Many gym goers will agree that there is nothing quite like having a pumping playlist or soundtrack to train to. We all have our different preferences, be it hip hop, rap, rock, EDM… the list goes on. But have you ever wondered just how much your iPod contributes to your workout?


In 2009, a study by The Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences in Liverpool, analyzed the effects on 12 healthy male cyclists who cycled at self-chosen levels whilst listening to a program of six popular music tracks of different tempos.

The 25 min program was performed on three occasions, with the tempo changed to normal, increased by 10% or decreased by 10%. Perceived effort, distance covered and cadence were measured at the end of each track, as were heart rate and subjective measures of exertion, thermal comfort and how much the music was liked. Extraordinarily, scientists found that healthy individuals performing submaximal exercise voluntarily trained harder with faster music and enjoyed the music more when it was played at a faster tempo.


So, faster music means more effort, which means better results which means more bang for your buck on the gym floor!


But just how much does music enable us? Does it count when we really need it, in stressful situations like in the crucial moments of a sports game?


A 2009 study by Victoria University in Melbourne on basketball player free throws, found that “choking” primarily resulted from an increase in the players’ public self-awareness. The study found however, that when music was played prior to a shot being taken, it decreased their self-awareness, enabled participants to minimize overly monitoring the execution of the shot and reduced their general distractibility.


So it appears that music may be a real ally in the gym or on the court. Its time to plug in those ear buds, crank up the tempo and get your sweat on!




Mesagno C., Marchant D., Morris T., ‘Alleviating Choking: The Sounds of Distraction’, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, Volume 21, Issue 2, 2009.


Waterhouse J., Hudson P., Edwards B., ‘Effects of music tempo upon submaximal cycling performance.’, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Aug; 20(4):662-9, 2010.



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