How Can Music Get Cyclists into The Zone?

Music (like sport) helps people fight depression, lifts the mood, and makes us feel more energetic but did you know that it can also inspire you to perform better as a cyclist? More and more cyclists are making musical gear an important part of their essential gear list when they take to the wheel, largely because of recent scientific findings which show that music can do much more than keep us cycling to a specific rhythm. One study by scientists at Brunel University found that music boosts exercise endurance by 15%. This is great news at times when you feel less-than-energetic and you need extra motivation to work up a sweat on your bike.

Music and Cardiovascular Performance

The above-mentioned study, published in the Journal of Sports and Exercise Physiology, found that when music was selected to sync perfectly with the type of exercise being performed, endurance was significantly increase. Athletes also stated they derived significantly more enjoyment from their workouts, and had a more positive view of exercise – even when their routine was intense. The researchers concluded that music has great possibilities when it comes to motivating people to get out and about. It can be used with any sport – including cycling. Currently, cyclists can instantly access interesting playlists for their sport or download playlists for spin sessions if they are cycling indoors. Bluetooth headphones easily hook up to playlists you can previously download onto your smartphone, making sure to pick music with the right beats for your workout. You can also place speakers on your handlebars so everyone riding with you can pedal to the same rhythm.

Music and Mood

When it comes to cycling, music can keep you on your bike for longer, thanks to its powerful effect on mood. A 2018 study undertaken at the American College of Cardiology found that people undertaking a cardiac test remained longer on their bike when music was played to them. In the study, those who had listened to music on a headset lasted around 51 seconds longer on the stress test than those who had no music. Researchers noted this time extension is significant, because stress tests are so difficult. In the typical stress test, intensity/difficulty is increased every three minutes. Most people last on the test for around seven minutes so tacking on an extra minute is a big accomplishment.

What Music Should You Select for Cycling?

There are dedicated playlists online and you can even check out your favorite cyclists’ playlists. However, because cycling performance is so closely dependent on motivation, creating a bespoke list with music you personally find inspirational, can be more beneficial. Aim to choose songs with between 120 and 140bpm (beats per minute). Go a little faster if you want an easier workout. For a higher intensity experience, 135 to 140bpm should do the trick. If you want a little inspiration, songs at around 140bpm or lower include Britney Spears’ Womanizer, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, and Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Both R ‘n B and pop tunes that are upbeat but not too fast are ideal to to keep your heart at a consistently high rate. To warm up, choose pop hits like Kelly Clarkson’s What Doesn’t Kill You, Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack, or Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk. These pop songs run at 115 BPM. To cool down after a cycle, just put on your favorite slow music and stretch for around 10 to 15 minutes if possible.

Music can inspire and motivate you to last longer and give it your all. It makes you a more efficient cyclist, so you can utilize less oxygen to perform the same workout. For inspiration, have a listen to what others find motivating, but take the time to create your own playlist, filled with tracks that lift your spirits and boost your energy level.

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