The 50 best workout songs

Get motivated to run faster and pedal harder with our ultimate fitness playlist



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“The Seed (2.0)” by the Roots

A slow jam for an exercise song, this 2002 track is best for biking. The sexy overtones actually work pretty perfectly for a workout; the track has serious rhythm and a catchy hook—you push the pedals, Cody Chesnutt will push, um, his seed in her bush for life. You'll get into it, we swear.—Kate Wertheimer

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“I Would Die 4 U” by Prince

Ideally, we'd don pastel spandex and break into synchronized aerobic moves for this song. The uptempo dance track, off 1984's Purple Rain, has synth-pop, dramatic lyrics and funky breakdowns aplenty, making us the star of our own '80s workout montage whenever it comes up on our playlist.—Kate Wertheimer

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“Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen

For everyone who goes into fantasy-music-video mode on the treadmill—that's all of us, then—there can be no finer brain candy than the Boss's 1984 anthem, the biggest hit of his entire career. Yes, you are the girl Springsteen pulls out of the audience in the video—that includes you, fellas—and you are dancing onstage. Add to that the song's crazy urgency—"I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face!"—and sweaty sexiness—"I need a love reaction"—and you'll find you've got another mile in you easily.—Sophie Harris

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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 1983 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”?—Hank Shteamer

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“Such Great Heights” by the Postal Service

It’s true that this track was featured in the Garden State trailer and is now forever haunted by the specter of Zach Braff, and yes, Ben Gibbard’s oeuvre isn’t what you generally turn to when it’s time to break a sweat, but this 2003 classic has enough energy to power the workout of any indie-pop fan who wants to stay skinny-jean–slim. A tenderhearted love tune and an exercise must-have? It’s no wonder that after a decade, we still can’t get “Such Great Heights” out of our heads.—Gabrielle Bruney

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“A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend

This is your go-to jogging-in-the-sun song. Off Vampire Weekend's 2008 self-titled debut album, the spunky, perky track is a perfect soundtrack for those few shiny minutes when you're feeling good, waving at passersby and running in place at stoplights. It may not get you through the uphill battles, shin splints and mile nines, but there's nothing wrong with starting on a lighthearted foot.—Kate Wertheimer

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“Runnin' Down a Dream” by Tom Petty

Whether you're currently pursuing your dreams or fleeing the smoldering embers of your once-bright hopes, Tom Petty's 1989 jam, which celebrates the freedom of the open road, will put some fire in your step. What was it you wanted to do again? Make yourself a healthy, farmers'-market dinner? Join a book club? Take a nice weekend trip? By the time the solo hits, you'll be in full sprint, grasping at that damn dream's heels.—Andrew Frisicano

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“Lonely Boy” by the Black Keys

Say what you will about the authenticity of the Black Keys' blues; this 2011 track is a hip-shaker if there ever was one. It's almost impossible to keep still while it's on, which makes it a perfect track for a workout. We like it for running, but we'd really rather take a page from Derrick T. Tuggle—the smooth-moving part-time security guard who stars in the song's music video—and cut a rug instead.—Kate Wertheimer

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“Denis” by Blondie

In early 1978 Blondie was scoring hits in Europe but was still an underground sensation on its own turf. “Denis” is a perfect example of the quirky-cool eclecticism that would help the band hit big stateside with Parallel Lines, released later that year. The track, a gender-swapped cover of a minor doo-wop hit, preserves the tinny, tambourine ’60s charm of the original while infusing it with Blondie’s signature saccharine-punk edge. It’s sweet, salty and perfect workout fuel.—Gabrielle Bruney

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“Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons

We’re just as surprised as you are to find a Mumford & Sons track on a workout playlist, but the pure, "Dueling Banjos"–esque fury of 2009’s “Little Lion Man” can’t be denied. On this self-flagellating breakup anthem, Marcus Mumford sings, “I really fucked it up this time, didn’t I, my dear?”—pretty tough language for a guy wearing a linen vest. But a touch of self-loathing is an essential ingredient for any good workout, so let the hate flow through you and leave it all on the treadmill.—Gabrielle Bruney

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Users say

Elfreda T
Elfreda T

Deleting someone's comment just because they don't like your playlist isnt very mature.

Elfreda T
Elfreda T

Whilst many of these are truly great songs they are TERRIBLE for the gym. What kind of workout do you guys do???


"Lust for Life", by Iggy Pop.  That's one to get you moving!!

Listen to Time Out's 50 best workout songs playlist on Spotify

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