27 Songs to Conquer Your Workouts

As a nod to New Year’s weight loss resolutions, the Wall Street Journal recently ran a cheeky little piece called “27 Rules of Conquering the Gym,” including helpful tips from writer Jason Gay such as:

    • “Great job!” is trainer-speak for “It’s not polite for me to laugh at you.”
    • Nope, that’s not a “recovery energy bar with antioxidant dark chocolate.” That’s a chocolate bar.

His sound advice also included the following, which really made me laugh, “No one in the history of gyms has ever lost a pound while reading The New Yorker and slowly pedaling a recumbent bicycle. No one.” That is to say, I laughed until I realized this describes one of my favorite workouts, with one exception; I prefer Vanity Fair.  My running partner has a name for this lax routine of mine: the froufrou workout.  (He does not mean this as a compliment).  But, pish posh to him.  I’m not trying to lose pounds; I’m trying to catch up on my reading.  Moreover, the rest of my workouts are intense enough that I can get away with mailing it in on occasion.  Call me a weirdo/nerd/loser, but I find reading on the recumbent bicycle quite pleasant, entertaining even.

Recumbent bike reading: Buddhadharma, Vogue, and OG Book Club January pick, The Happiness Project.

When I’m not froufrou-ing, I aim for inspiration over entertainment for my workouts– possibly some ass-kicking, too.  And, this requires killer music.  Hence, here are 27 stop-froufrouing-and-start-sweating songs to help you conquer your toughest workouts at the gym, on the road, or wherever your heart-pumping pursuits take you.  The list is comprised of mostly new music with a few time-tested favorites:

  1. Run into the Light, Ellie Goulding | 30-minutes of electronic adrenaline in your ears, this song was offered as a limited release free download from Nike in collaboration with the British singer.  It’s virtually impossible to sit still while listening to it, with the last 5-minutes being my favorite.  They make me want to run through brick walls or from a pack of tigers in the Serengeti or through London in sequins rock star pants. (Please don’t laugh at my strange athletic fantasies).
  2. Till the World Ends (remix), Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, Ke$ha | The title says it all.  This triad of divas make you want to dance until the world ends–or run, or indoor cycle–at a maniacally fast and fun pace.
  3. Take Care of You, Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX | I love this song and was sad to learn that the artist recently passed.  Rest in peace, Gil Scott-Heron; you are rocking my world from the other side.
  4. Shake it Off, Florence + the Machine | Shaking off bad things with exercise feels good (e.g. a bad day, boss, mood, relationship), and this is the song to help you do it.
  5. We Own the Sky, M83 | If you can synchronize this track on your iPod with a stunning sunrise, sunset, or starlit view: Oh, wow . . . motivational running magic.
  6. If You Leave, OMD | I mentioned some old favorites, and this one is legendary.  Please use it to test my highly scientific theory that it is physically impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to 80s music.  Go ahead…I dare you.
  7. All of the Lights, Kanye West | This song is West at his finest, which is important because too often he distracts people with not-his-finest (i.e. Twitter tirades and award show tantrums).
  8. You, Atmosphere | The title of this album is: When Life Hands You Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold.  Amen to that.
  9. Sail, Awolnation | It’s not an accident that this song became the soundtrack for extreme feats of athleticism and adventure in 2011, including yoga-inspired breakdancing and a new breed of base jumping.
  10. Till I Collapse, Eminem | If you push your workouts hard enough, there will be a moment when you feel as though you might collapse.  This is the battle hymn for that moment.
  11. Off That, Jay-Z featuring Drake | For me, everything starts and ends with proud new poppa Jay-Z.  This is a favorite song from his most recent album, which manages to be catchy and hip hop athem-y without being overplayed.
  12. Countdown, Beyonce | Mrs. Jay-Z is a force all her own, and listening to this song will make you feel like one yourself.
  13. We Found Love, Rihanna | If you don’t like Rihanna, you have issues.  And, I cannot help you.
  14. Memories of the Future, Handsome Furs | Please withhold the vegan hate mail; as far as I know, no animals were harmed in the naming of this band.  Your eardrums, on the other hand, might be in danger because it’s hard not to blare this song really, really loud.
  15. Home, LCD Soundsystem | One of my all-time favorite lyrics, especially if you happen to catch it while running across the Mass Ave. bridge in Boston or along the Falmouth Road Race course on Cape Cod: Look around you/you’re surrounded/it won’t get any better!
  16. The Show Goes On, Lupe Fiasco | Feeling unmotivated?  Tired?  Cranky?  Hit play.  Crank volume.  Repeat.  
  17. Sun of a Gun, Oh Land | The whole album is pretty wonderful, but this track is the best for a burst of poppy, peppy energy to your ears.
  18. Superbass, Nicki Minaj | I give you my favorite running song of last summer.  Use her wisely.
  19. I Need a Dollar, Aloe Blacc | If you were a fan of HBO’s recently canceled “How to Make it in America,” its theme song will remind you why.  My hypothesis?  You dig hustle.
  20. Coming Home, Diddy | It’s Diddy. [He's] back where [he] belongs/he never felt so strong and/he’s feeling like there’s nothing that he can’t try/and if you’re with him, put your hands HIGH!
  21. Lost remix, Jay-Z featuring Coldplay | The equation, here, is simple: Awesome artist 1 + Awesome artist 2 = Effing awesome song.
  22. Gucci, Gucci, Kreayshawn | Our day-to-day lives often require us to be polite and agreeable when we don’t really feel like it.  This song is So. Not. That.
  23. Moment of Clarity, Jay-Z | Listen to the first 5 seconds, and try not to think of yourself as a boxer headed into the ring, hoodie pulled low, feet feeling light, fists ready to rumble.  No, really.  Try.
  24. We Ready, Ya Boy (Music inspired by the film More Than a Game) | Not into boxing imagery for inspiration?  How about hoops?
  25. Merry Happy, Kate Nash | I occasionally catch myself racing through the Common or along the Charles River singing aloud to Nash’s saucy lyrics, complete with faux British accent.  It’s mortifying, but bloody fun.
  26. Somebody That I Used to Know, Gotye featuring Kimbra | Words cannot describe the level of Aussie cool.  Video instead.
  27. Video Games, Lana Del Rey | Confession: This isn’t a track for conquering a workout, but it’s hauntingly beautiful, and I need a musical intervention to stop playing it.  (I’ve played it in a few yoga classes recently).  Enjoy it while cooling down or stretching out.
This entry was posted in Fitness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Alli

    dog days are over came on during my spinning class yesterday and it was impossible not to get pumped up :)

    • http://www.omgal.com omgal

      Then you will LOVE Shake It Off & Never Let Me Go on the new album. Amazing.

  • Becca

    Loved these – some old favorites, lots of new fun songs to integrate into my workouts :)

  • Pingback: Weekend Wellness Roundup « Lovely Healthy

  • Natasha

    How do you join your book club? I’m in need of a book club!

  • Vicki

    I need a music intervention for Video Games ever since I heard it in one of your classes! You should play Gucci Gucci during one of your classes… one big room full of bad….

    • http://www.omgal.com omgal

      This week I’m hooked on “Radio.” You’ll also dig “Blue Jeans” & “Born to Die.” I should warn you that there’s some major Lana Del Rey backlash happening in the media. But, pish posh, it’s a fun album. Enjoy!