If you’re like most people you enjoy listening to music, even when you’re working out. You might think that music soothes your brain as you push through a tough workout. It’s a good distractor as well. According to some studies, listening to upbeat music has other benefits as well. No doubt – music is mentally stimulating but can it actually lead to increased performance when you train with weights?
What Science Shows about Strength Training and Music
One of the earlier studies looking at the effect of music on strength training was in 1996. In this study, researchers measured grip strength before and after 25 males and 25 females listened to music. The participants listened to three different types of music – tunes with a sedating effect, stimulating music, and no music at all. Both types of music were linked with improvements in grip strength over no music at all, while the greatest boost in strength was enjoyed by participants who listened to stimulating music.
Does Musical Preference Matter?
We all have music preferences. Some people enjoy stimulating music while others prefer more sedate musical selections. It’s not hard to imagine how listening to music you love versus tunes that you hate could affect strength-training performance.
To look at this issue, researchers asked a group of 20 men who resistance trained regularly to do three sets of bench press at 75% of their one-rep max followed by a squat jump. The guys choose the music they listened to based on their preferences. The guys did one round while listening to their preferred music and another with no music.
The results? Their performance was similar on bench press, regardless of whether they listened to music or not. However, on the squat jump, the men generated more velocity on take-off and had a higher rate of force development after listening to the music they selected. This suggests that listening to music you enjoy may enhance power performance.
Yet another study found that males who listened to self-selected motivational music while performing an isometric hold were able to hold the weight longer with music in the background than when they were exposed to white noise. The music led to the greatest improvement when they listened to it while doing the isometric hold as opposed to hearing it beforehand.
Taken as a whole, these studies suggest that listening to motivational or stimulating music that you choose and enjoy may enhance muscle endurance and power performance, and, possibly strength.
Is Music a Performance Enhancer?
Based on the above research, music does seem to impact exercise performance. In fact, the impact is strong enough that some experts call it the ultimate legal, performance-enhancing drug. So, HOW does music boost performance in the weight room? One theory is music has a rhythm and tempo that you synchronize your movements with. When you’re able to do this, it improves work output and performance. With synchronization, your movements become more efficient