Rowing to Music


You know that moment when you are completely in the zone, making swift, synchronized strokes, rowing your best, and in your mind “Gonna Fly Now”, the theme song from Rocky, picks up?

Okay, so it may not be the Rocky song, but let’s be honest, you know what we mean.  When you are at the top of your game, sometimes the only thing missing is a theme song.  And there’s a reason.

Even Scientists Agree

It is scientifically proven that music with certain characteristics improves your workout.  Rowing is no different.  At Brunel University’s School of Sport and Education, exercise psychologist Dr. Costas Karageorghis has conducted a countless number of studies centering on the effects of working out to music.

His findings?  In an interview with BBC, Karageorghis said “Music lowers your perception of effort.  It can trick your mind into feeling less tired during a workout, and also encourage positive thoughts.”  In one study, when athletes listened to up-beat tunes with steady tempos from artists like Madonna and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, they had 15% greater endurance.

Rowing to Music: Tuned to Success

There’s a reason we mentioned Rocky, due to its consistent tempo and motivational feel, it is one of the best tracks to listen to during your workout.

Karageorghis identified the main factors that contribute to a successful workout track as…

  • Tempo

The ideal tempo is between 120 and 140 beats-per-minute.  The reason?  That is the range of the average human heartbeat during exercise.  Pop and rock often conform to this tempo.

  • Consistent Rhythm

Having a consistent and obvious rhythm is key while rowing, so finding a song that can help you keep your rhythm is a must.  For this reason, try to avoid unpredictable tracks (save the free-form jazz for later).

  • Lyrics

Believe it or not, lyrics actually do matter.  It’s best to go with something that will inspire you to keep working.  While rowing or erging is not the time to listen to mopey lyrics that bring you down.

A Rower’s Playlist

Everyone has their own taste in music and it will take some exploring to discover what your power playlist for rowing is, but here are a few tips.  Check out Pausarius Rowing2Music for playlists created with rowers in mind (you can even specify your intensity), or take a look at these tips from Dr. Karageorghis on how to construct your playlist and song suggestions.

Listen with the Crew

Along with its other benefits, music also helps create group coherence.  Listen together or share your motivating musical findings with your crew on Spotify.

Get in the zone, row to the beat, synchronize strokes, and feel like you’re in an epic movie scene. Ah the power of music.

What do you listen to while you row?


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