How to Turn ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Into an Effective—and Fun—Workout

How to Turn ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Into an Effective—and Fun—Workout

If you’ve been exercising your vocal cords to Taylor Swift’s album The Tortured Poets Department, it might be time to move on to other body parts—like your arms, legs, and core. We asked three fitness trainers how to turn a handful of Swift’s new tunes into a fun and effective workout.


Use the opening track on The Tortured Poets Department as a warm-up for the rest of your workout, advises Kelly Borowiec, a certified personal trainer in San Francisco.

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Perform 14 reps (to mimic a fortnight) of each exercise.

Arm circles: While jogging in place, extend your arms out and perform forward circular motions. Reverse directions halfway. 

Sit and reach: Sit back into a squat, then as you stand up, raise one arm up above your head and across the midline of your body. Switch arms after each squat. 

Jumping jacks: Start with your feet together and arms at your sides. Jump your feet out to the sides while raising your arms overhead. Return to the starting position.

Hamstring curls: Stand straight and lift one heel towards your glutes, bending at the knee. Lower your foot back down and repeat with the other leg. 

Knees to chest march: March in place and alternate bringing your knee up towards your chest. Keep your back straight and abs engaged. 

Quad stretch: Reach back with one hand to grab your ankle of the same-side foot. Hold your ankle towards your glutes for a few brief moments then switch sides.

Repeat for the duration of the song—and each time you hear the word “fortnight,” turn your head to the side and give one of Swift’s iconic dramatic looks, Borowiec suggests.

The Tortured Poets Department

Borowiec calls this routine The Tortured Legs Department, because it contains “slow, torturous squats.” 

5 reps of squats: 3 seconds sitting down, 1 second standing up.

5 reps of squats: 1 second sitting down, 3 seconds standing up.

5 reps of squats: 3 seconds down, 3 seconds up.

Pulse it out for 10 seconds. While staying low in the squat, pump your legs up and down.

For 20 seconds, jog or run in place.

Rest for 15 seconds.

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Repeat for the duration of the song. Beginners can perform every other rep and/or only go part of the way down in the squat, Borowiec says; those who are more advanced can hold weights to feel an extra burn. During the rest periods, do some “mom-crooning,” as Swift calls it: Sway, dance, and sing along, making whatever face and hand gestures speak to you as you get lost in the music.

My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys

This workout is focused on core exercises, which can be performed at a slower tempo. The key is to focus on deliberate and controlled movements without compromising form, Borowiec says. That way, unlike Swift’s boy, you won’t be breaking anything important.

Perform each of these abdominal exercises for 30 seconds. Take 13 seconds of rest (a nod to Swift, who was born on December 13 and often references the number) between each set, Borowiec advises.

Bicycles: Lie on your back, hands behind your head, and alternate bringing your opposite elbow (but think about your shoulder) to your knee while extending the other leg out.

Reverse crunches: Lie on your back with your legs in the air, then lift your hips off the floor by contracting your abs and pulling your knees up towards your chest.

Russian twists: Sit on the floor with knees bent, lean back slightly, and rotate your torso from side to side while holding an optional weight.

Mountain climbers: Start in a plank position then alternate bringing your knees towards your chest in a running motion. 

Bird dogs: Start on your hands and knees, extend one arm forward and the opposite leg backward while maintaining a flat back, then return to the starting position and switch sides.

Down Bad

This song has a fast “ticking/drumming” beat in the background, Borowiec points out, which allows for synchronization of faster cardio movements. She recommends singing aloud as you perform these cardiovascular moves—just as Swift did when getting in shape for the Eras Tour.

Perform each exercise for 45 seconds. Drop down and do a burpee every time you hear the word “down.”

Jog in place (or give Travis Kelce a shoutout with football quick feet)

Jump rope (imaginary or real) 

Ski jumpers: Start in a squat position, then jump laterally from side to side. Reach your opposite arm down to your opposite foot while keeping your chest lifted and back leg in the air behind you.

Repeat for the duration of the song. 

So Long, London

This workout, designed by Borowiec, focuses on the upper body, targeting key areas such as your arms, shoulders, and chest. Aim to perform each move smoothly, using strength rather than momentum, she says—channeling the inner fortitude Swift mustered to leave behind her beloved London. 

Perform each exercise for 40 seconds, with dumbbells. 

Biceps curls: Hold your dumbbells with palms facing up, curl them up towards your shoulders, then lower down again. Keep your elbows close to your sides.

Triceps extensions: Hold a dumbbell with both hands, extend your arms above your head, then lower the weight behind your head by bending your elbows at 90 degrees. Return to the starting position. 

Chest press: Lie on your back with elbows bent and level with your shoulders, then push the dumbbells upward until your arms are extended up, and lower the dumbbells back down to chest level. 

Standing rows: Hold your dumbbells in front of your thighs with palms facing your body. Pull the weights towards your chest while squeezing your shoulder blades together then lower the weights back down. 

Overhead press: Hold your dumbbells at shoulder height, press the weights overhead until your arms are extended up, then lower. Alternate arms if needed. 

Jump rope for the remainder of the song. Single hops or skip to the beat.

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Tip: Have different size weights nearby to adjust difficulty as needed. If you don’t have dumbbells, you can use water bottles or soup cans. And since you’ll be moving your arms a lot, wear all the friendship bracelets you collected at the Eras Tour, Borowiec suggests.

Fresh Out the Slammer

Imagine you’ve just been freed from some metaphorical constraint, and your first move is to exercise your deep abdominals. Here’s how, according to Lara Heimann, a certified yoga instructor based in Princeton, N.J.

Verse 1: Lie on your back, with your knees bent, hands behind your head, and elbows tucked in. Exhale, lift your shoulders and head off the floor, lift your left knee, and rotate your chest and spine left. Return to center and lower, then repeat to right.

Chorus: Placing knees over hips, lift head and shoulders off floor, then swivel pelvis.

Verse 2: Start the same as the first verse but straighten left knee, reach right hand outside the left leg.

Rest briefly.

Bridge/chorus: Scissor legs.

Rest and breathe.

I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)

Try a barre workout for this stirring song, suggests Linda Magid, a fitness instructor at Denver Parks and Recreation in Colorado who also teaches online. It targets your arms and requires light weights (2 to 3 pounds); or, substitute a can of beans or a big book. “Dating someone you’re trying to fix is an incredible amount of work, and so is barre,” Magid says.

Stand tall with a weight in each hand, like Swift preparing for a fight.

Verse 1 and chorus: Lift arms forward to shoulder height slowly and return them to your sides slowly, eight times. When the chorus begins, lift arms forward and pulse them in small movements. You should feel an intense muscle burn. Drop arms to rest.

Verses 2 and 3 and chorus: Lift arms sideways to shoulder height slowly and return them to your sides slowly, eight times. When the chorus begins, lift arms to the side and pulse them in small movements. When the chorus is over, drop arms to rest.

Verse 4 and chorus: Lift arms behind (with a slight bend in the knees and a slight lean forward) and return them to your sides slowly, eight times. When the chorus begins, lift arms behind you and pulse them in small movements. Drop arms to rest.

I Can Do It With a Broken Heart

One of the bounciest songs on The Tortured Poets Department calls for a cardio workout. Magid’s routine, which gets harder as the song continues, fittingly targets the heart and lungs.

Movement 1: March until the first “1,2,3,4.”

Movement 2: Jog in place—can change to jogging with high knees for the second half of the verse, until the second “1,2,3,4.”

Movement 3: Fast feet: drop lower into an athletic stance with feet wide, and run in place as fast as you can. Your steps should be small and low to the ground. (Smile as you move your feet really fast, just like Swift did while she was dying inside, Magid suggests.)


Movement 1: Can be a jog here instead of a march.

Movement 2: Can be high knees the entire time.

Movement 3: Fast feet while moving side to side and forward and back.

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Clara Bow

With Borowiec’s instruction, turn this tune into a satisfying cool-down. Its calm rhythm makes it a good choice for stretching and relaxation, she says.

Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Switch sides halfway through the song.

Knee into chest: While laying on your back, hold one knee into your chest and straighten the other leg. 

Glute/hip stretch: Lie on your back with both knees bent. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, then gently pull the back of your left leg towards your chest.

Prone quad stretch: Lie on your belly, grab one ankle with a bent knee, and pull it up towards your glutes. 

Cobra: Lie belly down, then push into your forearms while lifting your chest off the ground with your hips down.

Child’s pose: Kneel with your knees open, sit back on your heels, and lower your torso forward with arms stretched out or alongside your body.

Triceps stretch: Reach one arm overhead, bend it, and gently press on your elbow with your other hand. 

Biceps stretch: Extend your arms out behind you, then point your thumbs down and back behind you. 

Conclude the workout with three deep breaths: Reach your arms above the top of your head, make Taylor’s signature heart with your hands, and then release your arms down next to your sides. Inhale on the way up, Borowiec says, and exhale on the way down. Then enjoy the burning feel of those tortured ams, legs, and core.

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