Published on February 19, 2019 by Sarah Cain  

For most athletes, music is a necessity for a motivating workout session. While most gyms and workout classes provide overhead music, research now shows working out to your own playlist might yield better results. 

In a recent study, Samford kinesiology researchers examined the effects of listening to preferred versus nonpreferred music during resistance exercise. The team included graduate Marquis McCullum, Assistant Professors Chris Ballmann, Tyler Williams and Mallory Marshall, and Instructor and Coordinator of Samford’s Human Performance Lab, Rebecca Rogers.

The team monitored 12 men with resistance training experience as they performed a bench press test. The subjects exercised in two sessions, one while listening to their preferred genre of music and one while listening to nonpreferred music. Participants completed as many repetitions as possible at 75% of their 1 repetition maximum with power and velocity of the barbell movement measured for the first 3 repetitions. Following the exercise, participants reported their measured motivation as well. 

The men listening to their preferred music not only performed more reps at higher power and velocity while working out, but also experienced higher motivation.

“Music is commonly played over community speakers in gym and locker rooms. While some athletes may prefer the music being played, there are chances that some athletes may not,” Ballmann said. “Based off our data, the athletes that do not prefer the music may perform worse which could impact adaptations. Thus, individuals looking to optimize performance should consider listening to music they prefer while they train. ” 

Since its release, the study has been published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Read the abstract on the study

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 2nd nationally for student engagement and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance names Samford 34th among private universities for value and affordability. Samford enrolls 5,729 students from 47 states and 30 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.