Samford study may unlock secrets to improving your workout

Jackson Kendall performs a bench press at Samford University’s Pete Hanna Center.  The music...
Jackson Kendall performs a bench press at Samford University’s Pete Hanna Center. The music playing in his earbuds could help his performance. (Source: WBRC video)
Published: Mar. 7, 2019 at 7:08 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2019 at 7:09 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A group of college-age males can bench press better if they’re listening to Drake than they could if they heard a Dierks Bentley ballad. At least, that’s what happened in a student-lead research study at Samford University that is now published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

“We started looking into whether music preference during exercise affects anything,” Chris Ballmann, an associate professor who worked on the study, said. “It seems intuitive that if you listen to music you prefer, you should perform better during exercise, but no one had actually scientifically shown that.”

A team of researchers from Samford’s Kinesiology Department monitored 12 men as they worked out and found that each person performed, on average, 2.5 more repetitions of a bench press if his preferred genre of music was playing. Roughly, athletes can improve their workouts by 15-20 percent according to the findings of this study. Each participant was also asked his level of motivation following each set. They reported being less motivated during sets they listened to non-preferred music.

If you’re curious, a majority of study participants picked rap or hip-hop as their favorite genre of music and country their least favorite. They did not know ahead of the set which song would be playing or when.

“I think the takeaway is that in most gyms and locker rooms you hear music being played over a speaker for everybody,” said Ballmann. “Our data suggests that if you’re listening to that music and you do not prefer it, your performance is going to suffer.”

The team says athletes should select their playlists carefully and look for fitness classes that incorporate music they enjoy. They believe this study can serve as a launchpad for other strength and conditioning studies, such as how volume may affect a person’s workout.

Click here for more information on this study.

Click here for another recent study by Samford University on improving ACL injury rates among female athletes.

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