Tuesday 17 September 2019

Karl Henry: Get in tune with your body and use music to maximise workout results

Beat it: Listening to music or podcasts can help you get the most out of exercise
Beat it: Listening to music or podcasts can help you get the most out of exercise
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

One of the questions I get asked all the time is how to improve the results people are getting from their exercise. We are all so busy that it makes sense to want to get the most from our workout. Time is precious and it's a question I am always happy to answer.

There are many ways to do this: you can change up your exercise, work harder, train with someone fitter than you, do cardio, lift weights or reconsider what you eat (food is 70pc of the results). All the exercise in the world will deliver minimal benefits unless you change your diet.

But one of the simplest ways in which to work harder that many people miss - a way that can also help you to stay positive and stay focused - is adding music and motivational podcasts to your exercise routine. Ever wonder why exercise classes offer a description of the class along with the BPM (beats per minute)? As the speed of the beat increases, your conscious and subconscious mind will work to that speed. Faster music equals faster running, for most people.

For example, if I was to play the Rocky soundtrack for you, you can't help but be psyched and ready for your workout. Before every race I do, I always have a playlist of songs, from Rocky to Riverdance, Faithless to U2. I know the music that works for me when I exercise and build the playlist around that. Depending on the workout, music can calm you, excite you, drive you and also impact your day in a positive or negative way.

Just like the people you surround yourself with or the news that you read, what you listen to can have the same effect.

I know that I am biased, having just launched The Real Health podcast last week, but if you don't believe me, try it for yourself. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Soundcloud and let me know if you don't feel more positive afterwards.

Real Health Podcast: The best gadgets, tech and apps to improve your health & fitness 

How do the music and podcasts you listen to improve your results? Simple: as your mood improves, your mind relaxes and you begin to focus on the workout. You learn from the content in the podcast, picking up tweaks that will make a difference. And for those of you who get bored easily, it will pass the time, and before you know it, the session is over.

If you are going to listen to music, how you listen can actually be crucial too. When you're working out, things are going to get sweaty! The headphones you use will be really important to the enjoyment of the session. Here are a few of the options you can choose from...

In ear

Discreet, decent sound quality but can get uncomfortable when sweaty. The standard size may not fit all ears and annoy you when they fall out.

In ear with loop

These are normally my choice. They sit in the ear but have the added support of a loop that goes around the ear too, meaning they won't fall out and have a higher comfort level.

Ear-covering earphones

A popular option, these have great sound quality and are comfortable for weights and certain types of exercise, but awful when sweaty. They can get smelly quite easily and can be heavy too.


I love these - they're super handy as there are no wires to get in the way. Yes, you have to charge them, but that normally doesn't take long. Avoid the cheap ones as the sound quality tends to be very poor.

Pick your music, your podcast and your headphones and you're good to go. With positive, informative podcasts and your favourite music, you're on to a winner.

The Real Health podcast cuts through the nonsense and tells you what you need to be doing to live healthier every day. For more, visit independent.ie/podcasts.

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