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Image by KaiChanVon

Having the right workout music makes a big difference. Science agrees.

Most anyone who’s ever exercised with their iPod knows what a powerful motivator music can be, but choosing the right music isn’t always so easy.

In one study published last year, a group of Australian researchers found that basketball players who listened to Monty Python’s “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life” before taking free throws tended to shoot better.

In case Monty Python isn’t your thing, we’ve collected playlists from five athletes at the top of their sports, from swimming to skateboarding. Here’s what gets the superhumans into the zone:

1. Alex Honnold
Rock Climber

Out of all the insane climbs that Alex Honnold has done, his free solo of Moonlight Buttress has to be the most badass. As if climbing a 1,200-foot-high sandstone tower without a rope isn’t impressive enough, he did it all while listening to his iPod. Afterwards, Honnold dished to Alpinist about the bands that had been on his playlist.

New Dark Ages – Bad Religion
Humanoid – Chevelle
Fuck Authority – Pennywise
Can’t Repeat – Offspring
Something Wrong With Me – Pennywise

2. Michael Phelps

Ever since Michael Phelps picked up a sponsorship from waterproof headphone makers H2O Audio, I’ve wondered what he’s listening to with those aquatic buds. Judging by this playlist Phelps put together for Rhapsody, mostly hip-hop.

Overnight Celebrity – Twista
Burn – Usher
Roses – Outkast
‘Till I Collapse – Eminem
Smile – G Unit

3. Sarah Haskins

Sarah Haskins competed in her first professional race in 2004 and her first Olympics in 2008. Here’s an excerpt from a playlist she put together for Women’s Health.

Crazy in Love – Beyonce
Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
Welcome to the Jungle – Guns ‘N Roses
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
Hey Ya! – OutKast

4. Lindsey Vonn

Vonn put together this playlist for Rap-Up. Much like Johnny Weir, the Olympic gold medalist has a weakness for Lady Gaga.

Sweet Dreams – Beyoncé
Anything on Tha Carter III – Lil Wayne
Dead and Gone – T.I. feat Justin Timberlake
Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys
Poker Face – Lady Gaga

5. Tony Hawk

The Birdman has definitely slowed down, but for a guy who was a legend a decade and a half ago, he’s had a pretty good run. This selection, from a playlist Hawk put together for The Adventure Life, definitely has an old-school vibe to it.

The Beginning of the End – Nine Inch Nails
Clampdown – The Clash
Strange Times – The Black Keys
Mr. Brownstone – Guns N’ Roses
White Unicorn – Wolfmother

Community Connection

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About The Author

Adam Roy

Chicago native Adam Roy is the former-Editor of Matador Sports and an aspiring renaissance man to boot. For more of Adam's writing, check out his blog at Ill-Advised Adventures.

  • Candice

    Ha, sweet list! I’m embarrassed to admit I listen to techno. It works.

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