Finding the motivation to start working out can feel impossible. But there’s a surprisingly simple solution: music. The best workout songs don’t just get you in the right headspace or drown out the noise of the gym; they can actively improve your performance.

In a study released last year, Italian researchers found that when people listened to high-tempo pop music during exercise, they believed they were putting in less effort for workouts that were actually more intense than those of a control group. Energetic songs were especially helpful during endurance exercise.

This finding isn’t a one-off, either. In recent years, other studies have shown evidence that music optimises movements, significantly increases endurance and keeps us happier during workouts. It might even stave off age-related cognitive decline when paired with exercise, too.

What kinds of songs are best during a workout?

High-tempo music appears to be the most effective for exercise, per the Italian study. On top of inspiring you to work harder without realising it, says personal trainer Dilan Gomih, fast-paced music can also boost your mood. “This translates into getting your heart rate up and better performance,” Gomih explains.

Tempo is measured in beats per minute, or BPM. Gomih recommends focusing most on music at 120 to 140 BPM. Sareena Rama, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, creates playlists that fluctuate from 100 to 180 BPM, depending on how intensely she’s planning to work out. A song’s speed can also help you keep time, Gomih says; for example, runners can sync their pace rate to a certain BPM.

Beyond tempo, lyrics also serve as a source of inspiration. “I recommend listening to music that promotes positive self-talk,” Rama says. Seek out songs that make you feel more confident, empowered, sexy, or happy—they’ll keep you moving longer, she explains.

Meanwhile, Gomih likes to switch between pop songs and dancier ones with few lyrics. “Songs with clear beat drops are important because the music inherently makes the listener want to push harder for those 30 to 45 seconds,” she explains, “then provides active recoveries in-between.”

Ready to get moving? Here are the 50 best workout songs of all time: