Listening To Music During Your Workout... Helpful Or Harmful?
Does listening to music while you're ripping those heavy deadlifts off the ground actually offer any benefits? Just like many other gym related topics such as whether lifting straps should be used in the gym - there's two parties... those strongly for it and those strongly against it. I've spent extended periods of time listening to my own music music while training, listening to the gyms music while training and listening to no music at all, just the clanging of the 45lb iron plates as they shuffle around on the barbell after each explosive rep.
There's no question about it - music makes a big difference when used correctly in the gym.
4 Reasons Why You Should Listen To Music During Your Workout In The Gym
Here are the 4 biggest reason why I find music beneficial while training...
Distraction From The Pain & Exertion (Lower Perceived Effort)
When listening to your own music while performing a heavy set our minds are distracted, when we talk about distractions in the gym it's normally a bad distraction... however this time that is not the case.
As music creates information for our brain to process we're slightly distracted while training - resulting in the perceived effort you're exerting to lift the weight to be slightly lower. As a result we're able to push ourselves harder and make a disassocition from the effort we're expending and the burn we're experiencing from lifting the weight.
Keeps The Pace Up, Particularly With Cardio
The motor area of our brain is stimulated by the beat of a good tune.
As a result of this when it comes to pacing ourselves, be it with rest times between sets or the speed at which we're running when it's time to hit the deadmill sprints by default we up the pace when music is present.
As Newton's law states an object in motion wants to remain in motion... our body when we're in the zone with our workout music wants to keep a consistent, intense pace. Constantly speeding up or slowing down is no longer an option, the motor area of our brain wants to keep going (fast!) with the beat.
The Right Music Helps You Reach Your Flow State
Music can trigger memories like nothing else.
I'm sure when you hear certain songs you're instantly taken back to a vivid replay on events that've occured in your life - both positive and negative.
Studies show by selecting the right music to listen to when we're in the gym, being music we have positive memories associated with we're able to boost the 'motivational level' of that song, getting us into the zone to obliterate every set and every rep of your workout like a freight train speeding downhill, there's no chance of it (or you!) slowing down before it's reached its destination.
Eliminates Other Distractions (Other Gym-Goers)
Headphones on, world off.
I've been a member at a handful of different gyms and every gym whether it be in the early AM or the late PM has a chatterbox, a distractor.
The guy that wants to talk between sets, that wants exercise demonstrations and asks to compare diets.
Wearing headphones and listening to music while you're training greatly reduces these sorts of distractions from other gym-goers.
Greg Plitt, the #1 fitness model in the world (RIP) said in an interview he always trained with headphones on but never actually listening to anything with them as it was the perfect way to block out noise and deter others from constantly interrupting his workout and killing the intensity of the pace he had set.
BUT Don't Let Your Music Sabotage Your Workout
The 4 reasons above are massive when it comes to why you should listen to music in the gym, but there's 1 point that needs to be stressed to ensure you don't let your music work against you.
All helpful things can become a distraction when used incorrectly, music is one of those.
Set and forget. Download the music you want and put it all together in one playlist that should be at least as long as your typical workout.
Can't find enough songs to fill an hour worth of training? Consider downloading a music podcast, these single tracks are generally around the 1 hour mark.
The key point here is do not let your music distract you in a negative way while you train.
I'm sure you've seen the guy trying to bring up his next song on YouTube while laying on the bench press. The guy violently skipping between songs because you can't stand any of the music you added to your own playlist between your sets of heavy squats, don't rely on the gyms WiFi to let you stream your music, don't put up with those earphones that only having sound out of one side unless you jiggle the cable around.
Get a playlist and some reliable earphones or headphones sorted BEFORE you start listening to music while you workout.
That way, the only distraction music will provide is the positive distraction of reduced perceived exertion!
Phychology, Studies & Music - Here's What They're Saying
Sceptical? Check out the following...
Research consistently finds that listening to music distracts athletes from their “bodily awareness” (read: pain).
working out with music did make participants less aware of their exertion. Such a distraction can benefit athletic performance by up to 15 percent
Upbeat tunes have more information for our brains to process, which takes your mind off of that side stitch.
cyclists actually worked harder when listening to faster music as compared to music at a slower tempo.
Songs between 120 and 140 beats per minute (bpm) have the maximum effect on moderate exercisers.
Everyone has that go-to song that gets you “in the zone,” and there’s science to why it works. We associate certain songs with memories, often relating to the context in which we originally heard them, such as the first time you watched Rocky. Channeling that memory — or even just the emotion of the singer — boosts the motivational power of the song, and has been shown to improve physical performance.
The rhythm of your workout music stimulates the motor area of the brain as to when to move, thereby aiding self-paced exercises such as running or weight-lifting.
Researchers found that when music possesses“high-groove” qualities, the brain gets excited and induces movement in the listener.