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Performance Enhancing... Music

P.E.M. (Performance Enhancing Music)

For years and years, gym go-ers have been searching for any possible way to get that extra motivation for their workouts. Some cloud up their water with unproven supplements like NO Explode or Jack3d. Others pound back a few espressos and throw down some raspberry ketones before getting their swell on. And then there are others who choose to opt out of the workout completely and post up in a static squat on the couch while watching reruns of The Biggest Loser (ironic?).  Today, I’m going to talk about my favourite workout enhancement tool (other than the mirror of course – kidding):



As a strength coach, one of the many upsides of my job is getting to listen to my favourite music all day while watching people lift things up and put them back down. Sometimes though, on the other hand, I am forced to listen to Justin Bieber whine over an 808 so much that I debate smashing my head into a barbell in the hopes that I’ll lose consciousness for the next 5 minutes. Needless to say, the choice in music can be the difference between a good workout and a great workout.

I personally like my music like I like my workouts: hardcore. If I’m listening to rap, I want the lyrics to make me feel as if I’m in the club poppin’ bottles and throwing ones. If it’s metal I want it to make my head bob so hard that I’m a few nods away from a self-induced concussion. If it’s house, then the beat better knock so hard it’ll blow the speakers right out of your mom’s Minivan.

Here are my 3 favourite music genres, each with a list of my top 5 P.E.M. songs, as well as some Honourable Mentions (HM) that I just could not leave off the list.

Genre: House

I was introduced to House a few years back when I used to make fun of my girlfriend for listening to “that garbage”. A few years later, I find myself stealing her iPod, shazaming songs in her car and denying that I ever made such comments. Nothing drowns out the thump of your pounding heartbeat like a loud beat mixed in with some eargasmic female vocals.

Claude Giroux, Slater Koekkoek, Jason Akeson and Ryan Garlock crushing some hill sprints

5. “Made Of“ (Original Mix) by Nause 

Play this song during your workout finisher and you’ll have no issues

4. “Hurricane“ (Club Mix) by Dzeko & Torres vs. Sarah McLeod   

I just recently discovered this song. Stop by one of our gyms in the next few weeks and you’re guaranteed to hear this playing.

3. “Summer Time Sadness“(Cedric Gervais Remix) by Lana Del Rey 

My summer 2013 anthem. I know it’s Lana Del Rey, but play this song anywhere public and guaranteed people will be asking you what it’s called.

2. “Spectrum (Say My Name)” by Calvin Harris Ft. Florence + The Machine

When Florence Welch belts out “say my name”, I swear my heart rate jumps 10 bpms.

1. “Maximal Crazy” by Tiesto 

This song makes it seem like there’s a stadium of 10 000 people surrounding you while you work out. The beat is crazy and the clapping in the background is icing on the cake.


“Antidote” by Swedish House Mafia

“Feel Alive” by Benny Benassi

“Greyhound” (Original Mix) by Swedish House Mafia

“Ladi Dadi” (Tommy Trash Remix) by Steve Aoki ft. Wynter Gordon

“Shake It Out” by Benny Benassi Ft. Florence + The Machine

“Two Days Straight” by Na Palm

“Feel the Dada” by Dada Life

“Wonderland” by Natalia Kills (PeaceTreaty Dubstep Remix)

“Hungry Like a Wolf” by Steve Aoki ft. Duran Duran

Genre: Rap

I started listening to rap much like every other teenaged white kid from the suburbs: when Eminem hit the scene. I may have taken it a little too far when I started memorizing his rap battles and dressing like I lived on 8 mile – but that’s another story. Here are my top rap workout tracks.


Nick Hodgins, London Knights draft, pick rockin’ the Gongshow bucket for his training


5. “Throw Some D’s” (remix) by Rich Boy 


4. “I’m Goin In” by Drake ft. Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne

This song is called going in… Need I say more?

3. “Poppin Bottles” by T.I. ft Drake

One of my favourite beats of all time.  I also like the Wiz Khalifa remix called “Real Estate”.

2. “‘Till I Collapse” by Eminem

Dre beat, Nate Dogg chorus and Eminem lyrics.  Trifecta.

1. “Hustle Hard” (Remix) by Ace Hood ft. Rick Ross, Lil Wayne 

A new song that I can’t get enough of in the gym. Doesn’t matter what exercise I’m doing, this song makes me hustle.


“Get Up” by 50 Cent

“Rollin” by Lil Wayne

“Welcome Back” by Young Jeezy

“Rollin’” Remix by Limp Bizkit

“Red Nation” by The Game ft. Lil Wayne

“I’m Talking to You” by T.I.

“Still Dre” by Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg

“Dope Boyz” by The Game

Anything Wiz Khalifa

Anything Eminem

Anything Drake

Genre: Alternative/Metal/Rock (or whatever it’s called) 

Dan Boyle first brought this noise to Greco about 7 summers ago when he showed up to the gym, iPod in hand, ready to rock. This is the last type of music I ever expected to listen to but these days, nothing gets me pumped for a heavy set like some classic Disturbed.



 Dan Boyle training like a FREAK

5. “Between Angels and Insects” by Papa Roach 

The lyrics say “no money, no possessions” which is the way I like to train: with nothing to lose.

4. ”Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit 

This song starts out hard and only gets better.

3. ”Waking the Demon” by Bullet for my Valentine

I got this one 7 years ago from ex OHLer Ryan Hanes. I still play it on the regular.

2. “No More Sorrow” by Linkin Park 

The intro to this song gets the adrenaline flowing. By far my favourite song to bench press to.

1. “Toxicity” by System of a Down 

Lastly, my deadlift song. Bar none, I can pull more weight off the floor listening to the song than any other.


“Right Now” by Korn

“Headstrong” by Trapt

“Hot Dog” by Limp Bizkit

“Break” & “Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace

“Fear” & “Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed

There they are: my favourite songs to train to. I’d love to get some of your feedback, as well as hear some of the songs you like to train to. Leave a comment below if you like any of these songs, have suggestions for me, or downright hate my music.

Check out my next post on an “NHL Prospect Camp Through a Players Eyes” coming soon.

Jake Wright, CSCS

Follow me on twitter or instagram: @jake_thefreak


About the Author

Jake Wright is a highly praised personal trainer, strength coach and part owner of two Greco Lean and Fit Centres in Kanata, Ontario.  He started his fitness career in 2007 under the guidance of Tony Greco ( and earned a BSC in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo.  Since the start of his fitness career, Jake has coached and trained clients to reach and surpass their fitness goals, including professional athletes, post-rehabilitation patients and general fitness enthusiasts.

Jake and his fellow trainer and business partner Adam Bracken both grew up in the Ottawa minor hockey system and have a passion for helping young players fulfill their dreams.  Together, they create and survey the programs for upwards of 50 players each year during off-season, with clients ranging from NHLers to young aspiring minor hockey players.

If you’re in the Ottawa area at any point this summer and would like to know more about what Jake and Adam can do for your off-season conditioning, feel free to stop by 100 Schneider road, Kanata, Ontario or check them out at