Music Music Editor Music Features Muse

The MUSE Workout Playlist

During the time of new year's fitness resolutions, Kristina Wemyss explores what makes a good workout song and the editors share their top picks.

Article Thumbnail

Image Credit: Michelle Grace Hunder

During the time of New Year's fitness resolutions, Kristina Wemyss explores what makes a good workout song and the editors share their top picks.

Many people started 2021 with a sense of optimism and resolutions of self-improvement. One of the most common resolutions every year is to get fit, but by mid-January, many start to lose their motivation.

Music can play an important role in a successful workout; it has been scientifically proven to increase feelings of motivation, improve performance and lessen feelings of fatigue. In terms of the best features to look for in a workout song, it has been found that the tempo which yields the best results is between 120 and 140bpm, which gets your heartbeat up to a good level.//

That’s pretty quick, but the fastest songs are not always best; those with more than a bpm of 145 can sometimes be too intense to get the most benefits from your workout. As well as speed, a strong beat is useful which means that genres like garage, house and hip-hop are often popular choices. Lyrics also play a part, those which reinforce the fitness goals that we are aiming for with positive affirmations can significantly increase motivation.

While these are good factors to look for, what works well for one person might not work so well for another, as we tend to have different tastes in music. To bring you a variety of workout song suggestions, here are some of our editors’ picks:

Jenna Luxon- MUSE Editor

‘My House’, ‘I Don’t Like It, I Love It’, ‘Good Feeling’- Flo Rida

Ultimately this comes down to a toss-up between Sean Paul and Flo Rida. Both excellent choices naturally, but in this instance I'm going to side with Flo- ‘My House’, ‘I Don't Like It, I Love It’, ‘Good Feeling’.. the list could go on and on. Tracks from the early 2010s remind me of a time when my joints didn't click when I stood up and I wasn't self-conscious when I ran - happy days.

Michael Athey- Deputy Music Editor

'Mayday'- The Go! Team

There’s nothing like the beep of a morse code telegraph to get you running I always say! With its varied instruments, this track is full of carnival sounding energy that never fails to get me amped up during my runs. Placing this in my playlist always gets me up to tempo quickly so I can start chasing down those Strava times. Also, by the end of my runs I usually feel like shouting “mayday” too so it comes full circle in its relatability too.

‘Supernaut’- Black Sabbath

I’ve found that if I’m flagging towards the end of a run or a workout ‘Supernaut’ is the perfect song to give me a kick up the backside and end on a high. A rip-roaring riff and crashing cymbals mean that even if it doesn’t quite give that extra bit of energy you were looking for, you’re still going to feel pretty epic while doing it.

Lucy Cooper- Comment Editor

‘Change Your Life’- Iggy Azalea and T.I.

I’m easily pleased when curating my perfect running playlist. All I need is a song that makes me feel like I’m in an inspirational Nike advert, and this tune does it every time. I can’t explain the euphoric feeling of this song in your ears as you speed along the pavement. I sing the chorus under my breath as I attempt to run, thinking about how I’m leaving my ‘non-runner’ life in the past and becoming a newer, fitter version of myself. This motivation works for approximately 4 minutes, but for those 4 minutes I’m the speediest runner around.

‘Break up with ur girlfriend’- Ariana Grande

I can’t think of many songs that make me feel quite as powerful as this. Every time I listen to it I’m mentally transported to an exclusive LA party and it gives me the ultimate bad bitch vibes I need to smash (or at least finish) my workout. Sure, it might not typically be the most obvious fitness tune, but it certainly breeds the diva attitude that’s necessary to persevere for those last few kilometres.

Ed Halford- Politics Editor

‘Rise’- Jonas Blue feat. Jack & Jack

I like listening to this song while running up any hills I can find in York. The main chorus of the song speaks about having to rise in order to fall. This reminds me of how in order to fail in the first place you have to take that chance, that risk or opportunity.

‘Intoxicated’ (Radio Edit)- Martin Solveig, Good Times Ahead

I find the beat in this song really useful when trying to increase my pace while running alongside the River Ouse. Also, it reminds me of the time I got kicked out of Salvos and tried to run back to my accommodation because I missed the last bus.

Amelia Davidson - Shoot Editor

‘Long Road Home’- Charlie Simpson

This is the perfect song to help you get into the ‘running zone’. It is reasonably mellow, with a steady beat which puts you at a good pace, meanwhile preventing complete exhaustion. It has some lovely harmonies and I hate to admit that I have been spotted shamelessly singing it whilst running! An especially good one to listen to if you’re running along a long road, as the name might suggest!

Barney Andrews- Business Editor

‘Walking on a Dream’- Empire of the Sun

Despite the title, this is a great song to run to. It’s lyrics “we are always running for the thrill of it, thrill of it, Always pushing up the hill, searching for the thrill of it” make it more apt for hilly Derbyshire where I currently am than York but it has a heavy beat throughout which helps for a fast running rhythm. Also, it’s a feel-good song which is much needed for the world we’re living in!

Alex Thompson- Social Media Secretary

‘Knock Your Block Off’ - Jme and Giggs

An absolutely stomping beat and booming production make this a work out essential, with titans of the genre Jme and Giggs providing some rapid-fire flows and slick punchlines. If you just want to stick on some grime and go heavy on a punching bag, you can't get much better than this.

Kyle Boulton- Deputy Film and TV Editor

‘It Fit When I Was a Kid’- Liars

Krautrock-inspired banger that perfectly synchronises with the movement of one’s legs when running. While its moments of silence border on distraction, the reintroduction of drums give a much needed boost in energy. Best played towards the end so the song’s euphoric conclusion goes hand-in-hand with a runner’s high.

Blyth McPherson- Sport Editor

‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor’- Arctic Monkeys

While the chorus does get a wee bit fast it is the perfect tune for when you need that energy boost to push you through that final bit of your workout. For me, it’s the perfect song for the final kilometre of my run. And with that final “from 1984” you know you’ve given it your all, and your steps can slow down as the best fades out. An essential to a workout playlist if I do say so myself.

Kristina Wemyss- Music Editor

‘The Man’- The Killers

This is a tough decision, it depends on how motivated I’m feeling on the day and whether I really want to get my sweat on or not! For the times when I’m feeling unstoppable, this tune has the perfect fast but steady beat which I can keep up with without keeling over. The ultra-funky bassline, vibrant synths and swaggering lyrics really do make me feel like ‘the man’ and give me that extra burst of energy that I need towards the end of a run. The only issue with this tune is that I get out of breath as I can’t help but mouth along to the lyrics.

‘Deadcrush’- Alt-J

For something a tad less intense I find that anything Alt-J tends to work well. In particular, this track sets a good pace for a slightly longer and slower run. With a good pair of headphones blasting their kaleidoscopic tones into your brain, it’s very easy to get lost in the music and forget about what you are doing which makes working out a lot easier. An added bonus is that the sighing sound effects used by Alt-J mask the sound of your own exhausted panting!

Latest in Music