Training With & Without Music

How do you feel about? My music of choice is Jillian Michaels yelling at me to not give up and do those last three push ups (little does she know I stopped five push ups ago). But if memory recalls she has weird elevator music playing in the background of her videos reminiscent of trap from the 80s, which kind've works because working out to white noise and the sound of my fractured breathing is not fun. My case is different though because i'm working out to a video, that's different than working out at a gym or outside as is the case with most of those who practice parkour and freerunning.

Music can can take the edge off of working out. "What, i've already done 500 squats? But i'm not even halfway through Adele's album yet". The concentration is real. So I asked some our staff members on their take. Should you train with, or without music and does the parkour community listen to music when they train?

Exo's thoughts:

People listen to music when training, and there are differences of opinion of it-- different schools of thought. I  think it does more harm than good. First off there's the entertainment factor,  but let's talk about brass tacks of parkour itself: Parkour is a form of self improvement. It's a discipline and more importantly self discipline. Because parkour is about bettering yourself, if you listen to music while you train you're disciplining yourself with a weakness. Does that make sense? Parkour is about eliminating weakness so why train with weakness?

The practice is all about being strong and useful. That's why we don't even use equipment or padding at NYParkour. You are what you train, if you're training with music you're training with a handicap. I've seen it happen a few times when i'm jamming with people, we're in the middle of training and they'll want to do a certain jump or flip and they'll say "Hold up", and run off to get their headphones so they can do the move. I feel like, if you can do the move with music, you can do it without music too. The point of parkour is be your best self. You'll never be your best self with a self-imposed handicap.

Music can be used for good though, it gets you hype, has a psychological reaction, and when you're doing a move it can give you adrenaline rush. Here's a bit of the science of listening to music:

There's scientific evidence that music plays a role in feelings of transcendence. For example, (Frith, 1996) has noted that: “We all hear the music we like as something special, as something that defies the mundane, takes us “out of ourselves,” puts us somewhere else.” Thus, music may provide a means of escape. The experience of flow states, peaks, and chills, which are often evoked by music listening, might similarly be interpreted as forms of transcendence or escapism. 

Here's the flip side to Exo's argument, as my friend Mike put it:

"They say music can alter moods and talk to you"- Eminem


I've found this statement to be very true. Music offers an outlet to being somewhere else, or being in a particular situation. Put  simply, the familiar sound waves the body is anticipating in a song can activate adrenaline in a person.  That person then can use that adrenaline to push beyond their own set limit, because in a way it seems like something is helping them over the hump of exhaustion. "The brain sends to and receives messages from the rest of the body ceaselessly, every minute, second and fraction of a second. As for the receiving side of things, the brain gets information from our senses -- vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell, etc. We can be constantly aware of these. But there is another major source of input to our brains, and thus ultimately to our mental lives ... our bodily hormones" (Weinberger, The Musical Hormone). Music invigorates people when they believe they have nothing left. Professional athletes train with music. Fighters train listening to music. For many people you may ask, it is either the extra rush or the mere catharsis from suffering that brings people to play music while exercising.

So you like it in particular because it gives you an adrenaline rush?

75% rush and testosterone but 25% of an escape, catharsis while I'm running or cardio.

Any particular songs you tend to play?

Papercut- by Linkin Park
Points of Authority- Linkin Park

Tool- Parabol
A lot of 50 Cent's old stuff

My thoughts:

I definitely use music when i'm warming up for practice, but once i'm actually training, the music is off. Music or not music? You decide below!

P.S: What's currently on repeat:

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