20 Great Old-School Songs for Your Workout Playlist

Now that we’re officially in the second quarter of the year, a lot of people have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions, and are back to their old, sedentary ways. But that doesn’t have to be the case, especially when it comes to exercise. Working out doesn’t have to be chore. Besides, as humans, we’re built to be active and mobile.

Sometimes, when it comes to exercise, all it takes is a little motivation and playing some tricks on the brain. More times than not, our bodies are fully capable of running that extra mile, or cycling for five more minutes, but our brains are telling us that it’s too hard or too boring, and so we stop. (Or we never get up to do it in the first place.) The key is to entertain your brain while your body burns the calories, and the easiest way to do that is with some great music.

Music is not only wonderful for distractions, but it can make you want to run faster, push harder, and work to the beat in your ears. But if you’re anything like me, you have no interest in the hot new music that is being played on radio stations and in clubs. Sure, the beats to those songs are probably decent, but who wants to hear some autotuned voice with a synthesizer in the background?

If you want to enjoy your workout, consider exercising to songs that will not only make you want to move, but that are songs you know and love, and will want to sing along to. (It’s ok, you can be that person at the gym who drums to the beat in your head and sings along while on the treadmill. No shame in that!)

If you’re inspired by the list below, use it to find more great old-school songs to get you moving. There are only a few key things that you need to look out for:

  • Make sure there’s a good beat throughout, and that it doesn’t slow down and lose momentum.
  • If the beat builds as the song progresses, that’s even better because it will help you increase your exertion as you go.
  • Try to pick songs that aren’t too short (it’s hard to get into a good tune, and then have it end while you’re all pumped up) and not too long (you’ll find yourself getting bored). Shoot for 3-4 minutes.
  • Pick songs that you really enjoy when you’re not working out. If you sort of like them,  you definitely won’t like them any more while you’re sweating and pushing yourself.
  • If you’re really into it, organize your playlist so that it corresponds with your warmup time, full-blown workout, and cool-down. But this isn’t mandatory. Using your shuffle option is just as good.

Here are some great songs from the past few decades that will get you off the couch and into the gym.

20. Proud Mary — Creedence Clearwater Revival

19. Be My Baby — The Ronettes

18. Sweet Caroline — Neil Diamond

17. Me & Bobby McGee — Janis Joplin

16. Mr. Lee — The Bobbettes

15. Working On the Highway — Bruce Springsteen

14. I Wanna Dance with Somebody — Whitney Houston

13. Jump — The Pointer Sisters

12. Bust a Move — Young MC

11. Hit the Road Jack — Ray Charles

10. Eye of the Tiger — Survivor

9. Don’t Do Me Like That — Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

8. I Wanna Be Sedated — The Ramones

7. Stomp — Parliament

6. Big Shot — Billy Joel

5. Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough — Michael Jackson

4. Baby Got Back — Sit Mix-a-Lot

3. Hooked on a Feeling — Blue Swede

2. Get a Job — The Silhouettes

1. American Woman — Lenny Kravitz