I’m not going to cite the latest studies about the benefits of music on your workouts. Why? Because you have already experienced it. You know how it feels to get pumped up or “in the zone” with your favorite workout music. It brings out emotions and experiences. You also know how certain music helps you to relax after you exercise. Your respiration slows down and you feel a sense of calm. For some people, light classical music or jazz does the trick.

Back in college, my third-year roommate made me an awesome workout tape. Notice, I didn’t say CD. Mostly hard rock and heavy metal. Metallica anyone? Hey, I was a 20 year old college student. It would help reduce distractions in the gym and I could focus inward. The fact that the volume was on high helped drown out any noise. The tape was 60 minutes long so I knew exactly where I was in my workout when a certain song came on. For those days when I was going to have a more moderate workout or go for a jog, I’d choose lighter rock music or something with a consistent beat. As I ran, I’d try to land my footfalls with the beat. I’d get lost in the music and sometimes find myself running farther than I had anticipated. When I got back to my car or home afterwards, I’d listen to something light. I wasn’t comfortable with pure silence. I needed something to help slow me down. Otherwise, it felt like hitting a wall. Wham! Workout done and music off.

The video below features O Fortuna from Carmina Burana. The first time I heard it was at a bodybuilding competition twenty years ago. The defending champion, Dorian Yates, used it for his posing routine. The music is powerful and will give you chills.