Can Music Improve Your HIIT Performance?
Interval training is known in the fitness industry as one of the best ways to get a great workout when you're short on time. There is no doubt it is difficult, pushing yourself to the maximum for a short period of time. This is not everyone's cup of tea - and most wouldn't swap it compared to their leisurely jog in the local park. If you're on a mission to start interval training, or just start enjoying it, then read on to hear the new study that UBC's Okanagan Campus, School of Health and Exercise Sciences has recently released.
The study purports that if you listen to music whilst performing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) it can improve your performance as well as helping you to enjoy it too. Now, who said exercise couldn't be fun?
The study involved testing 24 adults who were classed as unfit and aged in their twenties. The researchers picked adults that had never tried sprint interval training previously so this was a completely new stimulus to them. The researchers put the 24 adults into three different control groups - a workout with no audio, a workout with a podcast, and a workout with motivational and upbeat music.
The task involved 3 sets of 20 seconds high-intensity interval sprints with a rest period of 2 minutes in each of the three audio environments. As you might have guessed, the most enjoyment was reported from those who had the motivational music playing during the sprints. However, there's more.
The workout with the motivational music recorded a higher heart rate and greater power output against the other 2 groups. This illustrates that performing an interval training session with music - one that especially motivates you - will help to yield you better results and help you feel more happy about it.
Verdict On The Study
Whilst we all know that our favorite soundtrack will keep us more motivated during training sessions, what does this study actually tell us? Firstly, it was tested on just 24 adults, of which were unfit and had never tried sprint intervals before. It would be more compelling to test this again with fit adults that had some level of exposure to interval training. Whilst we don't know the type of music used to increase enjoyment - it's fair to say that music is unique to the individual and you would need to choose something you love.
Other Benefits Of Interval Training
Aside from feeling better and improving performance, let's explore some other benefits of interval training.
Clearly, there is a time-saving element. By reducing the total time of the workout but keeping the overall performance you're improving efficiency.
Intervals burn more calories than slow workouts. It's been proven that putting 100% effort into your training session will force your body to exert more energy, and it also requires a lot of calories for recovery too.
Increased speed and endurance. Over time interval training will increase your speed and endurance as it helps to burn lactic acid more efficiently. This means you can go on for longer and push your body to move faster.
Interval Training for Beginners
Interval training isn't for everyone, it's a good idea to understand what you're getting into and avoid complications if this sounds like you. We've written about this at length here.
As a beginner, you'll want to ensure you always warm up properly. At least 10 to 15 minutes of light cardio such as the treadmill or stationary bike to get the blood pumping around your body. This should be followed by some explosive stretches and even foam roll tight areas of your body such as hips, quads, and upper back. Doing mobility exercises beforehand will ensure you're primed for a killer interval session.
Interval Training Example Routine
After your body is warm and ready to go, try this example workout routine.
Bring your treadmill to a 2.0 or 3.0-degree gradient incline - this will make it harder but also help your knees to avoid absorbing as much shock each time you land on the treadmill.
When you're ready, crank up the speed to 14 KPH for 30 seconds of full sprinting. Then hold onto the sides and jump off - your feet should be in the outside panels where you can rest for 20-30 seconds. Repeat this for 6 to 8 rounds.
Once you feel comfortable at that speed, try to increase it each time. When resting ensure you take long, deep breathes to help lower your heart rate. Avoid taking fast shallow breathes as this causes your body to go into panic mode.