Research on the effects that music has on us while exercising has been well documented. As early as 1911 an American researcher, Leonard Ayres, discovered he could get cyclists to peddle faster if they were listening to music than if they peddled in silence. Ayres suggested that music was able to, in effect, drown out the brain’s cries of fatigue by competing for our brain’s attention and over-riding signals sent to the brain to take a break. This effect lessens as the intensity increases, so during high-intensity exercise the signals sent to our brain to stop are also more intense and music isn’t powerful enough to keep our brain’s attention from the pain of the workout.
Interestingly, music does more than help us train longer and harder, it can actually make us train more efficiently too. A 2012 study showed cyclists cycling to the same intensity actually required 7% less oxygen if they were listening to music than those that cycled in silence.
Furthermore the beats per minute of a track also has an effect until it reaches about 140 BPM. So anyone listening to Drum & Bass (averaging about 150-180 BP), according to this study at least, get no benefit from their listening choice.