Pump Up the Music to Fire Up Performances


I love listening to music to relax. Cold Play, U2 and Sleepy Jackson are my favourites. But I’ve never thought to use  music to pump up my sporting performances. Here is some research suggesting that listening to music can help sprint performance, especially in the morning when you might be half asleep!

The Research

The purpose of this research was to assess the effects of listening to music while warming-up on the dailyvariations of power output during the Wingate all-out 30-second sprint cycling test. 12 physical education students underwent four sprint cycling tests at 7am and 5pm, after 10 min of warm-up with and without listening to music. The warm-up consisted of 10 min of pedalling at a constant pace of 60 rpm against a light load. During the sprint cycling test, peak and mean power in watts were measured.

The Results

The main finding of the study was that both peak and mean power improved from morning to afternoon after no music warm-up. However, these daily variations disappeared for mean power and persisted with a greater morning-evening difference for peak power after music was used in the warm-up. Moreover, peak and mean power outputs were significantly higher after music was used in the warm-up compared to a no music warm-up during both morning and afternoon testing.

So What?

Thus, this research strongly suggests that music should be used during warm-up before performing activities requiring powerful muscle contractions, especially before morning competitive events. Previous research as shown that afternoon performances are generally better than morning because our body temperature is higher by about a degree Celsius in the evening when most world records are set. Warmer muscles mean better energy production. So to pump yourself for those high-intensity morning sessions, think about getting the earphones on!

For more scientifically-based advice on (legal) performance-enhancing ways to improve performance (including specific details on how much and when and how to take supplements such as caffeine, creatine, sodium bicarbonate), see Chapter 18 (Performance-enhancing supplements and the masters athlete) of my book The Masters Athlete.

Source: Chtourou, H. and others (2012). Listening to music affects diurnal variation in muscle power output. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 33(1): 43-47.