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Top 20 Best Workout Songs

Multiple studies have pointed to the positive benefits of music in helping to motivate athletes to push harder and to train for longer. One of the most respected of these studies, in 2001, was by C.I. Karageorghis, a renowned sports psychologist.

Happily, we non-athletes enjoy the same benefits. This means that there’s every reason to have a great best workout songs playlist to help us along. 

So, I decided to put together a selection of some of my personal favorites. I hope there are one or two of your choices included. If not, then apologies in advance. Let’s get started with the classic…

Best Workout Songs

Top 20 Best Workout Songs

Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones

There are very few old songs on my list. However, there are plenty of reasons that “Start Me Up” is a natural choice for kicking off any workout. It, therefore, seems completely appropriate to start proceeding here.

For any of you that don’t know, The Rolling Stones was formed in 1962 and are a band from London in the UK. The song we’re looking at was released almost two decades later. To be precise, on August 14th, 1981.

Like most of their music, this is an unashamedly Hard Rock song. The lyrics make you feel that you’re at the beginning of something, and that is intended. This hard-kicking song makes it a natural shoo-in to get you started.

Here are a few interesting facts…

The song was released as the main single of the album Tattoo You. Incredibly, it only took six hours to finish in the recording studio. By any standard, that’s insanely quick.

The song was resurrected in the 90s by Bill Gates, who chose it to spearhead the first ever Microsoft TV commercials. I find this story hard to believe as I somehow can’t imagine Gates ever listening to anything or anyone. But let’s go with it for now.

Regardless, Gates (alleged) decision earned The Stones a cool $14 million. Back in the 90s, that would have kept the entire band in drugs for a good few months. I’m kidding, relax everyone; I meant weeks. 

Summer by Calvin Harris

Any awesome workout playlist will certainly contain a fair amount of electronic dance music (EDM). Therefore, it seems like a good idea to start with something from the genre’s most successful and highest-paid DJ.

I could have chosen one of a hundred different tracks from Calvin Harris. However, “Summer,” which was released in 2014 and taken from his fourth album, Motion, seems a perfect choice.

This track was huge…

It charted in the Top 10 of just about every dance chart around the world and achieved platinum status in many countries. It didn’t do too well in Japan, though. Not sure what that was all about.

Unlike a lot of his other songs, he takes care of all the vocals himself and does a pretty good job. He has a nice voice, and frankly, one of my only criticisms is that the autotuning feels unnecessary. Still, who am I to pass judgment on such a colossus of the music world?

The song is full of energy and has a feel-good and, well, ‘Summer’ vibe. Plus, when you’re deep into your workout, it’s not only going to keep you focused, but it’s likely to put a smile on your face too. The only thing I can’t work out is why Calvin released a song called “Summer” in the Spring.

God is a Dancer by Tiesto and Mabel

Tiesto, like Calvin Harris, is also one of the highest-paid and richest DJs on the planet. For several years, he commanded more for his performances than Harris. 

Whichever way you look at it, Tiesto is another giant in EDM. Consequently, it’s a must to include something from his catalog in the best workout songs list.

The song I’ve chosen features vocals from Mabel… 

For those of you who don’t know her, she’s an outstanding young British singer-songwriter. She’s best known for her debut album, High Expectations

She’s honestly an incredible talent with an amazing voice to go with it. “God is a Dancer” is, therefore, a great combination of Mabel’s vocals and Tiesto’s EDM writing and production. 

I also like this particular track as this combo results in more of a Pop/Dance kind of a feel rather than a full-on EDM track that’s more synonymous with most of Tiesto’s music. Listen to this one back-to-back with “Summer,” and the time and your workout will fly.

The only small criticism I have is…

Like so much of today’s vocals, there’s an overuse of auto-tune. Surely, we can leave the days of Cher behind us and get on with some more authentic vocal performances. “Believe” me.

Drunk in Love by Beyonce and Jay Z

Just about anything released by either Beyonce or Jay Z is going to be a smash hit. Put them together, and it’s a certainty. So, no surprise then that upon the release of “Drunk in Love” in 2013, it went on to achieve triple platinum status in the US, clocking up more than three million sales.

What does surprise me, though, is that 70% of the total sales were in the US. I’d have expected much more global interest in the track. Plus, with Jay Z no doubt twisting a few arms at his streaming company, Tidal, this is even more surprising.

But I digress…

The single was written by Beyonce and Jay Z, with quite a few other writers who contributed to the mix. It has a slow beginning that builds nicely to a crescendo about halfway through the song. It’s then pretty much kept at high intensity until near the very end.

It’s an R&B Hip Hop track with a strong trap-style drum beat running through most of it. This makes it great for losing yourself during your workout. As far as great workout songs go, there’s little to fault.

I’m not so keen on the video which has Beyonce rolling around in the water like an idiot. It all feels a little cheesy, quite frankly. However, her voice, Jay Z’s rapping, and the production are still superb.

Jumpin Jumpin by Destiny’s Child

Only one track from Beyonce just doesn’t seem enough, so I’ve dug back a little and selected this gem. It’s over twenty years old, which feels like a lifetime in some ways. However, the good news is that it’s aged very well.

It was released in 2000, one year after the release of Destiny’s Child’s second studio album, The Writing’s on the Wall, from which it was taken. Like everything Beyonce touches, “Jumpin Jumpin” was a huge hit. It went to #3 in the US and sold over a million copies.

Having not listened to anything from Destiny’s Child for a little while, I’m struck by how good the harmonies sound. 

Make no mistake that those girls could sing…

The track is a fusion of Pop/Dance and R&B. It has an up-tempo feel to it that leads itself to dance which I’d say is the biggest component of the song. Beyonce also adds plenty of color to the song in the highly musical delivery of a series of rap-like vocal lines.

Unlike the previous video, this “Jumpin Jumpin” version is excellent and very much reflects the nature of the song. Lots of dancing in clubs with plenty of lights and energy. Very appropriate and more so given the relatively young age of the girls at the time.

Don’t Stop the Music by Rihanna

This is all Pop and Dance. The single was released in 2007 and was taken off her 2007 album, Good Girl Gone Bad. The single went on to sell over seven million copies and the album over nine million copies worldwide. Not bad.

Don’t stop the Music” has an unapologetic dance beat thumping throughout the track. It undoubtedly feels more like EDM than Pop, with the clever vocal lines blending beautifully to produce a captivating hybrid genre.

My only niggle is that at a tad under four minutes, it’s simply not long enough. Consequently, it’s a song that you might need to keep hitting repeat. Alternatively, there are quite a few club remixes if you’re looking for an extended version.

Once you’ve finished your workout…

If you still haven’t got your fix from an ideal workout song like this, you can also watch the video. Again, there are no real surprises as the whole thing is set in a club, like the previous video from Destiny’s child. And why wouldn’t it be?

Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses

Let’s get heavy and take a trip back to the 80s and 90s for some Hard Rock workout music. Guns N’ Roses were one of the biggest Rock bands of the 80s, and just about every track they recorded lends itself beautifully to the best workout songs playlist. 

The music is full of hard playing and high-energy Rock. You also get amazing lead vocals and killer guitar solos to keep you motivated.

Choosing just one track from their back catalog was no easy task. However, I finally decided for you workout nuts that “Paradise City,” released in 1897 and taken from their album, Appetite for Destruction, was the best of the best.

A long way from the most popular…

But, I believe it has the most energy of any of their songs. Honestly, that’s saying something! If you like this and it leaves you wanting more, then I suggest the next one to listen to is “Welcome to the Jungle.”

Additionally, if you still need more Guns N’ Roses, check out Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. Both of these albums contain superb Heavy Rock tracks and are rich pickings if you want to listen to some older-style music to help you on your fitness quest. 

Thunderstruck by AC/DC

Let’s keep the Rock theme going and take a look at this classic single from 1990. “Thunderstruck” is a classic AC/DC hard-hitting song. It was released as a single from Razors Edge and went on to reach #5 in the US. The official video release of the song has achieved a bonkers 1.1 billion views.

You can expect a continuous hard drum beat with equally high energy backup from the bass and rhythm guitar. This is all intertwined with one of the most recognizable riffs, courtesy of Angus Young. Plus, you get the unmistakable and seemingly impossible shrieking vocals from Brian Johnson.

You’re likely to be, well, thunderstruck…

The song is so fast and powerful that it can leave you exhausted by just listening to it. AC/DC has a ton of singles with the same pulsating vibes. All of them are great choices for high energy workout songs.

If this gets you going, you’ll have plenty of alternatives to choose from their extensive body of work. My second and third choices would be “Hells Bells” and “Highway to Hell.”

The Trooper by Iron Maiden

This is the last of the Rock tracks, but it’s a real banger of a song to finish off with. It’s fair to say that Iron Maiden is very much in the same genre and groove as both Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC. You get full power Heavy Rock, with crazy hard drumming, together with incredible vocals and guitars. 

Even better, the whole package is brilliantly presented courtesy of some of the tightest playing you’re ever likely to hear. There are a couple of things that I think make this song one of the best workout songs ever. 

Allow me to explain…

Firstly, Nicko McBrain’s drumming has a galloping quality. This is common for a lot of Iron Maiden songs. However, given that this is a track concerning the battles in the Crimean war, it is even more poignant in “The Trooper.” 

Secondly, Iron Maiden has two lead guitarists. This increases the intensity of the song. And it also results in some epic solos and dueling solos that are almost certain to help you get lost in the music. Thirdly, if all of this isn’t enough, and frankly it should be, there are Bruce Dickinson’s epic vocals too.

An oldie but a goodie…

The Trooper” was released in 1983. It came off the band’s fourth studio album, Piece of Mind. Both the single and album went on to huge commercial success selling millions of copies around the world.

Despite this being an oldie, it still feels as fresh today as when it was released. If you like this, you could also take a listen to “Fear of the Dark” or “Hallowed Be Thy Name.”

Jump Around by House of Pain

We’re moving on to some Hip Hop and fast-forwarding another nine years to 1992. This was very much the breakthrough single for House of Pain. 

It was released off their album, House of Pain. The single went to #3 in the US. It was subsequently re-released in the UK and went to #8, which was a big improvement on the original release that received little interest.

Bringing Hip Hop to a wider audience…

Jump Around” was not only a breakthrough record for the band but also a piece of music representing a musical genre. This was a song that attracted attention outside of the Hip Hop community. 

It was played frequently in mainstream clubs. Additionally, it enjoyed widespread airplay across a broad selection of radio stations around the world.

There’s no doubt about it…

It’s suitable for dancing, hence the popularity in the clubs. Therefore, it’s another great inclusion for your best workout and exercise songs playlist. It’s another oldie but great nevertheless. 

It’s always good to have some diversity in your music, and this song ticks all the boxes and hits the spot. If you want to explore some more of their music, in my opinion, the best of the best is from their 1994 album, Same As It Ever Was.

SexyBack by Justin Timberlake

Let’s bring things more up-to-date now. We’re not into contemporary music yet, but this 2006 release should start to pull us further in that direction. It’s one of the singles on his second studio album, Future Sex/Love Sound

SexyBack” was a monster hit, racking up over five million sales worldwide and going to #1 in several countries. The album was also a smash, selling over nine million copies.

So, what makes it such a good workout song?

I like it because it’s significantly slower than all the other songs on the list to this point. That might seem like a bad thing, but not every track has to be fast and high tempo.

The song still has a hard beat, but even though it’s much slower, it loses none of the intensity. Anyone who works out regularly knows there are times when there’s a need to concentrate and focus on the training. 

A great track to do just that…

As opposed to a lot of the other songs where you’re just looking to lose yourself in the music. “SexyBack” is less about Dance and much more about Hip Hop and R&B. It gets the balance just right to give you some motivation and some head space to get yourself through the pain. 

Shake It Off by Taylor Swift

This is Taylor Swift’s most successful single. It was released in 2014 as a single from her album, 1989. The single reached #1 in the US and #2 in the UK. The album enjoyed even more popularity as it reached #1 in both countries.

My friend, Dave, at the pub, told me that 1989 has sold more than 20 billion copies. Apparently, everyone in the world has a copy and all children under the age of 13 have at least twenty.

Less reliable sources from the internet told me it has sold just over six million copies. Make up your own mind about whom to believe.

Back to the song…

Shake It Off” is a Pop/Dance number that is typical for many of Taylor’s songs. The track is very upbeat, both lyrically and musically. 

It’s got a catchy beat and chorus line that lends itself to joining in. So, be careful you don’t find yourself shouting (I mean singing) the song if you have your earphones in when you’re down at the gym. This one is a must for the list and is likely to put a smile on your face.

Break Free by Ariana Grande

Since I put a Taylor Swift song on the list, I have to include something from Ariana Grande. Otherwise, I might get hate mail. 

After all, these two are like Pop rivals, each with a ridiculous number of Instagram followers. Currently, Taylor has close to 200 million followers, and Ariana has just over 300 million.

I’m not on Instagram, which must be a huge blow to them both. I digress.

So, what about the song?

Break Free” is another Pop/Dance number and was also released in 2014. Dave down at the pub has nothing to say about this one. But, I can reliably inform you that it went triple platinum in the US and sold close to two million copies. 

The single was taken from her smash hit album, My Everything. It has sold over three million copies, and five hit singles were taken from it. If you’re after just one Ariana Grande album to listen to, then this is the one I’d recommend.

Break Free” is a lot more of a Dance song than “Shake It Off.” It has a distinct EDM beat and feel to it. It is a song that wouldn’t seem out of place if it had been produced by someone like Calvin Harris. There’s plenty of energy to it and I like the EDM mix.

Work Bitch by Britney Spears

Here’s another song with plenty of EDM fused with a bit of Pop and, quite frankly, very little else. As an energetic workout song, I believe this hits the spot perfectly.

The song was released in 2013 and was unsurprisingly written by a small city of writers in collaboration with Britney. A ton of writers don’t always equate to success or anything worthwhile. But, in this case, it’s a job well-done, ladies and gents. 

Plus, with Will.I.Am on the production side; it’s unlikely for anything to go disastrously wrong.

I’ll readily admit… 

I have not listened to much of Britney’s music since I saw her, in what I considered her heyday, back in 2000 at Wembley Arena. However, having now taken the time to listen to Britney Jean, from which “Work Bitch” was taken, I think I might have to redress that.

Frankly, her personal life has overshadowed her musical career in recent years, and that’s a shame. I’ll always love you, Britney!

One More Time by Daft Punk

Daft Punk is a French House/EDM band with additional influences from Funk, Pop, and Disco. They were formed in 1993 by a French duo from Paris. 

Over the years, they achieved huge commercial success as well as peer group acclaim. Characterized by their experimentation in the recording studio and on stage, they became influential figures in the world of EDM.

I like this genre of music a lot. But, what I especially love about Daft Punk is their fun approach. It shows in the videos, concerts, and also through their music. This is all clearly on display in the 2000 smash hit, “One More Time.”

And, boy, is this song fun…

The song has a steady drum beat pulsing through most of it. Ideal for any workout. However, it’s also EDM with a light touch and executed beautifully. Plus, there are some lovely long breaks in the middle of the song that allows for building powerful crescendos. 

One More Time” is full of synthesizers and drum beats as you’d expect from EDM. Additionally, Daft Punk uses heavily auto-tuned vocals which suit it perfectly. I’m not usually a fan of autotune, but here it’s used for effect and adds to the atmosphere and mood. 

Most of the song’s success was in the UK, which given the French connection of the band, is a little surprising. It sold close to a million copies in the UK and close to two million around the world. 

Titanium By David Guetta and Sia

I’m sticking with the French and EDM as we explore this monster hit. “Titanium” was released in 2011. It achieved #1 in the UK and #3 in the US. Amazingly, for EDM, it sold over five million copies.

It’s now an iconic song that transcended from the world of clubs and into the world of popular music. The fact that this is a commonly requested karaoke song is a testament to its popularity.

Compared to some of my other EDM selections… 

This has a much harder beat. It feels more in alignment with the kind of thing you heard in clubs at the time. This makes the crossover into the mainstream even more surprising.

Honestly, just about any piece of Dance-based music is a good fit for your best workout songs playlist. Furthermore, a lot of other Guetta tracks could equally make the cut. However, I think this is the pick of them all.

Power by Kanye West

Love him or hate him; you can’t deny that West is an interesting character. “Power” was released in 2010 as a musical rebuttal to his detractors. It was the first single off his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Unsurprisingly, both the single and album sold in bucketloads, and Ye (aka Kayne West) was laughing all the way to the bank. Except, of course, there was no actual laughing. Or, smiling, come to think of it.

Power,” in no small measure, was a return to Ye’s roots of Hip Hop and is regarded by many as being one of his best songs. It features strong bass and drums, which are backed up by hand-clapping and synced shouting, which adds nicely to the percussive effect. 

All that power…

There’s no doubt that “Power” has plenty of that and is a real thumper of a motivator. The production of the track is off the scale. And the fact that Ye claims to have sunk 5,000 hours into it certainly backs this up. 

How much time he spent on writing the song is up for debate, as the number of writers involved is frankly ridiculous. However, it’s still a great pump you up workout song. And one I’m happy to listen to when I put on my sneakers.

Times Like These by Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters have so many great high-tempo Rock songs that it seems rude not to include at least one. And, since Dave Grohl is also considered to be possibly the nicest guy in the business it seems doubly rude not to. That wouldn’t do at all.

So, rudeness apart…

Why should you give “Times Like These” room on your playlist? Because of the fast beat and high intensity that runs from start to finish. The studio version, as well as the live performance, has energy and passion in abundance. 

It’s a great vibe, and even if you’re not familiar with the song, you’ll be unable to stop yourself from getting carried away and lost in the music.

The song was released in 2002 and went platinum in the US. It was released off the Foo Fighters’ fourth album called One by One. Both the single and album achieved high sales and commercial success throughout the world. 

If you like this song…

And, if you want more suggestions from the same band, I’d take a listen to “Learn to Fly” and “Hero.” For those of you (probably very few these days) who want to listen to an entire album, you should check out The Colour and the Shape.

Eye of The Tiger by Survivor

This is the theme music for the movie “Rocky III” starring Sylvester Stallone. The movie was released in 1982 and earned a cool $270 million at the box office. That’s the same as a Gazillion dollars these days.

So, what about the song?

Eye of the Tiger” was written and performed by Survivor, an American Rock band from Chicago. The single was released on May 31st, 1982, just a day after the release of the movie. It was released from their third studio album, also named Eye of the Tiger.

With the huge success of the previous Rocky movies, and given that it’s such a powerful and catchy piece of music, the song was destined for success. Not only did it go on to reach #1 in the US and other countries around the world, but it also went on to sell three million copies. 

Overall, it’s one of the best motivational workout songs you could ever listen to. Many consider this as the main theme and most important piece of music across the Rocky franchise. However, as good as it is, that accolade has to go to the music associated with the very first movie in the series.

Gonna Fly Now by DeEtta West and Nelson Pigford

I’ve left this until last because this is the original and best workout song in the world… ever! Enough hyperbole for you?

So, what makes it so great?

To fully answer that, you first have to watch the movie “Rocky,” which was released in 1977. Without this reference point, it’s going to be impossible to explain. And, the relevance of the song is likely to never be understood.

Most of you have probably heard of “Rocky,” but here’s a summary for those that haven’t.

The movie centers around the central character of the underdog Rocky Balboa who is a washed-up heavyweight boxer. Played by Sylvester Stallone, he gets an unexpected title shot when a contender drops out at the last minute.

At this point, we cue the last-minute training…

In comes long morning runs in the cold, eating raw eggs, and exhausting sparring sessions. Later, we get punching hung-up carcasses in a meat processing plant and running up endless flights of steps. All effortlessly, in a show of his regained fitness. 

The whole thing is shot to the backing of “Gonna Fly Now.”

For anyone that’s watched the movie… 

You can bet they’ve replayed their own versions in their imaginations as they strive for their personal fitness goals. This is a must-listen-to song to get you going and get the blood pumping. 

It’s a true testament to the brilliance of the writing by Bill Conti, Carol Connors, and Ayn Robbins that so many of us still have a connection with the song.

This wonderful piece of music rightly reached #1 in the US. Make no mistake; this is the true theme of “Rocky,” regardless of what Survivor may tell you or want you to believe. Besides, after Rocky II, all the sequels were a little crap, quite frankly. Sorry, Sly.

Looking for More Great Songs?

Well, then take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs about Fighting, the Best Songs About Work, Jobs, And Working Hard, the Best Songs About Not Giving Up, the Best Songs About Fire, and the Best Songs about Cars for more awesome song selections.

Also, you’ll need to hear those tunes in all their glory. So, check out our informative reviews of the Best Earbuds for Running, the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Most Durable Earbuds, as well as the Best Headphones for Music and the Best iPhone Earbuds you can buy in 2022.

Best Workout Songs – Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. I think most of us would agree that listening to music undoubtedly improves our training and performance. By the same token, continually listening to the same music can become old quite quickly. So, it’s always good to mix things up to keep things fresh.

I know my suggestions might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, I hope one or two are good enough for you to consider winning a slot on one of your workout song playlists.

Until next time, have a happy workout and training.

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About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

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