Training with music - what's the point

Training with music - what's the point?

It can lift our mood, distracts us and lets us hold out longer: If you listen to music during training, you benefit in several ways.
Hardly a day goes by without listening to music - be it partying, relaxing, or concentrating. Many athletes also make targeted use of rhythms and melodies. And rightly so: listening to music makes training easier because it increases motivation and endurance.

Sports psychologist Dr. Costas Karageorghis from Brunel University in London has been studying the effects of music on the body and mind for years. During his research, he found that nerve signals that are supposed to signal exhaustion to the body are blocked by the nerves' reaction to the music. Music also ensures that endorphins - stress-reducing happiness hormones - are released in the brain. This in turn puts us in the "flow" state (also known as runner's high), in which we switch to autopilot.
If we train to the rhythm of the music, we hold out longer
"Music can lift the mood, arouse feelings, change or regulate mood, arouse memories, increase work performance, reduce inhibitions and encourage rhythmic movements - all of this can also be applied to sport," he writes in a study . Many athletes take advantage of this before a competition to either activate themselves with fast rhythms - or to calm down and focus with slow ones. Music can also create cohesion in a team.

Karageorghis differentiates between asynchronous and synchronous use of music. Asynchronous means that I don't consciously adapt my movements to the music. In contrast to this, when used synchronously, I adjust my movements to the tempo of the music. Training to the rhythm of the music allows us to persevere longer and learn movement sequences better. Music with a fast tempo (at least 120 bpm = beats per minute) is ideal as a motivational injection - which can be observed in fitness courses.
Some processes are best automated
The professional triathlete and doctorate in sports psychologist Linda Schücker from the University of Münster is also concerned with the effects of music on endurance sports. It examines questions such as: What should I focus on when running or cycling? And how does that affect performance? It separates the internal from the external focus. "If the body is in the foreground (how do I perform a movement? How do I breathe while running? How strenuous do I find a strain?), The focus is internal. Everything else is an external focus - when I listen to music or when I am focus on my surroundings. "

An external focus of attention has proven to be advantageous: "It is better to distract yourself from what you are doing. Which distraction you choose depends on your personal preferences," says Schücker. She herself prefers to listen to the sounds of the forest as she runs than to her favorite music. She does not see the danger of neglecting one's own technology because of the sheer distraction. "It certainly makes sense to listen to yourself. Nevertheless, some processes are best automated. If you want to improve your technique in a targeted manner, you have to pay attention, of course. But those who have found their running style and run economically are more likely to disturb the smooth process when he focuses on it as if distracted. "
This is also shown by one of their studies: at the same speed, Schlücker and her team measured the oxygen consumption of distracted and concentrated runners. Those who focused on their movements used more oxygen - so they ran less economically.

When it comes to the choice of music, there are no fixed rules - tastes are different. "The most important thing is that you like the music. If someone never listens to techno, it is not the best music to run for them either. Classical music can also be stimulating if you like it," says Schlücker. It's less about the style of music than about properties like tempo. Anyone who wants to use music in sports should therefore always consider the context: What kind of sport do I want to do? What purpose should the music serve? Do I need a calming or activating beat? Once this has been clarified, nothing stands in the way of training with motivating music.