I don’t know about you, but I cannot work out without listening to music. On extremely rare occasions, my Bluetooth headphones run out of juice or I forget them at home. Those days at the gym are pure torture. Boredom floods my mind, I become distracted by my irregular breathing (a.k.a. gasping) and I make jealous eyes toward the other gym-goers who are tuned into their music. But even when I do have my headphones, I sometimes fall into a bit of a playlist rut. It happens to all of us. The excitement of a song fades after hearing it too many times, the tempo seems to drag, and we slow down because we know when the end is coming. Quick anecdote, remember the actor Kellan Lutz who played Emmett in Twilight? I’ll never forget reading an article about him where he told the author that he works out to classical music, because he never knows when the piece will end.
While most of us probably don’t feel like jamming to some Beethoven bangers at the weight rack, keeping your ears and mind guessing can work wonders for establishing a consistent pace and starving that subconscious temptation to slow down. Not to mention, you obviously need tracks that put you in that “hell-yes-let’s-do-this” mindset from both the lyrics and the music. You need to feel the beat—those three words are plastered on the wall across from the treadmills at my 24 Hour Fitness. And they get me through those excruciating final seconds or reps when I so badly want to quit.
So whether you usually box to Kanye, bike it to Britney Spears, or sprint your heart out to Drake, I challenge you to add at least a few of these to your workout playlist. And while you’re add it, change that TOTALLY lame “get swole” playlist title to a fitness mantra you can stick to (mine is “Finish Strong”).
- “Legendary” by Welshly Arms
This was in our college football team’s hype video shown at the beginning of every home game. Athletes know the best hype music, btw.
- “Jungle (feat. Jay-Z & Jamie N Commons)” by X Ambassadors
Another song used in the hype video… seriously though, I dare you to not puff out your chest and walk a bit different than you normally do upon hearing this.
- “Let’s Get It Started (Galwaro Remix)” by The Black Eyed Peas
A bit of a throwback, but this remix keeps it moving (and gives you fewer flashbacks to that awkward school dance when you sported a Hollister tee).
- “The Champion (feat. Ludacris)” by Carrie Underwood
Lately I’ve been playing this at the end of my workout because every line pierces that inner fighter in me. Plus, Ludacris absolutely smashes his verse.
- “The Greatest” by Sia
The repetition of “running out of breath / but I’ve got stamina” and “don’t give up / I won’t give up” motivate you to stick it out, especially if you’re exercising alone. (P.S. if you’re wondering, the music video pays tribute to the Pulse tragedy in Orlando).
- “Hard” by Rihanna
Bad Girl RiRi reminds you of a crucial truth in the first verse: “no pain is forever / yep, you know this.”
- “Victorious Call” by Panic! at the Disco vs. Backstreet Boys [Mashup]
This is such an unexpected pairing, but it’s exploding with energy. Also, my music library is saturated with mashups. I love a good mashup.
- “The Greatest Show” from The Greatest Showman Soundtrack
The buildup from the intro makes you feel like you’re about to step into the spotlight, just like the circus stars in the movie… and you kind of are. Prepare to wow everyone around you with your strength, speed and determination!
- “Hands in the Air (feat. Ne-Yo)” by Timbaland
OMG. Every time I hear this, I want to get up and have a dance party… even if it’s just me, myself and I. (Shameless plug, my cousins did a flash mob with the actor from the Step Up Revolution movie, which is where the song was first featured).
- “Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny)” by A.R. Rahman, The Pussycat Dolls
Since the rhythm is constantly changing, it’s kind of a fun one to do if you’re pushing through HIIT or any kind of circuit.
Do you have any favorite workout songs? Tell me in the comments!
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