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The 50 best workout songs

Our music critics compile an ultimate pump-up playlist of the 50 best workout songs to take to the gym

Best workout songs

Need the right pump-up tunes to fly through your spinning class? How about a motivational jam to complete that twelfth rep? Whatever routine you're up to while frequenting the best gyms in NYC, our playlist of the best workout songs has you covered. With everything from hits by the best hip-hop artists to fist-pumping classic rock anthems, this playlist is like a personal trainer in your earbuds. So cue up the tracks, and keep your water bottles at the ready!

50 best workout 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

Buy 212 on Amazon

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 song in their LED-plated suits.—Marley Lynch

Buy One More Time/Aerodynamic on Amazon

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 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.—Hank Shteamer

Buy Shake Your Body on Amazon

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

Buy Pump Up the Jam on Amazon

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 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

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

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

Buy Push It on Amazon

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

Buy Gonna Make You Sweat on Amazon

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 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

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

Buy Hard to Explain on Amazon

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Best workout songs on Spotify

Comments

5 comments
Jt H
Jt H

Such a terrible list. God awful. Where's the Metallica at least? Or metal? Rock? Anything other than this crap!

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???

Canuck_in_OP
Canuck_in_OP

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