Let the music play…or not?

Recently I have been experimenting with music in my workouts. Some of the best times I’ve had in the gym have been when there has been a really good song on in the background. I wanted to see if I could maintain the same level of intensity when working out without music. This is what I found:

  • Cardio is much easier with music. It helps you get into a good rhythm but the main benefit that I got from it was that it focussed me. I am the kind of person who thinks a lot. The gym is meant to be an escape from that, the opportunity to just let go of everything else that’s going on. The right music can really help with this. If you are doing steady state cardio, such as running, I would suggest something up-beat and a bit fun. Any music that is too emotionally heavy will probably start to drag you down and make it harder to concentrate.
  • If you are doing something with a bit more high intensity, like interval training, something with a pumping beat and aggression might help. I find that if the music reflects the hard work that I’m putting in I can push even harder.
  • The above point carries over into weight training. I found that using music that I really connected to helped me up the intensity, and come out of the workout feeling really good. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to listen to aggressive rock or rap – just music that you connect with at that moment.
  • Working out in silence is better than working out to music that you hate. At the gym I use there is often music playing over speakers and usually it’s not something that I want to listen to. This is just another little thing that can throw you off your stride and mean that you are not at your best. I have done workouts in silence (after making the rookie error of forgetting to charge up my iPod) that have been significantly better than having to battle against music that creates the wrong atmosphere for me.

I would make a playlist of all the songs that you think will help when you work out. Some might not have the desired effect and others may surprise you – give them a try, you can always refine them later.
And remember – pick songs that are right for you, whether it be heavy metal or classical. Take your workouts as your time and don’t feel that just because someone else reacts well to a certain genre that you have to as well.

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