Music plus exercise – it’s hardly a new concept. Long before Zumba joined the gym scene, your parents and grandparents were jumping on the Jazzercise bandwagon and "Sweatin’ to the Oldies" alongside Richard Simmons. But the workout game has changed in at least one regard: 77 percent of Americans now prefer to exercise alone, which, for many, means that they need a killer soundtrack, as opposed to the voice of an encouraging friend, to get them motivated to finish that last lap. With today’s technology at their disposal, workout enthusiasts have virtually every song in existence within the touch of a screen – so, the question is, which beats are they blasting to pump themselves up?

Of Spotify’s workout stations the "Cardio" mix comes in with the most followers. It's more pop-heavy and falls in line with Fitbit’s findings: Besides walking, Americans prefer cardio activities like running, biking, and elliptical machine workouts for exercise. Coming in at No. 2 is the "Power Workout" playlist. The streaming service describes it as the perfect choice for when you need a "punch of intensity" in your workout. It’s made up entirely of "the latest tracks in hip-hop" – and it’s constantly updated, but it can feature anyone from Kanye West and Drake to the more unexpected Limp Bizkit and Imagine Dragons. And although dancing for exercise is much farther down the list, aerobics, which is often set to dance music, is a fitness favorite among women; this may explain how the “Dance Workout” playlist snagged the No. 3 spot.

Looking at just the top songs, the playlist picture starts to come into focus, and definitely has a young, energetic vibe. While Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” takes the cake with 10 occurrences on Spotify’s workout playlists, his on-again off-again romantic interest Selena Gomez (and her rumoured beau Zedd) also show up in the Top 5. Spots two and three, however, are perhaps the most apt for a fun fitness experience--what titles could be better to work out to than "Shut Up and Dance" and "Rock Your Body"?

We also found which individual artists rank the highest for fitness lovers. It turns out, Jay Z and Skrillex are top contenders, and it was an overall blowout for rap and hip-hop; those genres occupy four of the top five spots on the list and 14 of the top 20 overall. So why do rap and hip-hop win the workout contest? Probably simply because their beats get you moving much more than other music, and the more you move, the more you sweat, like working out on a Max Trainer. And that’s the whole point, right?

And speaking of sweating … we know we said that training to the oldies was a thing of the past, but Spotify users may have proved us wrong with their top song choices from the aforementioned Top 5 artists. All of Jay Z’s represented hits are at least a decade old, and Kanye’s “Stronger” was released in 2007 – far from the “latest tracks” at this point. One study might explain why: Exercisers in their mid-’30s and older may be uninterested in the newest singles, opting instead for the tunes that were big when they were young adults, which, for many, would have been hits like "99 Problems" and "Crazy in Love."

But where several of the top singles are somewhat “old school,” nearly all of Spotify’s top exercise albums are brand spankin’ new. A more interesting trend, however, is the fact that all 10 of the top albums are from exclusively male artists (no mixed-gender bands, either). This may fall in line with the fact that men are more likely than women to meet the CDC’s suggested level of exercise. But while there may be no ladies on the list, we have an inkling that female fans are still making their presence felt through the inclusion of Justin Timberlake’s first solo album, Justified. Released in 2002 shortly after NSYNC’s breakup, the record filled a hole in the heart of many a preteen girl, who are now grown women working out to his beats.

Now that we’ve covered the best music to exercise to, the next question is which workout to do, and how to find the best workout equipment. If you’re like thousands of other people looking for a cardio-rich, low-impact exercise routine, elliptical training may be the perfect fit for you. Read equipment reviews, compare pricing, and find the right machine for your needs at


We scraped Spotify’s workout category to determine which artists, albums, playlists, and songs are most popular. Data were gathered in December 2015.

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