The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Effectiveness of Self-Selected Music on Strength, Explosiveness, and Mood

Written by
Karyn Hughes, MEd
Posted in
Move more

Monday, Nov 19, 2012

Most of us would agree that maximizing our effort and optimizing our time in the gym is ideal and coaches are always looking for the individual’s gym time to translate into improved athletic performance. So if an ergogenic aid (an external influence that enhances performance) like music can elicit maximum results in mood, rating of perceived exertion and performance, then bring it on!

Previous studies on music and performance have primarily focused on predetermined music and aerobic exercise. In a recent study (1), however, researchers were interested in outcomes for strength, power, and mood and wanted to change the music variable from predetermined music to self-selected music that the individuals choose because it was motivating to them. Makes sense to me. Isn’t that why we have our own iPods? For many exercisers, listening to music while working out provides dissociation from the fatigue and discomfort that is inherent with exercise. It makes the workout  more pleasurable and makes time seem to go by faster.

In this study, 20 collegiate men were recruited to perform bench press reps to failure for 3 sets, and 3 repetitions of squat jumps.  The two research conditions were exercise with the self-selected music (SSM) or no music (NM).  There was a counterbalance order of the exercises separated by at least 48 hours that was performed at the same time of day. Subjects reported their profile of mood states (POMS) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) before and after the 3 sets of bench press and the squat jumps.

Results: While there was no difference in squat jump height, takeoff velocity, velocity development, and rate of force development were greater with SSM whereas RPE was greater with NM.   So in this study, the use of SSM increased squat jump explosiveness and feelings of vigor. Even though height jumped was the same, the increased feelings of fatigue (higher RPE) during the NM conditions suggests that music provides a dissociative focus hence the greater feelings of vigor and lower reported RPE for the SSM conditions. Bench press reps to failure were not different between conditions. The researchers felt that this was possibly because the music selected wasn't stimulative enough to overcome the physically taxing demands of a prolonged strength exercise.

Conclusions: This study is one of the few to examine the benefits of incorporating music to improve anaerobic performance.  It is exciting to see that SSM did enhance mood and improve explosive physical performance.  So, keep on shuffling your music selections for better workouts and more power!

(1) Biagini, M. S. (2012). Effects of self-selected music on strength, explosiveness, and mood. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(7), 1934-1937.