In the hours after a breakup, slow, melancholy music is often just what the doctor ordered. A bowl of ice cream, a bubble bath and the soft, sad vocals of Adele and James Bay is what your body, mind and soul crave. But fast forward a few weeks or months, and you're done feeling sad. Now it's time to heal. Now it's time to finally move on. And now it's time to blast the empowering breakup songs and kickbox away those ice cream calories until your ex is nothing but an afterthought.
Because as many of the recently scorned or dumped can attest, oftentimes the best way to cure an aching heart is to make every other muscle in your body ache even more. Here's our pick for the best workout songs to listen to while you sweat out the heatache and gain a new, beautiful, revenge-worthy body.
1. "Shake It Off" By Taylor Swift
This wouldn't be a list of breakup songs if it didn't include a hit from the queen of heartache herself, T. Swift. While there are numerous Taylor tunes to choose from, as far as empowering breakup songs are concerned, nothing beats the upbeat and catchy "Shake It Off". The tempo is perfect for a slow-paced jog, and the lyrics of "players gonna play" and "heartbreakers gonna break" will leave your endorphine-fueled brain feeling cheerfully optimistic. Because while breakups may be painful, they're a part of life; there's no avoiding them. The best thing you can do is tell yourself "it's gonna be alright," sign up for a Zumba class and "shake it off."
2. "Dancing on My Own" by Robyn
The first time you run into an ex after a breakup is painful. The first time you hear your ex has moved on to someone new is even worse. Now imagine having to experience both at the same time, and you have Robyn's disco-inspired anthem "Dancing on My Own". As the lyrics to the song unfold, we hear Robyn's traumatizing story of walking into a club and seeing her ex and her ex's new flame making out on the dance floor. With emotional lyrics like "I'm giving it my all / But I'm not the girl you're taking home," the song hints at the familiar theme of sadness and loneliness that resonates through many of Robyn's ballads. But the tune is empowering as well, because as the title suggests, Robyn declares in resolute vocals throughout the song that no matter what happens, she'll keep "dancing on (her) own."
3. "Bulletproof" by La Roux
If you've recently been dumped, you may relate to the feeling of wanting to never be caught unaware again; of never letting your guard down enough to be fooled into falling into the trap of heartache. You've learned a powerful lesson from this breakup, telling yourself, as English-synthpop duo La Roux does in their smash hit from 2009, that next time, "I'll be bulletproof."
In a different song, lyrics like "Been there, done that, messed around / I'll never let you sweep me off my feet" might sound angry, but the synthetic electropop melody and bouncy vocals lend the song an upbeat, maniacal happy quality. You can almost imagine the singer smiling as she reassures her ex-lover—and the world—that don't worry, she's got this. "This time, baby, I'll be bulletproof" is repeated on refrain throughout the chorus like a mantra. It's the perfect song to listen to mid-workout, when the pain of strenuous cycling or weight lifting starts to hit hard.
4. "Love Myself" by Hailee Steinfeld
"I love me! I don't need anybody else!" sings Hailee Steinfeld in her dance anthem "Love Myself". As she and her friends confidentially strut in front of a mirror and boogie in the streets in the accompanying music video, it's easy to see why this pro-self-love ballad is the ultimate female self-love song.
Though lyrics like "I'm gonna touch the pain away/ I know how to scream my own name," suggest a more sensual message is at play, the theme of self-empowerment is the same. As the song's lyrics suggest, you don't need a partner to make yourself feel good; you can take care of your needs all by yourself.
5. "Never Be Like You" by Flume, featuring Kai
For a great warm-up or cool down song, try "Never Be Like You" by Australian musician Flume. The song, which features chilling vocals from Canadian singer Kai, has a spacey, futuristic quality to it. The synchopated beat and synthetic sound effects make it a great song to groove to while stretching or walking on the treadmill. When paired with lyrics like "I made a mistake / Please just look me in my face / Tell me everything's okay" the song goes from "clubby" to hauntingly beautiful. Kai begs forgiveness for past mistakes while simultaneously defending her humanity, singing: "I'm only human, can't you see?" before ultimately reaching the conclusion that she'll never meet her ex's standards, singing "I'll never be like you."
6. "F*ck You" by Cee Lo Green
Cee Lo Green's "F*CK You (Or the clean version, "Forget You") tells the tale of a gold-digging heartbreaker in a pop song that is the perfect mix of old- fashioned mowtown soul and contemporary tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. The steady bass percussion and cheery piano line make it a great song to rock out to as you lift weights or do crunches. The song is so sunnily cheerful that even as Cee Lo sings lyrics like "Now baby, baby, baby, why'd you wanna wanna hurt me so bad?" and "I've got some news for you / Ooh I really hate your ass right now", you won't be able to stop yourself from smiling.
7. "Survivor" by Destiny's Child
Nobody does empowering breakup songs like Beyonce and the best example of this is "Survivor", which was released in 2001 while Beyonce was still part of Destiny's Child. It's impossible to just pick a few lyrics from this song as every line is exquisite. You'll want to listen to this feel-good song while working out at home because it's the kind of ballad that begs to be belted out; and the louder, the better. Play the song on repeat and sing along to "I'm a survivor / I'm not going to give up" until the heartache begins to fade.