When you walk into any gym or group fitness class today, everyone is listening to music. Does this atmosphere filled with tunes and lyrics help us focus more a workout or make a workout better? Well, in a way, it depends on what you’re listening to.
The correlations between music and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) along with heart rate and performance have been studied for years.
What have these studies shown?
* Regardless of the type of music that was being listened to, heart rate in subjects was not effected when compared to no music being present.
* When music was introduced to a workout, the RPE of those being tested were reduced while doing the same amount of work than when there was no music.
* When slower music was being listened to during the workout, the RPE was effected in a negative way.
* High performance training was not effected with or without music.
What does all this mean for your workout?
Whether running, lifting, taking a class or just jamming out, the music you’re listening to will likely not effect your heart rate. However, during your workout, if you’re putting out 80% effort, the way you are perceiving your effort at that 80% could be effected. This can possibly mean you could train at a slightly higher intensity while listening to music than you could without it.
For example: If you’re running without music, you could train at a 7:30 minute per mile pace, but for the same perceived exertion with music, you could be training at a 7:20 minute per mile pace. If you’re benching 200 lbs for 5 repetitions without music, if you are listening to an up-tempo jam, you may be able to squeeze out an extra rep or two at the same weight. This, of course, depends on the intensity you are training at since at maximal efforts, the music has been shown not to effect performance in a positive or negative way.
Studies are currently still being completed to determine more specific effects of music to your workout. The bottom line is, music will not negatively effect your workout unless you are streaming the Sunday Night Slow Jams while you’re prepping at the gym.