Have you ever been struggling during a run or a workout in the gym, when one of your favourite, up-beat songs starts playing and you get a sudden burst of energy? The relationship between exercise performance and music has been a focus of study for decades, and it’s not surprising that the majority of research illustrates the power of certain music to motivate and push us to do better. When you listen to music with the right tempo, lyrics, intensity and style for your specific workout, it can allow you to work harder, concentrate more intensely, and push through the pain.
With World Music Day on the 21st of June this year, we decided to take a look at just how music and exercise can work together.
How will tailoring your music to your workout benefit you?
It helps with pacing
When it comes to cardiovascular activities like running or cycling, listening to the right music can help you pace correctly if the tempo and style matches the speed and intensity you’re aiming for. One of the world-leading researchers on music for performance, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, the author of over 100 studies on the topic, has shown that your music should parallel the speed of your movements. For example, if you are warming up on a gym bike at a pace of around 65 rotations per minute (rpm), dance music with around 120 to 130 beats per minute (bmp), is ideal as you can take half a pedal revolution to each beat of the music.
Karageorghis has created playlists that match heart rates from resting (around 50 bpm) through a warm-up (80 bpm) to low intensity (100-120 bpm) to mid-intensity (120-130 bpm) and finally to maximum (140 bpm) before reversing the process. The idea is when you match the journey of your workout to your playlist, the speed of the music will mirror your activity. While everyone is different, with a bit of research and trial and error, you should be able to create the perfect playlist for you that will take you through a run or cycle.
It helps improve concentration
Karageorghis’s research also shows us how music regulates mood and helps us to block out various distractions. By focusing on the music, we’re able to maintain a higher level of concentration before a race or competition, or even just a class. It allows us to tune out other distractions and focus our minds on the task at hand.
It increases confidence and distracts the brain
Listening to positive music, especially that with motivational lyrics and a feel-good message, can send a positive message to the brain about our performance, which in turn boosts our confidence and helps us to do better. Music can also help change our mind-set and distract us from negative thoughts or any pain or discomfort we’re experiencing. When carrying out a challenging activity, be it during a run, cycle, weight session or gym class, the right kind of music can distract us from the fatigue we’re experiencing and keep us focused on the beat, helping us keep going for longer.
It helps with bursts of intensity
As we already mentioned, the start of a positive, motivational song can help to encourage a new burst of energy and intensity, particularly when it comes to muscle strength. Music that we perceive as motivational can increase our work capacity and bring about new levels of power, strength, and productivity. This is especially beneficial in HIIT or strength-based classes calling for an extra burst of effort that you think you might not have in you.
Whether you’re exercising on your own or in a class, music can be hugely beneficial to your workout. In the majority of classes at David Lloyd Clubs, the right music can help to focus your workout and make the most of it – whether it’s the relaxing music of yoga, the upbeat, contagious Latin music of Zumba, the motivational, fast-paced dance music of Blaze, or any one of our other specially tailored classes, you’ll find the perfect tunes to inspire your workout.