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Does Warm Up Music Really Motivate?

PhelpsWe all know that a proper warm up before physical activity is crucial. It increases blood flow and raises body temperature, which prepares the body for exercise and can help prevent injury.

But is there any benefit to listening to music before or during competition?michael phelps

Emotional Response

Music has the ability to affect an athlete’s mood and causes emotional responses of arousal, dissociation, and synchronization. Fast songs with a quick tempo and strong bass have the most positive effect before or during activity.

Arousal acts as a stimulant and “pumps up” athletes before competition.

Dissociation refers to the ability of music to distract the brain enough to reduce perceived exertion and discomfort.

Synchronization occurs when the tempo of the music syncs to repetitive movements from exercise.

These three things help an athlete perform better and stay focused and motivated.


During physical activity, the right music can increase intensity by almost 70 percent. The key is to choose your target BPM (beats per minute) and find songs with tempos that match. For long slower runs, a song with a BPM of 120-130 is ideal.

The genre of the music matters as well.

  • Rock music should be avoided because it has frequent changes in tempo.
  • Dance music is best for strength and weight training.
  • Pop is good for repetitive exercises because of its regular rhythmic patterns.
  • Rap/Hip-hop is the best for running.

The genre is also dependent on the listeners preference, but in general an athlete should listen to songs that boost their mood and make them feel youthful and fit. For lists of songs and corresponding BPMs from all different genres visit The Running Playlist.

Music & Youth

Music is always played during warm ups at professional sporting events and the majority of the time it is played at a collegiate and high school level as well, but never at youth club games.

One contributing factor to the lack of music can be traced to club facilities not always providing equipment for youth teams. Coaches, managers or parents may need to provide a stereo for their team to play music while they warm up, during half time, and even to keep players on the bench focused.

Playing music for young athletes can create a positive atmosphere and make sports more enjoyable.

Do you think warm up CD’s make a difference? And what type of music do you listen to before, during and after exercise? Please comment below!

Kris Baker

Kris Baker is the President of Demosphere and has been serving the Youth Sports Community since 2006.