The 50 best workout songs

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



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“House of Jealous Lovers” by The Rapture

The best use of a cowbell in a dance song ever? That auspicious award goes to this banger off the Rapture’s essential get-the-party-started LP Echoes. Three guitar chords, an insanely catchy bass line, whiney-as-fuck screams and a ceaseless disco-y beat will make you want to work your ass off. Trust us. The drawn-out count-off from one to eight midway through is perfect for plugging through another set of reps.—Tim Lowery

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“Kick Out the Jams” by MC5

Rocky had Mickey, Daniel had Miyagi, Dodgeball had Patches. Point is, if you want a muscle-crushing regimen, you're going to need a blue-collar sensei riding your ass hard. Skip the warm-up, cream puff, and slot this electric slice of 1969 protopunk into track one of your workout mix. With an Afro that looks like he shoved his finger in an electrical outlet, frontman Rob Tyner hollers, "KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKER!" Then Wayne Kramer rips into a whip-cracking guitar riff. Sir, yes, sir! Oddly, this cult classic remains a favorite of doughy music critics more than heavy-metal jocks.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“Lose Yourself” by Eminem

Eminem’s still a hit machine, but it may not be too early to call “Lose Yourself “ his creative peak. Written for the soundtrack of 2002’s 8 Mile, Em’s semiautobiographical film vehicle, the lyrics clearly refer to the Marshall Mathers myth, but they tap right into the universal. Who hasn’t felt like a major goal was just within their reach? And was there ever better thematic material for an exercise classic? Save this one for the late-workout slump; “Lose Yourself” will power you over that last hill or through that final mile.—Gabrielle Bruney

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“Black Skinhead” by Kanye West

What works against Ye as a human being—unbridled anger, insane intensity, rudeness—works really, really well in the best track off Yeezus. The percussive throbbing and general rageyness are all you need to make it up that last hill or through a round of sparring. Throw this bad boy on repeat, and do battle with some imaginary foe. With this track in your ear, you will win.—Carla Sosenko

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“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen

Finding music for cardio is easy enough, but for reps you need something more basic in its thump, more regular in its drive—more, in other words, like Queen’s 1980 megahit. Time your lifting to the relentless bass, and enjoy the bonus of Freddie Mercury’s high rock tenor urging you to find vengeance against whatever is powering the anger of your workout that day.—Adam Feldman

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“Rocks Off” by The Rolling Stones

Okay, so this one, which kick-starts the Stones’ 1972 meat-and-potatoes masterpiece Exile on Main Street—is more than a bit about Richards’s heroin habit. And sure, “the sunshine bores the daylights out of me” might be the most antihealthy-living lyric of all time. But something about the boogietastic stew of horns, Jagger’s scratchy yelps and pummeling backbeat always makes us move faster, whether it’s on a bar’s dance floor or on the running track.—Tim Lowery

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“Hypnotize” by the White Stripes

The Stripes have plenty of back-to-basics rippers, but halfway through this economical, under-two-minute song from 2003, Meg cuts out, and Jack stomps on his fuzz pedal for an as-simple-as-it-gets “solo.” When the drummer comes back in and the two link up for the chorus again it’s epically energizing. If this doesn’t get your heart rate up and make you want to push yourself past your limit, we don’t know what will.—Tim Lowery

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“Kiss Off” by Violent Femmes

Granted, it’s hard to imagine the Violent Femmes’ anxious-sounding lead singer, Gordon Gano, setting foot in a gym. But “Kiss Off,” from the folk-punk-garage band’s classic 1983 debut album, taps into the violent side of the band’s quasi-oxymoronic name. Written while Gano was a teenager, it vibrates with adolescent, something-to-prove resentment—which can sometimes be just what the trainer ordered.—Adam Feldman

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“Uncontrollable Urge” by Devo

This is another song with the ability to physically propel you forward, but the only danger of this track from 1978’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! is that its insane, scatterbrained energy will make you want to try and do ten things at once—not a good tactic at the gym.—Nick Leftley

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“Gamma Ray” by Beck

Ironically, Beck crafted one of his upbeat numbers of the last decade while he was practically an invalid. Recently, the chameleonic songwriter revealed he suffered through most of the aughts with a spinal injury. Onstage he was uncharacteristically still. He confessed he could hardly play his guitar. Still, his palm-muted riffing on this 2008 single was invigorated by a Merseybeat shuffle. Today, fortunately, he's back to his break-dancing ways, even if the pumped-up "Gamma Ray" is better suited to the twist.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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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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