Sport without music – that is unthinkable for many. In fact, there are some arguments in favor of getting sprinkled during your workout, because the right playlist can make training more effective.
For some, it is unimaginable to exercise without music. In many fitness studios, the speakers can even be heard so loudly that you think you’re in a club. But how effective is music in sports?
Studies show: those who listen to music while exercising are more productive
There are many studies that deal with the positive relationship between music and athletic performance. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Brazilian researchers had 15 runners complete 5-kilometer runs – with and without music. Result: those who listened to music ran faster the first two laps. In the following laps, the times were even then, but in the end it was still evident that runs with music over the entire distance led to a slightly better time.
A study by the University of Southern Queensland also provides interesting conclusions about music in sport: the Australian researchers examined 139 existing research results in which the effect of music during training on performance was examined. Sports in which music is a direct component, such as dancing, gymnastics or figure skating, were excluded. The team led by Professor Peter Terry, Dean of Research and Innovation at the University of Southern Queensland, identified four possible effects of music: psychological reactions, physiological reactions, psychophysical reactions and changes in athletic performance.
Music and its effect on the psyche
It has not yet been proven that music has a measurable effect on lactate formation, oxygen supply or heart rate during training. And yet other physical changes were found that explain the increase in performance during training.
The reason for this is the so-called psychosomatic effect that music has on us. We automatically connect familiar melodies or voices, sounds or texts with a situation from the past, a person or a feeling. When hearing, associations are evoked and an emotion is triggered in us as a reaction. This in turn ensures noticeable physical reactions that are noticeable in different ways. For example, through a change in skin temperature and moisture, an effect on posture or through a change in muscle tone, the state of tension in the muscles, which increases or loosens depending on the music.
The effect of music in sport is therefore a psychological effect, but it has been proven that a reaction of the neuro-vegetative system caused by the sound stimuli is linked to it. The neurovegetative system controls body processes that are not carried out by our own will, but are determined by the nervous system, such as our skin breathing.
This psychosomatic effect of music during sports can also lead to an increase in athletic performance. This has also been shown in studies with both marathon runners and beginners, who in both cases increased their performance under the influence of music by up to 15 percent.
Listening to music not only during but also before exercise
By the way, you shouldn’t just focus on music during exercise – listening to music before exercise can also be effective. You can use it to arouse positive emotions and memories, which should lead to a more balanced, more concentrated state. Quiet, relaxed music can also help to release tension and reduce nervousness and restlessness.
Listening to music can also be used as a form of meditation before exercise in order to prepare yourself mentally for the training. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that this works . Researchers found that listening to music before exercising reduced what is known as vagotonia. This is a state of our autonomic nervous system in which the body is strongly focused on rest and relaxation. Both our physical and mental alertness are increased by listening to music and athletes feel more motivated and more excited about their upcoming physical exertion.
By the way, top athletes from all areas also rely on this effect. Many athletes can be seen wearing headphones both before athletics competitions and before football matches.
What to look for in the workout playlist
But is there actually the ideal training playlist? Yes and no. Because that’s very individual. Familiar and popular songs with which you associate something positive, such as a person or a feeling such as strength, willpower or perseverance, are particularly suitable for music in sports. It is different for everyone.
It is important, however, to select songs with a reasonable speed. Our movement automatically adapts to the rhythm of the music during sport. If this is too slow, it can slow you down unnecessarily, on the other hand, songs that are too fast carry the risk of being too exhausted.
You should also pay attention to the order and the interplay of calm and energetic songs. From a scientific point of view, it is recommended for intensive strength training or a competition to put around 80 percent fast and driving songs and 20 percent calmer, relaxed music on the playlist. So if you already know in advance how intensive the training should look like and how many speed and rest phases it will contain, you can create the optimal workout playlist in advance.
Our editors like to hear that best when it comes to sports
As is well known, musical tastes are different and are very special when it comes to sports. At least that was the impression when we asked some colleagues from the BOOKs editorial team about their favorite music for running, pumping, etc.
Laura Graichen (myHOMEBOOK)
“During a workout, I need music that pushes and animates me. That works best with hip hop – the more bass the better. “
Felix Mildner (myHOMEBOOK)
“Whenever I go, I usually hear bad Death Metal – against the weaker self.”
Adrian Mühlroth (TECHBOOK)
“I always need variety when training, but in principle there are dub, hip-hop, drum’n’bass and reggaeton – and the occasional outlier.”
Marlene Polywka (TECHBOOK)
Flavio Treppner (FITBOOK)
“I always have to be yelled at during training to make the last few repetitions work. That’s why I listen to rock and metal. “
Carolin Berscheid (FITBOOK)
“My playlist for sports actually consists almost entirely of German rap. That motivates and pushes me the most. Capital Bra, Shindy, Kontra K, Bonez MC – there is everything here. “
But why sport can sometimes be good without music
Anna Kessler (FITBOOK)
“As a runner, I also know the agonizing“ I-don’t-like-anymore-thoughts ”and I was a big fan of suppressing them with beats that pushed me. My athletics coach with whom I met for my 10 km under 45 minutes challenge train, but advised me early on to run without music. Instead of repressing the exertion, I should think about it: how does the run feel in each moment? How do the individual steps feel? Is the leg and arm work going smoothly? Am I straining right now – or am I complaining? I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and I get along very well with this running mindfulness. Contrary to my expectations, these runs don’t feel boring, on the contrary! I am now more aware of my body and my surroundings. Running without music – you should try it! “