How music affects training

For the first time, the role of music during training was thought back to 1911. Then the American scientist Leonard Aires found out that cyclists rode faster when music was playing, and slower in complete silence. Today, with headphones in the gym, you will definitely not surprise anyone, and in music services you can find separate playlists for each sport for every taste. We understand how favorite tracks affect the brain, does music really increase the effectiveness of training and what genres are most often chosen for different types of loads.

Can music improve workout performance?
Sometimes it can be difficult to sit still when a favorite song is playing in a speaker or headphones. Some immediately begin to sway to the beat or beat the rhythm with their fingers, others dance. There is a very real explanation for this. The fact is that in the human brain there are direct connections between auditory and motor neurons. Listening to music you like stimulates areas of the brain that play an important role in coordinating movements. Some researchers believe that people’s instinctive desire to move in time is connected precisely with this “neural interference”.

Dr. Marcelo Bigliassi from the University of São Paulo in Brazil has long studied the relationship between audiovisual stimuli and physical condition during training. He came to the conclusion that listening to music contributes to a positive state, reduces the feeling of fatigue and increases the effectiveness of exercises. Dr. Bigliassi also believes that the brain can downplay a sense of tension. Under the influence of music, he changes nerve impulses sent to working muscles and blocks negative bodily signals.
Thus, the music, as it were, competes with the overload impulses that the body sends, and makes them fade into the background. Thanks to a properly selected playlist, you won’t get tired in the gym less, but the encouraging tunes of your favorite artist will definitely help you to forget about fatigue – at least for a while.

Despite the results of Bigliassi research, many athletes and coaches prefer not to be distracted by music and practice in silence.

Music – it’s more about sometimes allowing, for example, to go beyond current physical capabilities. For example, powerful hard rock literally makes you squeeze out one more repetition through “I can not.” The secret is to leave the music as the “last cartridge”. That is, do not insert headphones at each ordinary strength training, but take them out of the bag only on special occasions.

Dopamine release while listening to your favorite tracks
Sometimes a song you hear in time can charge you with your mood for the whole day. Or vice versa: sad motives that accidentally lurked into the playlist will ward off the desire not only to train, but also to leave the house. It’s all about dopamine – the so-called hormone of happiness.

To test this, an international team of researchers conducted an experiment. It was attended by 27 volunteers, who were divided into three groups. The first group was given a drug that enhances the production of dopamine, the second – a drug with the opposite effect, and the third – a placebo. Then all the participants listened to their favorite tracks. As a result, the first ones immediately got goosebumps while listening, and the level of activity sharply increased in the area of ​​the brain responsible for motor functions. One of the authors of the study, Laura Ferreri, assistant professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Lyon, said:

In everyday life, people regularly tend to listen to music, sing or dance, although it would seem that these actions are not important for survival. We are studying how the brain structures the sequence of sounds and turns them into a pleasant and rewarding experience.


How does music affect running?
As a result of evolution, the human brain has learned to automatically block any efforts that are not directly related to survival. In American psychopharmacology, a special term has even appeared for this phenomenon – evolutionary inconsistency. Roughly speaking, while we live in 2019, our brain in some aspects is still tuned to a prehistoric regime. From here the very days follow when it seems that nothing will force you to train. Nothing but a playlist you like.

The musical energy charge is not a joke or a myth. This is confirmed by studies on the role of music during short-distance races. Scientists from Brazil and Spain have found that their favorite compositions help runners tune into the distance and more easily withstand loads. The American Association of Track & Field (USATF) practically equates music to a separate type of doping and since 2009 allows players to be used only during amateur marathons that do not include awards.

In 1998, the athlete Haile Gebreselassie from Ethiopia explained his record for 2000 meters with music. According to him, one of the hits of the nineties helped him accelerate – the song “Scatman” by John Scatman. It was her Gebreselassie humming during the race.

Does music have a negative effect on training?
Some researchers are of the opinion that music negatively affects the results of training. In their opinion, a person cannot fully concentrate on any of the tasks. So says sports sociologist Jim Denison. He is sure that headphones interfere with concentrating on running and deprive him of a meditative component. Denison also thinks that a person is gradually getting used to a certain soundtrack so much that he can no longer train without music.

We have lost the ability to be “in the moment” in favor of multitasking. And listening to music or podcasts during training is one of its forms: neither one nor the other is performed qualitatively.


I have little idea how, during personal training, you can combine work with a client and listening to music. If a person turned to a coach, then it would be logical, in my opinion, to be in constant communication with him during classes. I myself very rarely get my headphones out in strength training, a few times a year. When there really is absolutely no strength, but you need to strain yourself.

Deep house – for interval, ambient – for yoga
Although in general the influence of music on training can be simplified to the formula “like, it helps”, different genres will work well with one type of load and interfere with another. It is unlikely that someone will do stretching under dub-step or push the bar under Russian classics.

In choosing a playlist for training, it is quite possible to listen to public opinion. For interval training, it is better to choose something rhythmic and fast enough. For example, funk, reggaeton, hip hop or deep house. Tracks with bright energetic beats will help to overcome the lazy “I don’t want” and, perhaps, make another approach in an exhausting exercise.

When choosing music for yoga or stretching, it is better to give preference to calm and smooth compositions. Ethno-electronics, electronics, ambient are well suited.

If you do not part with the player (waterproof, of course) even in the pool, then you should choose the middle ground – rhythmic, but not fast songs. For example, a lounge, reggae, indie, pop, soul, funk or pop rock.

Composing the perfect playlist for training, you can (and should) rely not only on the genre, but also on the tempo of the songs. It is measured in BPM – beats per minute. Determined using special applications. For intensive workouts, tracks with performance in the range of 130-180 BPM are considered ideal. But, in the end, it all depends on the particular song and the preferences of the person.

Compared to other exercises, running is monotonous and not always fun.

What music are you listening to while training?

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