In Ancient Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics and democracy, mousikē was more than just music. It was art, it was motion, and it was how they exalted the sculpted gods on high. To them, music was an intricate part of their athletic pursuits and their society.
In our modern times, we have music all around us. But what are those tunes really doing to help us achieve our goals?
Anyone on their last rep can testify that they have put a lot of effort into their workout. All that effort usually translates into fatigue, which slows you down. Having music pumping into your ears means that you are not worried about the strain you are putting on yourself.
You don’t have to simply believe us. There are cold hard facts behind it. Music lowers the perception of effort, and enhances performance by up to 15%, according to Costas Karageorghis from Brunel University. You mask the pain you feel.
This means that you need something that occupies your mind. When you are crafting a playlist, you need to throw in some songs that get you in the zone.
You have to get that heart pumping. The faster the music, the more your body responds to it. Fast music can get you hyped to power through whatever it is that you are doing. That could be the bench press, sprints, or whatever exercise you are doing.
Researchers did a study on cyclists. Athletes were allowed to pick whatever song they wanted, and then listened to it on repeat as they rode around a track. Later, researchers slowed down or sped up songs by 10%, and measured performance. Cyclists who listened to the faster songs not only experienced an increase in speed, but in strength as well.
That means you can’t put any slow jams on your playlist. Somewhere between 120-140 beats per minute will get your blood flowing, and will ensure that you are reaching the goals you set out to achieve.
Don’t Psych Yourself Out
Where your head is at affects many parts of your life, and none more than the gym. Building your body requires a mental state that not many people can reach. Your physical strength reflects your mental strength, and music elevates where you are mentally.
Music reinforces your emotions. It helps find your mood, and allows you to reach a level of self-awareness that few other alternatives can.
When you are making a playlist, you need something that is not sad. Angry, happy, or hypnotic music is the way to go. All of these emotions are strong, and you need them to carry you through your workout.
Do What is Right for You
You can find quick, upbeat, distracting, and strong music of any genre. If house music is your thing, you don’t need to throw punk music on your playlist. In the same way, fans of metal have no reason to blast techno through their headphones.
You have to do what makes sense for you. After all, you have already gotten this far. All you need is that little bit of extra to get you to the top.