Four Creative Ways to Use Music for Your Workout

woman working out to music

I don’t know the exact statistics, but I know that a majority of people enjoy listening to music while the work out. Most, however, don’t use music as a part of their workout. And to that, I say they are missing out!

When the pandemic hit, I was forced to stop going to the gym, and just like that, I lost my primary form of cardio. I would play pickup basketball for 2-3 hours, have a blast, and get plenty of exercise without it feeling like work. 

I set up a basketball hoop at my house to compensate, but I quickly learned that casually shooting the ball at home wasn’t the same level of cardio as pickup ball at the gym, and that running for the sake of running feels like work. 

Music is Structure and Timing, Critical Components of Exercise

I don’t know much about music, but I do know that it’s closely married to time. Rhythm is about the number and types of beats per unit of time. In addition, it is structured with things like bridges and choruses. This is perfect for exercise!

Music has revolutionized my at-home exercise habit in the simplest way. I challenge myself to make 20 shots at various distances before a 4 minute, 10 second song ends. The song has unique markers that tell me how I’m doing, and makes the challenge a lot more exciting than a standard timer. By the end of it, I’m winded. Whether I win or lose the challenge, I get a great workout, and look forward to the next round.

Here are a few ideas for how you can use music to work out.

Work out for the duration of a song. This is what I do for basketball. It’s good for moderate to high intensity exercise, since songs average about 3:30 in length. I also suggest this for quick home dance workouts in my books.

Interval train using the chorus of songs. This is a great idea for runners! Simply listen to music as usual, but whenever the chorus plays, run faster (or all-out sprint, depending on your desired intensity). You can just as easily use this for weights, lifting for the duration of the chorus. My friend and I used to curl dumbbells during commercials while watching sports games. It was tough!

Have go-to songs for different workouts. Song length varies greatly, so you can usually find a song to suit the workout timing you desire.

Stop-and-go station. This is the name of a Donkey Kong Country level, and also something you can do with music. Say a song is five minutes long. As long as the music is playing, work out. When you need a break, pause the song. Now you can track your actual exercise time (as opposed to including all of the breaks between sets). If it’s an endurance challenge, you can try to last the entire duration of one or more songs in a playlist, and compare your progress to prior attempts.

In conclusion, music is enjoyable, and it has structure and timing, making it an ideal workout tool! I hope this post inspires you to find more ways to use music creatively in your pursuit for fitness.

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