Music & Exercise

"up-beat or fast-tempo music does not affect your physiological response"
Music & Exercise

Music and Exercise Motivation

Does the music you listen to affect your training performance? Many studies have been performed to find out if there is a positive correlation between the music you listen to and a stronger physical performance.  I hate to be the one to break it to you; the answer is no!

The Consensus

The general consensus among most of the studies is that up-beat or fast-tempo music does not affect your physiological response or your ability to perform better. Ironically, many studies have shown that slow, rhythmic music (classical or symphonic music) may increase your mental or cognitive abilities. In plain English, listening to Beethoven while studying for a physics exam will help your retention of the material, but listening to Hip-Hop or Gangsta Rap will not help you dead-lift an extra 50 pounds.

Trained Versus Untrained Athletes

The studies also showed that not only does music not help the average person’s performance in the gym, but it can have a negative effect on trained athletes. It actually reduces trained athletes’ physical performance.

This is not as strange as it first sounds. You’ve probably heard of athletes who where “in the zone” when they had exceptional performances on the field or on the court. This is attributable to elite athletes ability to eliminate or drown out all exterior stimuli. They have the unique ability to focus totally on the task before them and not let outside distractions break that focus. When you reach elite athlete status, you’re likely paying a personal trainer $100k a year to assure that level of focus. For the rest of us with day jobs, we only aspire to that level of commitment.

Studies Be Damned

I personally don’t care what the studies say. I will still listen to GodSmack, Korn, or Blue Oyster Cult when I’m boxing, kick-boxing or working out hard.  For me, it helps defeat the boredom of exercising.  Many fail in continuing an exercise program, because boredom sets in with the repetition.   For most people, listening to music helps overcome that boredom. 

Achieve Excellence

For those of you who  want to excel, ditch the music and focus on the task. Be forewarned, that level of focus sucks 10 times more than just training.  If you get past the “suck”, the results are astounding. When you eliminate any extraneous stimuli and  devote 100% of your attention on the task, everything starts to move in slow motion. I’ve tried it and it works. I always default back to music in a few weeks.

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