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6 Tips to Choose the Best Workout Songs (Plus a Butt-Kicking Playlist!)

Get started on the right foot. It might not seem like it, but that first song can set the tone for the rest of your workout. "For most people, getting started is the hardest part, so kicking off with a highly motivational song like Alicia Keys' 'Girl on Fire' helps," says Cook. Bonus: It's the perfect tempo for a gradual warm-up.

Mix it up. Having a ton of different tunes to pull from will break up the monotony of your workout, especially if you're exercising for a long time. Cook says the best workout songs can be fast, mid-tempo, uplifting, nostalgic, or funny, as long as there's a healthy blend. "A bit of humor will remind you that if you're going to sweat like mad, you might as well laugh a bit while you're at it—even if you're only laughing on the inside."

Use lyrics to your advantage. There's a reason T-Swift's "Shake It Off" is so popular—the song is catchy, feel-good and relatable. Cook deems it the perfect mid-workout song. When you're ready to give up, it can literally help you "shake off" negative thoughts, she says. Same goes for Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" and Kelly Clarkson's "What Doesn't Kill You (Makes You Stronger)." Tune in to the empowering words next time you've hit struggle city to power through.

Make it personal. "Experts say that it can help to include a song that you have a positive association with," says Cook. "Maybe there's a song that reminds you of an exhilarating road trip you took years ago, or one that takes you back to a time in your life when you were extremely happy." For me, you can count on seeing "Jesse's Girl," thanks to way too many ridiculously fun karaoke nights with friends.

Find plenty of pop. Studies show that women tend to stick to a beat while working out, and pop songs provide a steady rhythm, explains Cook. So next time you want an even split on your run, you know which genre to search.

Cool it down. Build in your cool-down with music to make sure you don't skimp. Cook recommends Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive," thanks to it's slower pace, along with Mr. Probz' "Waves."

Ready to start sweating? These are the best workout songs, according to FITNESS readers, organized to give you the most pep in your step.

 

Samantha Lefave

Samantha is a writer who is living, eating and sweating her way through NYC. You can find her running half-marathons like it's her job, Instagramming her favorite food and fitness finds or, let's be honest, eating peanut butter straight from the jar.

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