Music can have a profound effect on my motivation while exercising. It can help tremendously in setting the proper tone and intensity and when I am really struggling in the middle or end of a routine, the right song can push me through. There is increasing scientific evidence that music can have actual physiological benefits while you are exercising. If you’re interested I recommend this article by Scientific America: Let’s Get Physical: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music. It gives an overview on some of the latest research and theories without getting overly complicated.
For me, good exercise music must meet the following three criteria:
- Good tempo: A consistent beat and tempo are integral in keeping the proper pacing of intense exercise.
- A strong opening: When a new song begins I don’t want to wait 30 or 45 seconds for it to really get going. There are certainly lots of songs that build into a fantastic climax, but for me, I want to feel like a song is carrying me along from start to finish.
- Needs to be relatively short: 3 to 4 minutes tops. There are some incredible ballads that can stretch out to 7-8 minutes but the peaks and valleys in those songs aren’t conducive to the intensity I try to maintain.
I currently have in my iTunes library a total of 5 workout playlists, each with approximately 20 songs. I may at some point list my entire exercise music catalog but for now I am just going to start with the top ten. These are by no means my top ten favorite songs. My favorite workout songs vary and change on a regular basis. There is a reason why I have multiple workout playlists. These ten songs represent in general what I look for in my workout music. They are also a diverse mix. Some rap, some rock, some alternative. Musical taste is obviously very subjective. My taste may not be the same as yours and vice versa. I have taken from many other lists over the years, hopefully you will find something you like here. Enjoy.
- Kickstart My Heart – Motley Crue : Title says it all. A long track at 4:43 but the song never quits.
- Stronger – Kanye West : I hate Kanye, he’s a douche. Was tempted to include the original Daft Punk version but this song has a more consistent tempo for exercise.
- Eye of the Tiger – Survivor : Um…no-brainer. One of the greatest ever.
- You Can Do It – Ice Cube : It’s Ice Cube and he’s telling me I can do it. So I will.
- Blitzkrieg – Metallica : Old school Metallica. Not a huge fan of metal on my workout playlists but this song is one of favorites and it’s a quick and intense 3 minutes and 37 seconds!
- Run (I’m a Natural Disaster) – Gnarls Barkley : Short & sweet.
- Fire Your Guns – AC/DC : Another great rock song that comes in just under 3 minutes. A couple of AC/DC songs could have made this list, I just happen to be listening to this one recently.
- Good Feeling – Flo Rida : good tune with a steady 129 beats per minute.
- Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers : A good alternative pick.
- We Own It (Fast & Furious Soundtrack) – 2 Chainz & Wiz Khalifa : Recent edition I heard while watching the movie. I will often grab songs from movie soundtracks or even television shows.