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Music of Various Rhythms Don’t Improve Power

Take Home Points

  1. Music of various rhythm does not improves anaerobic power. 

Everyone is always looking for the next way to improve exercise performance. Music is frequently used by personal training, boot camps, and sports training for improving performance, but does it help?

Recent research suggests that music has a positive effect on training and relaxation. Some have chosen to use music as an aid to physiological performance. Music has the capacity to capture attention, lift spirits, generate emotion, change or regulate mood, evoke memories, increase work output, reduce inhibitions, and encourage rhythmic movement (Atan 2013).  All of these have potential applications in sport and exercise.  Scientific evidence has different results when it comes to investigating the effects of music on exercise performance. Music can offer individuals a way to improve their exercise programs and their quality of life. Mostly the effects of music on cardiorespiratory exercise performance have been studied, but a few studies have examined the effect of music on anaerobic exercise.

Atan (2013) assessed the effect of listening to music and its rhythm on anaerobic exercise. These researchers looked at power output, heart rate and the concentration of blood lactate.

Twenty-eight male subjects were required to visit the laboratory on 6 occasions, each separated by 48 hours. First, each subject performed the Running-based Anaerobic Sprint Test (RAST) under 3 conditions on separate days:
  1. Listening to slow rhythm music
  2. Listening to fast rhythm music 
  3. No music

Forty-eight hours after the subjects completed RAST, Wingate Anaerobic Power (WAN) tests were performed under the three aforementioned music conditions.

Results showed no significant differences between 3 conditions in anaerobic power assessments, heart rate or blood lactate. On the basis of these results it can be said that these three types of music conditions do not improve anaerobic performance. The type of music had no impact on power outputs during RAST and WAN exercise.

Some research suggests music provides a “distraction effect” during low intensity exercise, but might not influence the autonomic nervous system and anaerobic power (Atan 2013). Also, music may actually distract the brain from the desired task, preventing motor learning for complex motor skills.

Future studies could examine the effect of music not only in the laboratory but also in the natural environment (power lifting, sprinting, etc.). Also, future studies should have the participants pick their own music, as music is much more than a rhythm

At COR, we do not have music playing during days of heavy motor learning with our boot camps, personal training, and sports training. However, when seeking maximal power output, we allow the sports teams and boot camps to pick their music [although this selection can be difficult!], as it often provides a sense of joy and arousal.

  1. Atan T. Effect of music on anaerobic exercise performance. Biol Sport. 2013 Mar;30(1):35-9.
Written by Coach Chris, CPT