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The Best Energetic Songs for Workouts

Our music critics have compiled the ultimate pump-up playlist of the best energetic songs to take to the gym.

Written by
Andrew Frisicano
Time Out New York contributors

Looking for a playlist of energetic songs to blast through your Sunday morning hour in the pilates studio? Need just a couple motivational songs to obliterate that eighth rep? Regardless of your current regime, this list of the best workout songs will have you fired up. You'll find the best hip-hop artists, power-chord-crunching classic rock songs and more—basically your own personal trainer blasting through your headphones. So cue up your Spotify, strap on some sweatbands and start pumping!

Your Workout Playlist Full of Energetic Songs

Best Energetic Songs

1. “212” by Azealia Banks

Banks may be known as much for her constant feuds as for her music—but no one can deny that her 2011 debut single was one of the hottest club tracks in recent memory. You don't need to be on the dance floor to appreciate Ms. Bank's breakout hit: Just when you think you've reached your limit, count on her combative, relentless flow to help you tap into your inner fierceness.—Kristen Zwicker

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2. “One More Time/Aerodynamic” by Daft Punk

The melding of Daft Punk’s anthemic smash hit “One More Time” with the funky, instrumental “Aerodynamic” in 2007 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 energetic song in their LED-plated suits.—Marley Lynch

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3. “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 your headphones, 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.—Hank Shteamer

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4. “Pump up the Jam” by Technotronic

Belgian outfit Technotronic's triple-platinum international smash remains one of the most recognizable—not to mention frenzy-inducing—dance tunes. With its relentless beat and driving bassline, we guarantee the jam isn't the only thing that's going to get pumped up.—Kristen Zwicker

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5. “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 this energetic song, 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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6. “Body Movin' (Fatboy Slim remix)” by the Beastie Boys

With all their mock informercials and retro video homages, it's a wonder the Beasties never made an all-out exercise video. Still, this aerobic remix from 1998's Hello Nasty was a rare case of the trio allowing a populist producer to rework a song for purely commercial reasons. And work it did. Fatboy Slim amped-up wah-wah guitars and scratching, and flared out the bottom end with funk. It was the closest thing to outright boogie the New Yorkers had released since "Hello Ladies." There are kitschy samples from Ed Durlacher's Modern Dynamic Physical Fitness Activities, and MCA lets it be known that even "when it comes to quarries I'm known to swim."—Brent DiCrescenzo

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7. “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 1988 hit and stay still—we recommend Salt-N-Pepa’s gymtastic dance routine as your calorie-burning mode of self-expression for this one.—Sophie Harris

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8. “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 energetic song says one thing: EVERYBODY DANCE NOW. And it says it well.—Sophie Harris

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9. “Times Like These” by Foo Fighters

Some work out to get fit, others do it because they have a bubbling volcano of fury to get out of their system, post-breakup/post-horrible-thing-happened-at-work/post-dammit-I-just-stepped-in-gum. Whatever your motivation for hitting the track, there are few energetic songs more perfectly designed and executed than the Foo’s 2002 anthem to channel your fiery feelings into raw energy and, dare we say it, joy. “It’s times like these, you learn to live again” sings rock’s great reassurer, Dave Grohl. If you say so, Dave.—Sophie Harris

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10. “Hard to Explain” by the Strokes

Fabrizio Moretti is the greatest Spin instructor in rock & roll. By name alone, the metronomic Strokes drummer even sounds like a Tour de France racer. The perfect Is This It track might immediately bring to mind cigarettes, denim and booze, but Fab's inhumanly locked rhythms help make the debut an optimal exercise regime anthem. The 160 bpm beat (coincidentally, a great target heart rate for the average 30-year-old) of "Hard to Explain" keeps your legs pumping the cycle at a brisk 22 mph pace. That brilliant pause comes in at two minutes, giving you a chance to catch your breath before hammering the pedals for the closing burn.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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