Anyone who’s watched the Rocky movies knows, good music can inspire you to run faster, train longer, and work out harder. While everyone has their own favorite pump-up jams, the best tunes have a fast, upbeat tempo between 120 and 140 beats per minute (which also happens to be about how quickly your heart beats in the workout zone).
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To harness energizing power of music, we asked the nation’s top trainers to share what songs they have on their workout playlists. Grab your iPod and fuel your time at the gym with these old classics and new favorites.
“Shivers” by Armin Van Buuren
“I get a nice little shiver as I exercise to the beat. I use this song a lot when I start my workouts to warm up and get the body going!” says Justin Gelband, NASM-certified personal trainer who works with many of the Victoria’s Secret models.
“Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Christina Aguilera from the Burlesque soundtrack
“I usually work out in the morning, so whatever I listen to usually stays in my head for the day,” says Rachel Cosgrove, co-owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California and author of The Female Body Breakthrough. “I like it to be something uplifting, positive, and feel-good.”
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“Right Now” by Van Halen
“Runaway” by Bon Jovi
“Dream On” by Aerosmith
“Theses are old-school classics that I still love. They show my age, but they still are awesome!” says Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego and author of The IMPACT! Body Plan.
“There Will Be a Day” by Jeremy Camp
“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” by Journey
“I’m just a music fan, and like clean songs that get you fired up, either through rock and roll or dope baselines!” says David Jack, director of Teamworks Fitness in Acton, MA. “So in addition to the 'classic' training tunes by Fuel, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Journey, and Bad Company, I have everything from Christian music to Michael Jackson, from Bob Marley to Boyz II Men, and the Eagles to Chaka Khan.”
“Remedy” by Little Boots
“This is great for dancing on the treadmill forward, sideways, crossovers, etc,” says Andrea Metcalf, NASM-CPT, author of Naked Fitness. “It’s not just about the beat that keeps me, it’s the words too. I look for strong emotional connections with songs to intensify my workouts. They make me want to be better, stronger, and happier. You also can’t go wrong with ‘I Gotta Feeling’ and ‘Boom Boom Pow’ by Black Eyed Peas or Madonna’s ‘Jump.’”
“It brings back fun memories of college and puts me in a great mood,” says Holly Rigsby, ACE-certified personal trainer and author of FitYummyMummy.com, a 16-week program that helps moms get their pre-baby body back. “When I am training heavy I will go more hard core and listen to 'Coming Undone' by Korn.”
“You’re the Best” by Joe Esposito
“[My favorite song] changes every week. I guess though when I was competing in martial arts I liked 'You're the Best' from The Karate Kid soundtrack,” says Alwyn Cosgrove, a performance coach and co-owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California.
“I prefer to work out to Metallica-type music when I lift,” says Chris Mohr, PhD, owner of Mohr Results in Louisville, Kentucky. "What's actually more important for me than the type of music to hear is the type of music not to hear, which is something too soft, too pop music-y, or something that makes it more difficult to mentally be 'in the game.'"
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“Going the Distance” by Bill Conti
“Call me old school, but if 'Going the Distance' from the original Rocky soundtrack doesn't get you fired up for a lift, you'd better check to see if you've still got a heartbeat!” says Mike Mejia, a strength and conditioning specialist from Long Island, New York. “Aside from that, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention ‘Eye of the Tiger.’ What can I tell you? I was a huge Rocky fan growing up. Doesn't matter what kind of workout I'm doing, this one does the trick every time.”
“Strip Me” by Natasha Bedingfield (for weights)
“We Takin’ Over” by Akon with DJ Khaled (for kickboxing)
“Amazing” by Seal (for running)
“Anytime a song has a great beat that becomes a pulse for your workout I'm hooked,” says Jennifer Widerstrom, NASM-CPT, celebrity trainer at Pulse Fitness Studios in Los Angeles.