Between Christmas vacation and the hellish Polar Vortex that rendered everyone’s car motionless, I haven’t been to Jiu Jitsu or Core Cardio in almost three weeks.
While getting back to fitness after a long layoff is inevitably tough, it’s noticeably tougher for me without music. Besides motivation, music also drowns out the sounds of my groans and labored breathing—constant reminders of my own mortality and probably constant annoyances for everyone who just wants to swing kettlebells in peace.

Below are ten songs that get me ready to train, each for different reasons. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

AC/DC: “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”

The battle anthem for beginners. This song was the first track on their first record you could by in America and you can really hear their growing pains. “Getting had, getting took, I tell ya folks: it’s harder than it looks.” If those aren’t Jiu Jitsu lyrics, what is?

Black Keys/Rza: “The Baddest Man Alive”

Confidence is critical when it comes to training because, even though you haven’t mastered anything yet, you have to know you will if you stick with it. This is also a great one to help you find that extra gear when rolling.

Funkadelic: “Get Off Your Ass and Jam”

If this doesn’t get you going, check your pulse. You might be a robot.

John Legend: “Who Did That to You?”

This was written specifically for the Django Unchained soundtrack, so you know it’s tailor made for getting down and handling business. Get ready to stand your ground.

Kendrick Lamar: “Backseat Freestyle”

On the surface, this is pure aggression. A layer down, it’s effortless flow. Exactly as it should be.

The Kinks: “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”

Even with a great team, Jiu Jitsu is a hyper-individual pursuit. Your training partners can help you become the best version of yourself, but it’s up to you to define those terms. You have to figure out what works for you, what doesn’t at the moment and then try to improve at everything.

Lupe Fiasco: “Kick, Push”

A lot of people like to train to real heavy stuff, but I’ve always preferred something with a good rhythm that I can tune into. I love this one for visualizing techniques while I’m on the treadmill. Way better than just staring at the wall.

MIA: “Bad Girls”

I don’t care if it has the word “Girls” in the title—this song will bring out your inner bad ass no matter what chromosomes you have. At least one writer called her song “Paper Planes” one of the top ten UFC Walkout songs of all time, but it’s a little played out for me at this point. Talk about a worthy replacement.

Oasis: “Roll with It”

“You’ve gotta roll with it. You’ve gotta take your time.” Translation: “Flow like water.”

The Smiths: “You Just Haven’t Earned it Yet, Baby”

The Smiths are most famous for making crybaby music (which I love without shame), so this is a good one for the ride home after an hour of getting tapped by high-level grapplers. It’s important to remember that the best guys and girls weren’t born that way—they worked at it. You’ll get there too if you work as hard as they did.