You walk into the gym and what is the first thing you hear? Music. Often very loud music. And as you pass through the gym on your way to the changing room you’ll inevitably see many people wearing headphones and listening to their favourite tunes to motivate them through an intense workout session.

What I’m about to say might not sit well with some, but I believe it will make sense to others. Music is a crutch! Now I hope you’re not all reaching to click on a new page and will let me explain what I mean.

I consider music to be similar to an ergogenic aid (supplement). We often count on our favourite song to provide the sound track and impetus to our efforts when we’re digging down in the trenches and have a heavy lift awaiting at the bar.


You wait for the right music to be piped over the speakers or you shuffle through your vast iPod selection to encounter just the right song to get you in the mood. What you’re really doing is training your body to need that additional stimulus in order to complete the task.

You may still be thinking this is hokum, but I actually got confirmation and validation to my theory whilst at a collegiate strength coaches conference. I saw someone who appeared to be an older gentleman putting on a bench shirt preparing to lift a bar containing more 45’s than I could count.

As I stood there intrigued by the thought of this “old guy” lifting such a crazy amount of weight I noticed one thing – he didn’t have headphones on and there was no music playing in the background.

Three people helped him unrack the bar and he proceeded to slowly lower the bending bar down to his chest, pausing at the bottom of the movement, and then pushing the weight back up. It was quite a sight, everyone was in amazement and spontaneously started clapping. I then watched him prepare for his next set.

Should I listen to music at the gym?_02

I noticed the breathing techniques he was using along with his eyes being closed, I assume was following some visualisation techniques. Once again he conquered the lift, completed his set and then took off his bench shirt and walked over to my booth to grab a protein shake.

I was impressed and intrigued and had to ask about his preparation and who he was since he was lifting more weight on the bench than I have ever seen. He chuckled and leaned in close and tapped his head with his index finger. “It’s all up here” he said. He introduced himself and told me some of his story. And what a story!

He was the record holder for the heaviest bench in the world for quite some time until only just recently. I asked how he got himself prepared for these mighty lifts without music and he explained that he’s never used music during any of his workouts, that he wanted to train his mind to prepare him for the lifts so that no matter what, all he had to do was show up and lift.

He didn’t have to scroll through his playlist to find his favourite song, he didn’t wait until the beat dropped, a chorus or middle eight section kicked in. If you train your mind, it will get you focused to complete the lift. And there ladies and gentlemen is my validation.

To take it a hypothetical step further – what would you do if your favourite pre-workout all of a sudden was pulled from the shelves? What then? How will you get through your most gruelling workouts without it? For this same reason, you train your mind and body to work as a singular unit. A well-oiled machine. If you train your mind and the body will follow.

I’m not saying you should give up your pre-workout concoctions and your favourite classic rock tunes to get ready for a lift. But seriously, give it some thought. If you can only train and lift certain amounts of weights while listening to your favourite tunes, maybe it’s time to introduce some other techniques to help you achieve those lifts. Maybe a quiet mind and a clear head is the way to new PB’s.

Give it a shot and see if you can use the power of your mind to help you bust through your plateaus. If it doesn’t work, then plug yourself back into your 4/4 time aural world. But I’m willing to bet that if you leave your Taylor Swift tear-jerker album at home and give it a shot and work at it, I believe you’ll end up posting numbers you only dreamed about!

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans