If I’m working out I’m listening to music. Period. I cannot workout and not listen to music. It just feels void and lifeless. Music gives me motivation, energy, inspiration, and life to help me dominate my workouts.
In fact, the two are closely related.
Research, especially since the mid 1990’s, has consistently shown that music helps “distract people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency” (1). In addition, Costas Karageorghis, a leading expert on the psychology of music on exercise at Brunel University at London, goes on to say that music is a type of “legal-enhancing drug” (1). I agree.
Literally every workout I have music at one point or another helps me get through a set, rep, or finish a mile run. And it’s a not a mystery why. Music makes you want to move, and depending on your musical preference, it lifts you up to keep going. It essentially helps you respond to fatigue, stress, and adversity of your workout in a resilient manner by acting as a “motivator,” even to the point where you have greater efficiency (2).
The tempo, or speed, and rhythmic cadence–that is our urge to dance and move–seems to have the most significant impact on us when listening to music while exercising. This can be seen at a tempo of 120 beats per minute (BPM), or 2 snaps per second. Research has shown that we almost have an innate response for us to bounce our heads, tap our foot, and get into a grove of synchronicity to a movement, such as running, rowing, or cycling, at this tempo (1).
If you think about it it just makes sense. Music acts like a metronome that keeps us in stride with the beat and what we’re doing. If you’re running, for example, you should listen to an upbeat tempo to keep you going like a clicking metronome.
In contrast, the power and story of music also plays a significant role, especially for strength training. A study in 2004 asked participants to hold a dumbbell at a 90 degree angle from their bodies while listening to white noise or music. The study revealed that music resulted in the participants holding the dumbbell for significantly longer times then when the white noise was played (2).
In addition, self-selected music, as opposed to auto-generated music, was more significant in performance. In other words, the type of music, that is it’s energy (tempo and cadence) and the meaning the individual associates it with, are significant predictors of the increased benefit that music has on exercise performance. I find this absolutely amazing and I can verify this every time I workout. I love music and couldn’t imagine a life, let alone a workout, without it. It’s a requisite for all my workouts and probably is for you as well.
So, pop in those headphones and blast those beats. Whether its rock/metal, rap/hip-hop, EDM, pop, symphonic, or something else, music is there to lift you up and give you that extra push to keep you going until you finish.
Just listen to music, workout, and forget all the rest. Done!
What do you think? Do you listen to music working out, and if so, what do you listen to? Tell me by leaving a comment down below.
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Until next time, be strong and be you!
- Jabr, F. (March 2013). Let’s Get Physical: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychology-workout-music/
- Harmon, N. and Kravitz, L. (Septemeber 2007). The Beat Goes On: The Effects of Music on Exercise. IDEA Fit. Retrieved from http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/beat-goes-effects-music-exercise