The 10 Best Workout Songs (And Their Matching Exercises)
Music can make or break a workout. The right anthem offers motivation, empowers you, makes you feel stronger, and just makes working out more enjoyable. Whether you prefer a brisk walk in the middle of your workday, an early-morning yoga session, or just some relaxing meditation, the music that you pair with your favorite workout makes a huge difference in how you feel.
In this post, we’ll fill you in on the science behind how music transforms your workouts. In addition, we’ll rank some of our favorite songs to pair with your daily exercise routine. These tunes are best for anyone who loves low-intensity exercises like yoga and walking.
There are plenty of pump-up playlists out there geared towards lifting weights, HIIT, and other high-intensity activities. You may have even created your own workout playlist and swear it’s the GOAT to blast at the gym when you’re doing these types of workouts. Whether it be Cardi B, Miley Cyrus, Drake, or Daft Punk, whatever works for you and makes these exercises enjoyable is ideal.
However, not all workouts have to be intense. You can still reap the benefits of moving your body without lifting heavy weights, running fast, or breathing heavy. Lower-intensity forms of exercise have many perks for your physical and mental health, which we’ll discuss more in the paragraphs below.
While it’s sometimes easier to find the right songs for a high-intensity workout, you need tunes for low-impact exercise, too. Activities like yoga and walking both pair perfectly with more relaxed music, which can elevate your exercise experience and keep you engaged throughout your workout.
If the exercise that you love is more low-impact and relaxed, you’ll love the songs we’ve picked out below. These tracks aren’t bangers per se, but they’ve got everything you’d want out of a soundtrack for a more relaxed exercise session.
In addition, it’s hard to label something as subjective as individual taste in music with words like “good,” or “bad,” or “the best.” It’s not really fair; there are so many songs out there, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We’re just sharing ours here — no judgment if you prefer a different set of songs to accompany your exercise.
That being said, continue reading below for the 10 best workout songs and their matching exercises.
There are actually studies that show music with particular beats per minute to help with a given exercise. Apparently, songs with a BPM between 60-90 are ideal for low-intensity workouts like yoga and pilates. A BPM between 130-150 is good for lifting weights. The BPM is the number of beats per minute in a specific song, and it correlates to how fast or slow the tempo of that song is.
Songs with a higher BPM are ideal when you need to get your heart rate up and maintain elevated levels of intense physical output. That’s when you’ll probably want to pull up your rap, rock, and even metal playlists. On the other hand, lower-intensity music pairs better with low-intensity exercises. That’s why you probably enjoy a peaceful walk accompanied by serene music more than blasting “Sicko Mode” while you stroll.
To find the right songs for a specific workout, create your criteria based on matching the BPM of the music to your intended heart rate during a given workout. You can do this by looking up songs within the 60-90 BPM range for walking, yoga, pilates, and other low-intensity exercises. You’ll be amazed by how many songs fit into this category, including plenty that you already know and love.
If you’re curious about the BPM of your favorite workout tracks, SongBPM.com is a tool to help you calculate how many beats per minute are in a specific song. You’ll also find pre-created playlists based around BPM ranges on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Thankfully, you’re not the only one looking for the best workout tracks, which means it’s easy to find playlists for the same exercises that you love to do.
Let’s talk about yoga.
Yoga is a blanket term for a set of exercises and disciplines that include breath work, certain postures, and meditation. For some people, the practice of yoga also includes spiritual practices like prayer or chanting. However, you can easily subtract the inherently religious aspects of yoga from your workout without losing any of the benefits.
This form of exercise has a wealth of perks for those who do it regularly.
Stress is an unavoidable part of modern life. You might feel stressed as a result of work, relationships, your day-to-day tasks and chores, finances, or current events. In truth, anything can be stressful when viewed from a certain point of view.
While stress is certainly normal — and inescapable — on some levels, chronic stress is a real issue that can be managed and avoided. Chronic stress develops when you feel constantly overwhelmed by your life’s circumstances, leading to changes in your mental and physical well-being. Chronic stress can disrupt your sleep, make it hard to focus, and even hamper the functioning of your immune system.
Yoga is one of the best exercises for dealing with heightened stress. Meditation, breathwork, stretching, and the other key aspects of the practice of yoga can all be life-changing if you’re experiencing chronic stress. The combination of practices that enhance your mental and your emotional health is what makes yoga so beneficial for stress.
While you might not think of yoga as a strength-building exercise, some of the practices associated with yoga really can increase your strength when done properly. While most of the key aspects of yoga primarily focus on balance, breathing, and intentional movement, some forms of yoga can also strengthen your core and other muscle groups.
It’s easy to go weeks without stretching, intentionally moving your body, and practicing maintaining balance. These habits might sound simple, but they can make major differences in how you feel. The poses that you do in a yoga class can help you stay balanced as you go about your day-to-day activities.
Now that you know some of the key benefits of yoga, let’s talk about how the music that you listen to impacts your experience while doing yoga.
Putting on music while you do yoga can transform your exercise experience, make you feel focused, and keep the workout as enjoyable as possible. The music that you choose for your yoga sessions has a profound effect on how an overall workout feels, and it can even promote the release of dopamine and other “feel-good” chemicals in your brain.
Many yogis opt for calming, serene music during a yoga session. In fact, there’s some music that is recorded specifically to accompany yoga. This music stems from the Nada Yoga philosophy, a mindset about yoga that makes music a top priority. Nada Yoga is a Sanskrit phrase that basically means “union through sound vibration.” Based on that phrase, you can tell that music is a big deal to the yogis that practice Nada Yoga.
The music used in Nada Yoga, as well as numerous other types of yoga, often includes chanting, repetition of certain musical phrases, and other motifs that are intended to make your workout calming, centering, and serene. This music usually doesn’t have an intense beat or any other high-energy elements. Instead, it’s designed to keep your mind calm and help you focus on moving intentionally.
While there have been scientific studies showing how songs of a particular pace can help with certain physical activities, there are other methods for finding the perfect workout song.
If the beat drops and it makes you feel like you could pick up an SUV and throw it across the street, it’s probably an ideal song for a high-intensity workout. On the other hand, you probably wouldn’t want to add that song to your relaxing yoga playlist.
If the lyrics hit so hard that the only possible response is to push even harder, it’s probably the right track for weightlifting or HIIT. However, you’ll want to avoid songs with distracting lyrics when your goal is to calm down and relax as you work out. Instrumental music often works better for chill workouts, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. If the lyrics don’t distract you, feel free to listen to music with words.
If it reminds you of an 80s workout montage, it’s probably not the best choice for walking or yoga. Save those cheesy (but awesome) tracks for when you’re going on long runs or lifting heavy weights. Opt for something less distracting for low-impact exercise.
You’ll find that although these tips are not based on scientific evidence, they’re just as valid. So are the many other explanations you’ll come across that justify a particular song for its inclusion in your personally curated workout playlist.
Music is abstract, and so the songs on this list are based upon the abstract as well.
How can you tell a song is a good workout song? You hear it, yeah, but you feel it. It has a vibe in the verses and chorus. It brings along with it particular energy and tempo that just fits the workout.
The tunes on this list are chosen and matched to a particular workout based on these abstract parameters. An explanation will be given, but the best way to understand it is to test it out for yourself next time you’re in the gym. If you don’t feel it the same way, that’s okay, too.
Now, without further ado, let’s rank the best workout songs and their matching exercises.
Trevor Hall is himself a proponent of yoga and meditation, and his music pairs perfectly with both of these activities. Hall is a fantastic lyricist, but his lyrics are never too distracting for your yoga sessions. They’re deeply spiritual, and remind you about what matters most in life.
“A Reminder” is a perfect track for a peaceful walk or some meditation. If you want a fresh take on this song, check out East Forest’s remix, which features completely different instrumentation.
This track is incredibly relaxing, which makes it perfect for a brisk walk, especially in the fall or winter. The instrumentation evokes images of crunching autumn leaves under your feet, and the lyrics serve as a reminder to break out of the mundanity of everyday life.
This refreshing pop song has a peaceful, simple arrangement that matches a morning meditation session perfectly. While some of the popular duo’s songs are a bit too upbeat for yoga or meditation, “Plans” is different. The calming electric piano and optimistic lyrics get your mind re-centered and ready for the day.
Maggie is a dancer with a unique way of moving her body that is reminiscent of some forms of yoga. This track is slightly more upbeat than some of the other songs on our list, but it’s still perfect for a strength-building, balancing yoga session. Maggie’s voice is soothing, her lyrics are empowering, and her production style is refreshingly organic.
Lianne is a virtuosic musician and lyricist with a jazz-infused style that keeps you calm while making you tap your feet. Her music pairs exceptionally well with an afternoon walk. If you’ve never had the opportunity to hear La Havas’ music, you’re in for a treat.
When you’re walking in the middle of your workday and want some good vibes, there’s nothing like Surfaces. The duo infuses pop, hip-hop, soul, and numerous other genres to create an entirely unique sound that we guarantee you’ll love.
Tycho’s music puts you in the perfect headspace for re-centering, calming yoga. It’s always instrumental, and the effects-laden guitars keep each track interesting. “Awake” is Tycho’s most popular song by far, and with good reason. Featuring a catchy melody, laid-back drums, and soothing synthesizers, this track is everything you’d want out of an indie-electronica bop.
This track is in the same vein as Tycho and Bibio — creative, calming, and playful. That’s the ideal vibe for yoga, walking, pilates, or any other relaxing workout. Like Tycho, Baths typically crafts intricate instrumental songs, and “Animals” is the perfect introduction to his expansive discography.
Sure Sure are an eclectic, creative group from the West Coast with plenty of catchy tunes to offer. “Warm Animal” is chill and fun at the same time, and it’s mellow enough for relaxing, low-intensity workouts. It’s a bit too upbeat for most forms of yoga, so try playing this song while you take a walk. It’ll lift your spirits and get you out of that midday slump in no time.
Matt Corby is a talented Aussie with a silky voice and lush instrumentals. “Miracle Love” is one of the most laid-back songs on his sophomore record Rainbow Valley, and it’s just the right vibe for morning yoga. All of Corby’s songs put you in a positive headspace, clearing your mind of the stresses of the day and allowing you to focus on what matters most in life.
There you have it: a list of the 10 best workout songs, from hip-hop to pop. It’s an eclectic mix composed mostly of indie music that features distinct instrumentation. You might recognize a few of these songs, or they might all be brand new to you. One thing you’ll notice is there isn’t anything as heavy or intense as Metallica, ACDC, or Linkin Park. While there’s a time and place for that type of music, it’s probably not ideal for during your yoga sessions or walks.
Keep in mind that while subjectivity in music is a debatable topic, personal taste certainly is subjective. Sorry, rap fans — you won’t find any Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Jay-Z, or Lil Jon on this list, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving.
Queue up some of these songs next time you’re at the gym, and you might decide that they have a place in your own ultimate workout playlist.