The ultimate workout playlist to boost performance from six personal trainers

Listening to the right music can boost your workout performance.
Listening to the right music can boost your workout performance.

Nothing seems longer than running on a treadmill without music. Time seems to slow down to a crawl, and putting one foot in front of the other feels like you’re climbing a never-ending mountain. The difference a workout playlist makes is enormous. Not only does music add a little more bounce to your step, but it also motivates you to work harder.

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For personal trainer and model, Brent Thompson, it takes him to a higher level during a set. “It helps you keep momentum during a tough routine and gives you that steely eyed focus to keep you locked into workout.”

But while most gyms have their own selection of music playing on a loop, it’s not always the music to put you in the mood. Personal trainer Xola Magwaza prefers to listen to his own playlist in the gym. “It allows me to zone out from other noises in the gym and it keeps me in good spirit. Let’s face it, some gyms tend not to play the music you’d want to hear while working out.” Xola has four different playlists that he picks from depending on his mood and what he focuses on in the gym.

Read more: The story of how SA musician Francois van Coke went from fat to fit

Curate your own playlist

In a study conducted Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, researchers found that the participants cycled faster and covered more distance when the music was upbeat. They also found that the participants chose to work harder when the music was faster.

According to WebMD, choosing upbeat music helps distract you from getting tired or wanting to stop exercising. Speaking to personal trainers, we found that each guy has a different way of selecting music. Personal trainer, model and performance coach, Masi Ngcwatywa, mostly listens to hip hop during his gym workouts. “But if the type of training I’m doing is functional and explosive, I always like music with some lyrics, and for running I mostly listen to deep house music to keep me focused for a longer duration.”

Home fitness expert, Peter Carvell, helps people build healthy and strong bodies in the comfort of their homes. His choice of music relies on what type of training he’s doing for the day. “For cardio, I pick music that gets me into a rhythm – more like pop, club or dance music – and for weights it’s all about music to stay motivated and push harder.”

Read more: The ultimate guide to fitness, from the best workouts to the fastest ways to get fit

While songs that range between 120 and 140 bpm appear to be the most beneficial, WebMD suggests choosing music that mirrors your heart rate. Personal trainer, Dorian Apollos, bases his music choice on the type of workout he’s doing. “I listen to hip hop music for strength training, but EDM for the high intensity workouts.”

For Dylan van Houten, head coach at Ritual Gym, the beat of the music makes a difference. “A nice beat is also very helpful for when I incorporate skipping into my cardio days as it helps the timing.” Cardio workouts have him listening to alternative and classic rock songs, such as Foo Fighters, Papa Roach and The Offspring.

Play this song

Deciding what music to listen to at the gym can sometimes be tougher than your actual workout. Using the help of these six personal trainers we’ve created a workout playlist for you. They shared their favourite music and we put them together to help you feel inspired. Your next workout just became a whole lot better. Also, follow us on Spotify to keep up to date with our various workout playlists! 

This article was originally published on

Image credit: iStock 

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