by Geoff Rand

Box Reminders...

Marcy's canned food burpee buyout is going on every Saturday WOD in December.  Bring two non-perishable food items to the Saturday WOD to get out of having to do the burpee penalty. 

The CFF Toys For Tots donation collection will be going on until December 13th at 8PM.  Please remember to drop off an unwrapped gift.

Don't forget to RSVP for the CFF Ugly Sweater Party.  The party is December 10th from 5-9PM.  Food will be provided.  Please BYOB.  Family and kids are welcome, just please RSVP with the total number attending.

Yoga is now $10 a person for both members and non-members.  Gabby's Yinyasa is a great way to unwind and recover from the week.  Come to the Saturday 9AM WOD and stay to get an awesome stretch with Yinyasa yoga from 10:30-11:15AM.  It's a great class for both beginners and experienced yoga practitioners.  Bring a friend!

Olivia Newton John's 1981 video for  Physical , the start of a decade of ridiculous outfits and workout fads.

Olivia Newton John's 1981 video for Physical, the start of a decade of ridiculous outfits and workout fads.

We’ve heard it time and time again at the Box.  A coach starts the clock and says “3-2-1-Go!”  They then have approximately 1.7 seconds to start the stereo before someone yells out “Music!”  Working out in silence sucks, but why does it matter?  How could something as simple as a rhythmic song have an effect on our level of physical exertion?

Since ancient times, armies of the world used the beat of drums to stay in step and keep to a steady pace, ensuring they could march a predictable distance in a given day.  Prisoners on chain gangs and factory workers sang songs as a distraction to the monotonous work.

In 1911, American investigator Leonard Ayres discovered that cyclists pedaled faster while a band was playing than when it was silent.

The effect of music on runners was also validated by many racing events, to include the Marine Corps Marathon, banning music devices for those athletes racing for awards or money.  Some call music a legal performance-enhancing drug.

Studies have shown that songs of 140-180 beats per minute (bpm) are best for runners or cyclists to keep at a strong pace.  For example, 150 bpm will put you at about a 10-11 minute mile.  If you’re curious how your favorite tunes stack up, you can search them on to get their bpm count.

It would seem obvious that a good song would help distract us from our own misery, pain, and fatigue during a workout, but research has shown that music also reduces perceived effort, elevates mood, and increases endurance.

The infamous "Phelps Face".  He's definitely getting fired up with his tunes.

The infamous "Phelps Face".  He's definitely getting fired up with his tunes.

Some songs have a sort of groove to them that you just can’t resist wanting to move to.  Others might trigger a positive memory and put you in a better mood.

Research has shown that the rhythm of your workout music stimulates the motor area of the brain as to when to move, aiding self-paced exercises like running or weightlifting.  When you clue into these time signals, it helps you use your energy more efficiently since keeping a steady pace is easier than fluctuating your effort during a workout.  A 2012 study at Sheffield Hallam University showed cyclists used 7% less oxygen when they synchronized their movements to background music. 

You can use music as a strategic tool to improve your workouts whether it is in the Box during a WOD, or while working out on your own.  If running, run at a normal pace, but pick it up to a sprint during the chorus.  Instead of watching the clock, set a playlist and workout until it’s over.  If you need a rest, pick a number of beats to catch your breath, and then jump back in.  Time your squats or rows to the beat to keep an even pace.

We are also seeing a fusion of technology with music in our workouts.  Apps like RockMyRun, use your own heart rate to select appropriate music to the level of your physical exertion further fueling your workout.

An interesting twist to the music/exercise relation was found in a 2013 study conducted by Tom Fritz, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  His experiment focused on the correlation of music and perceived effort.  In Fritz’s study, he rigged up three machines, a pull down tower, a stepper, and an abdominal machine so that with each pull, step, or contraction, a musical tone would play.  As the participants exercised, their pace and forcefulness of the movements affected how the music played. 

In Fritz’s study, a control group passively listened to music while performing the same exercises.  Both groups were asked to rate their perceived level of exertion.  The group that was essentially making their own music while working out reported lower levels of perceived exertion.  This video shows Fritz demonstrating the equipment used in his study and the musical tones produced by the movements.  FYI, it's a little weird.

Although not the focus of Fritz’s study, he discovered a link between the social influences of working out in a group and individual stamina.  His participants worked out in groups of three and there was evidence of increased duration of exertion by individuals in the groups.  A sort of peer pressure effect occurred where individuals fought the urge to quit when they looked over at their fellow study participants still going strong.  No one wanted to be the first to give up.

As CrossFitters, I’m sure we can relate to this study and the positive benefits of seeing our fellow members grind out reps and coaches urging us to keep going.  Listen to the music and let it help you achieve your best.  Just give the coaches two seconds to get within range of the stereo before you start yelling for music.