I recently read these studies: http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/beat-goes-effects-music-exercise
Training in the gym or on a bike, normally I have tunes to listen to. Long ago, I found out that I perform better when there is good music playing in my earhole. I learned from Dan Inosanto just how important music can be in martial arts. He, and his instructors around the world, play music in class when students are practicing a set of moves. He says that Bruce Lee was a huge proponent to training to music, and seeing that Guru Bruce was a dancing fool in his youth, you can see how he brought the magic of the great dance into the deadly arts. He stated that Guru Bruce would learn to train to the beat of music to simulate the beat of a fight. When 2 people are locked up and going at each other, each one moves to their own rhythm, and if you learned your opponents rhythm, you could learn when to attack and win.
Everyone works on a “beat”, and Guru Inosanto said that Guru Bruce would learn to fight on the “off” beat, meaning the space in between beats. It was this timing that proved to be one of Guru Bruce’s great advantages, he was able to find the beat a person was on, match it, then strike in between when the opponent was caught “off guard”. You can see this in the music from the Philippine Martial Art Kali. I had the privilege of attending a Buddy Helm seminar at Hard Target a few years ago, and I saw firsthand how beats can be made, and broken. You can buy one of his cd’s and see for yourself: http://www.buddyhelm.com/martial-arts-drumming-with-dan-inosanto
No great revelation, each one of us has a heartbeat. You could say that heartbeat gives everyone their rhythm, and that a collection of people in a room gives off a certain “buzz” that most feel as energy. Is there a coincidence that String Theory, a way scientists are trying to connect Einstein’s theory of Relativity to quantum mechanics, says that the smallest components of matter is not a solid, but a multitude of “strings” vibrating at different waves is very closely related to the fact that the universal hum of all living things is expressed in the chant “Om”?
We can asses that music started in Africa with drums, and has developed since then into a complex mixture of beat and rhythm, produced by both man and machine. Music is the one thing that joins all sentient creatures alike; the heartbeat. I have always been intrigued why some people work/compete better when listening to music. Some people like fast, heavy metal, some like pop. Others listen to classical and Jazz, and you would think that the style/exercise the person is training in would match the beat of the activity, but that is not always the case.
I myself like a mixture of music. I create my own playlists in ITunes by starting off song #1 is and it is almost always a rap song. I find that rap is the perfect beat and tempo for my warm up, an appetizer if you will, getting me ready for the multiple course music meal to come. Song number 2 is usually a hard rock song, with great melody and a great guitar riff. I feel that as the first exercise is starting, I need to be prepared to do the most amounts of work needing concentration, coordination, strength, power and endurance. It’s that first set that sets the pace for the rest of the workout.
When I read these articles, I felt the “duh!” light go off, but I was reminded that not everyone feels the same way I do. That’s fine if you don’t want to be as perfect as me, but you will soon come aroundJ. But really, some people think that listening to music acts as a “buffer” of sorts, a way to get distracted from what you are doing. While I could say this is the case for running on a treadmill, cycling the stationary bike, or working the inner outer thigh machines, but how do you expect me to “zone out” when I have 200lbs over my head? Would I not want to be mindful of the danger from above? Would I not want to feel more connected to my arms so that I have spatial awareness? Would I not want to make sure that my breathing and form are near perfect?
While drowning your steady state fat burning mentality in music may be “other worldly”, there are others that go to the gym/ride a bike/run/kickbox to actually work their asses off (literally and figuratively). Music is a way to lower perceived exertion, which is the mental state which you think you are in while performing work. Lowering PE increases intensity. Anytime you increase intensity, you are able to increase workload. Increasing workload, speed and or power is what you are training to accomplish; to get bigger, faster, stronger or better.
Sparing you the time to read the entire article, here a few tidbits I found essential.
“For years researchers have investigated the effects of music on exercise performance, and results have revealed conflicting data, most likely because of the very different research designs employed (Karageorghis & Terry 1997).
Szabo and colleagues (1999) studied the effects of slow-rhythm and fast-rhythm classical music on progressive cycling to voluntary physical exhaustion.
The investigators found that the participants in the slow-to-fast intervention completed a slightly higher exercise workload than the participants in all other study conditions, and the difference was statistically significant. According to the authors, the study suggests that music may temporarily distract exercisers from some of the body’s internal cues typically associated with tiredness.”
“Practical Application. Research findings suggest that, regardless of whether music lowers exercisers’ RPE, it can act as a motivator, enabling individuals to exercise with greater efficiency. However, the motivational stimulus may be less effective at higher intensities.”
“Improving Strength and Endurance Through Psychological Arousal.
“Music can increase exercisers’ psychological arousal. Musical choices should reflect the level of arousal needed to perform certain tasks (North & Hargreaves 2000). Specifically, when clients are doing physically demanding work or exercise, energetic music that they enjoy is most beneficial.”
“Improving Motor Coordination
Drawing Some Conclusions
A review of the research confirms—and adds to—many of the experiences fitness professionals have had when using music in exercise and movement therapy programs. The four central hypotheses explaining music’s facilitation of exercise performance include (1) a reduction in the feeling of fatigue, (2) an increase in levels of psychological arousal, (3) a physiological relaxation response and (4) an improvement in motor coordination. Although the research is somewhat conflicting when it comes to measuring the extent to which music can enhance maximal and near-maximal exercise performance, it does seem clear that stimulative, self-chosen music can provide an acute incentive to male and female exercisers of all ages and abilities. In addition, as more understanding evolves, the future looks very hopeful for individuals with some motor behavior and/or neuromuscular disturbances to improve their motor skill ability through the use of auditory rhythmic stimuli.