Whenever someone talks about the best weight-lifting playlists, there tend to be a few constants to the selections: The songs are powerful, hard, and metal-y—think heavy bass and thumping beats.

That doesn’t exactly work for me. Powerful, I like, but I can do without the hard and metal-y. Instead, when I’m crafting my perfect list, I’m looking for power that comes from a slightly different source. When I’m lifting heavy weights at the gym, pushing my muscles to hard, single-digit efforts, I’m drawn to the power that comes from those you-can-do-it anthems, the ones that make you feel like you can take on the entire world, never mind that barbell.

And okay, that might include some showtunes.

When I’m struggling to eke out one more rep, I want Gloria Gaynor in my ear telling me I can survive the hard stuff. I want Cher belting out that I can kick anything to the curb that’s pulling me back. And I want Elton John promising that despite anything that may have happened before—that PR fail, that injury that sidelined you, or even that conversation with your boss that you biffed earlier in the day—you can always come back better than you were before.

Weight lifting is hard. Life is hard. Sometimes you need that unabashed, in-your-face, you-can-do-it support to get you through. And sometimes that support just happens to be set to catchy tunes and must-sing-along refrains. It’s a win-win, right?

Full playlist:

  1. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
  2. “Express Yourself” by Madonna
  3. “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
  4. “Good As Hell” by Lizzo
  5. “Take Me or Leave Me” by Idina Menzel & Tracie Thoms
  6. “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John
  7. “Iconic” by Madonna
  8. “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
  9. “This Is Me” by Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble
  10. “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
  11. “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton
  12. “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo
  13. “Strong Enough” by Cher
  14. “The Bitch Is Back” by Elton John
  15. “Roar” by Katy Perry
  16. “You Can’t Stop the Beat” by Hairspray Cast
  17. “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, & P!nk
  18. “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor
  19. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar