Combining training and music – this is a clear thing for me, I do not like to practice without music and I believe that a large number of you, the readers, still have it. The results of a training effort can be affected not only by the training settings, diet and regeneration, but also by the environment in which the training takes place and the music you listen to during the exercise.
Whether it’s music output from gym speakers or headphones on while running, both can affect how well you perform during your workout. What is the cause? This will be the content of today’s continuation of the series “From the World of Science”.
Ergogenic (performance enhancing) music effect
How is the ergogenic effect of music mediated? In 1961, a study was published in which the authors concluded that music is ergogenic because it creates pleasant stimuli that can affect how practitioners perceive the effort needed to perform a given exercise. As a result, there may be increased tolerance for discomfort during increased exercise effort. Bottleneck theory, in turn, argues that only a limited number of stimuli can be processed by higher integration structures of the central nervous system, and past experiences determine which input is integrated. Thus, a stimulus in the form of listening to music can reduce the perception of effort during physiological effort. Music also improves mood or boosts, both of which can ultimately contribute to a better training outcome. Music can also evoke a sense of power and cause behavior and thinking related to that feeling.
In another study, individuals underwent strength-endurance testing (bench-press, squat with jump) with and without the music of their choice. Lower effort (RPE) was recorded when individuals listened to music than during the no-music state. Also, the explosive power (squatting with a jump) was better under conditions where the music was playing than without it. study by B. Köse (2018) also confirmed the positive effect of listening to music on strength endurance.
Okay, so it looks like listening to music has a positive effect on performance. What about listening to preferred and non-preferred music?
Influence of preferred and non-preferred music on performance
Are you happy with the music they play in the gym you attend? Or in your case, there are headphones with your own playlist in the gym, because you can’t stand the music played in your gym?
The authors of a recent study found differences in compressive strength (measured with a hand-held dynamometer), force endurance (maximum number of repetitions in a pulley retraction exercise) and subjective evaluation of effort (using the Borg scale) under three experimental conditions:
- listening to your preferred music
- listening to non-preferred music
- without music
The hypothesis with which the authors entered the study assumed that the preferred musical style would have a positive effect on performance. The authors also assumed that there would be no difference in performance between the conditions of listening to non-preferred music and without music.
What findings did the study reach? Regarding the perceived effort during exercise, the statistical analysis showed a subjectively lower perceived strain when individuals listened to their preferred music, compared to conditions where unpreferred music was played or without music. There was no significant difference between non-preferred and non-music conditions.
Similarly, when testing strength and grip strength, individuals showed the best performances under experimental conditions of listening to their preferred musical style. Even here, there was no difference in performance between listening to a non-preferred musical style and without listening to music. The results can be seen in the table below.
|load intensity perception
(average and deviation)
(average and deviation)
(average and deviation)
|6.01 units ± 1.89
|6.32 repetitions ± 1.50
|494.86 N ± 75.56
|6.42 units ± 1.65
|4.48 repetitions ± 1.22
|450.01 N ± 74.10
|6.38 units ± 1.65
|4.42 repetitions ± 1.10
|449.27 N ± 77.02
Source: Silva et al. (2020)
Another team of authors also found the difference between listening to the preferred vs. non-preferred music genre in resistance training. For the probands, the authors of the study played music on headphones under two experimental conditions (while listening to the preferred or non-preferred genre).
The following indicators were monitored:
- repeating the bench-press to the maximum
- average speed of dumbbell movement (probands should perform repetitions explosively)
- average power
- maximal speed
- absolute power
For all monitored parameters, better performance was achieved (which was also significant from the point of view of statistics) in the group of the preferred music genre.
Music slow and fast, quiet and loud
It is often said that fast tempo music has a positive effect on performance, while slow music can have a relaxing effect or even negatively affect performance.
A study of the difference between three experimental protocols (no music, slow music, fast music) found a positive effect of music on performance in 30 college students and also confirmed the hypothesis that fast music will affect performance (running time and distance traveled on a treadmill) more than music. slow.
The authors of another study found that the combination of music type and volume can affect short-term performance (pressing force). Of the five experimental conditions (fast and loud, fast and quiet, slow and loud, slow and quiet, without music) that the probands went through, the greatest pressing force was achieved with fast and loud music. In the case of this study, the music was played before the task was performed (maximum press of the hand dynamometer).
It should be added that this effect does not always have to be manifested, for example in the study of T. Atan (2013) there was no statistically significant difference between individual experimental conditions (fast music, slow music, no music) during anaerobic exercise (wingate test), although on At first glance, a certain trend in the results could be observed when looking at the result.
Thus, listening to music during training does not only act as a means to make the training environment more pleasant, but can also have a positive effect on the motivation, strength and endurance of the individual, especially if it is a musical style that is preferred by the individual. It might seem that the louder the music, the better the results, but let’s not forget the fact that frequent exposure to loud music produces an increased risk of hearing loss. 10
If you are in the fitness center you visit, the person responsible for music reproduction makes a choice that is not to your liking, a mobile phone and headphones are a simple alternative. I’m going to play something from the early work of Linkin Park at the next testing of maxims in the gym. What will be your choice?