Now that I’ve been pushing myself to workout on a fairly consistent basis, I’ve realized that having a diverse, engaging, and energizing playlist to accompany my workout and keep me pumped is an absolute MUST. The songs have to motivate me. They need a heavy beat to match my steps as I run, blocking out the crazed, accelerated pounding of my heart; something with an intense build to help me forget that my lungs and muscles are burning like mad; something to remind me why I would EVER make the conscious decision to make my legs feel as though they’re about to fall off, my heart as though it’s beating to break free from my chest, or my lungs as though they might completely crash in upon themselves.
Music helps distract me. It enlivens me. And when that perfect song comes on I’m encouraged to pursue voraciously this mission towards a healthier, happier lifestyle. On this journey, I’ve found that whether it’s my physical strength or my willpower that’s being tested, I’ll run that extra mile, hold that plank for another 30 seconds, or do ten more crunches if I simply have the right songs to help me push just that much harder.
So without further ado, here are my top 5 favorite songs to help keep me inspired and empowered along my workout (and if you haven’t heard of any of these–for shame! Be sure to go look them up! They just might do the trick for you next time):
5. Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden
Give this bad boy a mere 10 seconds and you’ll already be hooked. It’s got a perfect, steady beat, strong vocals, a charging melody, and Bruce Dickinson’s voice is just a powerhouse of eager tenacity that’ll keep you running up ANY hill. Not to mention the instrumental build that begins about 2 1/2 minutes in and ends with Bruce screaming his heart out before the final chorus will keep you pushing and pushing, spurred on by the energy you can feel gushing from every musician in the band.
Not to mention Iron Maiden, simply put, is a musical conglomeration of badassery. You shouldn’t really need more convincing than that. 😛
4. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
An absolute classic. And for good reason! There is no way you can be on a jog or lifting weights and you don’t go into immediate beast-mode when this song comes on. Suddenly you are Rocky, and you are unbeatable. You’ve got the mentality. You’ve got the brawn. And now you’ve got the eye of the tiger. This song triggers something primal in me every time I hear it, something animalistic, something powerful. That power sends rockets through my bloodstream the second that first stick smacks the cymbals and the guitar strikes its first true chords, and then the vocals join in: “Rising up…” and that’s it, I’m awakened. Reborn.
The song is practically CHALLENGING you to do better–getting in your face, up front and personal, urging and inspiring you to stalk and obliterate this workout as you would prey. Whether you’re starting a workout that you’re simply not in the mood for, you need some encouragement when you’re halfway through, or you’re almost finished and just need some extra “umph” to push on ’til the end–this song’s got you covered.
3. Caramelldansen, the Speedycake Remix
THIS is the song you turn on when you’re not sure if you could possibly do even another quarter of a mile. It doesn’t matter if you’re absolutely exhausted and ready to curl up into a little ball in the deepest, darkest hole you can find–you turn on Caramelldansen (be sure to do the Speedycake Remix!) and you will find yourself amped the heck up. It’s a bit of Swed-pop (and we all know if it’s Swedish, it’s the best) and a lot of techno, but most of all it’s a fast-paced, rev-’em-up, joyful, layered song that makes you want to run faster and harder, even if you’re at the end of your rope–and to do so gladly. Not to mention it just puts a smile on my face every time I hear it, and when you’re entirely tuckered out but know you still have a ways to go, sometimes a smile makes all the difference.
2. Ghost Opera by Kamelot
Now pretty much ANY song you listen to by this band will make you feel invigorated, as Kamelot is all about those power chords, insanely fast, complicated drum beats, equally complicated riffs that somehow manage to remain melodious, and (my personal favorite) they incorporate classical strings into many of their songs, adding an additional layer that amplifies their sound as a whole.
Though you could listen to Rule the World, Black Halo, or the Fourth Legacy and receive a similar level of drive to push you onward (all three of which, by the way, are on my workout playlist), I chose Ghost Opera because it starts off and gets you immediately antsy–the music is letting you know that something big is coming, something, perhaps, that should make you nervous, and your body’s fueled with an electric adrenaline that, once Roy Khan starts singing, sort of begins to settle… for a time. He’s powerful, he’s confident, maybe even a bit cocky, but those drums have slowed to an unsteady off-beat rhythm, and for a small time you think you’re safe. But then the chorus drops. Now we’re back to that almost mind-numbingly fast double bass kick, a chorus of voices has joined in the background, the other instrumentals have kicked it up to something resembling that of the N-64 version of Bowser’s Castle theme, and even as he “Welcome[s] all to curtain call,” you’re not sure that you want to be welcomed. It sounds dangerous, yet seductive–all that you would think an opera ghost would be. And it’ll pump you hard with a fury that causes you to force ten more reps out of those arms, another mile on that tread, or ten more presses of the legs.
Just beware… if you listen to one Kamelot song, you’ll be compelled to inspect their entire cast of albums, so be sure you have room on your musical device 😉
And then last but not least… (and do keep in mind, I said MY top 5 workout songs, not the world’s…)
1. Let It Go from Frozen
Now hear me out on this one! I know that pretty much anything from Frozen is probably a little questionable by most audiences, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve felt as desolate as Elsa at the start of the song and have grown ridiculously empowered by the time the song ends its first chorus. I mean, I DO let it go. You CAN’T hold me back anymore. Then the instrumentals start to kick in a bit harder by verse two and you feel suddenly freer and lighter, those bouncy notes putting a spring in your step that lifts you up so that when she sings “It’s time to see what I can do, to push the limits and break through,” you’re pushing EVERY limit and you’re doing so happily because you feel just as complete as she does, and you’re breaking through right along with her. Then you get to the second chorus and you just want to fling out your arms to each side, throw back your head with a silly grin, and revel in the fact that you’re simply ALIVE. And you can feel the wind brushing against every inch of your body as you run, and you know that your muscles are working in perfect harmony, and now you’re running faster, but it feels AMAZING. You’re not forcing yourself, you don’t even feel like you’re having to work harder. You’re just moving naturally. And then the bridge–the bridge! It hits you after this insane, escalating instrumental break that builds and builds with such rapturous creativity that you’ve completely forgotten you’re tired, and suddenly you can’t even take your mind off of this song for a single second, thus forgetting about the burning in the rest of your body because you’ve already run however many miles.
If I can feel that way no matter how many times I listen to this song, it deserves to be on my playlist. So whatever prejudice you may have, just let it go and try the song 😉
Well there ya go! My top 5 songs. Now stay pumped out there!