a chore, so mellowing out to some Sweeney Todd or Interstellar while getting a lift in helps keep me from almost blowing a gasket each session.
I don’t listen to anything. I find headphones to be really distracting, and I don’t even notice what music the gym is playing. In addition, my training partners and I like to push each other and with headphones we can’t hear each other. I know I’m weird, but that’s my answer. HA!
My favourite artists to listen to when I am lifting are: Dr.Dre, Linkin Park, Eminem, Three days grace, but if I had to pick only one it would definitely be my favourite band, System of A Down.
My playlist has two types of music: Cher, and emo.
Because they’re awesome.
I don’t actually listen to any music in particular when I’m training, it’s just whatever they have on in the gym at the time!
My favourite artists are anything drum and bass related, or dubstep, I find it has the beat I want, lifts me up, makes me smile, and is always moving as a genre of music, plus it just gets me, hits me inside and makes me want to keep going.
Ultimately that’s what music should do right? So anything by Hospital Records, Skrillex, Netsky, Wilkinson and other big DnB names.
Usually it’s nothing too intense. I like to listen to things that help me focus, just like when I’m writing. Recently, that’s been artists like Bonobo, Jamie XX, Glass Animals, Caribou and alt-J.
That said, when I need to get though a really tough rep or set I’ll put on Queens of The Stone Age; my go-to song is ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire’ (from around 1 minute in).
My favourite music to train to is something of industrial or heavy nature. I like The Rollins Band, Slipknot, American Head Charge, Korn, Hatebreed, etc.
When I am performing cardio, I will often listen to softer and more melodic music such as PJ Harvey, The Eels, and She Wants Revenge.
When I am not listening to music while out on a run, I will often choose Audio Books and Podcasts by Gary Vee, Jerry and Esther Hicks (Law of Attraction) and Dr. Wayne Dyer.
I like to learn, relax and lower my cortisol when needed and raise my adrenaline during other times – I go by instinct.
I actually train without music as rare as that is. I like to focus in on my movement and really be in the moment during sets.
But when I do need a break from the silence I go with The Game, Lil Wayne and 50 Cent.
I look at the gym as a moving university, just like my car, my bicycle, the airplane and nearly anywhere else I travel.
Because of this desire to get smarter every day, I simply listen to podcasts or audiobooks even when I’m charging hard. Of course you could start with mine. 😉
I don’t listen to music when I train as I find it distracting. So by default it would be whatever is playing on the gym speakers.
I actually listen to one song on repeat the entire time.
I also, take my headphones out when I lift in training to mimic the meet and also to concentrate better on my technique.
For balls out heavy squats, deadlifts and major compound movements where the objective is to move the barbell from point A to Point B–I like Pantera and Kid Rock.
For moderately heavy fast paced training I like outlaw country.
For real light movements where I am 100% focused on the muscle not worried about the movement, I like a little more soul music, one of my favorites is the song “Papa was a Rolling Stone.
On the list of the biggest mistakes you can make in training, I list “music selection” close to the top.
Training is all about linking the body, mind and soul. Concerns about whether you are listening to the Bee Gees or AC/DC are the least important decisions one can make.
I play Bossanova music or classics just to have noise, but no one cares. At the high end track meets, we are not allowed electronics on the field so if you have to have “your jam.” I will defeat you if you need your magic sauce, special songs or happy meals.
I go to gyms and watch personal trainers try to coach over the noise from the music. I would hate to be sitting in court trying to explain that my client died because I was swaying to my my tunes.
The voice in your head screaming “You can do this” is all you need.
I love EDM!
When it comes to heavy or high-intensity lifts, I’m all for a heavy rap beat. Maybe that’s from sports and pre-game warm-ups, but give me some DMX or old Eminem any day before crushing a P.R.
I love highly intellectual, progressive metal. My favorites are TOOL, Tesseract, and The Helix Nebula.
I’m generally happy with whatever is playing at the gym as long as it’s fairly upbeat.
My PR song, though, is Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel.
Honestly, I most prefer listening to no music. The lifts I train are so technical that I can focus better when it’s quieter and I can hear the bar and my feet.
But no one else in the gym wants to train in silence. So I found we lift best to female power pop. Pink, Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood, shit like that.
It’s kind of funny to see a bunch of savages throwing around tons of weight to Britney Spears but, as we always say around here, if you can’t PR to Kelly Clarkson, you can’t PR.
I’m usually the only one in the weight room without my own music. I work at home, in front of a computer, so when I get to the gym, I want to be free of electronics. I track my workouts with pen and paper, in a spiral notebook, and by default I listen to whatever’s on the sound system.
The obvious downside is that when the gym plays top 40 crap — stuff so silly even my teenage daughters don’t listen to it — that’s what I end up lifting to. I would say it’s the reason I haven’t set a PR in the past decade, but that would be a lie.
At my age, my tendons and ligaments would laugh at me if I ever tried to psych myself up with music. And then one of them would break out of spite, just to remind me who’s in charge.
And the truth is as long as I have my coffee before I train the music doesn’t make a difference.
I prefer worship music and some of my favorite artists are Hillsong, Jesus Culture and Matt Maher.
I haven’t listened to “Top 40” music in 5+ years and rap music and metal music have always depressed me and don’t do anything for me other than give me a headache.
I need music that stimulates my soul and Christian music has always helped me get my best workouts.
Sometimes I’ll throw some Tiesto podcast into the mix but after awhile it all sounds the same. You can actually hear a few of my favorite songs playing in the background to three of my recent YouTube videos but I likely won’t do this again because people said it was too hard to hear my instructional comments:
My favourite music to listen to when I am lifting is Tabata Songs.
Tabata songs are specifically for Tabata Interval Training: they prompt you when to GO and when to REST, and the rhythm helps you find your pace.
I love it because I don’t need a timer and I can focus 100% of my energy on my Toes to Bar, Double Unders and Overhead Squats!
I listen to 3 pandora stations. Twisted sister when I need to lift heavy, turn down for what when I want to get pumped, and 2 live crew when I want to be as vulgar as possible.
Music is mood. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite music to listen to when I train. Some days I’ll bash to melodic metal like Disarmonia Mundi. Some days I won’t because I don’t want to go through an adrenal meltdown.
I like listening to podcasts more than listening to music these days, though. Knowing I’m only half paying attention, if I like the podcast I’ll favorite it and listen to it when I’m not training.
I actually listen to podcasts – lately the Jocko Podcast. There’s always a phrase or word or point made that brings me to why I’m working hard and it helps me push even harder.
When I’m doing HIIT-style workouts, I like listening to pretty much anything fast paced with a good beat. I’ll usually switch between rap and electronic dance music—anything to keep me pumped up and energized during my workout!
If I’m focusing more on skill training (such as practicing handstands, working on my human flag, etc.), I’ll often listen to podcasts or audiobooks since this helps me slow down and focus during this type of training.
I’m not a head banger by any means. I won’t ever attend a heavy metal concert or sport a leather jacket with spike bands, but there’s something about the genre that gets you in the right frame of mind to lift some heavy weight. My workouts suffer when I don’t have Spotify heavy metal tracks blasting on my headphones.
Most of the time when I work out I like to listen to 90s era rap and hip hop. Occasionally I’ll throw in some alternative and heavier stuff, but rap seems to be what gets me in the mood in the best manner.
I don’t like to listen to music while I’m at the gym as I find it too distracting, especially if I’m trying to get in the zone for a big lift, however nothing beats blasting the Rocky soundtrack at full volume on the drive there.
Interestingly, for an article I wrote recently on unconventional methods of getting pumped up for a workout, I did some research and found that the Soviets (who else) used to encourage listening to noxious music while lifting, as they believed that listening to the music you hated was an effective motivator for adding a few extra pounds to the bar.
However, the only thing hearing Work by Rhianna for the 3rd time in one session makes me want to do is commit a hate crime, so I wouldn’t recommend this approach…
When I do monster lifts or sprints, I need epic jams. Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” and Atoms for Peace consistently do the trick. John Scofield’s “A Go Go” and Stanton Moore “All Kooked Up” makes running marathons fun.
If I’m in a pinch, epic soundtracks like “The Dark Knight” and “Inception” guarantee earth-shattering workouts. Hit it.
Honestly, I don’t give music much attention when I’m working out. The majority of my workouts are performed with 1 or 2 training partners and we don’t wear earplugs or headphones during our training.
The gym in which we work out, however, does play music in the background. Most of the time it is some not very inspiring house music, which is OK.
If for whatever reason, I have to train without a workout partner I usually wear some earplugs and select either a rap or a rock playlist from Spotify.
I do enjoy kicking it old school. A few of my faves when lifting include Beastie Boys, Tragically Hip, Rage Against The Machine, Soundgarden and NWA.
To be honest I dont really listen too much music when training and if I do its usually cheesy as fuck tunes haha!
I have a very eclectic taste in music.
When I’m lifting, it ranges everywhere from Classic Rock (ACDC, Van Halen, David Bowie, Rocky music), to old-school Hip Hop, to today’s more modern R&B & Hip Hop, including Eminem & Pitbull.
Music definitely moves the soul so I have many different play lists to fire me up depending on my workout.
Nothing fuels my workouts better than a live EDM or Trance style DJ set.
You can’t beat a solid 60-90 minute set comprised of nothing but up-tempo beats & drops that get better and faster in time.
Armin Van Buuren, Marlo, Ferry Corsten, Martin Garrix, Alesso & Hardwell are some of my favourites.
I actually very rarely listen to music when I workout. It’s not that I’m against it, but I actually prefer listening to podcasts now.
I used to listen to rap, heavy metal, etc…anything that would get me “pumped up”. Now I actually prefer to kill two birds with one stone by listening to some of my favorite podcasts while I’m working out.
Some of my favorite podcasts are Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, The Model Health Show, The Paleo Solution, Jocko Podcast, Keto Talk, Ted Talks, and a few others.
I actually don’t listen to anything specific while I’m lifting, it’s whatever the gym has playing. I can mentally block it out pretty well.
In the car on the way to the gym, I like to listen to heavy stuff, among my favorites are Lamb of God, Amon Amarth, and Pantera.
When I train, and especially on lower body days, my “go to” musical selection is one of two options:
1. Old school 90’s hip-hop. We’re talking A Tribe Called Quest, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang Clan, Gangstarr, Craig Mack, Big L, etc.
2. Techno. Pants optional
I need something fast and something with a beat. Those two options tend to work well.
My gym music tastes are a mixed bag.
I like the regular stuff that many guys and girls find gets them going – Slipknot, Rage Against the Machine, Eminem – that kind of stuff.
However, I’m a huge fan of classical too. I once hit a deadlift PB to the finale from “The William Tell Overture”.
To tell you the truth, I don’t listen to any music when I’m at the gym.
I use that time as a form of meditation. I workout alone and I get my mind into a deep state of focus.
With that being said, I do listen to music before the gym to get pumped up. I’m a huge fan of 90’s hip hop, so I find myself listening to the following albums before I go to the gym:
• Nas – Illmatic
• Dr Dre – The Chronic
• Black Star – Black Star
• A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory
• Big L – Llifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous
• N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton
• Mos Def – Black on Both Sides
• A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
• Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
• The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die
The great thing about this topic is there’s no right or wrong answer.
There should however, be a ton of great new ideas to try out the next time you’re in the gym and wondering what the hell to listen to.
In an ideal world, you’d be at the top of your game every time you enter the gym and power through your workout, regardless of what music you’re listening to.
But if something has the power to motivate and inspire you to perform, even if it’s just 1% better, then surely it’s a no brainer to give it a try.
What music helps you to perform the best when working out?
What difference do you believe music has made to your own workouts?
Let me know in the comments below!