Use music to improve your performance

If you want to get the most out of your training regime think carefully about the type of music you listen to while exercising, a UK study suggests.

Dr Costas Karageorghis, of Brunel University, found listening to the right songs before and during training boosts performance by up to 20%.

He recommends fast tempo music for high intensity exercise and slower tracks to help with the warm up and cool down. The speed of the music is the key, whether it be classical, rock or pop.

Music to sweat to

Dr Karageorghis says individuals need to create their own play list according to their personal music preferences and the intensity of activity in which they are engaged.

Just before sport, loud, up-beat music can be used as a stimulant or slow, soft music can be used to calm pre-performance nerves. For example, James Cracknell, who rowed to glory and into the record books at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said that listening to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ album “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” was an integral part of his pre-race preparation.

The Olympic super-heavyweight champion Audley Harrison listens to Japanese classical music before a fight to calm his nerves, said Dr Karageorghis.

As exercise begins, the music tempo can be synchronised to work rates to help regulate movement and prolong performance. During this phase music can also help to narrow attention and divert your mind from sensations of fatigue.


The right tempo

Dr Karageorghis said: “It’s no secret that music inspires superior performance.”

“The sound of ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ reverberating around a rugby stadium is an example of how music can provide great inspiration and instill pride in the players.

“However, our recent research shows that there’s no definitive play list for today’s gym-goers or tomorrow’s sporting heroes. Songs are particular to an individual – they are not prescriptive. So it’s up to the individual to select songs that drive them and inspire them.”

He said the athletes he trains had seen an 18% improvement in adherence to exercise regimes with the help of the right music. He believes gyms and health clubs should offer a wide choice of music to suit their clients’ needs.

For example, those on running machines should listen to music with a very fast tempo, whilst those who are weight training would benefit from medium tempo music coupled with inspirational lyrics.

“Rather than blasting out the same music loudly in all areas of the gym, it would be better to turn the volume down so those on the treadmills and bicycles can tune into personal music selections, while those in weight training rooms can hear the uplifting beat of the background music,” he said.

John Brewer, director of the Lucozade Sports Science Academy, said: “This confirms what we have suspected and known anecdotally for years”. “Music does have an impact on physical performance. If you go into the dressing room of any premiership league football club on a Saturday afternoon you will certainly see the players in there listening to music to psyche them up and get them ready for the performance.”


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Photos Thanks To: kaboompics / Pixabay, janeb13 / Pixabay