Can Music Improve Athletic Performance?


Music can really set a mood – a little classical
or jazz might relax your whole body, while pop or rock music can get your blood pumping
for a night out on the town. But if music can seemingly enhance a mindset, or help you
resist mental fatigue, can it also affect athletic performance? The term ‘synchronous music’ refers to uptempo
songs with a strong beat that coincide with the repetitive movements of a sport. And it’s
this type of music that leads to a higher work output in athletes, particularly in sports
that involve endurance with rhythmic or repetitive movements, such as cross country skiing. This
was put into practice as Haile Gebrselassie famously synchronised his running stride to
the rhythmical pop song “Scatman” when breaking the 10,000m world record. Studies show that music can act as both a
cognitive and physical stimulant, especially when the music has a personal meaning to the
individual. For athletes who suffer from pre-competition anxiety, music can be used to enhance mood,
self-esteem and confidence. Even during competition, music can narrow an athlete’s attention, diverting
focus away from sensations of fatigue. In studies of athletes using music, those
who listened to pop songs during training or warm ups had higher heart rates, and increased
muscle power compared to those who trained without music. Furthermore, because music
can trigger emotion, it was documented to enhance mental imagery – a technique in which
athletes picture themselves mastering a sport before competition. This state of mind is
crucial for all athletes, particularly before major events. Funny enough, coaches even withhold
music from athletes sometimes, as a motivational tool. Athletes are told they can use music
during training sessions, only once they have reached a specific productivity level. So which music works best? Almost all findings
found that listening to music – period – regardless of composition or speed, enhanced performance
compared to no music. However, music with an upbeat tempo of greater than 120 bpm, yielded
the greatest improvements. Science says, make a pump up playlist full
of your favourite upbeat songs of the time, and blast the competition away. Don’t forget: we have a new video out every day during the Olympics. Can’t wait? Our amazing partners at the CBC already have five of the videos up now for you to binge on. Just head to cbc.ca/Olympics/ScienceSays to watch them before anyone else. Link in the description. But we also want to know your questions for this special series. Use the hashtag ScienceSays and let us know your burning Olympic questions. And subscribe for more awesome science videos.

99 thoughts on “Can Music Improve Athletic Performance?

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:59 am
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    I write different music, maybe it will help to improve athletic performance? 🙂

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  • March 2, 2014 at 7:48 pm
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    0:08 the heck kind pf time signature is that

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  • March 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm
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    does Eine klein nachtmusik count as upbeat

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  • March 3, 2014 at 10:49 pm
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    Is there any way that you could post sources for this information?! 😀 your videos inspire me, but of course I don't want to steal all of your ideas!

    Reply
  • March 23, 2014 at 11:13 am
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    I'm not sure why I get more pumped from Hans Zimmer and classical music which gives that "epic" effect during a heavy one rep max than rock or rap. And it's lower pace.

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  • March 24, 2014 at 11:48 pm
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    Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" rather does come to mind…

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  • March 27, 2014 at 2:45 pm
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    hey does anyone know where i can credit this to? i'm doing a college essay on music and this is good info!

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  • March 29, 2014 at 1:27 pm
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    Why do we sometimes get goose bumps when we listen to good music ?

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  • March 30, 2014 at 5:15 am
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    Slayer!

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  • April 11, 2014 at 10:16 pm
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    yes haile gebressiles

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  • April 27, 2014 at 4:23 am
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    Music would help me since when I run and listen to music (or walk) I do it to the beat

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  • May 7, 2014 at 4:35 pm
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    thank you so much for making this so helpful

    Reply
  • May 8, 2014 at 5:41 am
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    Aqua man on skis

    Reply
  • May 18, 2014 at 10:56 pm
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    What is the science behind ice hockey like how to become better at ice hockey? #ScienceSays  

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  • May 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm
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    The only problem with using music for training is that an athlete can get so accustomed to it that when there is no music, his/her body will not operate at the same level. The body gets "addicted" to the music, and cannot function without it. This ordinarily would not be a problem, but for a professional athlete, it very well could be. 

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  • May 27, 2014 at 12:02 am
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    The answer is yes. I did gymnastics and it helped. A lot.

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  • May 31, 2014 at 1:50 pm
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    i know it a little late but, i find it easier to concentrate when listening to fast music, like 150+ BPM and i am still not sure why

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  • May 31, 2014 at 2:15 pm
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    can marching band improve memory?

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  • June 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm
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    I listen to Thtash Metal while long distance running , and it works.

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  • June 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm
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    Yes it makes different your olimpic live and for me relives the pain that we feel of the things that are hapening now.

    Reply
  • June 23, 2014 at 8:23 pm
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    How can I increase my speed, stamina in running..both short& long running..??

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  • July 7, 2014 at 12:44 pm
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    Wow! I need to listen to pop more

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  • July 16, 2014 at 6:18 pm
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    1 2 3 4 base  hardstyle 🙂 have 1 2 3 4 beat 😀 awsome 

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  • July 16, 2014 at 6:20 pm
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    150< BPM 😛 

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  • July 18, 2014 at 2:44 am
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    can exercise uprade your jump ability?

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  • July 21, 2014 at 10:50 am
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    I listen to Death-metal daily, but when i'm skating bowls i listen to melodic death metal haha xD

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  • July 27, 2014 at 5:29 am
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    So, stuff like Dubstep ups the performance? Just asking because it is very synchronized and I even noticed the faster the beats per minute, the faster I was going.

    So back to original question, can it?

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  • July 29, 2014 at 2:52 pm
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    How does art affect our body?

    Reply
  • August 1, 2014 at 4:35 am
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    Whenever I'm walking and I start walking to the beat of the music I'm listening to, I feel like I'm at a fashion show…

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  • August 5, 2014 at 8:08 am
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    When I excersise while listening to music, I don't feel any burn or aching in my muscles .😊

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  • August 9, 2014 at 6:41 pm
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    can music improve math performance? when i listen to music while answering my math assignment, i noticed that i compute much faster and i concentrate even more on my work but my friends tell me that it's a distraction. why is it like that? if music has an effect on our brains while studying, what type of music should we listen to? classical, pop, or rock? 

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  • August 17, 2014 at 5:00 am
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    Can you're brain ever for a
    Period of time completely stop and rest?

    Reply
  • August 20, 2014 at 3:45 pm
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    Eye of The Tiger for me..

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  • August 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm
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    This is so true

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  • August 29, 2014 at 10:05 am
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    Punk rock, power metal, and any kind of hardcore melodic music boost me up at incredible levels. But I think it's not very efficient to do all your trainings with music.

    Reply
  • August 30, 2014 at 12:39 am
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    When I do mental imagery, I just can't… Like if I imagine myself riding switch on a skateboard I wobble and fall off, just like real skateboarding.

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  • August 30, 2014 at 6:56 am
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    OMG this ACTUALLY worked… I had to race my BFF in state finals (200 metres), so I listened to my fave upbeat songs in a playlist and I actually won! We've had races before I always lost!

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  • September 6, 2014 at 4:49 am
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    absolutely correct,
    music improves athletic performance!!!

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  • September 10, 2014 at 12:05 am
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    Why do you remember song lyrics faster and better then vocabulary words or so?

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  • September 11, 2014 at 10:33 pm
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    What about dubstep?

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  • September 15, 2014 at 5:07 pm
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    Hardstyle and Hardcore are the best Music for me and for training 🙂

    Reply
  • September 16, 2014 at 11:20 pm
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    If you wanna get ripped listen to Slayer, it worked for me and it can work for you too.

    Reply
  • September 20, 2014 at 4:28 pm
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    Rock? No rock I'd mainly depressing, skillet three days grace breaking Benjamin, Ect are tick bands, = derpressing

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  • September 24, 2014 at 7:03 am
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    Cool!

    Reply
  • September 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm
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    Can dubstep give me a heart attack?

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  • September 28, 2014 at 4:53 pm
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    I always listen to the Corneria theme from ssbb before a soccer game.

    Reply
  • September 30, 2014 at 4:24 pm
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    two questions:
    1. does white teeth necessarily mean healthy teeth and gums?
    2. why do we stretch in the morning?

    Reply
  • October 14, 2014 at 4:46 am
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    What about music while studying? Does it help or not?

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  • October 17, 2014 at 2:02 am
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    I'm a diver, does it still help?

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  • October 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm
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    Finally all my skills in marching band is working lololol

    Reply
  • October 26, 2014 at 4:50 pm
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    I listen to music right before my heat starts.. It calms my muscles down

    Reply
  • October 26, 2014 at 7:09 pm
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    join marching band and have music accompanying every performance

    Reply
  • December 8, 2014 at 5:12 am
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    Should you listen to music while studying?

    Reply
  • December 15, 2014 at 7:41 am
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    Hay that was a dotted quarter note at the Beggining! You can't do that! JK JK JK! 😂

    Reply
  • December 17, 2014 at 3:12 am
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    Hi

    Reply
  • February 22, 2015 at 2:12 am
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    why do women wear makeup

    Reply
  • February 22, 2015 at 11:02 pm
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    This happens to me all the time

    Reply
  • March 1, 2015 at 1:02 am
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    280+ BPM master race anyone?

    Reply
  • March 4, 2015 at 5:35 am
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    Music does help! My mile time without music was like ten minutes. Then I listened to music while I was running and I got 7 minutes!!

    Reply
  • March 9, 2015 at 6:29 am
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    Robin Van Persie listens to rock before a football match. That's enough for me.

    Reply
  • March 14, 2015 at 12:54 am
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    Singing is the hardest interment in world in another interment you just press a buttons and when you sing you have to think before you even start sing and by the way I'm coures

    Reply
  • March 18, 2015 at 6:10 am
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    Even more of a reason to play drowning pool when I workout.

    Reply
  • March 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm
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    I have heard that when you listen to music, your heart beats at the same tempo as the music. This might be partly why most nocturnes are slow and most sonatas have a fast 1st movement.

    Reply
  • April 3, 2015 at 6:49 pm
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    Example: Cirque du Soleil

    Reply
  • April 7, 2015 at 6:23 am
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    Are you from cbc

    Reply
  • April 9, 2015 at 10:56 pm
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    Please do a video about celiac disease

    Reply
  • April 30, 2015 at 10:35 pm
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    how does music affect memory

    Reply
  • May 22, 2015 at 5:22 am
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    XD well I can't do my sport without music. it would just running/walking with perfect timing and technique as the other 80 people. While holding a 7 pound brass pipe that's twisted around For ten minutes straight, if there was no music involved. #dci

    Reply
  • August 11, 2015 at 9:09 am
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    You guy need to try electronic music when your running or cleaning. Personalty, my favorite song for that is" Don't think " from The chemical brothers.

    Reply
  • August 16, 2015 at 8:46 am
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    Normally if I'm using my exercise bike I'll be tired after 10-15 minutes but if I have some good music on I can go for about an hour at high speeds. Sometimes it seems like the pedals are gonna brake off cause they can't keep up with my feet. (Btw I do go longer than 15 mins or an hour cause after you get used to the exhaustion your fine)

    Reply
  • August 23, 2015 at 6:09 pm
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    I have met people who are acting like the biggest music fan s in the world and won't allow anyone to be a bigger fan.
    Now I expect them to join me when playing soccer/football 😉

    Reply
  • October 3, 2015 at 6:08 am
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    What about Dubstep

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  • November 13, 2015 at 4:18 am
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    now lets talk about the swimmers

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  • December 25, 2015 at 12:16 pm
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    ВЫ ВСЕ ДЕРЬМО

    Reply
  • January 17, 2016 at 4:13 pm
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    Personally I don't like music when I'm in the gym.
    I feel that I can't focus as well when music is present.

    Reply
  • January 18, 2016 at 11:06 am
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    Now I'll feel like shit if I ever forget my headphones at the gym cause I'll know that my performance won't be up to par

    Reply
  • March 18, 2016 at 10:35 am
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    now i know why eminem always pumps me up and i feel like fighting all my fears

    Reply
  • April 18, 2016 at 9:07 pm
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    what about rap

    Reply
  • April 28, 2016 at 11:27 pm
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    what music do they use???

    Reply
  • June 16, 2016 at 2:52 am
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    What about people who do marching band??

    Reply
  • June 16, 2016 at 4:22 am
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    how come whewn you are sleeping you are technically still awake even though you dont remember it

    Reply
  • July 13, 2016 at 3:20 pm
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    can i know where is yr sources came from??

    Reply
  • August 13, 2016 at 6:57 am
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    yes. i have been trying to get my school to let us wear headphones during pe because it will rside our graded. every time i listen to dubstep or house i can get so much energy

    Reply
  • August 27, 2016 at 12:55 am
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    what about people who do marching band

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  • September 22, 2016 at 3:55 pm
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    ?dose trans music or fast one will make my performance at sport better

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  • November 8, 2016 at 1:09 am
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    if you hear fast muic before a race will you go faster?

    Reply
  • January 21, 2017 at 4:18 pm
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    Thank you for sharing this information in this well presented video. It is important to expand the awareness of the power of music for healing of which this video provides. Brainwaves synchronise to external musical stimulus and brainwave entrainment works for almost everyone.

    Reply
  • February 13, 2017 at 7:15 pm
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    deepthroat by cupcake gets me goin!

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  • June 2, 2017 at 4:43 am
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    I like listening to k-pop and dubstep… Anyone else? No one, just me? ok

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  • July 17, 2017 at 7:49 am
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    When I joined Cross Country first 2 weeks I was tired from the workouts and mile runs we had to do on a daily basis but going on into the third week I listened to my brothers advice listening to music when I ran and I had improved my endurance and stamina by 5x tje amount than I did before and I found myself not stopping and kept on running here are songs i suggest are the best songs to run too

    1- Eminem "Till I Collapse
    2- 2pac Dying to Live
    3- Mobb Deep Shook Ones Part 2
    4- Eminem Im Not Afraid
    5- Biggie Smalls Hypnotize

    Reply
  • August 1, 2017 at 7:21 pm
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    i actually played for glory in smash WITH music and then WITHOUT music.

    this is the equivalent of steroids
    i won 5 games in a row with music
    i lost every single damn game without music

    Reply
  • October 10, 2017 at 11:00 pm
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    i'm writing an essay on this as my subject to get bachelor degree

    Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 8:06 am
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    Nothing beats Pantera when working out

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  • April 11, 2018 at 9:30 am
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    For cardio on a machine yes….. for lifting weights controlled NO….. except for Volbeat Warriors Call.

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  • April 18, 2018 at 6:34 pm
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    This is great information. I've noticed when I run at the park, I run much long when I'm listening to my favorite hip-hop artists with a fast tempo

    Reply
  • June 10, 2018 at 11:41 pm
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    https://youtu.be/FnUkamanZJ0
    Friends always wonder why I listen to this song before/in a race or when arm wrestling
    They still can't figure it out

    Reply
  • June 25, 2018 at 8:15 am
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    About to blast some lil pump while practicing my Kegel exercises

    Reply
  • October 13, 2018 at 7:48 pm
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    I listen to k-pop&pop while running. It helps, because I am just jamming, and not thinking bout' how tired I am.

    Reply

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