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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“Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory

One YouTube commentator nails it: “Modern dance songs are bland by comparison.” You tell ‘em! He has a point though. The funky drummerish beat, the plinky cowbell, the manic scream of its singer (was she really singing though? This is 1990, just a year after the Milli Vanilli scandal broke). This song says one thing: EVERYBODY DANCE NOW. And it says it well.

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“Maniac” by Michael Sembello

Not a lot of us can truly relate to Flashdance—welding in a steel mill by day, go-going at a seedy bar by night, etc.—but this tense, synth-drenched soundtrack tune could inspire even the staunchest couch potato to don a leotard and sweat it out. Who doesn't yearn to “[dance] into the danger zone / Where the dancer becomes the dance”?

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“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

The consummately macho thrust of this early-’80s anthem is no accident: Survivor custom-wrote the tune for Rocky III, at the behest of Sly Stallone himself. Boxing’s the subject, but you’ll feel the same adrenaline rush on the treadmill, guaranteed.

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“Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J

Featuring one of the most legendary opening lines in hip-hop—“Don't call it a comeback!”—LL Cool J's battle-rap anthem features a Marley Marl beat powerful enough to make you want to punch through a wall. For best results, don the same robe that LL has on in the music video.

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“Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa

Tell us you don’t remember dancing to this as a kid, and we won’t believe you. Admit you didn’t know what a “fly mother” was, and we will. Either way, it’s physically impossible to listen to this song and stay still—we recommend Salt-N-Pepa’s gymtastic dance routine as your calorie-burning mode of self-expression for this one.

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“Night by Night” by Chromeo

Dismiss Chromeo as a mere good-time party band at your peril; “Night by Night” captures the workings (or lack thereof) of men and women—“She says I’m not romantic! I say she’s too dramatic!”—and turns it into a sizzling electro anthem, a disco Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, if you will. One to accompany you on the treadmill in times of friction.

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“Dancing on My Own” by Robyn

The Swedish pop star makes music to get your system pumping, hence the title of her awesome Body Talk series. She targets one muscle in particular though—your heart—and “Dancing on My Own” makes you feel simultaneously desperate and defiant. Work those complicated emotions out, yo!

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“Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” by Michael Jackson

Even before his King of Pop days, M.J.’s dance-floor decrees were irresistible. Throw this 1978 disco burner on the iPod, and you’ll find yourself obeying the dearly departed icon’s every command: “Let's dance!” Roger. “Let's shout!” You got it. “Shake your body down to the ground!” Yes, master.

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“One More Time/Aerodynamic” by Daft Punk

The melding of Daft Punk’s anthemic smash hit “One More Time” with the funky, instrumental “Aerodynamic” is simply genius, creating a euphoric, powerfully building (fl)ab burner. We can even imagine the helmet-wearing robots of Daft Punk working out to this song in their LED-plated suits.

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“The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga

You’ve made it! You’re on the last lap of your excruciating treadmill run, the red LEDs are counting down, three minutes to go and you’re so nearly there—you’re on the edge! The edge of glory! Let that Clarence Clemons sax solo inspire you to sprint to the finish. We’re proud of you.

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  2. 10–1

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

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