That 'Eye Of The Tiger' Feeling: How music can improve your workouts
I have 3 main passions in life: training, music & food.
I listen to my ipod all the time and make playlists on playlists
(*sigh* i miss making tapes and cds ...yup i am that old lol).
I think music is the most beautiful form of expression; there is not one song on my iPod that does not mean something to me and define a precise moment in time. Much like pictures, just in music and lyrics. My mood is definitely improved or modified when certain songs come on.
For all intents and purposes, although i listen to a varied portfolio of genres, i do have preferred ones for different activities, even within the gym/exercise context.
Let's explore this further.
Do you ever feel like you are invincible when your favourite tune plays at the gym?
Do you feel like suddenly you are super charged and ready to smash another set, or run another mile? Are you familiar with 'in the zone'?
You know...that 'Eye of the Tiger' moment, when you hear the first few bars of the song and immediately start skipping on the spot ready to kick some ass on your wod? [Adrianaaaaaaaa.lol]
There is a considerable body of research about the correlation between music and performance. Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency.
Score. Score. Score lol
1. Music makes you feel good!
Dr Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London, one of the world's leading experts on the psychology of exercise music wrote that one could think of music as "a type of legal performance-enhancing drug."
I totally agree. I get a rush of adrenaline as soon as my favourite song comes on and suddenly, train harder and get a real kick out of it. Best part, if the exercise is very strenuous, music helps to distract you from fatigue and, if you like, zone out.
Dr Karageorghis is a pioneer on the research relating to music in sport and exercise.
His papers explain why music can boost performance in athletes and gym goers.
An article titled 'Music in Sport and Exercise: Theory and Practice', published in 2008 (research has moved even further', Dr Karageorghis sums up 6 years of doctoral research in which he found that the 'right' music can impact on performance.
He does not give what this 'right music is' because music is a very personal matter: response depends very much on your preferences, cultural upbringing and previous exposure.
2. Music can narrow a performer's attention distracting him/her from fatigue;
Music has always been a form of escapism and when i exercise i totally get lost in the beats, guitar riffs and lyrics.
This kind of dissociation from reality is known as being 'in the zone' or in flow with the activity, as well as the music.
3. Music can be used as a stimulant to psyche up or relaxant pre-post performance;
Again, very relatable principle. Think, MMA fighters or boxers walking in to the octagon to their favourite tune. We could even go as far as talking National anthems or football chants, for instance. Or maybe, the chill out session while stretching. It brings the heart rate down, signifies the end of output and of course helps you relax post workout.
4. The synchronisation of music and exercise can increase work out output; Think rhythm and tempo; are you familiar with BPM? beats per minute, that is. Every piece of music has these.
If you match your heart rate to music with certain BPM qualities it can help you reach your optimum heart rate burning zone (data from Heart.org)
Age Target HR Zone 50-85% Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%
20 years 100-170 beats per minute 200 beats per minute
30 years95-162 beats per minute 190 beats per minute
35 years93-157 beats per minute 185 beats per minute
40 years90-153 beats per minute 180 beats per minute
45 years88-149 beats per minute 175 beats per minute
50 years85-145 beats per minute 170 beats per minute
55 years83-140 beats per minute 165 beats per minute
60 years80-136 beats per minute 160 beats per minute
65 years78-132 beats per minute 155 beats per minute
70 years75-128 beats per minute 150 beats per minute
5. Lyrics that are associated with exercise make a particular piece of music more recognisable and applicable; Eye of the Tiger is one of the most recognisable examples of this.
Or 'Call on Me' or even the soundtrack from Flash Dance; you are immediately transported into an exercise activity zone.
6. Variety is the spice of life. Different playlists help performers keep interest in the activity for longer.
By personal experience alone, i can definitely see a difference in my performance, depending on the music i either choose or are exposed to in the studio.
It is not the only contributing factor, of course, but it definitely has a lot of potential for improving performance whilst exercising.
Hey, any excuse to listen to some epic tunes and make those PBs a reality!