The 50 best workout songs

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

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20

“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” by Beyoncé

There’s no better workout inspiration than Beyoncé; end of discussion. Every treadmill in the world should come with her photo Scotch-taped to its digital display. And few songs capture Queen Bey at the height of her powers as well as 2008’s "Single Ladies." By the end of the track, you’ll slip into hand-clap-induced hypnosis and barely notice that you’ve cleared an extra half mile. Even outside of the gym this tune is a portable cardio routine—can anyone fight the urge to do the signature “Single Ladies” bend-and-snap dance whenever the song comes on? We definitely can’t. —Gabrielle Bruney

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19

“Hey Ya!” by Outkast

“Shake it like a Polaroid picture,” urges André 3000 in his epically funky booty-mover from OutKast’s 2003 double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and who are you to tell the man no? What makes “Hey Ya” so enduringly popular—the Song of the Millennium, even, according to voters in Grantland’s 2013 bracket battle—is not just how catchy it is, but how unpredictable it is, even after countless listens; the shifts of time signature practically force you to spaz out. Channel that impulse into your workout: Shake, shake it, and see what develops.—Adam Feldman

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18

“Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj

When Nicki Minaj gush-sings about a lover who's got her "heartbeat runnin' away," she ain't talking about cardio. But there's no reason you can't take her sentiment literally, and use this sparkly pop anthem—a surprise B-side smash from the crossover queen's 2010 debut studio LP, Pink Friday—to soundtrack your next gym trip. Minaj's rapid-fire sass and cartoonish swagger will put the boom-badoom-boom-boom back in your next spin sesh or medicine-ball blitz.—Hank Shteamer

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17

“We Found Love” by Rihanna

This song shouldn’t work, but it so does. ("Yellow diamonds in the light"—what are those? Who cares?) Somehow, RiRi conveys melancholy, nostalgia and hurt while simultaneously delivering—let’s be honest—one of the greatest dance tracks in recent history. You’ll want to close your eyes and raise your hands in the air when this one comes on, so make sure you’re not a) running near traffic or b) anywhere you care what people think of you. So, yeah, private bedroom dance-offs with yourself. That would be best.—Carla Sosenko

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16

“December 4th” by Jay Z (Grey Album mix)

Jay Z’s autobiography from The Black Album in four crisp, perfect minutes as cut and spliced with the Beatles (“Mother Nature’s Son”) over an obscenely fat beat by DJ Danger Mouse? Oof! We’ll take it. “If you can’t respect that, your whole perspective is wack” spits Jay. Quite so.—Sophie Harris

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15

“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 2010's “Dancing on My Own” makes you feel simultaneously desperate and defiant. Work those complicated emotions out, yo!—Sophie Harris

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14

“Firework” by Katy Perry

What this anthem to self-esteem lacks in speed it more than makes up for in pure motivational prowess. Save this one for a speedwalk, slow jog or cooldown, and let the inimitable Perry lift you up to workout nirvana. I "own the night like it’s the Fourth of July"? I’m "original, cannot be replaced"? Fuck yes! Let’s rock this workout! Rrrroar!—Carla Sosenko

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13

“I Love It” by Icona Pop

So what if this track was a bit overplayed by late 2013? It was born to have a second life on every workout playlist from now until the end of time. It’s a perfect electropop anthem, reckless and jubilant with a primal, monosyllabic vibe. Keep this one in your pocket until the peak of your cardio routine. Endorphins are pumping, and you know tomorrow your entire body will feel like one huge bruise, but for now—you don’t care.—Gabrielle Bruney

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12

“Roadrunner” by the Modern Lovers

Jonathan Richman's 1972 ode to cruising the highways of Massachusetts is also a great way to cruise through four minutes of workout time. The two-chord jaunt is actually the perfect marker for a leisurely half mile. In the future, it's possible—recommended, even—that the mile (or the kilometer for our metric-measuring brethren) will be replaced with the "Roadrunner" as a unit of measure. Go off now and get in a few roadrunners before dinner.—Andrew Frisicano

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11

“Train in Vain” by the Clash

One of the standout tracks of the Clash’s 1979 masterpiece, "London Calling"—despite being added to the record so late, it wasn’t even originally listed on the album sleeve—this has exactly the sort of chugging, driving hook you need to see you through another grueling workout. The fact that it’s catchy as all get out doesn’t hurt either.—Nick Leftley

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

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