The Ultimate Workout Playlist

Rock these jams to get pumped in the gym.

Music is like a legal drug for athletes.

Music is like a legal drug for athletes.

Those are the words of Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., from London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education. In his interview with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) he also stated that his multiple decades of research on the relationship between music and exercise has shown that music has the tendency to increase arousal and may help distract exercisers from discomfort related to exercise.

In other words, music has the potential to get you excited and mentally prepared to lift weights and may even help you train longer and harder than you would without tunes. I’ll admit, there is a shortage of quality studies performed on this subject, but I did find some very intriguing research.

In a 2009 Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation study,1 subjects performing the same workout routine reported a lower rate of perceived exertion (RPE) when listening to upbeat workout music compared to three other types of audio. RPE, which is a measurement of physical activity intensity, is a subjective number and is based on how hard you feel like your body is working during physical activity. This study is definitely not perfect, but suggests that upbeat audio (aka workout music) may be helpful to push through rigorous exercise programs.

What songs help you stay motivated in the gym? [Photo credit: Pixabay]

Find Your Groove

I know some incredible coaches who prefer no music for themselves or their clients for various reasons. I can respect that but I am definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum. While it’s not a great idea to rely on music, I do believe that jamming while you work out can improve your training experience.

If you’re looking for some new music to train to, look no further. I’ve created the ultimate workout playlist with song suggestions from some of the best trainers, coaches, and fitness influencers in the world. And since we’re celebrating women’s fitness, this playlist is crafted by beautiful, smart, fit women, and is guaranteed to get you pumped up for your next training session.

Julia Ladewski, CSCS, is a strength coach and mom who takes pride in helping people from all walks of life to see and reach their full potential. She currently trains a wide variety of clients and is the former University of Buffalo Strength & Conditioning coach, where she worked closely with every sport on campus. Julia has top notch knowledge on strength and beyond.

Jen Sinkler, a retired USA rugby player turned trainer, is consistently referred to as one of the best fitness experts to follow online. She has an eclectic background of training with certifications in Olympic lifting, RKC, KBA, CrossFit, TACFIT and more. Jen and her husband own an awesome gym together called The Movement Minneapolis, located in – you guessed it – Minneapolis.

Rachel Vaziralli is the CEO of Rachel V Fitness, an Equinox Master Trainer, Schwinn Master Trainer and holds an MS in Exercise Science and Cardiac Rehabilitation. Rachel was featured on the world-famous Beachbody Insanity DVDs, won the first season of Flip or Flop and has a massive fitness brand, F3, Face Fear Fitness.

Christmas Abbott is a nationally-ranked Olympic lifter and CrossFit athlete. Standing just 5-foot 3-inches all, Christmas boasts a quite impressive body of work both athletically and as a coach. Abbott has served as the Head Trainer at CrossFit HQ, owns her own CrossFit box, and even has NASCAR pit crew experience at the highest level of competition. Look out for her books, programs, and seminar appearances for top-notch fitness information that you do not want to miss.

Katya Henry is a Miami-based fitness model and personal trainer with a massive following on social media. With over 2 million Instagram followers, another 55,000 on Twitter and 63,000 more on Facebook, she’s hoping to make a splash in the industry with her Workouts by Katya programs that just launched.

Jennifer “Zen” Gray Burgos, better known as Zen, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and owner of The HIT Locker – High Intensity Training in Downtown LaGrange, IL. With more than 25 years helping thousands of people get fit around the country, she’s one of the most knowledgeable professionals in the field. Zen has been featured on BRACO and Exercise TV, in addition to numerous writing and speaking opportunities that highlight her effectiveness and expertise as a trainer.

Anna Victoria is the creator of the highly popular Fit Body Guide (FBG) programs that have helped hundreds of thousands of women achieve a healthier lifestyle while motivating and supporting each other as a community. Anna is a Certified Personal Trainer who has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Allure, Shape and was recently recognized as one of the 100 most influential in fitness & health.

Lindsay Bloom is the owner of, along with her husband John, where they create some of the best fitness content on the web. Lindsay is a competitive powerlifter and former NFL cheerleader with a laundry list of athletic achievements. Lindsay is taking her skills and passion for fitness and performance to the next level, putting her distinct mark on an entire generation of trainers, clients, and athletes.

Jen Heward is an athlete, coach, model, and brand ambassador of the highest magnitude. Jen is the owner of HunnyBunsFit and co-owner of Life Altering Fitness, located in Auburn, CA. She is one of the most influential trainers and fitness influencers in the world. Jen’s philosophy is to believe in yourself enough to know that you deserve the best and instills that in her clients and social networks daily.

Shauna Harrison is an Under Armour sponsored athlete and trainer with a PhD in public health. She is a hip-hop connoisseur, the creator of #SweatADay and a TRX Suspension Training ambassador. With educational experiences at Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and UCLA, Shauna is one of the most highly decorated fitness pros you’ll come by.

Mary Fleck, a California-based trainer and health coach, traveled cross country from the Midwest to take her career to the next level. Mary is a Ball State University alumna with a degree in exercise science. She’s a HIIT training specialist with years of experience in competitive dance, cycling TRX, kettlebells, and has a strong emphasis on mobility and nutrition.

Leah Ranft is an ACE certified personal trainer, CrossFit coach and athletem and nutrition specialist. She launched her career in Hawaii before moving back to her home state of Indiana, where she specializes in athletic enhancement, fat loss, and women’s fitness. Leah works closely with her clients to help them gain the physical, mental, and emotional edge they need to tackle their goals in and outside the gym.

Tanya Poppett is known worldwide for her ‘Your Balanced Life’ eBook and Train with Tanya workout app. Tanya is a fitness instructor in Sydney, Australia, with a huge following and a truly impressive track record. She also hosts fitness retreats called Active Escapes, which allow you to experience a getaway with a fitness-fun balance that is a once in a lifetime experience.

Idalis Velazquez is a mom, wife, and highly regarded fitness professional. A former elite collegiate track athlete, she’s now the creator of ALL IN 18, a DVD program designed to give you your best body ever. She is also the founder of IV Fitness and the PowerUP60 training method, which has helped change the lives of thousands in her local Florida area as well as worldwide by way of online training.

Kira Stokes is the creator of The Stoked Method and Stoked Series classes, taught in New York, NY. She contributed the perfect song to this list to get you stoked up for your workout. Kira is a celebrity trainer, athlete, and renowned writer in the fitness industry with a sizeable reach on social media. She offers daily workouts on her Instagram and has been featured on Good Morning America, Today Show, and ABC News. She also works closely as a brand ambassador to some of the leading fitness fashion brands in the world.

Kalynn Kabisa is a premier CrossFit athlete and coach based out of CrossFit UnPhased in Troy, MI. As one of the leading female CrossFit competitors, Kalynn has morphed her strength under the bar into being equally as effective in coaching and online influential impact. For training and nutrition advice, look no further than her Instagram, which is packed with motivation and helpful tips for fitness enthusiasts.

What songs keep you motivated while you workout? Let me know in the comments!

Want more science behind the speakers?

How Music Affects Your Workout


1. Prieboy, M, “Effects of auditory input on perceived exertion during cycling,” Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation 29(2009): 262.

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