New Study: Can Music Help You Enjoy HIIT & Improve Performance?

Interval training has become increasingly popular with those of us who are short on time, but still want to get in a solid workout. It’s a tough way to train, pushing yourself to the limits for a short amount of time, which not everyone enjoys as much as a leisurely jog around the local park. If you’re looking to take your interval training to the next level, or just start liking it, then this new study from UBC’s Okanagan campus, School of Health and Exercise Sciences has all the answers.1

According to them, listening to music while doing sprint interval training can improve performance and mean that you enjoy it more too. Here’s the details on exactly how it works.

The study

To test out the effects of training with and without music, the researchers took 24 unfit adults in their twenties who hadn’t tried sprint interval training before. They put them under three different controls — a workout with motivational music, another with a podcast, and one with no audio.

The adults completed 3×20-second sprints with 2-minute rest periods in each audio environment. They reported the most enjoyment from the sprints accompanied with music, however, that’s not where the differences end.

The workout with music also recorded the highest heart rates and power output overall. That means that working out with music over a period of time could lead to greater results as you’re able to work harder in your workouts.


The verdict

While this feels like great news for your interval training in the gym, there’s a few things that need to be researched further here too. For starters, the study was only carried out on unfit participants who had never tried interval training before, so it would be interesting to see if similar results were found in a group who regularly exercised and did interval training.

Next, the research was only carried out on 24 participants, so this is quite a small amount of people to come to a certain conclusion on whether music makes a difference to your workout. Finally, what we want to know is does the music genre make a difference? Should we be loading up some R&B or heavy metal for a next-level HIIT session?


Take home message

Feel like music makes all the difference? Then crank it up and get training. There’s no doubting that a bit of music can be distracting from the pain of a quick HIIT workout, so give it a try and see if you can see a difference in your heart rate and performance too.

Evangeline Howarth

Evangeline Howarth

Writer and expert

Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team. In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!

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