A simple music hack will take your workout to the next level

When adequately maintained, the muscular system helps improve blood circulation, posture, and movement in most animals.

Exercise is the best way to achieve these outcomes but if done incorrectly the benefits associated with habitual physical activity are negated. This most often occurs via tendon tears and overexertion.

Previously conducted research cautions against daily exercise without setting aside 10 to 20 minutes for warm-up stretches before and after your routine.

A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research elects a less conventional way to reduce pressure during intense workouts.

After analyzing a pool of resistance-trained college-aged males, The Samford University researchers behind the paper determined that listening to music you enjoy while exercising reduces pain and increases stamina.

“The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of listening to preferred vs. nonpreferred music on resistance exercise performance,” the authors wrote. “Current findings suggest that listening to preferred music by the individual results in greater performance than nonpreferred during resistance exercise. Athletes may benefit from the option to listen to their preferred music to increase motivation and resistance exercise performance.”

Listening to slow, melodic, non-syncopated music, has also been studied to expedite muscle recovery.

Muscle recovery not only prevents injuries, fatigue, and soft tissue damage, but it also helps us achieve definition.

There are many ways to optimize the process like drinking fluids, adhering to a consistent sleep schedule, and loading up on proteins, but research on music’s role in this is fairly limited.

According to experts, it only takes 30 minutes of calming music post-workout to dramatically improve muscle recovery.

The mechanisms are primarily psychophysiological; meaning music leads our conscious away from the pain and stress associated with robust workout regimens.

“Participants completed as many repetitions as possible at 75% of their 1 repetition maximum with maximum explosive intent. Power and velocity of the barbell movement was measured for the first 3 repetitions using a linear position transducer. Motivation was measured using a visual analog scale immediately after exercise. Each exercise trial was separated by a 48-hour washout period,” the researchers continued. “Results indicate that listening to preferred music increased overall bench press repetitions completed. During the first 3 repetitions, mean velocity, relative mean power peak velocity and peak power were higher while listening to preferred music vs. nonpreferred music. Finally, motivation during the lift was significantly higher while listening to preferred vs. nonpreferred music.”

Alongside preferred music and soothing music, it’s important to separate strenuous bouts of physical activity by at least 48 hours. Small protein snacks are great ways to blunt sore sensations while your body repairs itself.

For a comprehensive list of healthy protein sources, refer to Ladders coverage of a recent paper published on the topic in The BMJ journal,

For a five-point guide on the best ways to ease muscle recovery, check out a recent paper written by fitness expert, Katherine Roberts, that was medically reviewed by Patricia Salber MD, MBA (@docweighsin)

  • Stay well hydrated by drinking water frequently not just when you feel thirsty
  • Get a good night’s sleep and toss in some power naps after your workout
  • Mind what you eat and be sure to include plenty of protein
  • Be sure to include rest days tailored according to your personal needs and preferences
  • Stretch frequently, particularly on rest days. Also, consider adding in a light exercise like yoga or tai chi on those days as well