Running with the classics
Classical music and workout
To most people, music is an essential part of their exercise routine: it’s not only relaxing but it has beneficial effects on endurance (up to 15% as stated by this research of the Brunel University). However, what you normally hear at the gym or what usually people listen to is some fast beating track, with the idea that the faster and louder the music, the more energy and pump you get during your sweat.
Well, it has been demonstrated that it is, in fact, quite the opposite: several studies have suggested that classical music has more than one beneficial effect during a regular workout. According to neuroscientist Dr. Jack Lewis “energetic but not overly fast classical music can be ideal in the gym: not only does upbeat music increase speed, strength and endurance, but the relaxing qualities of classical appears to reduce heart rate, blood pressure and lower perceived exertion.“
“Musical beats robustly stimulate an area of the brain called the basal ganglia which initiates movements. This may be why we have a natural tendency to match the energy of our movements to the beat” he says. “In addition, relaxing music has been shown to lower levels of cortisol in the body, the hormone associated with stress. I’d recommend Beethoven’s Symphony No 4, fourth movement.“
Faster is not always better: ideally you want to mix things up as you progress in your workout in order to match the music to your heart rate. Starting with a slower bpm (beats per minute) – between 120 and 140 – and rising as your intensity increases – between 160 and 180 bpm – will help you get the best workout.
Top workout music: a list of the best classical music pieces to listen to while exercising
Johann Sebastian Bach: Brandenburg Concerto no. 3, 1st movement
Bach is a rock: steady, pulsing, constant. This one is fairly gentle, which makes for a good beginning.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony n.4, fourth movement
Energetic, rhythmic and joyful from the beginning to the end.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony n.7, fourth movement
This is notoriously one of the most rhythmic pieces by Beethoven. Wagner defined it (allegedly) as the “apotheosis of dance”. Try to keep up.
Leonard Bernstein: Candide Overture
Energetic and fun right from the start, the overture to Candide is sure to keep you going. By the way, if you want to know more about Candide take a look here.
Oscar Lorenzo Fernández: Batuque
The Batuque is a music and dance genre that originated in Cape Verde. This particular composition is full of rhythm and surprises, in a crescendo that takes you right to the end.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony no. 25, 1st movement
This piece perfectly suits a vigorous workout.
Gioacchino Rossini: William Tell Overture
One of the most famous pieces by Rossini, the finale to this pulse-quickening overture makes for a great rush towards the end of your workout.
Richard Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries
Need to add anything….?
This is by no means a comprehensive list. Rather, it’s a suggestion of classical music masterpieces that will get you started if you’ve never tried this before. Or, if you have, it can give you some fresh ideas for your playlist.
What about you? What classical pieces would you recommend to listen to during a workout?