How listening to music can boost your training performance

But does listening to tunes work best for your endurance or high intensity workouts?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The relationship between music and exercise has been well researched, with multiple studies exploring how beats can reduce fatigue and give a boost to motivation.

But what is the best way to use music to boost your workout?

A new study has explored the links between the tempo of music and how it can boost your endurance and high-intensity training sessions.

Listening to music while cycling has proven a controversial topic due to the safety aspects, which we look at more in-depth here, but you can still apply the knowledge when training indoors.

The new research, published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal on February 5, took 19 female participants aged between 24 to 31 years old, who each regularly exercised three to five times a week.

Each participant performed two training sessions – the first was talking in a treadmill for 10 minutes for the endurance workout, the second was a high-intensity exercise on a gym leg press machine.

The exercises were carried out four times while participants listened to four different tempos of music, while their heart rate was recorded and their perceived effort was also noted.

Researchers, from the University of Split, Croatia, the University of Milan, and the University of Verona, discovered that athletes undergoing endurance exercise saw their performance boosted while listening to music, because of the increased mental fatigue and perception of effort in endurance workouts.

High-intensity workouts were less affected by the music, because the all-out effort of anaerobic-type efforts required fewer decision-making processes and are shorter in duration.


The experiment also told the researchers that high-tempo music resulted in the highest heart-rate and the lowest perceived exertion for the athletes, so the exercise was more beneficial physiologically but actually felt easier.

In their conclusion, the researchers said: “This study indicates the benefits of listening to music under physical stress conditions as well as during endurance and high intensity training.

“The results of this study demonstrate that the beneficial effects of music are more apparent for endurance exercise.

“Consequently, music may be considered an important tool to stimulate people engaging in physical exercise. The finding of this study underlines the efficacy of the tempo of music in improving the performance and simultaneously reducing the RPE [rated perceived exertion] during the exercises.”

Jenny Markell, from the National Center for Health Research, reiterated the importance of music when trying to get the best out of your workout.

>>> Long or short intervals – New study explores which is best to boost performance 

She said: “Choosing music that you enjoy and that fits your exercise routine can help you get more out of your exercise experience. Since everyone has a different ideal workout pace and intensity, determining exactly what tempo works for you may be a trial-and-error process.”

So try listening to some high-tempo music next time you're spinning an endurance ride and see how that impacts your performance and perceived effort.

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1