Have you tried working out without music? It’s boring. Researchers agree: Listening to music while exercising not only makes it more enjoyable, but it also increases stamina and motivates you to go farther and workout harder.
So let’s make a playlist. The co-founder of Feed.fm, Lauren Pufpaf, grabbed the AUX cable and helped us find the best workout songs according to science. Feed.fm scientifically curates the motivational playlists in workout apps, gyms, and studios like Tonal, Daily Burn, 8fit, Class Pass Go, Bowflex, Sworkit, and Myx Fitness.
First off, what scientifically makes a song perfect for exercise?
“Tempo and intensity drive the efficacy of a song for working out,” says Pufpaf. “The right tempo can improve performance drastically … preeminent researcher on the subject, Dr. Karageorghis, found that syncing music in time with a runner’s pace increases muscle endurance by 15%.”
Along with tempo, personal preference is key. “Songs we know and love naturally get us moving,” Pufpaf says.
How exactly does music prime the body for a killer workout?
First, it gets us pumped up.
Second, it makes us show up. “We recently did a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers and 66% said they’d skip a workout altogether if they couldn’t listen to music (forgot headphones, e.g.),” says Pufpaf. A 2015 study in Sports Medicine also proved subjects who listened to music while exercising logged an average 70% more time working out than those who didn’t jam out.
Now, step into our beat laboratory. Here are the best workout songs for runners, lifters, cyclists, boxers, and rowers.
Best Workout Song for Runners
Why these songs? These songs chart at 120-140 BPM, “which covers the running pace of most people,” says Pufpaf. “Consistent tempo with drops and builds that give you bursts of energy, fun lyrics, and a mix of genres. If you’re new to running or you’ve hit a plateau, we’ve got tips for improving your technique.
- “Give Dem” by Diplo and Blond:ish feat. Kah-lo
- “No One (Jonas Blue Remix)” by Jess Glynne
- “Get What You Give” by Felix Cartal
- “We Found Love” by Rihanna
- “It’s Tricky” by Run-DMC
Best Workout Song for Lifters
Why these songs? There’s less focus on BPM, they’re generally more intense and aggressive, and there’s a mix of rock, hip-hop, and pop to get you pumped. If you’re not sure where to start, here are our favorite arm exercises and leg exercises.
- “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys
- “Lose Yourself” by Eminem
- “Wow” by Post Malone
- “DNA” by Kendrick Lamar
- “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC
Best Workout Song for Cyclists
Why these songs? Depending on what you are focused on (endurance vs sprints vs hills), you could have very different track selections. Here are some ideas for all-out sprints. Heavy, fast, energetic with longer intervals and more focus.
- “Go Hard” by Diskord
- “The Power Of Now” by Steve Aoki & Headhunterz
- “Press” by Cardi B
- “Bass Inside” by AC Slater
- “Air Castles” by Avizura
Best Workout Song for Boxers
Why these songs? They have 130+ BPM and are high-intensity.
- “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
- “The Boss” by Rick Ross feat. T-Pain
- “Racks In the Middle” by Nipsey Hussle feat. Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy
- “B.O.B.” by Outkast
Best Workout Song for Rowers
Why these songs? They have 110-130 BPM (25 strokes per minute), a mix of genres and intensity, and consistency of tempo.
- “If I Can’t Have You” by Shawn Mendes
- “Missing U (Weiss Remix Edit)” by Robyn
- “Give and Go” by Girl Talk
- “Thinkin’ Bout You” by Niko The Kid feat. Tia Simone
- “Heat (BYNON Remix)” by Kelly Clarkson (it’s technically 153 BPM, just FYI)
- The Best Cover Songs That Are Just as Good as the Original
- 10 Easy Guitar Songs You Can Play to Brush Up on Your Skills
- 10 Exercises and Stretches You Can Do While Binging Netflix
- 7 Songs by the Late, Great John Prine You Should Know
- The Best Indie Albums of All Time