Written by Simon Cushman
The Effect Of Music On Performance
To make consistent improvements in strength, power and endurance it is recognised that an increased load must be placed on the body to elicit improvements. By putting a progressively higher load on the body, it will continue to adapt, and often you might be required to exercise to exhaustion or failure to push your body past a plateau in performance.
In order to produce exhaustive exercise, athletes must maintain high levels of commitment and motivation to the task. With this in mind, athletes often rely on ergogenic aids to enhance their physical and mental performance. Get ready for the heavy stuff…
Here’s The Science…
Music is a legal ergogenic aid, which is often used by athletes to enhance their performance during training (Arazi et al., 2015; Karageorghis et al., 2010). Many studies have shown the positive effect of music on endurance performance, rhythmic tasks and mood states (Sanchez et al., 2013, Karageorghis et al., 2010).
While there is less research assessing the effect of music during resistance training, ergogenic effects have also been reported for strength endurance at 60% 1RM, the rate of force development, and mood when participants have self-selected music tracks to accompany exercise (Biagini et al., 2012; Bartolomei et al., 2015). These benefits of music during exercise have previously been attributed to the rhythm of the beat, the motivational qualities of certain songs and the potential to distract from tasks or narrow a performer’s attention (Karageorghis et al., 2010; Biagini et al., 2012).
Despite this, there is contrasting research suggesting that music can negatively affect performance in some scenarios, highlighting that the responsible music-related mechanisms are not stimulated in particular tasks (Tenenbaum et al., 2004). For example, research in rowing, (Tenenbaum & Connolly, 2008), running (DeBourdeaudhuij et al., 2002; Simpson & Karageorghis, 2006) and cycling (Atkinson et al., 2004) suggests that with greater exercise demands there is a stronger impact on mental processes, which increases the perception of fatigue and reduces the beneficial effects of music (Szabo et al., 1999).
It has also been suggested that athletes can respond differently to the sensation of pain with some athletes holding a higher pain tolerance or a lower pain sensitivity, giving them a lower perception of fatigue (Jones et al., 2014). This could rationalise some of the contradictions in the current literature on exercising to failure. In resistance based exercise, there is some evidence to suggest that music has no impact on maximal strength (Bartolomei et al., 2015), although it has also been found that power training and circuit-based exercises can benefit from the use of music (Biagini et al., 2012; Karageorghis et al, 2010). However, the best range of exercise intensities for which music is most beneficial is currently unknown.
In addition, due to individual music preferences, it is not unreasonable to suggest that different music types might differentially influence the related mechanisms, mediating its overall impact on performance outcomes, such as the number of repetitions to exhaustion, power output, perceived exertion and tolerance to pain.
This information is important for athletes who are required to maximise training effects during sessions. If the range in which music is most favourable during exercise can be identified, individuals might benefit from achieving greater work outputs without concomitant increases in perceived exertion.
The take-home message, music can enhance your mood state and give you the feeling of being less fatigued and stressed while providing you with an energised feeling. Listening to music while training can provide you with a distraction from feelings of fatigue where your brain might tell you that you are finished and down-regulate effort during cardio exercise or finish the set in resistance training. Therefore, you would perform a greater volume at a higher workload and create a bigger stress for your body to adapt to.
This is being taken further every day in the research to better understand the effects of music and with the addition of virtual reality, environments to further enhance training.
In The End – Linkin Park
Numb – Linkin Park
Back In Black – AC/DC
Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
Last Resort – Papa Roach
You’re Gona go far kid – The Offspring
Scotty Doesn’t Know – Lustra
The Anthem – Good Charlotte
I’m Just a Kid – Simple Plan
Kryptonite – 3 Doors Down
Killing in the Name – Rage Against The Machine
Take a Look Around – Limp Bizkit
Welcome to the Jungle – Guns ‘N’ Roses