Alright, hear me out here. So far my study is n = 1 but I can state, with confidence, that I lift far more weight while listening to heavy metal music. I don't have a scientific factor but if I had to guesstimate, it is at least 10%.

This realization occurred yesterday while deadlifting and some Backstreet Boys throwback came onto the gym radio. I couldn't complete my second set of 8 (only got 7). I went back to my bag, grabbed my headphones, threw on some Lamb of God, and I hit the next set of 8 for an RPE 7.

That got me thinking about all the powerlifters I know: male and female, they all listen to metal music. Maybe this is a community thing or... maybe it's science.

Can listening to heavy metal music help you lift more weight, and thus, increase strength?

  • 4
    Maybe he's born with it... Maybe it's adrenaline!
    – Alec
    Mar 5 '20 at 18:10

Music has the ability to change your heartbeat based on the bass and other rhythms, which is why clubs playing loud bass music get the crowd excited. Screaming or yelling has been shown to increase strength up to 7% too - https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19533055/the-sound-that-will-make-you-7-percent-stronger/.

So I'm assuming the rapid heartbeat from listing to fast or hard metal riffs helps you feel energized or listening to others scream helps you feel focused. See this article from Harvard about how music helps your heart during exercise: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/tuning-in-how-music-may-affect-your-heart

  • 1
    I added citation as what I wrote is not random guessing but factual information. Please see the article by Harvard or the one from Men's health about the effects of music. There are several more articles online about the effects of music changing your heartbeat, pumping more blood, etc
    – Ace Cabbie
    Mar 6 '20 at 19:55

Music can alter your state. If you know the polyvagal theory, you might know that they state that humans have several "state" e.g. flight, flight, freeze.

Music seems to be able to alter or reinforce the state you are in. Metal music probably pushes you toward the fight state which can elicit a greater buy-in into your training i.e. greater force production.


I would suggest that it's not heavy metal per se that lead to an increase in strength, but more the focus increase brought from listening to music that resonates with you personally.

For me, though I do regularly listen to rock and heavy metal, I've actually found that I lift better to something along more classical or piano lines (which I also listen to fairly regularly). Spot me Amadeus.

In The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin talks about finding a memory or piece of music that has an effect on you, and learning how to use that memory or music to find your focus (I'm paraphrasing heavily here). For myself, I've found that the opening bars of St. James Infirmary by Hugh Laurie has an interesting effect on me, when I hear it playing, I take a deep breath, smile slightly, let the music flow over me, and press / pull / climb / whatever, and do so much more efficiently, focusing on the movements, muscle contractions, whatever it is that's required.

For you, when Backstreet Boys came on the radio, it probably irked you to the point that you lost focus a bit in what you were doing, and when you put your headphones on, you were able to regain that focus by listening to something that resonated with you.

It's entirely possible that someone across the gym from you felt that familiar buzz when Backstreet Boys came on, smiled to himself, took a breath and knocked out a new bench PR.

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