Taylor Swift trained for Eras by singing her setlist on the treadmill - I tried it and it's not for the faint-hearted

If Taylor can do it... so can we?

Taylor Swift workout: Taylor on her Era's tour
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's a great week to be Taylor Swift, with the pop superstar scooping album of the year at the Grammy's for the fourth time, marking her fourteenth win. As the Swiftie that I unashamedly am, I thought it perfect timing to tell you about that one time I tried a very sweaty Taylor Swift workout - in the name of journalism, of course.

If you'd told little old sixteen-year-old me that I'd be reviewing celebrity workouts as part of my day job, I'd probably have laughed at you. The sweat session in question? Why, the Taylor Swift workout the star reportedly adopted for her sellout Eras tour, of course. 

Speaking to Time last year, the 33-year-old star shared that to condition her body for gruelling three-and-and-a-bit hour-long stage sets, she spent half a year running on a treadmill every single day, all whilst singing her entire 44-song setlist at the same time. Yep. 

“Every day I would run on the treadmill, singing the entire set list out loud,” Swift told the magazine. “Fast for fast songs, and a jog or a fast walk for slow songs. I knew this tour was harder than anything I’d ever done before by a long shot. I finally, for the very first time, physically prepared correctly.”

It wasn't all cardio, either - she shared that she also made sure to include strength and conditioning to injury-proof her body.

While of course, this is a totally obscene amount of exercise for anyone with a 9 to 5 job and I wouldn't recommend you try it at home, as a runner who gets up before sunrise on a Sunday and banks my long run and who once tackled a 37-mile ultra marathon in the snow, I was intrigued. Because while we all know that cardio is great for our heart health, cardiovascular fitness and more, I had no idea how hard it would be to sing an entire 44-song setlist while smashing your treadmill run.  

As insufferable as it sounds, after eight-plus years of running long distances at qualifying times, I'd consider myself in fairly good shape when it comes to the old running malarkey. Spoiler alert: Taylor is fitter, and singing while running is hard. For more of how I got on, plus a qualified personal trainer's take, keep scrolling.

I tried Taylor Swift's infamous Eras treadmill workout - and wow, she is fit

How long did Taylor run on the treadmill?

According to some pretty impressive runner's maths published in Runner's World magazine, she'd be covering a whopping sixteen miles in total to sing her entire 3-hour and 15-minute set. As per Swift's interview, she ran "fast for fast songs and a jog or a fast walk for slow songs." They worked it out as follows - 22 fast-tempo songs at an average pace of nine-minute miles (roughly ten miles) - plus 23 slower-paced songs at a 15-minute-per-mile walking pace (just over 6.13 miles).

Of course, this is measured guesswork from the team at RW and we don't know exactly what pace or distance Tay Tay was covering each day. That said, it looks like a pretty spot-on guess to me, having closely studied the setlist and average running paces. 

Another interesting takeaway from the piece - Taylor's setlist is almost exactly half and half fast vs slow-paced songs, often paired next to one another. "Fast" songs with 150 to 160 beats per minute (which around half of Taylor's are) have been research-backed as more effective for speedwork sessions, with one 2019 study from the Memorial University of Newfoundland even concluding that music with a BPM of higher than 130 can not only improve endurance and recovery times but help you to keep your pace steady, too. It's almost like she planned it...

How I got on trying the Taylor Swift treadmill workout

Okay. It's time. Sports bra, running shorts and trainers on, headphones firmly in ear and Eras setlist playing.. and we're off. Kicking off with Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Kid feels like a gentle warm up and the six Lovers tracks fly by in a poppy, upbeat haze.

Onto Fearless. More folk, more slow tracks, more heartbreak and I'm starting to tire. I've been doing the "fast" songs at a seven-minute-mile pace (fast for me) plus the "slow" songs at a ten-minute mile. 

I've been on the treadmill for half an hour now and I'm beginning to think I should have packed snacks. What amazes me the most is the sheer stamina she must have - I've only banked twelve songs, which is around a quarter of the setlist, and I'm ready to throw in the towel.

I'd also forgotten the absolutely essential element of Taylor's singing marathon extravaganza that sadly us mere mortals aren't privy to - she obviously has a private gym. I do not. Safe to say, my fellow PureGym'ers gave me some funny looks by the time I was belting (admittedly under my breath) You Belong With Me.

By the time I get to 22 from Red - 21 songs in, just under halfway - I call it a day. I am a sweaty mess and have a newfound appreciation of the pop goddess and apparently, also athlete, that is Taylor Swift. 

Taylor Swift workout: Ally Head trying the workout

Ally trying Taylor's treadmill workout

(Image credit: Ally Head)

Important to note here, too: the amount of running Taylor seems to have been doing is A LOT. 16 miles a day is next level, even for the most elite of ultra runners. While Taylor's training is of course helped by the fact it's more of a run/walk than a consistent run, it's a long time to be working out for day in, day out. For context, even the ultra-running legend that is Courtney Dauwalter shares that she normally "long runs" for no more than three hours at a time. And she's a world champion.

While I don't make it through the whole setlist, I do come away from my attempt with a newfound appreciation for performers and their physical fitness. Not just that, I can't stress enough how fun it is listening to your favourite music and taking on new workout challenges that make movement feel fun and enjoyable. Focusing on the different song tempos was a great mental challenge which I found distracted from the physical challenge at hand, too.

So many of Taylor's lyrics are focused on female empowerment, loving yourself, and owning your worth, and I'll be honest, this workout got me in the feels on that front. I challenge you to not feel badass after blasting her music and having a good sing-along. Whether you choose to chuck in a treadmill run for good measure is up to you.

Things to note, if you're considering giving it a try

Keen to channel your inner Swiftie? Perhaps hold off on the three-hour-long workouts and instead heed the NHS guidelines, which advise aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. If you're keen to try the Taylor treadmill challenge, I'd advise aiming for 30 minutes on the treadmill a day, no more than five times a week, until you've completed the set list, but this is of course dependent on your current fitness levels.

What does an expert reckon?

According to Lillie Bleasdale, personal trainer, head coach and founder at PASSA, Taylor's technique can actually be a great way of upping your cardio fitness and boosting your overall stamina. "Firstly, using Taylor's technique of varying pace on a treadmill can be a fantastic way for new runners to gradually build their time on feet," she shares. "Programmes such as couch to 5km use this method to assist with gradually building running time, with a lower risk of injury. Interchanging between brisk walking and light running can help us to gradually build that time on feet as we gain fitness."

She's a particular fan of Taylor's use of interchanging paces, which she explains is likely to help her work in different zones with her training, improving different areas of her fitness. "The majority of her time on stage is likely to be spent in an aerobic zone and maintained for a long period - she may have short bursts of using her anaerobic system for explosive and fast dance sections of her performance," she highlights. "By building her aerobic zone through longer walking stints and slower paced running stints, she'll also become more efficient and therefore able to sustain this level of energy for a longer period of time, helping her to get through those long concerts regularly."

Do note, of course: the level of training Taylor has been reported to be doing is extremely advanced, and therefore is something that will have taken her a course of months and/or years to build up to. "It's also key to note that doing all your running/walking on the same surface (eg. treadmill) means that we are constantly impacting on the same surface, so it's key to change this up as and when we are can by adding variety and therefore reducing the impact on our joints."

So... will you be getting to know the treadmill All Too Well

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.