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The 51 best workout songs

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

By Andrew Frisicano and Time Out New York contributors |
Photograph: Shutterstock

Looking for a playlist 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 iPod, strap on your sweat bands and start pumping!

Your Workout Music Playlist

Best Workout Music


“Need You Now” by Cut Copy

Cut Copy may not be the first band you think of when it's time to break a sweat, but "Need You Now" is essentially the sonic version of a runner's high. Hell, Dan Whitford repeatedly wails, "I know we're running baby / But I need you now." From the opening chugging synth to the tune's extended euphoric climax, this song is made to get you across the finish line.—Kristen Zwicker

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“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

Buy on Amazon


“Talk Dirty to Me” by Jason Derulo

"You know the words to my songs / No habla inglés / Our conversations ain't long / But you know what is." Listen, you don't go to the gym to think. You go to raise your heartbeat, and this heaving, horn-infused beat will help you do it.—Kristen Zwicker

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“Hideaway” by Kiesza

We recommend putting on Kiesza's electropop ode to '90s house and hitting the streets to create your own interpretation of the song's viral video, which features a long take of the Canadian ballet-dancer-turned-pop-songstress twirling, shimmying, and gyrating through Williamsburg. Sure, your version might be more akin to Prancercising, but whatever, calories are calories.—Kristen Zwicker

Buy on Amazon


“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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“Ni**as in Paris” by Jay Z + Kanye West

Stadium rap at its finest, "Ni**as in Paris" is designed to put you all the way in the red. Just try to call it quits with Kanye screaming "HAH" (or “HUH” or “HEH” or whatever) in your ear. Here's a question, what muscle does ceaselessly pumping your elbows build? There's one way to find out: Play this song on repeat. That shit cray. —Kristen Zwicker

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“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift's upbeat megahit "Shake It Off" did more than just tell the haters of the world to kindly kiss off, it completed Swift's metamorphosis from country darling to pop superstar. What better way to soundtrack your own transformation into a stronger, healthier you?—Kristen Zwicker

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“Partition” by Beyonce

Consisting of two sections, "Yonce" and "Partition," the third single from Beyonce's eponymous fifth studio album is essentially the pop-R&B queen's persona in song form: one part swagger and one part sex—things that, let's be honest, are not entirely unrelated to the motivations behind going in the gym in the first place.—Kristen Zwicker

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“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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“Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior

Despite the brooding murder dramas, perpetual damp and considerable hot-dog consumption, Denmark has been ranked the second-happiest country on the planet three years running by Forbes. (Okay, perhaps the hot dogs help.) Then again, Junior Senior's 2003 tune jam-packs enough uncut joy to counterbalance the millions of Jo Nesbø's nihilist noirs flooding bookshelves. With a bassline like intravenous Red Bull and smile-widening horns, the disco shuffle of this giddy-dumb one-hit wonder could make Søren Kierkegaard strip naked and do jumping jacks.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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