The 20 best workout songs

Shed those calories and get into tip-top swimsuit shape with our pulse-pounding list of the best workout songs



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Let's face facts: Everyone hates working out. But have no fear, dear reader! The intrepid Time Out New York Music staff has assembled a list of the best songs for you—yes, you—to listen to while getting your fit on. You won't find any puns on this list, just music (like Lady Gaga!) to fuel your raw adrenaline while you stay fit. We can say with complete medical accuracy that listening to the following 20 songs will make you 10 percent stronger, 5 percent thinner and 38 percent more attractive. Don't believe us? Just ask a doctor. Or read on for the full list and see what happens. You just might get strong.

RECOMMENDED: Fitness guide to NYC

  1. 20–11
  2. 10–1

“Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)” by Bill Conti

It sounds quaint today—all that brass brings to mind scenes of high-school band rehearsal—but Rocky’s orchestral-funk training soundtrack still holds a deep, earthy allure. What're you waiting for? Don your navy stocking cap and gray sweatsuit, and pound that pavement!

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“Here It Goes Again” by OK Go

The snappy beat supporting this Chicago band's 2006 runaway hit offers plenty of juice for any low-impact cardio session, but it's the beyond-clever video that prompted more than 10 million YouTube views and sparked any number of copycat auteurs. Seriously, if synchronized swimming is an Olympic sport, then the coordinated feats the nerdy OK Go boys pull off in this berfamous clip are more than enough to deserve a write-in vote for gold medals all around.

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“Where I’m Going” by Cut Copy

If the upbeat, psychedelic rhythms on this track don't put a smile on your face and send you skipping out to your local track, then nothing will. Ground covered in snow? You'll never notice it with these tropical beats pumping in your earbuds. If it's any more proof of this song's athletic-inducing abilities, it's been included in the soundtrack for FIFA's 2012 season.

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“Run” by Ghostface Killah featuring Jadakiss and Comp

If you're a drug dealer, your workouts tend to occur at irregular intervals, generally spurred by the police. Pay special attention to Jadakiss's masterful verse where he perfectly encapsulates the moment when fear sublimates to adrenaline: “These Tims start to feel like they're Nike Airs on me.” Also note Ghostface's orange furry pirate hat that he wears in the song's music video. It looks aerodynamic.

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“Master of Puppets” by Metallica

“Veins that pump with fear,” James Hetfield barks over one of Metallica's most lacerating riffs on the title track from the band's landmark 1986 release. Boosted by Lars Ulrich's hammering drums, the song is perfectly suited to kickboxing or Tae Bo, if less so for straight-up running, thanks to that whiplash stop-start chug at the end of each line. True, Hetfield probably didn't have vitamins and whey in mind when he penned the line "chop your breakfast on a mirror," but this cut is enough to jump your heart into overdrive without any powdery supplements.

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“Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire

Never run to the sound of a hurdy-gurdy before? Now's your chance. Arcade Fire convened its usual vast bunch of musicians and instruments for the making of Neon Bible, and “Keep the Car Running” is the album's most affirmative, fist-pumping moment. Listen, be pummeled, go pummel.

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“Dare” by Gorillaz

Whether you dream of making it to the gym twice a week or completing the NYC marathon, this galloping, hook-filled song from our favorite international cartoon collective will dare (cough!) you to accomplish your goals. Next time you feel a lack of motivation, just listen to Damon Albarn's eerily commanding falsetto ordering you to work it out!

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“Let’s Get It Started” by Black Eyed Peas

Believe it or not, the Black Eyed Peas weren't always a total abomination—remember when the Cali foursome were nothing more than a pleasantly inoffensive Jurassic 5 knockoff? This track, off their third album, Elephunk, might be where things went irrevocably downhill. Hey, think of it this way: If you run hard enough while listening to this song, your earbuds might fall out and you won't have to hear the rest of it!

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“Seventeen Years” by Ratatat

The intense synth beats and rhythmical bass lines in this Ratatat song—from the duo's self-titled debut album, which dropped in 2004 and sealed their fate as experts of the electro-rock hybridization—will enable you to do reps with the regularity and precision of a robot. In fact, it may even become compulsive.

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“New Workout Plan” by Kanye West

Kanye's subtly operatic instrumental goes through so many movements that this is basically the "Stairway to Heaven" of anthems about getting your body right. What's more, you can do a sit-up to the thing.

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  1. 20–11
  2. 10–1

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Listen to Time Out's 20 best workout songs playlist on Spotify

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