Help kickstart recovery and bounce back from stressful workouts with some chill tunes.
For a lot of swimmers working hard at the pool is enough.
Hop in the water, bang out the main set, get into the groove listening to our favorite playlist through a set of waterproof earbuds for swimming, and then go home and pass out in a bowl of pasta.
For the swimmer who wants to be a little more elite, and who wants to level their personal best times (and the competition), they understand that working hard at the pool is one thing…
But working hard at recovering between those swim practices is another thing entirely.
Recover Hard with Some Easy Listening
Look, I get it…
With the number of workouts we do each week, and the rest of the commitments bottling up our free time in between, targeted recovery activities don’t always get the time and attention they need.
I’m talking about things like doing additional stretching between workouts. Spending some time on your foam roller. Or simply going for a chill walk outdoors for some super easy active recovery.
But getting a head-start on your post-workout recovery can be as simple as the music you listen to.
A study  published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s research journal looked to see if listening to some slow, chill music after exhausting exercise would help speed up the recovery process.
Here’s how the study was done.
A group of active 42 college students were instructed to jump onto a stationary bike and do work. At the end of each workout they did 3 minutes of active recovery on the bike.
During this time, they wore headphones with either:
- No music at all. Just the sweet, sweet sound of silence.
- High-paced aggressive tunes. Designed to be stimulate, the tunes used were an average of 129 BPM (Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love” but hit this tempo). Fast, aggressive music—basically, anything you would consider “pump-up” music. You know, the kind of tracks that you would usually blast between your ears using waterproof headphones during a challenging swim workout.
- Slow-paced music. As you can guess, these songs were chosen for their slow, slow grind, coming in at just over 70 BPM. Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and Rihanna’s “Unfaithful” both land around this pace.
When it came to coming down after hard exercise, the slow, sedative music made the biggest gains. The level of excitement, as measured with cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and heart rate, decreased quickest with slow music compared to the high BPM dance party or the quietness of silence.
The participants were tested 10, 20 and 30 minutes after the active recovery protocol was completed, and even half an hour later the slow music cohort had significantly lower levels of excitement and arousal.
Gives new meaning and chlorinated relevance to the phrase, “Music soothes the savage beast.”
The Next Step:
Okay, so slow music helps us chill out after a hard effort. Cool beans. How do we use this to impact our training and competitive performances?
Here are a few ideas:
- Between races at meets, especially between sessions, listening to chill music can help you recover and stay in power down mode when trying to rejuvenate.
- Chill music can help you out if you feel that you are getting too worked up before a big race. The physical effects of anxiety (or
- After a brutal workout spend some time stretching and listening to chill music. It will help you reset and kickstart the recovery process faster so that you can bounce back with a fuller tank later in the day or the following morning.
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