When it comes to working out, most people need some kind of music to get them going. As a runner, I need some sort of distraction to avoid dropping dead from exhaustion, and music has always been the outlet I lean on most.
Music quite literally soothes the soul and allows your body to relax, especially in high-stress situations, like working out. For most people, it’s an escape as soon as you press play. It’s a world where you don’t have to worry about your next homework assignment or who is liking your Instagram posts.
If you can’t get through a workout without a stacked playlist, these songs are sure to elevate your heart rate — and hopefully your level of motivation — as you enter the final stretch. Here are seven songs to add to your workout playlist:
“Perfect Illusion” by Lady Gaga
The intro alone of this song will automatically make your legs move faster and make that weight you’re trying to lift over your head lighter. Blaring guitars and backup drums from Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker allow for a fast-paced tempo to work out to that overall makes time move faster.
There’s a pulse that you can feel echoing against you as Gaga wails, “I still feel the blow, but at least now I know / It wasn’t love.” The layered vocals also allow for you to sympathize with this heartbreak anthem, which always makes me want to push myself harder on behalf of whoever broke this absolute legend’s heart. This track also provides a really good tempo for cardio with a steady baseline and drumbeat.
“Where Have You Been” by Rihanna
This electro-pop song has the potential to get you out of that funk you’ve been in and turn you into the ultimate gym member you’ve always dreamed of being. The intro itself creates the ultimate crescendo with stacked beats — all combining to make you feel like you’re walking into a club.
There are perfect moments in this song when you can increase the pace you’re running or walking at, especially when the line, “Are you hiding from me, yeah? / Somewhere in the crowd?” starts pumping through your headphones.
The tantalizing vocals of Rihanna almost make you feel like she’s screaming in your ear to keep pushing yourself, and how can you forget the iconic DJ-like beat drops? This song will for sure get you moving.
“Hollywood’s Bleeding” by Post Malone
In general, this whole album is one of my favorites to listen to while hitting the gym. This track immediately feels like you’re in an underground world running away from whatever it is that’s troubling you.
At first, all you can hear are the stacked echoes of the singer’s voice, leading into a trance-like opening with an increasing bass line. Almost at the climax of the song, there’s a pause that braces you for a sucker punch of lyrics, accompanied with a rhythmic mixture of beats that beg you to stay around for the whole production.
My favorite line is “I go out and all their eyes on me / I show out; do you like what you see?” which gives you time to reflect throughout your workout, something I personally love to do. It’s so easy to get lost in this song that you forget you’re even working out, and I highly suggest you add this to your gym playlist. Post Malone just knows.
“Heaven Is a Place in My Head” by Bad Suns
This is the perfect song for anyone who loves an ‘80s or ‘90s sound. Its upbeat persona and instrumentation makes you want to smile while you’re sweating your butt off or feeling pain all over.
It’s a constant mirage of guitars and bouncing vocals, taking you on a roller coaster ride of music production. “Take me anywhere besides here baby / Some things never last as long as you want it to” are the words where I find myself relaxing into my stride and feeling my confidence rise. Put this on when you're feeling lazy or tired — since it will lift your spirits instantly.
“Into My Arms” by COIN
Once again, this intro is absolutely stunning and will have you moving in step with the beat as the song evolves. The loud beating of drums and keyboard variations make this song unique in its production.
With witty lyrics and background vocals that almost equate to shouting, the volume of this song is hard to miss. This would be the best song for that final mile of your run or that last push-up you just need to get over with. The lyrics “Karma killer, you know, oh, oh / You got my attention” will have you engaged with your workout the whole time, and you won’t even remember the pain in your legs or the tiredness you’re soon to feel walking home from Ping.
“Stockholm Syndrome” by One Direction
To all my former One Directioners, this is for you! The guitar and bass line in this song will remind you of the good old days of the 2010s music scene and inspire you to hit start on that treadmill or try a new machine at the gym.
“Who’s that shadow holding me hostage? / I’ve been here for days” will put you in a trance filled with good vibes only, and you’ll feel like Niall, Harry, Louis, Zayn and Liam are all cheering you on as you begin your workout. This song’s energy is electrifying, and the high it emits is worth taking time out of your day to go to the gym. Trust me! The confidence boost from this song will ensure that it stays on your gym playlist for years to come.
“I am not a woman, I’m a god” by Halsey
This song dropped almost three weeks ago, and it immediately went to the top of my own workout playlist. If you like a punk rock sound, you simply need this song in your life. Halsey’s wailing vocals and high-level production begs you to keep listening. I simply never want it to end as I’m running.
“I am not a woman / I’m a god / I am not a martyr / I’m a problem” screams at you to keep going and reminds you of the strength you have always had within you. The isolating screech of guitars and intense drumming makes you feel like you’re front row at their concert. This feminist anthem will rock you through any workout.