July 04, 2021 9 min read

All killer training sessions aren’t complete without a great playlist. The gym radio simply doesn’t cut it, you’ve got to put some thought into the music that fuels your gains.

Whether you’re on that last rep of your deadlifts or the first mile of your distance run, we’ve got you covered with the best 25 songs to accompany any workout.

Young sportsman doing push ups and listening to music with headphones.

The Science Behind Music

You’ve probably noticed that most tasks in life may feel easier when you also listen to music. It’s not magic, it’s not your imagination, the link between your body and music is actually science.

Music is so powerful that scientists have conducted hundreds of studies on the effects it can have on our bodies, brains, mental health, and task completion. Neurological studies have found that listening to music has a huge impact on chemical processes in the brain and actually results in dopamine, cortisol, serotonin, and oxytocin production.

Additionally, there is ample evidence that music can:

Manage Anxiety

Anxiety plagues much of the population and might even be the source of your less-than-ideal gym sessions or may even be what keeps you out of the gym altogether. Listening to music before and during your workout can potentially ease gym-related stress and other types of stress as your body tends to produce more stress-regulating hormones when listening to music.

Stress and anxiety relief are highly important, even outside the gym. Not only can high levels of stress and anxiety affect your training sessions, but they can also lead to many issues in your everyday life. Stress, anxiety, and confidence levels can lead to poor posture, which puts your body at risk for injury.

Working out itself produces chemicals that can make you feel happy, elated, and stress-free. So, pair your workout with music therapy for the ultimate mental and physical self-care.

Affect Your Mood

With a decrease in stress and anxiety comes a boost in your overall mood. Furthermore, music can aid in the production of serotonin and dopamine, chemicals that result in feelings of pleasure, contentment, and happiness. When you’re in a better mood, you may feel an increase in motivation and drive, which can contribute to better training sessions.

Help Those With Depression

Like anxiety, depression is quite a widespread issue. Music can help decrease symptoms of depression in a multitude of ways. Not only does music result in those happy hormones we’ve been discussing, but it can also lead to an increased ability to express oneself and even build meaningful relationships.

A sense of self-expression and community can both lead to more content and fulfilling feelings in life. Additionally, symptoms of depression can leave individuals feeling extremely tired and exhausted, making depression another large inhibitor of adequate exercise. Music can alleviate some of the tiredness that sometimes comes with depression which can help you get in the gym.

Help Manage Pain

It may seem that even after all the physical things that happen when you listen to music, that decreasing pain with music is just not possible. However, numerous studies have shown that listening to music releases certain chemicals that can aid in pain relief. Additionally, music can distract you from feelings of pain and alter the way you interpret or think about your pain.

Improve Cognitive Function

You’ve probably heard it before: music can make you smart. More specifically, music can increase our recall abilities and improve memory. When we listen to music, we are challenging our brains to remember pretty complex types of information. Furthermore, the brain gets used to picking out patterns in rhythms, lyrics, riffs, and more when we listen to music, providing a good exercise session for your brain.

Music and Exercise

In addition to overall health, music also plays a large role in exercise. 

One study found that listening to music while working out increased the length of the workout significantly. Though, the study noted that music, while psychologically positive, does not seem to be able to affect the feeling of fatigue, which is often the cause of shorter or less efficient gym sessions.

Rather, music changes how we perceive the feeling of high-intensity workouts and can help us feel more driven and motivated throughout exercise.For these reasons, music may be especially important during your workouts if you find yourself clocking out early, losing focus, or losing energy.

In addition to energy-boosting music, you can also use energizing pre-workout supplements to take your gym sessions to the next level. 

Another study found that music can increase effort during a workout. This is obviously quite important in getting the most out of your training sessions. Without effort, you’re not likely to see much gain. Cranking up your favorite stimulating tunes may be all it takes to lift harder, become stronger, and reach your fitness goals.

25 Top Workout Songs to Add to Your Workout Playlist Right Now

Now that you know about all the benefits of listening to music, it’s time to build your ultimate gym playlist. Perhaps you have an exercise playlist going but are in need of some fresh songs. Or maybe you don’t have any gym music at all, in which case, you’re really missing out on some awesome gym sessions.

So go ahead, get your Spotify account ready and create your own personalized gym playlist using the top best gains-fueling workout songs below.Everyone has their favorite genres and genres they just can’t stand. That’s why below we’ve cut out the frustration of combing through song after song by organizing these songs into genre categories and providing a brief description.

Different genres can provide different moods or feelings during your workout. You can experiment with new genres or even create a mix of your favorites. 

Rap/Hip-Hop Music

Rap and Hip-Hop are relatively new genres of music, emerging in New York City in the 1970s. An art that takes serious skill, we tend to look to rap and Hip-Hop for their hardcore energy and upbeat mood. The rhythm of rap and Hip-Hop provides beats we can’t help but dance and sing along to. Furthermore, rap and hip-hop can be used for any type of workout, such as HIIT, lifting, and cardio.

  1. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem: This 2002 Eminem rap classic will get you in that gains-making headspace. Perfect for those days you need a reminder to push yourself in everything you do. 
  2. “Power” by Kanye West: “Power” is one of rapper Kanye’s most well-known songs. Characterized by an invigorating beat, this song is perfect for those tough cardio workouts. 
  3. “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” by JAY-Z: It seems some of the best rap comes from the late 90s and early 2000s. This JAY-Z classic is no exception. This 2002 rap hit has a rhythmic groove that will keep your body moving and your focus laser-sharp.  
  4. “Forever” by Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem: Yes, this song features all your favorites and seems to have a magical ability to make you feel powerful, determined, and ready to conquer any gym session. 
  5. “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys: If you want some even more classic rap, the Beastie Boys is where it’s at. This Hip-Hop group starting in the 80s in New York City. “Sabotage” combines catchy guitar riffs with high-energy rhythms. 
  6. “Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake featuring Lil Jon: Released in 2013, this song is more related to EDM than rap. However, this song is still a banger and provides some of the sickest beats around. 
  7. “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B: Cardi B’s 2018 debut single is one of the top hype gym songs. It’s fun, upbeat, and catchy, which all make for a great workout song. 
  8. “A Milli” by Lil Wayne: Named #1 Hip-Hop song of 2008 by MTV, Lil Wayne’s
    “A Milli” provides bass-heavy beats with the rapper’s unmatched rhymes. 
  9. Feeling Myself” by Nicki Minaj: Feeling yourself is exactly what you should be doing in the gym. This mid-2010s hit song features Beyonce and can make any gym session full of confidence. 
  10. “Ruff Ryder’s Anthem” by DMX: We’re going back to the early 2000s for this DMX classic. If you’re looking for a song with a steady but good beat, this is for you.

Rock Music

Like rap, rock uses strong rhythms paired with meaningful lyrics, resulting in powerful and influential music. Rock originated in the 1940s and was then considered a somewhat unruly genre of music. If you’re a rebel in the gym, then try these rock classics.

  1. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor: Corny? Maybe. Necessary? Yes. This 1982 bop is the soundtrack to every movie training montage, and it can be the soundtrack to your own training, too. 
  2. “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC: AC/DC is almost inarguably one of the best bands of all time. You can get down in the gym to almost any of their tracks, but “Thunderstruck” is the best all-around song and can probably get you hitting personal records on all your lifts. 
  3. Enter Sandman” by Metallica: Like AC/DC, you really can’t go wrong with Metallica. Released in 1991, “Enter Sandman” is a Metallica staple. Try listening to both their live and studio-recorded versions. Hint: They’re both pretty good. 
  4. “We Will Rock You” by Queen: Queen really can’t compare, this band is a genre of its own. With a song to fit every occasion. Whether it be your meditative warm-up, that HIIT session on the treadmill, or your confident cool-down, this 1970s band can dominate any part of your workout. Try “We Will Rock You” for those huge lifts.  
  5. “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones released this song in 1981 and it’s been great ever since. It’s been in dozens of commercials, movies, and television shows, yet still manages to feel fresh and energizing. Its fun beat can get nearly anyone in a good mood and is perfect for those early morning sessions that need a mood boost.

Pop Category

The roots of pop span farther back than you might think. However, generally, pop is said to have officially begun in the 50s along with rock. The pop genre is widely versatile, making it a good category to choose from when looking to build a gym playlist.

  1. “Only Girl (In the World)” by Rihanna: If the classics just aren’t for you, look no further than this 2010 hit song from pop’s favorite artist, Rihanna. She uses spunky beats and snappy tunes to get you moving. Go ahead and dance between those sets like nobody’s watching. 
  2. “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce: Beyonce is a must for any gym playlist. She just knows how to get you in the mood to be a boss and never disappoints. “Run the World (Girls)” is a sure fix for those low-energy days.  
  3. “Toxic” by Britney Spears: Released in 2003, Britney can take you back to the simpler times. You can rely on Toxic to bring you energetic rhythms and funky instrumentation, and you’ll definitely be lip-syncing the entire thing. 
  4. “The Greatest” by Sia featuring Kendrick Lamar: Released in 2016, “The Greatest” is the motivation you need to push your gym sessions harder. With lines like “I’ve got stamina” and “don’t give up”, you can count on Sia to coach you through even the hardest training sessions. 
  5. “Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eyed Peas: Released in 2009, “Boom Boom Pow” gives us pop groove, electronic beats, and dance song vibes. There are several remixes of this song and the song itself even alludes to the electronic favorite, Daft Punk.

Alternative and Indie

Alternative and indie (meaning independent) music are not for everyone. With dark moods, diversified instrumentation, rich harmonies, and energies to fit any mood, indie and alt music is a great choice for your moodier days. This music tends to stray far from the beaten path, which can be a very appropriate mood for the gym.

  1. “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons: 2012 release of “Radioactive” changed the game for the Imagine Dragons group. It was widely popular and its heavy rhythmic elements make this song a must-include for any workout playlist. 
  2. “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park: Linkin Park is an alternative classic with “Bleed It Out” being just one of many great songs from the band. Released in 2007, this single is a hardcore, angsty song that is perfect for pushing your fitness limits. 
  3. “Loser” by Beck: This 90s alt-rock song features catchy beats and interesting instrumentation. It’s a necessity in every 90s playlist and can fuel some pretty fun training sessions. Just don’t take the lyrics to heart, you’re not a loser. 
  4. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana: Perhaps the band’s most popular song from their iconic Nevermind album, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is that classic 90s grunge for when you’re feeling angsty, angry, and ready to move some seriously heavy weight. 
  5. “All My Life” by Foo Fighters: 2002 Foo Fighters release “All My Life” is another grunge alt-rock favorite. With those classic crunchy guitar riffs and angsty vocals, this song provides all the anger you need to blast through your miles, reps, or laps.

Runner-Ups

Though these songs didn’t make our top 25 best workout tunes, they are still worth mentioning. From various different genres and artists, these songs can still up your playlist game tenfold.

  1. “No Stylist” by French Montana featuring Drake
  2. “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled featuring Ludacris, Rick Ross, T-Pain, and Snoop Dogg
  3. “7 Rings” by Ariana Grande
  4. “Summer” by Calvin Harris
  5. “Level Up” by Ciara
  6. “I Love It” by Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX
  7. “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo
Studio shot of muscular young man listening music on mobile phone against black background

Best Workout Songs: Wrapping It Up

Music and exercise are both forms of healing. Combine them and you’ve got a great recipe for killer training sessions that work on both your physical body as well as your mental wellbeing.

Choosing your own gym playlist is important because, let’s be honest, those pre-made Spotify workout playlists that blast in the gym just don’t cut it for everyone. If you’re bored of your current playlist, try adding some of our suggestions or even find remixes of your current favorites.

Whether you’re training like Michael Phelps or are on your way to your first marathon, make the most of your training sessions by incorporating music. With the plethora of benefits listening to music has, making a playlist an important part of your training is a necessity.


x