The 50 Best Workout Songs

Music Lists Fitness
The 50 Best Workout Songs

Staying healthy and in shape necessitates a strong soundtrack. Music helps keep motivation high and heart-rates up when working out. Sometimes the lyrics take precedence in doing so and sometimes it’s just the bass drop, sick beat, or metal riff that can transform a workout from a mundane obligation to an endorphin-inducing celebration. Taking all elements and genres into consideration, here are the 50 best workout songs.

50. Major Lazer, “Pon De Floor”

Whether you prefer the dancehall beats or the drum line-style snare hits, the percussion in Major Lazer’s “Pon De Floor” will keep you moving. But if zany and zippy synths aren’t necessarily your jam at all, check out more pop-minded tracks like Chiddy Bang’s “Shooter” and Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls),” which both sample this track. —Hilary Saunders

49. Calvin Harris, “Sweet Nothing”

With vocals from Florence Welch, Scottish dance-pop producer Calvin Harris hits the right tempo on his 2012 EDM hit “Sweet Nothing.” But, if you’re feeling particularly aggressive, go for the Tiësto remix. —Paste Staff

48. Run the Jewels, “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)”

El-P and Killer Mike’s standout track from Run the Jewels 2 isn’t just an insidious ode to civil disobedience—it’s a metronome designed for pumping iron. A hydraulic synth in the background not only keeps the beat, but gauges when to initiate and flex. But for those taking a more anaerobic approach, Zach de la Rocha’s sampled patter—that literally says “running” in various starts and sputters—aligns perfectly for a brisk, punishing jog. This track will get you ripped like Rakim Allah in no time while condemning the social injustice engulfing our country. —Sean Edgar

47. Andrew W.K., “Party Til You Puke”

Andrew W.K. says anything can be a party, even hitting that heavy bag. But don’t work yourself so hard that you puke. That’s not a good workout. —Paste Staff

46. Cake, “The Distance”

How can deadpan vocals come off as so exciting? John McCrea’s no-nonsense delivery—especially in the beginning’s “Reluctantly crouched at the starting line / Engines pumping and thumping in time”—evokes the resolute feeling of gritting one’s teeth and preparing for a race. Add Greg Brown’s driving guitar line, and you’ve got a vigorous song that will impel you to go “the distance” too. —Monica Hunter-Hart

45. Shamir, “On the Regular”

One of the breakthrough tracks of last year, “On the Regular” is the perfect track to run to. With this young genderqueer rapper espousing his own version of normal life in a sweet falsetto, it makes you feel like you’re the baddest around. —Mady Thuyein

44. Fucked Up, “Running on Nothing”

Who needs a personal trainer yelling at you when you can have Damien Abraham screaming, “I kept holding until it tore me apart, a hand thrust in my chest and ripped out my heart.” Just don’t listen to the rest of the lyrics too closely to the lyrics or you might give up lifting … and all hope. —Paste Staff

43. Lupe Fiasco, “Go Go Gadget Flow”

With its reference to the Inspector Gadget TV series and spitfire lyrical delivery, Lupe insights dexterity and speed—two attributes you want in your workouts—in “Go Go Gadget Flow.” Plus, it can’t hurt to hear the word “go” 700 times. —Paste Staff

42. Janelle Monaé featuring Big Boi, “Tightrope”

This is just a great song with a giant hook. For kicks, imagine that’s Janelle up there leading your step class, decked out in her signature white tux. — Paste Staff

41. Arctic Monkeys, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”

Although not necessarily a song with traditional dance floor beats, these English boys offer a tune that will at least make you want to look good. The band’s youthful, frenetic energy and quick strumming make for a strong sprint—one that lasts less than three minutes. —Hilary Saunders

40. Public Enemy, “Fight the Power”

You gotta go for what you know? / Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be / Lemme hear you say fight the power

Fans of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing will remember how this blazing-hot track set the tone for the entire film. —Bonnie Stiernberg

39. Rihanna, “Don’t Stop the Music”

At this point in your workout, you might want to stop the music (and the exercise), but Rihanna says don’t. And when RiRi speaks, we listen. —Paste Staff

38. Amerie, “Gotta Work”

“Sometimes you’re gonna feel pain like this / Sometimes you’re gonna work hard for it,” Amerie sings, on this 2007 R&B hit and it all makes sense. Plus, the song samples the horns and beat from Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” so you know it’s gonna swing like the punching bag suspended by a chain that you’re pummeling. —Paste Staff

37. Hot Chip, “Night and Day”

Come on. This sexy song is totally not about working out. But with lyrics like, “Let’s sweat! Let’s sweat! Let’s sweat! Let’s sweat! Let’s sweat! Let’s sweat! Let’s sweat! Let’s sweat! … Let’s work it,” it’ll get the job done. —Paste Staff

36. LCD Soundsystem, “Pow Pow”

LCD Soundsystem’s “Pow Pow” is a great track for pacing a workout. Even though James Murphy opens the song by stating, “From this position / I will relax,” you, workout warrior, will not. Start slow, and push yourself when the bass kicks in. —Paste Staff

35. The Kinks, “Powerman”

“Powerman” is a song for the disenfranchised, but the driving beat on this ditty from Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Pt. 1 is enough to make even the most powerless listener feel like a badass. And for working out, we think it’s the perfect song for running, especially when you’re trying to catch a train. —Bonnie Stiernberg

34. Beastie Boys, “Body Movin’”

The title of this latter-day Beasties classic says it all. Headphones (or boombox) is the preferable mode of listening to this hip-hop sweat-bringer, and really all you have to do is follow directions. Let your backbone flip, but don’t slip a disc. —Mark Lore

33. Big Boi, “Shoes For Running”

Wavves and B.o.B join Big Boi for a perfect running song. The lyrics, which actually address America’s enormous class divide, borrow running imagery. But the tempo—lightening speed in some verses courtesy of Big Boi and other times more relaxed via B.o.B.—will help pace your run while making you think. —Hilary Saunders

32. Curtis Mayfield, “Move on Up”

Classic R&B and soul like this makes you wanna look good and feel good. Take Curtis Mayfield’s advice when you’re about to level up to a more challenging set: “Move on up!” Your body will thank you later. —Hilary Saunders

31. M.I.A., “Paper Planes”

This song came out when I was in high school, and every time it came on, everyone immediately started dancing. It’s a song that’s impossible to listen to without feeling cool. Like M.I.A. says, “No one on the corner has swagger like us.” If you can rap this song perfectly and look as cool as M.I.A. doing it, then you’re right, no one has swagger like you. And come on, who hasn’t done the little gun-firing hand motions while dancing or running? —Jaimie Cranford

30. Tiësto, “Work Hard, Play Hard”

A little EDM in the weight room never hurt anyone. That thumping bass will bring a little bit of clubbing to your gym, so you’ll get that runner-high equivalent without any of the drugs of an EDM festival. —Paste Staff

29. The Ramones, “Judy is a Punk”

At just over a minute and a half, “Judy Is A Punk” is perfect for a sprint—and honestly, how can you listen to those guitars and want to do anything else besides jump around or run as fast as you can? “Second verse, same as the first” offers some encouragement in a similar way to hearing “c’mon, one more rep, you’ve got this”—you’ll catch your breath on the next song. —Bonnie Stiernberg

28. Iggy Pop, “Lust for Life”

Whether it’s advertising Trainspotting or the second largest cruise ship line in the world, Iggy Pop’s pre-YOLO ode to liquor, drugs and ear sex remains the jangly punk rock equivalent of an endorphin flood. Most credit here belongs to Hunt Sales, the percussionist who created possibly one of the most recognized beats in rock’s lexicon. (Fun fact: Pop and co-writer David Bowie based the beat on an Armed Forces Network call signal.) Either way, this is the anthem for pre-marathon courage and questionable strip teasing. —Sean Edgar

27. Elvis Costello & The Attractions, “Pump It Up”

You’ve gotta spend some time in the gym if you want to keep your legs as limber as Elvis Costello’s in the “Pump It Up” video. And what a good song to get you moving once you’re there—that bassline, the beat, the random “hey!”s and of course, the titular command. —Bonnie Stiernberg

26. Blackalicious, “Alphabet Aerobics”

Blackalicious is an amazingly talented hip-hop duo made up of rapper Gift of Gab and turntablist/producer Chief Xcel. Their underground focused sound is alternative West Coast hip-hop and its finest. Generally, considered to be the duo’s signature song, “Alphabet Aerobics” is a track in which each verse represents a different letter of the alphabet. The song starts out a normal speed, then gradually gets faster in tempo until it climaxes. Plus, “aerobics” is in the title, so you gotta work out to it. —Paste Staff

25. J. Cole, “Work Out”

The title alone is self-explanatory—J. Cole wants to see you work out! This song has a groovy, easy-to-sit-in beat that makes it a great warm-up or cool-down song. He samples Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” so you know the song has roots in good ‘ol fashion pop music. Added bonus: when he says, “Carolina blue sneaks, fresh on the scene.” Go Heels. —Jaimie Cranford

24. Franz Ferdinand, “Take Me Out”

In “Take Me Out,” you get two excellent workout songs for the price of one. The first half is an adrenaline-pumping anthem that quickens the pulse and keeps you from feeling even a little bit relaxed. In its second half, “Take Me Out” transforms into something more driving and definitive. Not only do the two halves of this Franz Ferdinand song work beautifully with one another, they also keep you on the edge of your seat. “Take Me Out” is a forceful push, one that gives you that last bit of drive just when you need it. —Joseph Allen

23. T. Rex, “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”

This song just makes you feel cool and sexy, no way around it. The fuzzy guitar intro sets up a groove that you just want to dance to. The opening line says, “Well you’re dirty and sweet,” which is exactly how you should see yourself when working up a sweat. This is an underrated workout song; since the tempo isn’t too fast many people probably wouldn’t add it to their workout playlist but once you find that sweet beat to sit into, it can be transformative. —Jaimie Cranford

22. Donna Summer, “She Works Hard For the Money”

Donna Summer worked hard for the money back in 1983. And you know what, you’re going to have to work just as hard for the rock-hard abs you want. Luckily, this syrupy ‘80s synths and defiant lyrics should help with that motivation. —Hilary Saunders

21. Tiësto, “Work Hard, Play Hard”

A little EDM in the weight room never hurt anyone. That thumping bass will bring a little bit of clubbing to your gym, so you’ll get that runner-high equivalent without any of the drugs of an EDM festival. —Paste Staff

20. Rage Against The Machine, “Sleep Now in the Fire”

This song is pure adrenaline. Even though Zach de la Rocha is rapping about corporate greed, institutionalized slavery, and futile wars, his literal rage will hype you up enough to finish whatever physical regiment and give you an endorphin high afterwards. —Hilary Saunders

19. Beyoncé, “Get Me Bodied”

It’s Queen Bey’s song, but all praises are due to Swizz Beatz for creating yet another killer beat for us to bounce to. Every workout is about keeping the body in motion, and it’s physically impossible to remain still when this song plays. But for those of us who never became fans of the gym, and who don’t necessarily see ourselves hitting the pavement for a daily jog, “Get Me Bodied” is the perfect excuse to engage in a solo workout disguised as a dance party. Pat yo’ weave ladies, and get thee bodied.—Shannon M. Houston

18. Devo, “Whip It”

Listening to “Whip It” can go two ways while working out. You can be the person who can actually “whip it good” during your grueling set. Or, Mark Mothersbaugh’s voice becomes your personal trainer commanding you to “whip it into shape.” No matter the perspective, though, this 1980 new wave classic is pure motivation. —Hilary Saunders

17. Queen, “Another One Bites The Dust”
This bass line is immediately recognizable and—unless you’re dead—will incite some kind movement. The other option is to watch a live version of this with a shirtless Freddie Mercury prancing the stage. That counts as exercise, too. —Mark Lore

16. DJ Khaled, “All I Do is Win”

DJ Khaled invites Ludacris, T-Pain, Snoop Dogg and Rick Ross to take over the verses on this song, one of the biggest of 2010. With an auto-tuned chorus of “All I do is win, win, win no matter what,” this triple Platinum hit will have you congratulating yourself on a great workout. —Paste Staff

15. House of Pain, “Jump Around”

Workout doesn’t immediately come to mind with this song, but rather movie montages. And also weddings. And drunken wedding dancing is probably the greatest workout routine ever—that is if you don’t end up hurting yourself or spilling your champagne. —Mark Lore

14. AC/DC, “Back In Black”

The chunky guitar line in AC/DC’s miraculous comeback song make for a perfectly rhythmic workout. Stair stepping or lunging to those giant riffs will make you feel like the Hulk. —Hilary Saunders

13. OK Go, “Here It Goes Again”

The video for this song started it all for OK Go. Now known for its wacky and wildly creative music videos, the entire band perfects a synchronized dance on a series of four treadmills in “Here It Goes Again.” Just think of this video on your next indoor jog. We guarantee it’ll be a sillier workout experience. —Hilary Saunders

12. Justin Timberlake, “SexyBack”

This was Justin Timberlake’s first No. 1 single, and my, what a classic it’s become. It’s one of the finest examples of pop’s ability to sincerely embrace silliness, thus giving us the opportunity to both laugh about and enjoy it. The unflagging syncopated synthesizer makes an excellent workout beat. Bonus idea from my personal experience: run outside to this and, if possible, cross over a local bridge for “take it to the bridge.” Workouts could use more comedic relief. —Monica Hunter-Hart

11. Missy Elliot, “Get Ur Freak On”

It’s impossible to listen to Missy Elliott and not want to get up and move. As soon as you hear that six-note intro to “Get Ur Freak On,” your pulse immediately starts to pick up. This is a great workout song because you start moving without even realizing what you’re doing. Missy’s music just does that, it hypnotizes you and puts you into a feel-good-mindless trance. —Jaimie Cranford

10. Kanye West, “The New Workout Plan”

It’s true that there a plenty of songs that Mr. West has written which work well for workouts (half of the tracks on Yeezus require the listener to get pretty amped), but “The New Workout Plan” is a classic. You don’t have to be an aspiring video vixen to appreciate the message here—there’s nothing quite like getting your body right for the summer, so that you can finally break up with Ray Ray’s broke ass. Let fitness instructor Kanye motivate you, with inspirational lines like “That’s right put in work, move your ass, go berserk/Eat your salad, no dessert/Get that man you deserve.” It’s not an especially feminist message, but it gets the job done.—Shannon M. Houston

9. Michael Jackson, “Beat It”

Every kid tried to dance like Michael Jackson when “Beat It” came out. Now there are kids of kids who are still trying. Of course, no one can be, much less dance like, the King of Pop, but you’ll sure as hell burn some calories trying. —Mark Lore

8. The Rolling Stones, “Start Me Up”

You won’t find much of The Rolling Stones’ post-Some Girls output on this list, but this 1981 Tattoo You track ranks among their all-time greats. Keith Richards’ iconic opening riff alone is enough to warrant its inclusion, and Mick’s howls of “you make a grown man cry” (not to mention some of the more suggestive lyrics) will get anyone revved up —Bonnie Stiernberg

7. Fatboy Slim, “The Rockafella Skank”

Norman Quentin Cook made a career of getting bodies moving with his sampling mastery. Plus this Englishman’s stage name is Fatboy Slim, so that should be motivation enough to work off a couple pounds in the name of slimness. —Paste Staff

6. James Brown, “Get Up Offa That Thing”

It doesn’t get more motivating than the Godfather of Soul imploring you to “get up offa that thing and dance till you feel better.” In fact, if you can manage to sit still during this song, you probably need to get your ears checked. So get up offa that thing and get up onto that treadmill. —Bonnie Stiernberg

5. Guns ‘n Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle”

Another important pump-up song in the world of professional sports, “Welcome to the Jungle” can be used an intimidating welcome track in enemy territory. But the song itself, off GNR’s classic 1987 debut Appetite for Destruction, is a banger. Grinding to the heavy guitar riffs will get your heart-rate up while shimmying, shaking, and slithering like Axl in the official music video below has gotta get your core super toned. —Hilary Saunders

4. Metallica, “Enter Sandman”

This is probably the most recognizable riff of the last 20 years. Funny thing is, if you told the members of Metallica circa 1984 that people would be working out to one of their riffs, rather than chain-smoking and chugging beer, you probably would’ve ended up with a skull ring imprint in your forehead (and that’s certainly not gonna help you get swole). — Mark Lore

3. Jay-Z, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”

“Big Pimpin’” is the best Jay-Z song to dance to, but “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” is the natural choice to run to. “On to the Next One”—which is another staple of my workout playlist—also has lyrics that make me psyched up to vanquish my enemies (whether they’re human or of the elliptical variety), but ultimately it’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” that has the driving beat and unflappable vibes that make for a workout track worthy of a president. Get that dirt off your shoulder, get those endorphins flowing. —Bonnie Stiernberg

2. The White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army”

Released in 2003, this thudding rock track helped put the duo of Jack and Meg White on the musical map. But the seven-note riff has since assumed a new role— riling sports-ball pump-up song. You can’t go to a professional sporting event in America these days without jumping up and down with at least 50,000 of your closest friends to the ominous descending guitar line. And if watching sports doesn’t want to make you be fit af, we don’t know what’ll change your mind. —Hilary Saunders

1. Survivor, “Eye of the Tiger”

“Eye of the Tiger” is so inspirational it’s almost a cliché. Still, it’s hard to deny the song’s sheer feeling of uplift. It was attached to Rocky III, after all. With lyrics as beautifully simple as “don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past, you must fight just to keep them alive,” Survivor’s defining single manages to tap into a primal feeling of power that can make you feel like a conqueror of worlds, especially while working out. “Eye of the Tiger” is epic, and maybe a little bit overblown. That’s precisely what makes it so great. —Joseph Allen

Share Tweet Submit Pin