How Music Can Help Your Workouts

“Music can change our psychological state, so I recommend having a number of playlists: to excite, to relax and to maintain current state. Listening to music can act as a barrier from external influences as well as assisting in finding the optimal state of mind we need to perform, and it can directly influence our heart rate.

“Rhythmic response allows us to synchronise movements with the music. This is about more than tapping your feet to the beat– it can help the communication from the afferent nervous system (muscles to brain) and the efferent nervous system (brain to muscles), which can increase performance of skills. Music playing in the background, meanwhile, encourages a shift in focus towards the sound and away from fatigue-related sensations.

“As intensity increases, music doesn’t get the same attention, because our physiological requirements become the nervous system’s priority. What does this mean for the workout? Music will have less effect on performance but it can assist you in finding the right lifting ‘state’.” Try Metallica’s “One”, especially for a 2K row – it’s almost exactly seven minutes long, and ramps up at the end.

“Music triggers the amygdala and the reticular activating system – parts of the brain associated with memory, anger, fear and enjoyment. Eliciting memory can trigger desired states appropriate for workouts. ‘Emotional contagion’ is the notion that one catches the emotion of the music, which in turn aids enjoyment, imagery, and self-talk. A number of world record attempts and world titles have been achieved following Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’.” All together now: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…”