I don’t know about you but I need music when I’m lifting: preferably transported directly into my earholes from a good pair of very large noise-cancelling earphones.
I feel better when I train to a soundtrack: stronger, more focused, more ready to attack the lift.
So it was interesting to read a well-timed press release today: rara.com, the music streaming site, has teamed up with neuroscientist Dr. Jack Lewis Ph.D. to look at how music affects the brain and plays a valuable part in helping us stick to fitness plans.
Dr. Lewis has put together an ergogenic playlist which is exclusive to rara.com, and it’s available for free download (until January 31st) as part of a 7-day trial. It’s been designed to help fire you up and keep you focused.
I’m forever putting together new playlists for the gym, so I asked Dr. Lewis for his top five tips:
1) If you’re looking for both motivation and relaxation, try classical music
“Energetic but not overly fast classical music can be ideal in the gym. Not only does upbeat music increase speed, strength and endurance, but the relaxing qualities of classical appears to reduce heart rate, blood pressure and lower perceived exertion. In addition, relaxing music has been shown to lower levels of cortisol in the body, the hormone associated with stress.”
2) Listen to music before exercise to get ‘in the zone’ like an Olympic athlete
“Listening to upbeat music (around 120-130 bpm) gets your brain into a highly aroused state. Music at this tempo or above stimulates the Reticular Activating System, the part of the brain that increases alertness and prepares the body and mind for action. Technologic by Daft Punk (128 bpm) would be a good choice here”
3) Choose songs that are ‘beautiful to your ear’
“Try to choose songs that mean something special to you personally – ones that remind you of something motivational or inspiring. This could perhaps be a song from a favourite movie or a track that reminds you of a great holiday with friends. Research shows that the premotor cortex, an area of the brain involved in planning sequences of movement, is stimulated when subjects have been played music that is beautiful to their ear.”
4) Match playlist tracks to desired heart rate for optimum results
“It is important to match your tunes to your desired heart rate. Musical beats robustly stimulate an area of the brain called the basal ganglia which initiates movements and also has recently been found to increases crosstalk between areas responsible for generating hearing and movement. This may be why we have a natural tendency to match the energy of our movements to the beat.”
5) Bear in mind that motivational music is especially important for women
“In tests, women were able to perform more repetitions in a medley of different exercises relative to men when motivational music was playing. We’re not certain why this is as yet, but it may help explain why exercise classes often have a female majority.”
His point no 2 is my excuse for the fact that I can often be seen bellowing tunefully in my car on the M20.
I just downloaded the free playlist and will try it out… It’s got 11 tracks, and has been structured to build in bpm throughout your training session. Looks like it’s got a bit of MJ, some Swedish House Mafia, good old Baby D, Tinie Tempah, Rizzle Kicks and even some Johnny Cash! If you give it a go, let me know what you think!
Just go to rara.com, download the (free) app (apple, windows 8 devices or android), and use the code HOLIDAY2012 to get seven days of free access to 18 million tracks. It ends January 31st 2013.
After the seven day free trial rara.com is just 99p per month for the first three months, then £4.99 per month after that.
Right, I’m off to go clubbing with Dr. Lewis. Boom shake the room!
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.