Thursday, March 19, 2009

Music. The Workout Super Drug?


Enhancing your Workout

Music as a Exercise Enhancement?

Since the revolution of the walkman, discman, and mp3 player, music and the gym go hand in hand. Whether you like to rock out to "The Boss" as you jog at a steady pace, or crank up the Metallica to amp yourself up, music is a great way to get you motivated.

Even before the times of portable music devices; Gyms have been playing upbeat tunes for years. You notice it in the aerobics classes, the locker rooms, and even by the circuit machines, music is everywhere. But why? What exactly does music do for us while we work out, and how does this translate into benefit? Let's find out..


Think about how you feel whenever you hear one of your favorite rock songs. What does it do to you? Does it make you drowsy and put you to sleep, or pump you up as you sing along? Certain tempos have been known to affect mood, blood pressure, and even heart rate. When paired with exercise, this can help boost adrenaline hormone production, possibly giving you that extra boost of energy.

Upbeat, fast music, much like that of rock&roll, metal, or punk, can alter your mood, and raise your adrenaline. Adrenaline, which is the flight or fight hormone, can translate into raw energy, and help fuel you for an extra set, last rep, or quicker mile.

Softer music, such as classical or jazz, can also have an inverse reaction, calming your nerves and putting you at ease. Different types of music have different effects on our brains, so the key is to use the right music for the right activity!

Do a self study. Workout for 4 weeks. For the first 2 weeks, use no musical stimuli. For the next 2 weeks, listen to either (a) soft music [classical], or (b) upbeat music [rock], and record your results. You'll be suprised with what you find!


Along with pumping up that adrenaline, music can also elevate your mood. Your brain reacts to music in the same way it would to eating a piece of chocolate, or running 5 miles, or other pleasurable activities. As endorphans are released, depending on the type of music (and how your brain responds to it), your mood will begin to shift.

Think about this:
Ever had a bad day, where nothing seems to go your way, and on comes your favorite song on the radio? Almost instantly, you're mood shifts from hopeless to happy. You find yourself mumbling the words as a smile creeps across your face...This isn't chance, its science, and it works at the gym just as well as in the car!

While there isn't a whole lot of concrete evidence tying a particular mood type to workout results, I would think a positive mood would yield more benefits in the gym than a bad mood. Less stress is always better!


Music can also play an important role when it comes to concentration. Different tempos, beats, and sounds interacts with the brain in different ways. How your brain listens and interprets these signals also depends on what you're doing. Are you focused on reading a book or doing homework? Or are you concentrating on getting that last rep out of your workout? Whatever your activity, matching it with the right kind of music can help increase your concentration.

Do a little trial and error to see what type of music suits you best for each activity. No one person is the same, and everyone interprets things differently, so experiment and see what works best for you!

I hope this article has found you well!

7 Must Have Things to Bring to the Gym


The Gym Bag

The Must Have's to Bring to the Gym!

Ok, so you've commited yourself to going to the gym, and are all excited to get started, but what do you bring? What is the proper gym ettiquete for gym accessories? Do you bring a towel, or does your gym provide towels for you? Is there music playing when you go, or should you bring an mp3 player? Does your gym even allow you to bring in certain accessories?

The purpose of this blog is to highlight 7 must have things whenever you go to the gym.

A Clean Towel

This is perhaps the most important thing you should ever bring to the gym. Some gym's might provide towels for their members, but most do not, so bringing your own from home is a must. Even if your gym does give out towels, you never know how (a) how clean they are, (b) when they were last washed, or (c) how long they have been in circulation. It is always a better idea to bring your own from home.

A towel not only helps keep you drier and more comfortable while pushing out the sets, it also helps wipe down the machines for when people neglect to bring their own towels!

Water Bottle

A trusty water bottle should be next on your list. Whether you buy it at the gym or bring it from home, a water bottle is another must have. Sure, some gyms might have water fountains located throughout their facilities, but that means you have to either take a break from your workout to go get hydrated, or wait until you're done with your sets. This is not only annoying, but can cause un-needed frustration.

Perhaps someone is waiting to use the machine you are. You may leave to go get some water, and they think the machine is now available. I cannot tell you how often this has happened to me.

Or maybe you tough it out and finish up your sets before going to get a drink. Sure you may be pushing out the sets/circuits quicker, but maybe you're dehydrating yourself, forcing exhaustion to set in quicker than it should.

The best way to avoid either of these scenarious? Bring a water bottle!

Comfortable Athletic Shoes

This is not only a wise choice, but a safe one at that. Whether today is your day for cardio, or lunges, wearing the proper footwear is a must.

Every week, I see people on the treadmills, stair climbers, and all other machines, wearing inappropriate shoes. I've even seen the occasional sandle wearer!

Not only are such shoes limiting your performance, you're at risk for injury too. If you drop a weight on your foot while wearing sandles, I guarantee it'll hurt a lot more than if you were wearing cushioned cross-trainers! You're also at risk for ankle or joint injury from loose fitting sneakers. It is a lot harder to roll your ankle wearing tight fitting athletic shoes opposed to sneakers or skater shoes. So save yourself the risk, and bring an extra pair of gym appropriate shoes with you when you go!

Gym Appropriate Clothes

I'm sorry folks, but jeans in the gym do NOT cut it. Workout clothes that tailor to your specific exercises are more important than you think. Whether you prefer a light cotton shirt that lets you breathe as you run, or a tight fitting synthetic material that holds your muscles in place while you lift, tailored clothes to match your workouts is always a great idea.

So please leave the button up shirts and jean shorts at home. They not only look tacky, they're probably robbing you of results.

MP3 Player

In the last 8 years, MP3 Players have come a long long way. Back in 2002, an i-pod was still new and extremely expensive. Now, you can get almost any kind of brand name or knock off mp3 player for cheap!

I recommend getting one that can attach to an arm band, and has a long enough headphone cord to avoid getting yourself tangled up with your workouts. Apple and Microsoft both have some nice ones around the $100-$300 range.

MP3 players are great companions to the gym for a few reasons:
  1. They can help you concentrate and push out that last set
  2. They can help distract you for those long runs on the treadmill
  3. They can help drowned out the annoying ambient music your gym might play
  4. They are a universal sign that says "don't talk to me", which is perfect for those who just want to get-in, workout, and get-out!
So invest in a mp3 player if you don't already have one, and I guarantee, you will enjoy the benefits!

Something to read

If you don't have an mp3 player, or don't care to listen to music, a book or magazine can be a great addition to your workout. While reading while lifting is a bad idea, something to steal your attention while doing cardio (treadmil, bike, stairmaster) can help you go that extra mile!

So catch up on your favorite novel or latest gossip, and enjoy your workout.

Workout Gloves

This one may not be as high on the list as the others, but is still a great idea none the less. I personally use my workout gloves every time I go, and I cannot tell you how much of a lifesaver they are.

Before using gloves, my hands were all tore up, calloused, and sore. I tend to lift heavy when I go to the gym, so afterwards, my hands always hurt. After awhile, I invested in some quality gloves, and it has made all the difference. My hands no longer hurt, the callouses have gone away, and I feel like I can even workout longer because of it.

So no matter what your routine is, I highly suggest investing in some good gloves to give you that extra edge. I hope this article finds you well!

About The Author

I am a 24 year old college graduate from California. I am big into health and fitness, and feel everyone should get out there, be active, and live the best life they can.

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