THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON MU­SIC

Men's Journal - - THE BLUEPRINT -

TALK ABOUT THE POWER OF MU­SIC. Put some­one in an MRI ma­chine, pipe in Zep­pelin, and watch their brain light up. “There’s stim­u­la­tion from sound, the emo­tional re­sponse from lyrics, even me­mories you as­so­ciate with it,” says Jes­sica Grahn, who runs a mu­sic and neu­ro­science lab at Western Univer­sity in On­tario.

When it comes to work­ing out, mu­sic can lock us into the grind and dis­tract us from pain. A study in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Psy­chophys­i­ol­ogy found that lis­ten­ing to mu­sic blocks some of the mes­sages be­tween mus­cles and brain. Your head doesn’t get the “I’m tired, slow down!” alerts from bi­ceps or lungs, and you’re less aware of fa­tigue.

And to state the ob­vi­ous, mu­sic makes a work­out more fun. “It raises moods, dis­tracts at­ten­tion, and pro­vides a plea­sur­able stim­u­lus dur­ing tough work­outs,” says study au­thor Costas Kara­georghis of Brunel Univer­sity Lon­don and au­thor of Ap­ply­ing Mu­sic in Ex­er­cise and Sport.

That push is es­pe­cially help­ful when you’re go­ing all-out, like in a cy­cling or in­door run­ning class. A study in Medicine & Sci­ence in Sports & Ex­er­cise found that when peo­ple did sprint in­ter­val work­outs with and with­out mu­sic, they per­formed sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter with tunes.

This neu­ro­log­i­cal in­put can also pay off in terms of strength and con­di­tion­ing. “When mus­cle starts to fa­tigue, you have to make the de­ci­sion, men­tally, to push or not,” says Radan Sturm, founder of Liftonic, a weights stu­dio in New York. “Mu­sic can help you keep go­ing.”

And that’s when the progress hap­pens. Not to say you can’t reach your fit­ness goals to the sound of si­lence. But it’s more fun to get in the groove, and chang­ing up your mu­sic can give a tried-and-true work­out new life.

Con­sider the strength rou­tine on the fol­low­ing pages cre­ated by Sturm. You’ve prob­a­bly done these moves a mil­lion times. But by sync­ing them to the beat, and play­ing around with the tempo (how many beats you use to lift or lower the weight), you’re tax­ing your mus­cles dif­fer­ently. Toy­ing with tempo, dumb­bell weight, and reps makes for in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties.

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