Music is motivating and empowering. Especially when it comes to physical activity. The power output of athletes for example is clearly higher when they are listening to music while performing, scientists found out. Listening to music during a competition, however, is of course no option and that is why the sport scientists Chtourou et al. investigated in the effect of music merely played during warm-up.
In particular, they were interested in short-term maximal performances such as sprints. Those require a different functionality of the muscles than endurance sports. A distance runner gains energy through burning processes, which can take place over a quite long period. A sprinter needs to give everything he can right away and the muscles can handle this only through releasing biochemical substances. Also from the psychological point of view the difference is evident.
So Chtourou let 9 young male sprinters of the Tunisian cycling team perform the Wingate test (which consists of a 30-s maximal sprint on a cycle ergometer) after a 10 min warm-up either with or without music. It turned out: Music helps. The power output was clearly higher with than without music. In addition to that, the athletes were not more exhausted even though cycling faster (compared by using the so called Fatigue Index).
Thus, music turned out to be motivating and arousing even when played only during the warm-up. This is due to facilitating motor coordination and – how scientists lately found out – it is linked to the effect of music increasing self-esteem and the sense of confidence. It brings you into the flow, one could say.
Chtourou and his colleges strongly recommend including music into the warm-up before a competition.
It is better than drugs. But legal!
H. Chtouro (2012). The effects of music during warm-up on anaerobic performances of young sprinters Science & Sports DOI: 10.1016/j.scispo.2012.02.006