Should Spinning Class Music Be Synchronous or Asynchronous?

Your typical spinning class features an experienced instructor leading cyclists through their rides while accompanied by pulsating music intended to motivate and stimulate. Nearly every instructor has preferences when it comes to music genre, tempo, duration, etc. But within the greater community of instructors, there is an ongoing debate over whether music should be synchronous or asynchronous.

The answer to that question is ‘yes’. In other words, whether music is synchronous or asynchronous is less important than the fact that music is playing while riders ride. Some instructors prefer synchronous music that ties in with the goals of the workout. Others prefer asynchronous music because it motivates without requiring the routine to line up with tempo, speed, etc.

More About Synchronous Music

Employing synchronous music is a strategy of matching music and routine. For example, an instructor might choose a particular song during a climb with the intention of encouraging students to synchronize their pedaling with the rhythm of the music. Those who do should make the climb on time and with more efficiency.

Choosing music based on this sort of strategy can be tricky. Instructors at Salt Lake City’s Mcycle say there are two ways to build a spin routine around music. First is to design the routine, then create a playlist so that each song synchronizes well with a portion of the routine. The second method is to create the playlist first, then design a routine around it.

A synchronous music strategy involves changing up tempo and track duration in order to get a more complete workout. Cyclists will not always be pedaling at full speed. Sometimes they will be pedaling more slowly. There will be times when they are sitting and other times when they are standing. Finding appropriate music to line up with all the different moves requires an extensive knowledge of music and artists.

More About Asynchronous Music

Music does not have to be synchronized with an indoor cycling routine to be beneficial. In fact, a 2009 study conducted by British researchers suggests that asynchronous music can be just as beneficial as its synchronous counterpart. The research determined that music’s greatest benefit to enhancing exercise is acting as a mental distraction.

We human beings have a natural aversion to exercise. We do not like it because it is uncomfortable. It causes fatigue and pain. Exercise makes us sweaty, smelly, and disheveled. The last thing anyone needs during a workout is to be mentally and emotionally focused on the negative aspects of exercise.

Research shows that when there’s nothing to occupy one’s mind during exercise, the mind tends to be focused on the discomfort. This leads to less productivity and efficiency. But if you occupy the mind with music, everything changes. Focusing on the music rather than the discomfort improves productivity and efficiency.

Whatever Music Works for You

Decades of research seems to indicate that any kind of music is appropriate for working out. Whether it is an indoor cycling class or jogging around the neighborhood, music motivates and inspires. It gets people thinking about things other than their exercise, thereby taking the focus off the discomfort.

Should your cycling music be asynchronous or synchronous? Yes. It is not a matter of one form of music being better than another. It’s a matter of finding the music genre and playlist that motivates you to get up and get going.

You might find electronic dance music motivates you best. Or perhaps your mind is more attuned to improvisational jazz. From rock ‘n roll to swing and hip-hop, music can enhance your workouts whether it’s synchronized to your routine or not.


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