Staff Picks – Our 3 Best Workout Albums

Alright, I’ll admit it: I’m not a big fan of playlists.  A lot of my friends have carefully curated workout playlists to pump them up at the gym, but that approach never really worked for me.  The way I see it is that artists put their music on albums for a reason.  The songs themselves are important, but so is the order the songs are listed in, the transitions between songs, and the overarching themes of the entire album.
This is why I wanted to write a feature on albums that are perfect to work out to, whether you’re at the pool, on your bike, or just jogging up and down the stairs on your lunch break.  After asking around the office, I picked three albums to recommend.  I’ve chosen albums from different genres and time periods, so there should be at least one album here for just about anyone.  Without further ado, these are Underwater Audio’s top three best workout albums.

Celebration Rock – Japandroids (2012)

This is probably the single most motivational album I own.  But unlike a lot of other “motivational” music, it’s not the meaning behind the songs that really gets me going.  It’s the choice of words.  Brian King frames normally mundane topics like parties, breakups, and nostalgia as epic conflicts between good and evil; nearly every song is filled with words like “fire”, “hurricane”, and “heavens”.

Polyvinyl – 2012

Putting on this album can transform something as standard as your daily workout into a heroic struggle worthy of legend.  It’s basically impossible not to feel motivated with “If they try to slow you down / Tell ’em all to go to hell” blasting through your Swimbuds.  I don’t recommend listening to it in the car, though, unless you like speeding tickets.
Standout tracks: Adrenaline Nightshift, Evil’s Sway, The House that Heaven Built

The Beatles – The Beatles (1968)

The Beatles’ self-titled record is better known as the “White Album” because of its minimalist cover.  Take a look:

Unlike its cover art, though, the album itself is anything but minimal.  Containing a staggering thirty songs and covering a huge range of musical styles, the White Album can seem daunting at first glance.  The massive scale of this album, though, is what makes it so perfect for working out.
As we discussed in “20 Songs Scientifically Proven to Pump Up Your Swim”, one of the advantages of listening to music while you exercise is that it can help distract you from how tired you feel, letting you work out for longer.  And the White Album is nothing if not distracting; the frequent shifts in sound will draw your attention back to the music and away from your fatigue.  A tighter album with a more consistent tone might be more effective at keeping you focused on your workout, but if you want to keep your head in the clouds, it’s hard to top this record.
Standout tracks (no links due to YouTube takedowns, sorry): Helter Skelter, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Back in the U.S.S.R.

Stop Making Sense – Talking Heads (1983)

If there’s a living human being out there that doesn’t enjoy this album, I haven’t met them yet.  For those poor souls not already in the know, Stop Making Sense is the soundtrack album to a concert movie of the same name; in other words, every track on the album is a live recording from a single Los Angeles concert.  This album is so good that it single-handedly spoiled the remainder of the Talking Heads’ music for me!  I simply can’t listen to any of their studio recordings anymore, because they lack the incredible live energy of this album.

Stop Making Sense

Sire/Warner Bros. – 1984

The reason that Stop Making Sense is such a good workout album is because of this energy.  The album covers a wide variety of tempos and styles, but it never loses its driving momentum.  Stop Making Sense feels, for lack of a better word, alive.  It really is like having the band in the room with you (but a lot more portable).
Standout tracks: Burning Down the House, Once in a LifetimeGirlfriend is Better

Tell Us Your Thoughts

What are some of your favorite albums to work out to?  Do you listen to different kinds of music for different workouts?  Let us know in the comments!
Notice on Fair Use: We believe the use of the above album artwork and lyric snippets constitutes fair use as it is for the purpose of criticism or comment, uses solely low-resolution thumbnail images, and is likely to have no negative market impact.  If you are the copyright holder of an above image and would like to request its removal we would be happy to comply.

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