Can music make you train harder?

It’s an interesting question and one which there’s been lots of debate about over the years at our Kansas City gym.

The majority of athletes and work out coaches say yes ‘music makes you exercise harder’. But there’s never really been much evidence to back up their statements – apart from the fact runners, cyclists, triathletes etc all say it makes them feel better and gives them a lot more motivation when working out.

So, a UK study set to finding out. They got 12 male college students to ride stationary bikes while playing them different music tracks. Some of the tracks had high tempo beats and others slower. They asked the cyclists to ride in three 30 minute segments, the tempo for which differed in each segment (although they didn’t let the riders know this).

The result was when the tempo was slower, so were the riders and vice versa – at a fast tempo their pedaling became faster. Researchers at the Sport and Exercise Sciences department at Liverpool John Moores University found the cyclists also preferred riding to the faster tempo. Having said that, it didn’t make their work out feel any easier. All were aware they were putting in the extra effort but for some reason, when the tempo was fast, it motivated them more to do so.

Another study by Dr. Costas Karageorghis, an associate professor of sport psychology at Brunel University in England said 120 to 140 beats per minute (BPM) was the perfect temp to exercise to. Songs that fit into this criteria are “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa and “Drop It Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dog.  So is the remix of “Umbrella” by Rihanna. All of these songs we’ve played from time to time at this very Kansas City gym.

Other favourite tunes to exercise to, according to a variety of polls, are Kelly Clarkson’s “I Do Not Hook Up,” Coldplay’s “In My Place” and old-timer tune Dave Clark Five “Bits and Pieces” – all of which have a tempo of 144 BPM.

Interestingly Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University in Illinois, said humans and songbirds were the only creatures who could automatically feel the beat of a song.

Explaining why music affects us so much when exercising she added: “Our bodies are made to be moved by music and move to it.”

Ok, we reckon that’s incentive enough to turn up the beat in our Kansas City gym.


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