The Top 5 Songs to Motivate You to Work Out

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The right song motivates you to get off your butt, work out hard and feel less pain. Many elements go into effective workout music. Sorry, opera, but unless you’ve been remixed for a soundtrack by Luc Besson, you won’t make the cut. It’s not just the beats per minute, but the emotion that motivates. Torch-bearing songs from rap albums to musical theater scores can inspire you to get physical.

5 Top Musical Theater Song

The raw-throated emotion inherent in Broadway musicals is sometimes exactly what the exercise doctor ordered. Get over a plateau or celebrate a runner’s high with a song to bring the house down. “Defying Gravity” from the musical “Wicked” is motivational for even theater neophytes. But a fan is likely to get even more out of it, according to an article in “Scientific American.” Associations with characters who push through obstacles is inspiring and can help you get past any hurdle, figuratively and literally.

4 Top Mash-Up Song

Near the end of your workout, your body starts screaming for you to stop, so turn up the volume to tell it to shut the hell up. A mash-up song is one that takes at least two songs you already love and combines them to bring you the ultimate in aural pleasure. The switching back and forth between songs will keep your mind off the pain that is slowly spreading through your lungs and muscles, and on the beat instead. Also, the synchronized beat of the combined music will trick you into burning more calories than usual as you exercise consistently along with it. The a cappella film “Pitch Perfect” features the mash-up “Bellas Finals” on the soundtrack, combining “Price Tag,” “Don’t You Forget About Me” and “Give Me Everything.”

3 Top Revenge Song

Get a burst of speed in the middle of your workout by switching to a song about sweet sweet revenge. “Stronger” by Kanye West will get you motivated to keep going despite that growing stitch in your side. Any challenge you meet will just make you harder, better, faster and stronger. If you’ve been recently replaced in a relationship, you may get more mileage from a spurned solo classic like “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette.

2 Top Self-Esteem Booster

The first 10 minutes of working out are the worst! This is when you want to give up and go home. But music can distract you from the pain and help you ignore exhaustion. Pick a song to follow your warm-up that gives you the warm feelies: a mood elevator. Depending on your gender, that could be “We Will Rock You” by Queen or “Titanium” by David Guetta, featuring Sia.

1 Top Warm-Up Song

Even before you get up to boogie, listening to music starts to affect your brain. According to Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist at Western University’s Brain and Mind Institute, your guilty-pleasure song gets electrical impulses flowing to the sections of your brain responsible for coordination. So get pumped up before pumping your legs on the track by rocking out to the oldie, but goodie, “Holding Out for a Hero,” voted one of the best warm-up running songs on Jog FM. At 100 bpm, this is just fast enough to get started, but not so fast you risk injury.

Meredith Berg received her B.F.A. in directing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Now living in Los Angeles, she works as a film and television writer, comic-book editor and director of plays and films. In addition, she loves tackling paleo recipes, workout routines and DIY projects.

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