Training to the Beat: An Insight to the Benefits of Music on Athletic Performance

  

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It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger

Let’s be honest. You didn’t read those lyrics … you sang them! Now that I got it stuck in your head, let’s do a little questionnaire. How does this song make you feel? Are you energized? Pumped up? Ready to take on a challenge? If so, you’re not alone.

“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor is a common song to hear bursting through the loud speakers on race day morning to get athletes pumped up for the competition that is about to unfold. Question is: Can this tune really get you ready for your race on a psychological, and even physiological, level? Science answers: YES!

Music is being recognized more as a handy tool in pre-performance, during performance, and post-performance bouts of exercise. With the right combination of tempo, lyrical content, intensity (loudness) and musical style preference, you can find the perfect tune to get you ready for competition, train with optimum standards and even enhance your recovery.

Below are lists of findings researchers discovered with their studies of music and performance along with suggestions on how you can select the best tune for you and your goals.

Pre-Performance Findings

  • Stimulative music increases motivation, arousal, and influences a positive self-talk and flow state (“in the zone” state).
  • Listening to faster tracks, or tracks with a fast tempo, as well as tracks at a higher volume can increase pleasant and aroused emotional states.
  • Stimulative music influences the “fight or flight” response for the sympathetic system which includes a slight elevation of heart rate.

During Performance Findings

  • Listening to music, especially motivational-rated music, can improve ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), motivation, and arousal.
  • Effects by music may fade with any efforts over 75% percent of VO2 max since the effort becomes too high.
  • Music can prolong exercise building up to higher intensities toward failure.
  • There is a linear relationship between increasing efforts and music tempo, involving increasing heart rates. However, preferences of music tempi are held within a range.
  • Individuals may improve kinetic patterns since there is a strong response to rhythmical qualities of music. This can lead to an improved technique and coordination especially for repetitive activities.
  • With improvements in the kinetic chain, there are less metabolic demands during activities.

Post-Performance Findings

  • Overall time till recovery decreased with a musical stimulus.
  • Slower music tracks influenced a slower heart rate and lowered blood pressure after exercise.
  • Sedative music effects RPE during active and static recovery.

Suggestions for Selecting Music*

  • Before or during moderate to high intensity exercises, choose music with a higher tempo and higher intensity (please keep within safe intensity measures to avoid hearing loss or ear injury).
  • Choose sound tracks that include inspirational and positive lyrics.
  • After exercise, choose sedative, slow musical tracks.
  • Select tracks that have clear, repetitive, rhythmical beats—particularly for during exercise.

* Everybody is different! These suggestions may differ per person based on needs and preferences.

References:

Pre-Performance Findings

  1. Bishop, D. T., Karageorghis, C. I., & Loizou, G. (2007). A grounded theory of young tennis players' use of music to manipulate emotional state. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology(29), 584-607.
  2. Bishop, D. T., Wright, M. J., & Karageorghis, C. I. (2014). Tempo and intensity of pre-task music modulate neural activity during reactive task performance. Psychology of Music(42), 714-727.
  3. Chtourou, H., Jarraya, M., Aloui, A., Hammouda, O., & Souissi, N. (2012). The effects of music during warm-up on anaerobic performances of young sprinters. Science & Sports(27), e85-e88.
  4. Eliakim, M., Meckel, Y., Nemet, D., & Eliakim, A. (2007). The effect of music during warm-up on consecutive anaerobic performance in elite adolescent volleyball players. International Journal of Sports Medicine (28), 321-325.
  5. Pain, M. A., Harwood, C., & Anderson, R. (2011). Pre-competition imagery and music: The impact on flow and performance in competitive soccer. The Sport Psychologist(25), 212-232.
  6. Yamamoto, T., Ohkuwa, T., Itoh, H., Kitoh, M., Terasawa, J., Tsuda, T., . . . Sato, Y. (2003). Effects of pre-exercise listening to slow and fast rhythm music on supramaximal cycle performance and selected metabolic variables. Archives of Physiology and Biochemistry(111), 211-214.

During Performance Findings

  1. Atan, T. (2013). Effect of music on anaerobic exercise performance. Biology of Sport(30), 35-39.
  2. Atkinson, G., Wilson, D., & Eubank, M. (2004). Effects of music on work-rate distribution during cycling time trial. International Journal of Sports Medicine(25), 611-615.
  3. Bharani, A., Sahu, A., & Mathew, V. (2004). Effect of passive distraction on treadmill exercise test performance in healthy males using music. International Journal of Cardiology(97), 305-306.
  4. Bood, R. J., Nijssen, M., van der Kamp, J., & Roerdink, M. (2013). The power of auditory-motor synchronization in sports: Enhancing running performance by coupling cadence with the right beats. PLoS ONE(8), e70758.
  5. Crust, L., & Clough, P. J. (2006). The influence of rhythm and personality in the endurance response to motivational asynchronous music. Journal of Sports Sciences(24), 187-195.
  6. Hagen, J., Foster, C., Rodriguez-Marroyo, J., De Koning, J. J., Mikat, R. P., Hendrix, C. R., & Porcari, J. P. (2013). The effect of music on 10-km cycle time-trial performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance(8), 104-106.
  7. Hutchinson, J. C., & Karageorghis, C. I. (2013). Moderating influence of dominant attentional style and exercise intensity on responses to asynchronous music. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology(35), 625-643.
  8. Hutchinson, J. C., Sherman, T., Davis, L., Cawthon, D., Reeder, N. B., & Tenenbaum, G. (2011). The influence of asynchronous motivational music on supramaximal exercise bout. International Journal of Sport Pscyhology(42), 135-148.
  9. Iwanaga, I. (1995). Harmonic relationship between preferred tempi and heart rate. Perceptual & Motor Skills(81), 67-71.
  10. Jones, L., Karageorghis, C. I., & Ekkekakis, P. (2014). Can high-intensity exercise be more pleasant? Attentional dissociation using music and video. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology(36), 528-541.
  11. Karageorghis, C. I., & Priest, D. L. (2012a). Music in the exercise domain: a review and synthesis (Part I). International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology(5), 44-66.
  12. Karageorghis, C. I., Terry, P. C., & Lane, A. M. (1999). Development and initial validation of an instrument to assess the motivational qualities of music in exercise and sport: The Brunel Music Rating Inventory. Journal of Sport Sciences(30), 953-956.
  13. Lane, A. M., Davis, P. A., & Devonport, T. J. (2011). Effects of music interventions on emotional states and running performance. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine(10), 400-407.
  14. Lim, H., Karageorghis, C. I., Romer, L. M., & Bishop, D. T. (2014). Psychophysiological effects of sycnchronous versus asynchronous music during cycling. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise(46), 407-413.
  15. Nakamura, P. M., Pereira, G., Papini, C. B., Nakamura, F. Y., & Kokubun, E. (2010). Effects of preferred and nonpreferred music on continuous cycling exercise performance. Perceptual & Motor Skills(110), 257-264.
  16. Smoll, F. L., & Schultz, R. W. (1978). Relationships among measures of preferred tempo and motor rhythm. Perceptual & Motor Skills(46), 883-894.
  17. Tate, A. R., Gennings, C., Hoffman, R. A., Strittmatter, A. P., & Retchin, S. M. (2012). Effects of bone-conducted music on swimming performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research(26), 982-988.
  18. Tenenbaum, G., Lidor, R., Lavyan, N., Morrow, K., Tonnel, S., Gershgoren, A., . . . Johnson, M. (2004). The effect of music type on running perseverance and coping with effort sensations. Psychology of Sport and Exercise(5), 89-109.
  19. Terry, P. C., Karageorghis, C. I., Mecozzi Saha, A., & D'Auria, S. (2012). Effects of synchronous music on treadmill running amoung elite triathletes. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport(15), 52-57.

Post-Performance Findings

  1. Eliakim, M., Bodner, E., Eliakim, A., Nemet, D., & Meckel, Y. (2012). Effect of motivational music on lactate levels during recovery from intense exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research(26), 80-86.
  2. Eliakim, M., Bodner, E., Meckel, Y., Nemet, D., & Eliakim, A. (2013). Effect of rhythm on the recovery from intense exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research(27), 1019-1024.
  3. Jing, L., & Xudong, W. (2008). Evaluation on the effects of relaxing music on the recovery from aerobic exercise-induced fatigue. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness(48), 102-106.
  4. Savitha, D., Mallikarjuna, R. N., & Chythra, R. (2010). Effect of different musical tempo on post-exercise recovery in young adults. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology(54), 32-36.

About the Author

Liz Hinley

Liz Hinley is a multisport coach with KMF Performance based in Denton, TX. She holds multiple certifications including USA Triathlon Level II, USA Swimming, USMS Level II, and a 200+ HR Yoga Alliance teacher certification. She is currently earning her Masters in Kinesiology with a concentration of sport and exercise psychology at the University of North Texas. Ms. Hinley consistently strives to provide high quality training that improves not only athletic performance, but also encourages an active lifestyle and competitive spirit. Her athletes continue to achieve their training and race goals under her guidance while at the same time enjoying the experiences. Feel free to reach out to her at liz.kmfperformance@gmail.com / www.kmfperformance.com

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