There’s a reason why so many people listen to music while working out. Music has been scientifically proven to motivate you, boost your energy and make exercise seem like less of a task.

Online music services use an internet connection to stream a large library of music to your phone, which means you don’t have to use up space storing songs or waste time sourcing all of the music separately. Some of these services are available for free, but if you want to access all of the features without getting interrupted by the occasional ad, you’ll need to subscribe for a monthly fee.

Selecting the right music service isn’t as simple as picking the one with the most tracks. With thousands — and in some cases, millions — of songs at your fingertips, you’ll still need to go to the effort of finding the right songs to match your fitness routine. It’s no wonder that the developers of popular music services like Spotify and Apple Music have started to incorporate fitness-specific features that tailor music to your workout.

Here are four music services you should consider signing up to ahead of your next training session.

Apple Music

Price: $9.99 per month
Platforms: iOS

If you’re an iPhone user with the latest OS, you’ve already got access to a music streaming service. Apple built its new “Apple Music” service into the native Music app, giving you free access to 30 million tracks for three months (after which it costs $9.99 a month).

There are a variety of ways you can access tracks through Apple Music. After you’ve set it up initially and told it the artists and genres you like, the “For You” tab will present music recommendations that are hand-picked by Apple’s team of experts. These suggestions get better the more you use the service, as it “learns” the type of tunes you enjoy.

You can also browse through tracks, albums and playlists by genre, and if you’re looking for music that’s tailor-made for exercise, there are specific playlists designed for running, working out and “getting outside,” as well as a “workout anthems” radio station. If you find a track that particularly resonates with your activity, you can create a custom radio station in a couple of taps to line up similar music.

One feature you won’t find with any other service is the advanced voice control capability. Using Siri, you can access a variety of commands without needing to fiddle with your iPhone’s touchscreen, such as “After this song, play Eye of the Tiger,” or “Play more songs like this.”

Apple Music comes standard on all Apple devices.


Price: Free or $9.99 per month for a premium account
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry

Spotify may be the king of the hill for music services, but it isn’t resting on its laurels. An update earlier this year introduced the biggest overhaul of the service yet, adding video content, podcasts and a running feature that matches the tempo of music to your running stride.

The new running feature is available through a dedicated tab in the Spotify app. Using your phone’s accelerometer, it measures your running pace and lines up tracks that have a matching BPM (beats per minute), ensuring that everything in your playlist keeps you in the zone. You can pick between a variety of playlists in different genres, consisting of “running originals” (electronic music that has been specifically designed for running) and themed playlists such as “Reggae Run,” “Indie Kick” and “Hip Hop & RnB.”

The beauty of Spotify Running compared to the traditional themed playlists is that the beats per minute for each track is dynamically adjusted to match your running pace, making it easier to maintain your stride. If you wanted to try for a faster pace, you can even dial up the BPM manually.

Once you tire of the music in Spotify Running, you can browse through a much wider variety of workout-specific playlists (minus the matching BPM feature), as well as create custom radio stations based on a favorite song, artist or genre.

Download on iOS
Download on Android

Fit Radio

Price: Free or $2.99 per month, $36 per year or $60 for a lifetime premium account
Platforms: iOS, Android

Fit Radio doesn’t disclose how many tracks it has in its library, but that doesn’t matter so much, given how the service works. Unlike Spotify and Apple Music, all the music is housed in multi-song mixes produced by professional nightclub DJs — there’s no on-demand access to specific tracks.

The main way to use Fit Radio is by browsing through the various genres and workout types. The good news is that there’s a decent variety of playlists to choose from, including 5K/10K run, spin, meathead and gym cardio. The lion’s share of music in the workouts section consists of pop, R&B, hip-hop and electronic (in other words, the same sort of music you can expect in a nightclub), using the same forceful beats favored on the dance floor. But if those aren’t your cup of tea, the genres section offers a broader variety of music such as classic rock, alternative and oldies.

Whichever mix you end up listening to, the beats per minute stays consistent to help you maintain the same pace or heart rate zone. The service is free to use, but if you want ad-free music playback, unlimited skips and access to more mixes, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium account for $2.99 a month.

Download on iOS
Download on Android


Price: Free or $4.99 per month, $12.99 per quarter or $45.99 per year for a Rockstar membership
Platforms: iOS, Android

As well as offering a “body driven music” feature that matches songs to your running pace (similar to Spotify’s new Running feature), RockMyRun can also sync the tempo to your heart rate, if you have a Bluetooth heart rate monitor connected.

Like Fit Radio, all of the music is housed as mixes, but there are a greater variety of genres available, including country, 80s, Rock and Christian. Of course, for the more traditional lovers of electronic mixes, there’s plenty to browse through as well, from hard house and dubstep to drum and bass and hip-hop. The app claims to have music by the world’s best DJs, and this held up on testing, with an exceptionally high quality of mixes that wouldn’t have been out of place in a world-class nightclub.

You’ll need to upgrade to a Rockstar account to access the body-driven music features and play sets that are longer than 45 minutes, and this will set you back $4.99 a month or $45.99 a year. The app also comes with a seven-day Rockstar trial.

One notable caveat to RockMyRun is that only the normal playback option supports music streaming.

The other options require advance planning: the manual BPM, steps and heart rate-matched playback options require you to download the set completely before playback, which can only be done while connected to the internet.

Download on iOS
Download on Android