Why The Secret To Achieving Your Workout Goals Is Music

by Suzanne McKenzie

Nothing kills an otherwise kickass workout faster than a bad playlist. Except maybe working out with no music at all. Seriously, have you ever arrived at the gym, only to realize that you forgot your headphones? Might as well just go home. (Just kidding.) (Actually kind of serious.)

But the benefit of listening to good music while sweating it out ISN'T just anecdotal: In addition to providing some much-needed pumping up while you're pumping iron, music has been shown to help people exercise harder, stronger and more efficiently. For real — science says so. And who are we to question science?

And since embarking on the STRONG by Zumba challenge — if you haven't already, you can learn more about our #STRONGer2017 goals here — we at Elite Daily have been thinking more and more about the special relationship between music and working out.

That's because SBZ is basically ALL about music, with workout routines that are reverse-engineered to fresh music created by producers like Timbaland. We've all been talking about how the music pumps us up during our three weekly SBZ classes (especially when we're perhaps a little hungover and need the extra boost), and, as it turns out, there's legit science backing us up: Researchers have found that an athlete's performance improves when her workout is synced with music, a phenomenon known as Synced Music Motivation.

When he started creating original music for SBZ, Timbaland was acutely aware of this connection. Here's how he summed up his approach in a statement:

I was excited about the idea that a fitness brand approached exercise in a way that no one has done before – a workout created where music is the main motivator. They are using music in a way to maximize your workout, and I want to create music that inspires and pushes people past their limits.

Bottom line: Plenty of workouts attempt to use music as a motivator, but SBZ is in a league of its own when it comes to the totally innovative way that it leverages music.

A little late to the #STRONGer2017 party? No sweat — there's still time to join ED staffers and readers as we work to make this our healthiest and strongest year ever.

And in the meantime, here's what we've learned about the connection between music and achieving your workout goals.

Music makes intense workouts much more bearable and — dare we say — fun.

You've heard it before: HIIT workouts pack a punch. They consist of alternating short bursts of super intense anaerobic movement with active recovery periods. Due to its unique structure, HIIT requires way less time than traditional workouts to achieve the same calorie-blasting, fat-burning results.

But nothing comes for free. The downside to this insane efficiency is that HIIT workouts tend to be notoriously challenging and aren't always considered super enjoyable by the people who do them.

Let's just be honest: HIIT workouts can be hard AF.

Here's where the magic of music comes in: Science Daily discusses a recently-published study that measured athletes' attitudes toward high-intensity interval training. The study found that, instead of being put off by its intensity (as predicted), first-time HIIT participants enjoyed the workout significantly more if they performed it while listening to music as opposed to if they sweated sans tunes.

Finally, a science-backed explanation of why STRONG by Zumba is 100x more fun (and less painful) than any HIIT workout we've done before.

Athletes work out way harder with music than they do without it.

You know when you're jogging and your favorite song comes on? When you suddenly feel like a rock star-Olympian hybrid? Well, this phenomenon isn't just in your head.

A 2015 study measured the effect of self-selected music on athletic performance. The New York Times reports on the results: Researchers found that when athletes curated and blasted their own playlists during high-intensity workouts, their power output was MUCH higher than when they did the same workout sans music. Additionally, the music-loving participants did NOT perceive their amped-up output as being notably more unpleasant or difficult.

So listening to bumpin' beats during a workout will up the intensity WITHOUT upping the pain factor? That SBZ sorcery is all starting to make sense now…

Syncing your movements to music actually makes your body more efficient.

When a beat-heavy song comes on during a workout, it's natural for your body to fall into rhythm. As it turns out, there's an actual scientific reason that explains why your body craves to move with the music.

Scientific American references a study in which one group of participants cycled to the rhythm of background music while a control group didn't. The results were crazy: Bikers who coordinated their pedaling to the music required 7 percent LESS oxygen to complete the same physical task as the control group.

This research helps explain why, during STRONG by Zumba's synchronized routines, we're able to push our bodies way past the point where we'd usually be begging for a break.

There's no better time than now to set yourself up for a #STRONGer2017. Find a STRONG by Zumba class near you and join Elite Daily as we get healthier and stronger together.