Working out is always better with music. It motivates us to dig deeper, strive harder and even escape the real world for a while. Thanks to modern technology, we’re able to listen to our favourite songs while we exercise – so here are the 40 best workout songs to help get you through those demanding gym sessions.
50: Tina Turner: Disco Inferno
Tina Turner’s cover of Disco Inferno was recorded especially for her 1993 biopic, What’s Love Got To Do With It. A funky and energetic backdrop for an intense workout, its repetition of “burn, baby, burn” is reminiscent of a personal trainer encouraging us to feel the burn.
49: Young Thug: Hercules
A fittingly-titled entry among this list of the best workout songs, Young Thug’s Hercules will help gym-goers channel the Greek hero’s mighty strength. Produced by Metro Boomin, the song lives in constant anticipation of slap, while Thug raps and scats in complex patterns and modulations that match the slinking beats behind him.
48: Killswitch Engage: In Due Time
Proof that heavy metal is good for pumping iron, Killswitch Engage’s In Due Time will enhance any rush of endorphins, its quick guitar and drum work really driving home the Massachusetts metallers’ message of overcoming life’s trials and tribulations.
47: Alok and Vintage Culture (featuring FAULHABER): Party On My Own
To match the song’s lyrics about loneliness and the end of a relationship, the production on Party On My Own is on the darker side, but it maintains an upbeat tempo. The thumping bassline and drum patterns create a trance-like feeling ideal for getting in the zone.
46: Anne-Marie x KSI x Digital Farm Animals: Don’t Play
Don’t Play’s simplicity allows the thriving collaboration between Anne-Marie and KSI to shine effectively. The latter’s rapping has never been better, as he winds around with Anne-Marie’s baritone voice to tell the story of a relationship falling apart due to constant emotional games. The garage style mixes with an 80s disco vibe that instantly pulls you in to the song.
45: Tiësto: The Business
With its repeated refrain of “Let’s get down, let’s get down to business”, Dutch DJ Tiësto created a modern house classic with a cyclical chorus that encourages productivity. Perfect for those lunchtime workouts, The Business will get you out of the office headspace and into the callisthenics frame of mind.
44: Cher: Believe
Cher’s timeless hit shows the power of transformation, as it solidified her place as a cultural figure entering the 21st century. Featuring thick Auto-Tune and characteristic electronic production, Believe is a dance classic that will forever motivate gym-goers, thanks to its lyrics and high-octane tempo.
43: Ed Sheeran: Shape Of You
One of the best Ed Sheeran songs to add to your workout playlist, Shape Of You’s hypnotic, marimba-lead rhythm is infectious enough to get you through even the most punishing gym session. Proof that the song is great for physical training, its music video is set in neither the club nor the bar, but predominantly in a boxing gym and sumo dohyō.
42: Charli XCX: Good Ones
Incorporating everything from synthwave to electro-pop and dance music, and blanketing it in retro 80s vibes, Charli XCX’s 2021 single Good Ones was an instant club hit. Its punchy production and hypnotic synths also make it one of the best workout songs, with a cyclical rhythm that’s perfect for cross-training or any type of exercise that requires reps.
41: Green Day: Holiday
With the anthemic Holiday, Green Day capture the angsty energy of a generation of disillusioned millennials. While the tune may be more often associated with the skateboarding crowd (thanks to the Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland video game), its quick tempo and repetitive guitar hook make it one of the best workout songs for that moment when you’re just hitting your stride.
40: Panic! At the Disco: High Hopes
The blaring brass section that drives Panic! At the Disco’s High Hopes offers a sure-fire way to maintain stamina while doing laps. The song’s positive message about dreaming big and overcoming obstacles is also perfect for encouraging you to set goals and persevere until you smash them.
38: Chaka Khan: I’m Every Woman
Empowering for everyone who listens to it, I’m Every Woman serves as a reminder that we’ve all got it in us to succeed – whatever we want to accomplish, we can do it “naturally”. Chaka Khan tells us not to compare ourselves to others, but to know we’re perfect already, which also makes I’m Every Woman a great body-positive hit. A song that sings to our souls, it easily sits among the best workout songs.
37: Muse: Supermassive Black Hole
Fusing elements of electronica and funk, Supermassive Black Hole is a standout among Muse’s wide-ranging catalogue. With frontman Matt Bellamy’s gentle voice floating on top, it was the perfect choice for the iconic baseball scene in Twilight – and what better way to assert your place among the best workout songs than to invite fantasies of hitting homeruns with vampires?
36: The Monkees: I’m A Believer
The Monkees’ hit 1966 song is great at the start of a workout. With its upbeat tempo and instrumentation, it’s guaranteed to put a pep in your step, whether you’re stretching, running or dancing.
35: Chicago: 25 Or 6 To 4
From its powerful horn section to its masterful guitar solo, Chicago’s 25 Or 6 To 4 is perfect for those longer workouts. The song’s multiple sections act as symphonic movements ensuring that you will never get bored, and they are tied together with the foundation laid by the rhythm section at the start. Not just one of the best workout songs, 25 Or 6 To 4 has become a classic sports anthem associated with the NFL and is also a staple for most high-school marching bands.
33: Fleetwood Mac: Go Your Own Way
In the 1994 movie Forrest Gump, when Tom Hanks’ titular character got a bit bored with life, “for no particular reason” he just started running. As Forrest ran all the way across the US, Fleetwood Mac’s era-defining Rumours track Go Your Own Way provided the soundtrack. If the sound of Lindsey Buckingham passionately screaming his heart out for Stevie Nicks was able to accompany a run that lasted “three years, two months, 14 days, and 16 hours”, then it can push the rest of us through a quick circuit.
32: John Parr: St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)
Inspired by the real-life story of Canadian athlete Rick Hansen’s efforts to raise awareness of spinal-cord injuries, John Parr wrote the lyrics to St Elmo’s Fire for the 1985 film of the same name by director Joel Schumacher. With a rousing chorus to raise your fists to, few songs get more motivational than this – its gym-ready words of wisdom will have you soaring higher than an eagle (“Play the game, you know you can’t quit until it’s won/Soldier on, only you can do what must be done”).
31: Foreigner: Urgent
Fuelled by testosterone and the rush of endorphins, no exercise regime would be complete without at least one of the best Foreigner songs: in this case, the 1981 funk-rock-flavoured hit Urgent. Beating you around the head with the gusto of a merciless fitness trainer (“Got fire in your veins/Burnin’ hot but you don’t feel the pain”), this highlight from the band’s mega-selling 4 album is an essential among the best workout songs.
30: Prince: U Got The Look
Prince’s 1987 hit U Got The Look is a heavily percussive song, with Sheila E delivering a fantastic drum performance and His Royal Badness wailing on guitar like only he could. The repetition of the lyrics almost acts as a chant, driving you to peak performance in search of that “heck-a-slammin’” body.
29: Tom Petty: I Won’t Back Down
With Tom Petty himself acting as personal coach, and Ringo Starr setting the pace on drums, I Won’t Back Down is perfect for cooling down with a light jog and stretches after your workout. The message: push yourself in order to reach your goals, and you’ll eventually get there.
28: Led Zeppelin: Immigrant Song
Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song has been memorably used to soundtrack battle scenes in films (with lyrics inspired by Norse mythology, it made a fitting appearance in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarock, as the Norse god takes on a mass of villains). Action-packed and filled with Jimmy Page’s belligerent guitar, Robert Plant’s belting vocals and John Bonham’s thunderous drumming, it’s definitely one to listen to while weightlifting.
27: Joe “Bean” Esposito: You’re The Best
Featured on the soundtrack to The Karate Kid, Joe “Bean” Esposito’s power ballad You’re The Best, from 1984, will conjure up memories of Mr Miyagi teaching Daniel LaRusso to wax on, wax off. From practicing crane kicks to catching a fly with a chopstick, there’s nothing this song can’t summon the confidence within you to achieve (“You’re the best around/Nothing’s gonna ever keep you down”).
27: Olivia Newton-John: Physical
Physical was an instant hit in 1981, spending ten consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. While the lyrics pose an obvious double-entendre, the song still encourages physical fitness. It also takes us to a time of fun retro aerobics gear: legwarmers, neon headbands and high-cut leotards over spandex shorts. The song’s melody was recently sampled by Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa for Prisoner, whose edgy catchiness also earns it an honourable mention among the best workout songs.
25: Matthew Wilder: Break My Stride
Whether you’re practising for a 10k run or a more demanding marathon, Matthew Wilder’s reggae-tinged hit, Break My Stride, is sure to keep that mile-count higher than ever. With lyrics aimed at getting those glutes working, the song will have you blazing a trail hotter than a DeLorean travelling at 88mph (“Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride/I’m running and I won’t touch ground/Oh no, I got to keep on moving”).
24: Missy Elliott (featuring Ciara and Fat Man Scoop): Lose Control
Built on a run of chromatic scales, Lose Control is as badass as it comes. Missy’s attitude, Fatman Scoop’s raspy shout, and Ciara’s soft croon all come together to create the perfect song to ramp up the energy and raise anticipation for that next gym breakthrough.
23: Irene Cara: Flashdance… What A Feeling
Made famous in the 1983 movie Flashdance, which starred Jennifer Beals as an aspiring ballerina, the Giorgio Morodor-penned pop smash Flashdance… What A Feeling, by Irene Cara, can inspire anyone to fulfil their sporting ambitions. Thanks to an uplifting chorus that will have you pirouetting your way to glory, it’s easily one of the best workout songs for getting you to stretch your spandex to breaking point.
22: Red Hot Chili Peppers: Give It Away
As the lead single from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik album, Give It Away signposted the high-energy blast the group’s fifth record would deliver. Frontman Anthony Kiedis’ sleazy lyrics are rapped while Flea’s funky bass roams around the track and guitarist John Frusciante gives the song an edge with angular fretwork. Add the bouncy feeling created by Chad Smith’s drumming, and Give It Away is one of the best workout songs for regaining any lost focus.
21: Michael Sembello: Maniac
The synth-pop sensation Maniac, by Michael Sembello, was yet another hit from the incredible soundtrack to the 1983 film Flashdance, which told the story of a female welder who works to realise her dream of becoming a professional dancer. No matter how poorly-choreographed your own movements may be, Maniac is a must-listen for those of us who enjoy prancing around the gym like a lunatic (“She’s a maniac, maniac on the floor/And she’s dancing like she’s never danced before”).
20: Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin: I Like It
At the end of I Like It’s first verse, Cardi B makes it plain: “I run this shit like cardio.” What else do you need to hear while on the treadmill? With Bad Bunny and J Balvin contributing, the song’s blend of trap, salsa, and boogaloo is an undeniable adrenaline-pumper.
19: Starship: We Built This City
Cruising along to a shuffling synth-rock groove, Starship’s 1985 song We Built This City will get you building muscle faster than a construction worker can erect a rock’n’roll cityscape. If you’re a gym-goer, there’s nothing like a cheesy blast of 80s pop to give you the protein kick you need to flex those biceps like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron.
18: Lizzo: Good As Hell
Lizzo’s uplifting Good As Hell is a perfect booster for that mid-workout lull. Her soulful pop sensibilities shine as she sings about embracing independence and taking life as it comes. “Baby, how you feelin’?” she asks. “Feeling good as hell!” a chorus replies. It’s the best mantra for body positivity while working out.
17: Twisted Sister: We’re Not Gonna Take It
There’s nothing quite like inner rage to get your body moving, so We’re Not Gonna Take It, by glam-metal stars Twisted Sister, easily fights its way into the best workout songs of all time. With lead singer Dee Snider barking at authority figures, this hard-rock foray into finger-wagging individualism will have you flinging your body into action like nothing else.
16: Paramore: Ain’t It Fun
Working out is fun… right? If you not feeling it, Paramore’s perky tune Ain’t It Fun can help. The song’s xylophone creates a light feeling that’s grounded by Hayley Williams’ slightly sarcastic lyrics, but while she consistently reminds us that the real world is tough, the central theme is that that we shouldn’t take things too seriously.
15: Salt-N-Pepa: Push It
If you need that extra shove over the line, old-school hip-hop duo Salt-N-Pepa’s 1987 hit, Push It, may well do the trick. The signature song from two of the best female rappers of all time, its siren-like synth hook and shrill snare hits will turn you into a machine hog as you let the beat take over. Perfect for runners who want to resist the urge to hit the wall, Push It will become your mantra.
14: Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Another song that helps make a gruelling workout feel more like dancing with wild abandon, I Wanna Dance With Somebody makes time pass more quickly during cardio – it’s much more enjoyable pretending you’re in the club with your friends.
13: Olivia Rodrigo: Good 4 U
One of the best songs of 2021, Good 4 U draws on all the post-breakup misery that leads some spurned lovers to the gym. The staccato bass that drives the verses creates a momentum that culminates in the song’s hard-hitting chorus, making it one of the best workout songs for sessions that demand spurts of high-impact training. After all, why should our exes be the only “happy and healthy” ones? We deserve that, too.
12: Flo Rida: Good Feeling
Flo Rida’s Good Feeling is a nostalgic dancefloor staple with an infectious beat. Revitalising Etta James by sampling her 1962 single Something’s Got A Hold On Me, Flo Rida created a time-jumping classic that looks to both the past and the future. With lyrics such as “Let’s get it/Gotta love the life we’re livin’,” the song’s positive message seems purpose-built for that latest round of cardio.
11: Finesse: Bruno Mars (featuring Cardi B)
Blending 90s New Jack Swing with Bruno Mars’ modern take on funk and R&B, Finesse is an essential addition to any workout playlist in need of a bit of polish. Cardi B’s verses add an extra layer of old-school hip-hop that is guaranteed to keep you going through those interminable spin classes.
10: Survivor: Eye Of The Tiger
The theme tune for 1982’s Rocky III, Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger immediately established itself as one of the best workout songs of all time. Transporting us to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, where Rocky Balboa ends his morning run, it has come to epitomise perseverance and the significance of the underdog. The guitar strumming in the intro builds anticipation for what’s to come, while, with each repeated power-chord strike, we inch closer to briefly starring in the Sylvester Stallone film inside our mind.
9: The Doors: Break On Through (To The Other Side)
The ferocity created by John Densmore’s drums and Robby Krieger’s guitar in the introduction to this classic Doors song will drive you forward through your workout. With Jim Morrison’s assertive vocals and Ray Manzarek’s intricate keyboard solos increasing the frenzy, this song is guaranteed to help you break on through the pain barrier of your workout.
8: Donna Summer: Hot Stuff
Hot Stuff opens with a chromatic riff up and down the synthesiser, which will help propel you higher if you’re on a stair climber. Donna Summer effortlessly puts us in the party mode, making it feel as though we’re letting loose in a nightclub, not exercising down the gym.
7: Stevie Nicks: Edge Of Seventeen
Beginning with a strong 16th-note guitar riff, Edge Of Seventeen creates a sense of adrenaline coursing through your veins. When Stevie Nicks’ powerful voice comes in, she commands “the white-winged dove” to empower anyone who’s listening. The percussive repetition of the guitar riff makes the song ideal for endurance training or long-distance running… Or, to tone your calves, you could try twirling around the room in a mystical shawl, in true Stevie style.
6: Van Halen: Jump
Featuring Eddie Van Halen playing a prominent synth-style keyboard, as well as performing a cutting-edge guitar solo, Jump’s unique dance-rock style is a great all-rounder in this list of the best workout songs. David Lee Roth is known for his outrageous stage moves, and this high-energy song always provided him with the perfect opportunity to turn in performances that any cheerleader would be jealous of, including flips, summersaults and mid-air splits – fine inspiration for the more freewheeling exercise junky.
5: Dua Lipa: Physical
From Dua Lipa’s renowned sophomore album, Future Nostalgia, Physical encourages exercise in all forms – dance, rioting or anything else its lyrics may seem to suggest. The song’s bouncy synth-pop elements keep things fresh for listeners looking to get ripped for any of the above.
4: Daft Punk: Harder Better Faster Stronger
The fourth single from Daft Punk’s disco-influenced second album, Discovery, Harder Better Faster Stronger builds with a steady momentum that’s like a mini gym session all in itself. Starting out with lyrical fragments of “Work it/Make it/Do it/Makes us”, it progresses towards the more fully realised “Work it harder, make it better/Do it faster makes us stronger” and eventually emerges as the very embodiment of the idea that small steps ultimately lead to making the biggest moves.
3: Madonna: Into The Groove
Into The Groove is perfectly prefaced by Madonna encouraging “And you can dance for inspiration”. She’s right, of course: dancing is a major form of working out; it increases flexibility, improves muscle strength and has also been proven to ease anxiety. With its catchy chorus and whimsical lyrics, Into The Groove topped charts around the globe in 1985, and its simplicity has ensured its place among the best workout songs.
2: a-ha: Take On Me
With its energetic riff and effortless 80s synth-pop sound, Take On Me is guaranteed to invigorate any workout. The song already has an official Zumba routine, which uses a samba-style remix more suited to the dance. The original version of the song, however, hits the perfect tempo for any moderate or rigorous exercise.
1: New Order: Blue Monday
With its pulsing electro-pop groove, New Order’s classic 80s club hit is perfect for getting your blood pumping. Throughout the course of its seven-minute runtime, Blue Monday makes for a sure-fire way to maintain a steady rhythm as you get your step counts up – and that’s why it tops our list of best workout songs.
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