Run and Bike Training using Music and Cadence.

Using music in your training is smart. We have been saying this for over a year in some of our blog articles regarding music and dance and incorporating some of the advantages of brain development and music. Today we have more research to prove our point.

 In The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness (link) British researchers concluded that “exercise is more efficient when performed synchronously with music than when musical tempo is slightly slower than the rate of cyclical movement.” Scott Douglas summarized the study nicely:

    The study had cyclists pedal at 65 revolutions per minute (i.e., 130 pedal strokes per minute) while working at 70% of their aerobic max, which in running terms would be between recovery pace and half marathon pace. The cyclists listened to music at three tempi:

  • faster than their pedal rate (137 beats per minute),
  • synced with their pedal rate (130 beats per minute)
  • and slower than their pedal rate (123 beats per minute).
Although the cyclists rated their perceived effort the same in the three conditions, their oxygen cost was greater when they pedaled along to music that was slower than they were riding. Their heart rates were also slightly higher when listening to the slowest of the three music speeds.

Anyone who has frequently run with music knows how a peppy tune can jump start things. This study suggests you’re asking to work a little harder if your playlist includes songs slower than your turnover, which for running purposes ideally means around 170 or more beats per minute.

In one of our favorite Gait Guys blog posts on June 7th, (here is the link)
we mentioned some other great benefits of strategically using music to further your training:

Music provides timing. Music taps into fundamental systems in our brains that are sensitive to melody and beat. And when you are learning a task, timing can access part of the brain to either make it easier, easier to remember, or engrain the learned behavior deeper. When you add music to anything you are exercising other parts of your brain with that task. It is nothing new in the world of music and brain research when it comes to proving that music expands areas of learning and development in the brain. As Dr. Charles Limb, associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University states “It (music) allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.”

Several weeks ago we asked you as an athlete, and this pertains to runners and even those walking, to add music to your training. If you are walking, vary the songs in your ipod to express variations in tempo. Use those tempo changes to change your cadence. If you are a runner, once in awhile add ipod training to your workouts and do the same. Your next fartlek (a system of training for distance runners in which the terrain and pace are varied to enhance conditioning) might be a new experience. Perhaps an enjoyable one. Trust us, we have done it. Here at The Gait Guys, with our backgrounds in neurology and biomechanics amongst other things, we are always looking for new ways to learn and to incorporate other areas of brain challenge to our clients. To build a better athlete you have to use training ideas that are often outside the box.

Remember what Dr. Charles Limb said,

“It (music) allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.”

It is nice to see more studies on music. All to often we use music for pleasure, but here we once again show that it can be a useful training tool if you are paying attention and thinking outside of the iPod. 

Shawn and Ivo, The Gait Guys ……… music lovers as well.