Worldwide Shipping We ship Worldwide from the USA and UK
Instant KnockOut Blog : Get Shredded

How Music Helps You Burn Fat

Categories :

You’re on a fat burning mission. You’ve planned your workouts and the diet is perfect. But how else can you boost your progress and speed up your goals?

Have you ever considered that the type of music you choose to listen to during your workouts might affect how hard you work and ultimately how much fat you burn?

In this article we’ll tell you how your choice in music can affect your exercise productivity and give you a few pointers about the best type of music to choose to max your results.

Music and Exercise

Listening to music can have a big affect on mood, motivation and productivity. It can help you feel relaxed when stressed, or pumped up in anticipation of an exercise session.

Music has the ability to trigger either the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic system is responsible for speeding up your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. The parasympathetic system slows everything back down and allows you chill.

Music can help you to maintain a rhythm and synchronize your movements – a process called entrainment. Not only that, but presuming you like the music that’s playing you’ll enjoy exercise more too. All of this added up can help you to exercise for longer periods and also more regularly.

Within the last few years we’ve seen an increase in the number of music playlists released specifically for use during exercise.

It has become such an integral part of exercise that the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) [1] have released an expert statement advocating its use during exercise training. In the statement they refer to music as having an ergogenic effect– it enhances performance – and that it can improve productivity, motivation and reduce fatigue.

Could music then have a positive effect on fat burning? Let’s see what the research says…


Music Increases the Efficiency of Exercise

A number of studies have found that listening to your favorite music can improve exercise productivity. Yamashita et al [2] for example found that letting a group of volunteers listen to their favorite music during 30-minute, low-intensity cycling session added a ‘distraction effect’.  As such, heart rate and physical fatigue ratings were much lower than in the non-music control group.

A study by Nakamura [3] found that it isn’t just low intensity exercise that music can have a positive effect on. This study used critical power intensity which is high in work load in order to analyze the effects of music on performance.

When volunteers were asked to cycle with different styles of music, feelings of fatigue were much lower with preferred music as opposed to non-preferred music or no music at all.

Costas Karageorghis, one of the World’s leading researchers in this area suggests that music can improve the endurance-effect of exercise by up to 15%, movement efficiency by 7% and reduce fatigue by 12%. 

All in all, carefully-selected music can let you work harder for longer. This will have a positive effect on your calorie burn and of course your fat burning potential. 


Tempo is Important Too

If you really want to maximize your workout productivity you need to go for a quicker tempo. A study in Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports [4] reported that when music tempo was increased during cycling exercise by just 10%, total distance covered improved by 2.1%, power by 3.5% and pedal speed by 0.7%. The opposite was seen as the tempo was reduced. 

The researchers concluded that even though participants weren’t told about the tempo change, they worked harder at faster speeds.

The Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport [5] analysed the relationship between heart rate response and preferred musical tempo. They found that slow tempo was not preferred at any exercise intensity, but faster tempo music was preferred as exercise got harder. They suggested that music at 120-140 beats per minute maximized results. 

Although studies mostly use cycling to assess how music changes the response to different types of music, you can adapt these findings to any physical activity. Cycling is just easy to measure rhythm in a lab setting.


In reality you can’t depend on music too much to boost your fat loss. Whilst it adds another weapon to the fat burning arsenal, you still need to train hard, eat well and lead a healthy lifestyle. Music just let’s you enjoy the journey.

To maximize the effect of exercise music you need to choose a fast pace – 120-140bpm works best, although if you prefer to you can increase it even further. Where possible you should try to choose a style of music you enjoy – making your own playlist of your favorite songs at a fast tempo will really help.


  1. Karageorghis, CI et al. The BASES Expert Statement on the Use of Music in Exercise. The Sport and Exercise Scientist. 2011; 28
  2. Yamashita, S et al. Effects of music during exercise on RPE, heart rate and the autonomic nervous system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2006; 46(3): 425-30
  3. Nakamura, PM. Effects of Preferred and Nonpreferred Music on Continuous Cycling Exercise Performance. Percept Motor Skills2010; 110(1): 257-264
  4. Waterhouse, J et al. Effects of music tempo upon submaximal cycling performance. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010; 20(4): 662-9
  5. Karageorghis, CI et al. Revisiting the relationship between exercise heart rate and music tempo preference. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2011; 82(2): 274-84