Can music improve athletic performance?
Typically when you hear about ways to improve your athletic performance, you hear talk about using supplements – both those that are natural and those that aren’t. Well, what if someone said your athletic performance could be improved just by the choice of music you listen to while working out? Yes, it’s true! Research has shown that the right musical arrangement can increase your performance by up to 15%!
Think about it. You’re at a party. Parties generally have a DJ playing upbeat, fun music and the time just flies by. At this party you escape from the world, even if it’s just for a short amount of time. Now what if that party had slow, mellow music playing – great music, but slow nonetheless? Most people would be quick to find an exit. There’s a reason they call it “elevator music”.
Now back to working out
Whether you complete your workouts at home or at a gym, the genre and tempo of the music you listen to will have an impact on your workout. According to extensive research done by Dr. Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychology expert at Brunel University in London, music that has a tempo of 120-140 bpm (beats per minute) is the “sweet spot” for improved athletic performance. Music that’s too fast or too slow will hamper your workouts.
So then, can music improve athletic performance? Research suggests that beats tell us when to move, and movements are more vigorous and energetic when the right music is heard. Have you ever been on the treadmill not really into the music playing and then all of a sudden a great song comes on and you catch yourself walking to the beat? You didn’t even think about it – you just did it! Your power walk now became fun! And that’s a natural reaction when we have the right stimuli. Lifting weights, powering through cardio, and performing plyometric moves all can become easier when you’ve got a beat to keep count to.
But not all music in that tempo range will give your maximum results. Maybe hard rock is your go-to choice of music. But you’re working out and all of a sudden you find yourself playing more air guitar than lifting weights. You’ve got the right tempo, and maybe you’re an awesome air guitarist, but you’re getting no benefit from your workout. It’s time to change it up! And you may even need to change it to something you think wouldn’t be so appealing. In fact, researchers in Belgium showed that pop/techno music elicited the best athletic performance. Genres such as jazz and reggae didn’t have the same benefit on the athlete’s performances.
So you may be asking yourself, why exactly does music improve my athletic performance?
Well there isn’t only one answer. So here is a list of just some of the reasons you should consider some Lady Gaga instead of Journey for your next workout.
1) Music changes your mood.
How do you feel when you hear “Where were you (when the world stopped turning)” by Alan Jackson? Now turn on “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. I think you got the point.
2) Music is a distraction.
It triggers memories and you reminisce on the good old days. For a moment you are taken back in time – you escape reality even if it’s only for a brief moment. This escape from reality will help you to not notice your labored breathing or stitch in your side during that HIIT workout.
3) Music makes you want to move.
Just dance! Certain songs just make you want to get moving! Remember the 120-140 bpm rule and get pumping on your next weight training circuit.
4) Music makes exercise more tolerable.
Face it, not everyone LOVES working out – you may be one of those people. But everyone, including you, can find some music that puts you in a zone and encourages you to get things done! Music is to exercise what cheese sauce is on broccoli (if you like that sort of thing) – it just makes it all better.
So there you have it. Now it’s time to get searching and find some music that’s fun to listen to, gets your heart pumping, and gets you lost in your workout. To help you out,
Here is a list of my favorite workout songs
that always get me going – even when I may not be in the mood.
1. Who’s that Chick – David Guetta
2. Remix – New Kids On The Block
3. Black Betty (clubhouse edit) – But & Memo
4. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
5. Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
6. The Monster – Chani
7. I Cry – Flo Rida
8. Demons (CPR Remix) – Dr. Pack
9. Cups (HumanJive Remix) – Scarlet
10. Catch My Breathe (Cash Cash Remix) – Kelly Clarkson
11. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
Also check out How much genes affect your athletic performance