Does music help you when working out?
Written By: SportsShoes
There’s no doubt about it, sometimes we all need a little extra “push” for a motivated, focused workout. For many of us that comes in the form of hyping ourselves up to our favourite power tracks, working out to a soundtrack we love in order to keep us going during demanding training sessions.
But are there any real benefits of training to music and does it really help push us on to better training results?
Music may help you train harder, for longer
There is growing evidence to suggest a clear link between training with music and improved performance. In a nutshell, training with music makes training feel easier, which in turn makes us able to train harder, for longer, but how does this work?
A number of studies demonstrate that the external stimulus provided by your favourite work out track helps block internal stimuli trying to reach the brain. Essentially music helps distract you from factors like pain and fatigue and the result is that there is a reduction in our perception of effort and the ability to dissociate ourselves from sensations of discomfort and tiredness. This allows us to train harder and faster for longer, with some studies noting performance and endurance benefits of up to 15%.
Music Can give you a Positivity Boost
What’s more, training to music can help boost positivity and increase concentration, distracting us once more from fatigue and boredom. The end result is that your training session will feel more focused and more enjoyable. Added to that, a boosted mood means boosted motivation, leading to an optimised, focused and positive workout. In the long term that means we’re more likely to commit to a training regime - and stick at it – if we’re listening to music.
Different types of music can affect your efforts
Even the type of music you listen to can have a profound effect. One study by John Moore’s University found that participants voluntarily exercised at greater effort when listening to high tempo music. When the tempo was slowed, effort reduced correspondingly. So, for an optimised session, opt for upbeat, high tempo tracks which also induce positive emotions to help boost mood. For your cool down and recovery, go for more chilled out, slower tempo tracks.
Always make sure to have a playlist ready-prepared; there’s nothing worse than being “trapped” with a song you hate while you’re trying to focus on your training, or interrupting your session to scroll your device for something better. Change it up regularly to avoid boredom and so that you don’t get used to listening to the same tracks played over and over.
Is there a downside to working out to music?
There is some evidence that shows that the benefits of training to music apply only up to a certain point. While music can help boost effort during low to moderate intensity sessions, a number of studies seem to suggest that this effect is negated when training at maximum intensity. So, if you’re going all out for a PB, then listening to your favourite workout track probably isn’t going to have a huge impact.
There is also an argument that training with music, whilst masking pain and fatigue, can also cut us off from essential feedback from our bodies, causing us to have less awareness of our breathing, foot strike and effort. If you are really concentrating on improving your technique, or you prefer a more mindful training experience, then listening to music could make your work out less effective.
It is worth taking your headphones out in situations where you need to be more aware of your surroundings and the people around you, for example, if you’re training with a partner or if you’re being “spotted” while weight training.
What’s the best way to listen to music when working out?
The best way to listen to music at the gym is to put your MP3 player or phone in your pocket or in a holder on your arm while you work out. It’s that simple. You can use your standard headphones, but it’s worth investing in a pair of wireless headphones such as Aftershokz if you find wires irritating!