The Best Workout Music – 9 Albums That Will Boost Your Performance

by Darrin on September 6, 2010

As anyone who’s ever strapped an iPod onto their arm for a jog can tell you, music is a performance-enhancing drug (albeit a legal one).

Not only does it serve as a background to make your workout more enjoyable, it can actually boost your performance if you are listening to the right music!

The Science Behind the Best Workout Music

In a study recently published, scientists found that the music you listen to when you are exercising effects your physical performance to a surprising degree.

In short, moderate-intensity workouts are more successful when you listen to faster music. That moldy-oldies station playing at the gym is probably robbing you of an effective workout!

Here’s 9 “go-to” albums you should have to listen to you when you are trying to break a sweat, from heavy metal to hip hop. The emphasis is on upbeat, uptempo, and energetic music. Nothing lovey-dovey or soft here!

Guns ‘N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction

Appetite for Destruction“You know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby!”

All killer, no filler hard rock is the name of the game here. What more can I say? If you’ve heard the opening to “Welcome to the Jungle,” you know that all hell’s about to break loose, and boy does it ever for the rest this album.

With driving tempos and insane guitar solos, this one will get your blood pumping every time.

You might also like:

  • Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II
  • AC/DC – Back in Black
  • Van Halen – Van Halen

James Brown – In the Jungle Groove

In The Jungle GrooveJames Brown is one of the greatest musicians of all time, and his influence goes much further than simply “I Feel Good” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.”

For one thing, he practically invented funk music and made some of the best recordings of this genre, many of which are compiled in this collection.

Funk emphasizes the groove, bringing the rhythm of the drums and bass to the forefront, resulting in some upbeat music that really helps you push harder through your workouts (if you can resist the urge to start dancing in the gym, that is!)

You might also like:

  • Parliament – Mothership Connection
  • Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove
  • Prince – 1999

Metallica – Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, …And Justice for All

Kill 'Em AllRide the LightningMaster of Puppets...And Justice For All

Admit it, you’re just a little bit of a metalhead.

Taking everything from hard rock and amping it up, with faster tempos, wailing guitars, and complex arrangements, I don’t think I know a single guy who doesn’t enjoy throwing on headbanging music, especially when lifting weights.

Metallica’s first four albums really epitomize everything about metal that kicks ass. They went a little soft after this, but you’ll always have this music to give you an extra boost when you need it.

You may also like:

  • Slayer – Reign in Blood
  • Megadeth – Rust in Peace
  • Anthrax – Among the Living

Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle

DoggystyleWith rhythmic breakbeats and aggressive rapping, hip hop is a natural genre to help amp up your performance when you work out.

Although the music is more laid-back than hard rock, punk, and heavy metal, the greater emphasis on the beat results in more propulsive music.

Dr. Dre pioneered G-Funk in the early 90′s, which blended hip hop with funk, making a great type of music even better. Let’s see if you can sit still when “What’s My Name?” comes on.

You might also like:

  • Dr. Dre – The Chronic
  • Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
  • Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die

The Stooges – Raw Power

Raw PowerOn the opposite end of the Hard Rock spectrum from heavy metal, you have punk music, which emphasizes, well, raw power over musicality.

The title to this album is appropriate, as they are the two words that best describe the songs, which are all loud and chaotic.

Every punk band is indebted to this album recorded by Iggy Pop and the gang. It has the perfect combination of intensity and passion that make this a perfect listen for the gym.

You might also like:

  • The Clash – London Calling
  • Rancid – …And Out Come the Wolves
  • NOFX – Punk in Drublic

Daft Punk – Alive 2007

Alive 2007Electronic music with strong beats and building crescendos. Just the thing you need to give you an extra boost.

In 2007, Daft Punk put together a wildly successful tour that included the two members dressed up as robots DJ’ing from an enormous pyramid that produced a dramatic light show.

As great as all their other albums are, this one really blends seamlessly from track to track and feels like you are there experiencing this really energetic show.

You might also like:

  • Gorillaz – Gorillaz
  • The Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole
  • M83 – Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts

Now’s Your Turn…

I’m going to be posting soon on The Ultimate Workout playlist and need your help! What do you think is the best workout music? What songs, bands, and albums really help amp you up when you are working out? What did I leave off this list that really gets you pumped?

{ 10 comments }

Tom September 6, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I like classic rock, but I’ve started enjoying electronic music like Juno Reactor, Chemical Brothers, and Infected Mushroom while working out. I prefer music without lyrics. A song I love for running is a Kashmir (the remake by Bond.) It is the perfect tempo to keep you running a 5K at a consistent pace.

Dave - Not Your Average Fitness Tips September 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Good list of content here. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I love hip hop. Rock and even punk (Deftones) make their way into my mix as well. Nothing like screaming to motivate me to lift more.

Alejandro "The Fittest Vegan" September 6, 2010 at 5:52 pm

That Daft Punk album rocks, it is still in my Ipod. same with the Gun’s & Roses album and Snoop. classic beats.

The right music makes all the difference and I personally cant get enough of Deadmau5, I recently went to a spinning class taught by a friend of mine where those hard beats were playing the whole time

Let this first clip go until about 1 min in, It’s awesome
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nywHmo7Jl9I&feature=related

I love this too
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SzpReusPXk

Raymond - ZenMyFitness September 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Nice topic! I notice when I run if I listen to music I start to pace in time with the tempo so I choose upbeat stuff so I can run a bit faster …really!
My favourite stuff to listen to is;
Judas Priest, Saxon, Black Sabbath, Aqua, Billy Idol, Black Eyed Peas, EminEm, Linkin Park, Toshiro Masuda ( from Jap Anime Naruto) I could go on forever.
You might also want to look at using “iTunes Ping” thats their new way whereI can follow your listening!
Raymond

Alykhan - Fitness Breakout September 7, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Darrin,

I mostly listen to rock and hip hop when I workout. Some of my favorite workout artists are Green Day, Linkin Park, System of a Down, and Eminem.

Alykhan

Rusty - Fitness Black Book September 8, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I like early 90′s techno. When it was an underground scene and played in warehouses. Dark, crazy drugs, crazy lights, glo-sticks, etc.

Young kids look at me now and I look like an upstanding citizen and an adult. Too bad they will never experience the crazy underground Rave scene of the late 80′s and early 90′s. Still gets me pumped up!

Higher State of Consciousness – Josh Wink
(not the best version of this…but best video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOXw1xz-c8w&ob=av3n

Tomcraft – Overdose
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge5RNoC9cIg&feature=fvsr

Praga Khan – Injected With a Poison –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikGtCA3OJJc

Channel X – Rave The Rhythm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWP4B-YzpJ4

Channel X – A Million Colours
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln0GS9sIgeA&feature=related

Moby – Next is the E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wYoPx6Yglc

808 State – Cubik
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUTLohyVfjY

This late 80′s early 90′s stuff was dark and nasty. The youngsters have Lady Gaga now…please!

-Rusty

Darrin September 13, 2010 at 7:50 pm

@Everyone:

Thanks for the great suggestions! I’ve been finding some great new music because of this and have been enjoying “test driving” them during my workouts! The People’s Choice post will be up soon.

@Rusty:

Really great stuff there, thanks for sharing! You’re right, techno and other dance music is much better when it gets a little dirty. I’ll admit to Lady Gaga being a guilty pleasure of mine, but those music videos are definitely much more raw and powerful. I probably look a lot more respectable these days than a decade ago when I was front and center at every metal show I could get to! Good thing everyone I meet can’t see the way I was back in the day, haha.

Bushrat September 28, 2010 at 1:37 am

Hey, just a drive by posting here, but how could you not include any AC/DC in that list?

Darrin September 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm

@Bushrat:

AC/DC is some awesome workout music. I included their album Back in Black under the albums I’d recommend if you are into hard rock such as Guns ‘n’ Roses.

Steve - More than just Muscle October 6, 2010 at 9:20 am

@Bushrat, definitely! especially post iron man 2 :]

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