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8 Best Workout Headphones That Stay Put No Matter What 2024

Last updated: 6 months ago
15 min read

We tested 193 headphones on 9 key categories to find the best headphones for working out that stay secure on the head.

Find test results for audio quality, battery life, and our hands-on experience below.

We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Read more Price Battery Water resistance Fit stability Connection Mic & Controls Ambient sound mode
Sony WH-1000XM5 Best overall
Sony WH-1000XM5 small image
Under $400
40h+
None
Good
Bluetooth 5.3
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Treblab Z7 Pro Best sweatproof
Treblab Z7 Pro
Under $180
39h+
IPX4
Great
Bluetooth 5.0
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TOZO OpenReal Best open
TOZO OpenReal small image
Under $50
12h+
IPX8
Great
Bluetooth 5.3
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crosscross
Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Best under $100
Anker Soundcore Life Q30 noise cancelling headphones
Under $100
44h+ (with ANC)
None
Good
Bluetooth 5.0
checkmarkcheckmark
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Adidas RPT-01 Best on-ear
Adidas RPT-01 wireless on-ear headphones
Under $170
40h (no ANC)
IPX4
Great
Bluetooth 5.0
checkmarkcheckmark
crosscross
Treblab Z2 Sweatproof under $100
Treblab Z2 wireless headphones
Under $80
20h (with ANC)
IPX4
Good
Bluetooth 5.0
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crosscross
CONTENTS (show more)

    Most headphones suck for working out. But there are some models that stay stable on the head when moving.

    We test all headphones for stability during movement with our head-shaking and running tests. We also evaluate them on 9 key factors (Sonic9Score). The on-ear and over-ear headphones we recommend are the most suitable for exercise. See our testing and ranking methodology.

    The best workout headphones are picked based on the following:

    • Stability when exercising
    • Sound quality
    • Battery life and reliability of Bluetooth connectivity
    • Build-quality
    • Water and sweat resistance
    • Ambient noise isolation

    If you’re looking for smaller earphones, check the best sports earbuds here or the best earbuds for running here. If you don’t mind the cable, also check the top wired workout headphones.

    Best Workout Headphones

    1. Sony WH-1000XM5

    1st-place Best Gym Headphones
    • Fit stability: Comfortable and stable with enough clamping force to stay secure during movement.
    • Sound quality: Natural and dynamic audio experience after EQ adjustments
    Sony WH-1000XM5 in the park

    The most feature-rich and best workout headphones for most people we’ve tested are the Sony WH-1000XM5 – See review.

    $318.98
    $363.99
    in stock
    Walmart.com
    $398.00
    in stock
    22 new from $398.00
    47 used from $198.88
    as of July 12, 2024 7:50 am
    Amazon.com
    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 30mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 4-40.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 40h (with ANC) | Wireless range: 65 feet (19.8 meters)(Connection priority) | Noise cancelling: Yes, adaptive | Charging: 3.5h – Quick charge – USB-C (PD) | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Water resistance: None | Features: App, Adaptive ANC, 360 Audio, Speak-to-chat
    • Fun sound that can become natural after EQ
    • Modern, comfortable & stable design
    • Class-leading active noise cancellation performance
    • Excellent battery life of more than 40 hours (with ANC)
    • The best call quality in consumer BT headphones
    • Not the most detailed sound
    • Too much plastic for the price

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones offer a range of features that make them an excellent choice for working out.

    Sound: Amazing customizable audio quality

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 are one of the best-sounding over-ear wireless headphones and deliver a rich sound experience, especially after custom EQ adjustments. If you’re a workout enthusiast, you can enjoy a dynamic and immersive audio experience that keeps you motivated and energized during your fitness routine.

    Sony WH-1000XM5 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Comfort & Fit: Stable for most activity

    With a lightweight and stable design, these headphones are ideal for active use. They stay comfortably in place during vigorous movements, ensuring a distraction-free workout session.

    During gym testing, the headphones proved to be a reliable workout companion. Their stable fit ensured they stayed in place during various exercises thanks to their reasonably lightweight and decent clamping force.

    Durability: Sturdy but not sweatproof

    The entirely plastic body, while not the most premium, offers a balance of durability and lightness, making them suitable for active use without adding extra weight or discomfort.

    Impressive battery

    An impressive battery life we tested at over 40 hours with ANC enabled means you can rely on these headphones for multiple workout sessions without frequent recharging, making them a convenient choice for busy fitness enthusiasts.

    Sony WH-1000XM5 battery comparison

    Packed with features

    The headphones come packed with features like Adaptive Sound Control and Speak-to-Chat, enhancing your workout experience by automatically adjusting noise cancellation based on your activity and allowing seamless interaction with others without needing to pause your music.

    Noise isolation & superb noise canceling

    The solid passive noise isolation performance allows you to focus on your workout by effectively blocking out distracting noises, creating an immersive exercise environment.

    The class-leading active noise cancellation ensures that you can maintain focus on your workout, undisturbed by external noise, which is particularly beneficial in noisy gym environments.

    There’s also an Ambient sound mode for when you want to amplify the background noise for maximum awareness.

    Reliable Bluetooth

    With reliable Bluetooth connectivity, you can enjoy a seamless, wireless workout experience without the hassle of tangled cords.

    Why get the Sony WH-1000XM5 for working out?

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are a fantastic choice for fitness enthusiasts looking for a high-quality, feature-rich audio experience to complement their active lifestyle.

    With their comfortable fit, excellent audio quality, and robust noise-canceling capabilities, they enhance any workout session, making them a worthwhile investment for those who prioritize sound and functionality in their fitness journey. Get all the details in our review.

    Sony WH-1000XM5 review

    Best Sweatproof Headphones for Working Out

    2. Treblab Z7 Pro

    1st-place Best Sweatproof
    • Fit stability: Firm stability during movement
    • Sound quality: boosted bass, creating a warm and pleasing listening experience.
    Treblab Z7 Pro water-resistance test

    If you’re a heavy sweater or want a pair for outside use, the Treblab Z7 Pro are the best sweatproof headphones we’ve tested – See review.

    $99.99
    in stock
    as of July 12, 2024 7:50 am
    Amazon.com
    $149.97
    $179.97
    in stock
    Walmart.com
    $159.97
    in stock
    Treblab.com
    out of stock
    eBay
    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0 / Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 45h | Wireless range: 40ft (12.2m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2.5h + quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Auto play/pause, ambient sound mode, foldable
    • Good sound quality
    • Comfortable design
    • Stable fit, even for working out
    • IPX4 sweat resistance
    • Foldable design with included hard-shell case
    • Support for aptX HD & multipoint
    • Good active noise cancellation
    • Mediocre transparency mode
    • Slightly muffled-sounding with some genres
    • No app and custom EQ/presets

    Sound: Pleasing but Lacks Detail

    The Treblab Z7 Pro offers a balanced sound with boosted bass and smooth treble, similar to Apple AirPods Max in midrange tuning. While the sound is enjoyable, it lacks the finer details and dynamics, which might not satisfy audiophiles but is sufficient for a casual listener during workouts.

    Treblab Z7 Pro Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Comfort & Fit: Secure and comfortable

    These headphones feature thick memory foam earpads and a lightweight body, ensuring comfort during extended use. Their tight clamping force keeps them securely on your head, making them suitable for vigorous workout sessions without the worry of them slipping off.

    Durability: Sturdy with sweat resistance

    Constructed primarily from plastic with an aluminum-reinforced headband, the Z7 Pro feels sturdy. They come with an IPX4 rating, making them sweat-resistant, so these are suitable for heavy sweaters and wearing outside in the rain.

    Battery: Long-lasting

    The Z7 Pro impresses with a battery life of nearly 40 hours, ensuring multiple workout sessions without the need for frequent charging. Fast charging capabilities add to the convenience, making them a reliable choice for fitness enthusiasts.

    Features: Good, but no app

    While offering essential features like ANC, transparency mode, and touch gestures, the absence of a companion app for sound customization is a drawback. The headphones work well overall, but the lack of customization options might be a limitation for some users.

    Noise isolation and cancelling: Effective but not exceptional

    The passive noise isolation is average, requiring activation of ANC for a more immersive experience. The ANC performs well for the price, effectively reducing low frequencies, which is beneficial in noisy gym environments.

    Bluetooth: Reliable with advanced codecs

    The inclusion of aptX and aptX HD codecs is a plus. The headphones support multipoint and show no noticeable audio lag, making them suitable for various multimedia uses in addition to workouts.

    Treblab Z7 Pro in the case

    Should You Get Treblab Z7 Pro?

    The Treblab Z7 Pro is a good choice for those seeking comfortable, well-built headphones with decent sound and effective ANC. They are particularly suited for fitness enthusiasts due to their secure fit and sweat resistance. However, the lack of sound customization might be a dealbreaker for some.

    Treblab Z7 Pro review

    Best Open Workout Headphones for Awareness

    3. TOZO OpenReal

    trophy Best Open-Ear
    • Fit stability: Rock-solid stability, secure during intense activity.
    • Sound quality: Clear, full, and naturally balanced sound, excellent for audiophiles
    TOZO OpenReal in hands

    If you want to be aware of your surroundings, the TOZO OpenReal are the best open-ear headphones we’ve tested – See review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 16.2mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: Air-conduction | Battery life: 12 hours | Wireless range: 65 feet (20 meters) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: Quick charge – Proprietary charger | Mic & Controls: Yes (physical & touch) | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX8 | Features: Custom EQ
    • Incredibly natural tuning, especially after EQ
    • Ergonomic design for rock-solid stability
    • Comfortable to wear & compatible with bike helmets
    • Good battery duration of 12 hours per charge
    • Exceptional Bluetooth indoor range of 65 feet
    • Annoying proprietary charger with weak magnets
    • No support for Bluetooth multipoint or Game mode

    Sound: Clear and balanced

    TOZO OpenReal headphones offer a clear, full, and natural sound, especially after EQ adjustments. They are perfect for audiophiles who enjoy outdoor activities, delivering a balanced audio experience that doesn’t compromise on quality.

    They’re great for listening to all music genres, as well as audiobooks and podcasts.

    Comfort & fit: Ergonomic and stable

    Designed with an ergonomic shape, these headphones provide rock-solid stability, making them ideal for vigorous workouts. They are comfortable to wear and compatible with bike helmets, ensuring they stay in place during any physical activity.

    Durability: Robust and waterproof

    They have a durable build with an IPX8 rating, ensuring complete water resistance. This feature makes them suitable for all kinds of sports, including activities where they get wet. You can even use them for swimming and showering.

    Battery: Long-lasting performance

    We tested the battery duration at 12 hours per charge. The headphones also support quick charging and come with a proprietary magnet charger. One charge easily lasts for multiple workouts, making them convenient for long activities.

    TOZO OpenReal battery comparison

    Features: Functional but limited

    The TOZO OpenReal offers features like a customizable audio equalizer and exceptional Bluetooth range. It lacks support for Bluetooth multipoint or Game mode. This limitation might affect users looking for more versatile headphones.

    Noise Isolation: Adequate for outdoor use

    These headphones provide good wind noise resistance, which is good for outdoor activities. However, they suffer from relatively audible sound leakage, which might be a concern in quieter environments. And there’s no noise cancelation for obvious reasons.

    Bluetooth: Superior range

    The TOZO OpenReal excels in Bluetooth connectivity with an outstanding indoor range of around 65 feet. This extended range is perfect for users who need to move around a lot during their workouts in a big gym.

    Should you get TOZO OpenReal?

    TOZO OpenReal on head

    While they’re no the best choice for those who prioritize deep bass or need features like Bluetooth multipoint or gaming mode.

    If you’re an active person who values high-quality sound and a stable fit, TOZO OpenReal is an excellent choice. They are particularly suited for outdoor runners and cyclists who need reliable, comfortable, and durable headphones.

    TOZO OpenReal review

    Best Gym Headphones Under $100

    4. Soundcore Life Q30

    trophy Best Under $100
    • Fit stability: Stable during physical activities, thanks to a light body and gentle clamping force.
    • Sound quality: Balanced and dynamic audio experience after EQ adjustments.
    Anker Soundcore Life Q30 in the case

    If you prefer over-ear workout headphones under $100, the SoundCore Life Q30 are the best we’ve tested – See review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 16-40.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 60h (40h with ANC) | Wireless range: 65ft (20m) | Noise cancelling: Yes, hybrid | Charging: 2h + Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: No | Features: ANC, ambient mode, multipoint, mobile app with EQ, NFC
    • Excellent sound quality (after EQ)
    • Great ANC with 3 modes
    • Comfortable fit
    • Companion app with EQ
    • Outstanding battery life
    • The bass isn't very fast
    • Looks bulky on your head

    Sound: Customizable and balanced

    The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 have a sound profile that is initially boomy and muddy but becomes impressively neutral and balanced with EQ adjustments. This feature is particularly beneficial for those who want to tailor their listening experience to their workout intensity or music preference.

    They’re suitable for all music genres but especially for modern bassy music. Hear the A/B sound test below:

    Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Comfort & fit: Lightweight and secure

    Despite their bulky appearance, the Life Q30 headphones are lightweight and provide a comfortable fit with plush memory foam earpads. Their stability during movement, even when running or jumping, makes them suitable for various workout activities.

    During our head-shaking test, they stayed surprisingly secure on the head.

    Durability: Sturdy with a protective case

    Constructed mostly of plastic with an aluminum frame, the Life Q30 over-ear headphones are durable and come with a hard-shell carrying case for added protection.

    However they lack sweat resistance, which might be a concern for intense workout sessions.

    Battery: Exceptional

    They excel in battery life. We tested it at over 44 hours per charge with active noise cancelation. And up to 60 hours of listening time without ANC.

    The long battery life is ideal for extended workout sessions or for those who don’t want to charge their headphones frequently.

    Anker Soundcore Life Q30 battery graph

    Features: Rich and user-friendly

    Packed with features like active noise cancelation, ambient noise mode, a companion app with EQ, and good microphone quality, the Life Q30 provides a premium experience at an affordable price.

    These features improve the workout experience and make the headphones suitable for daily listening outside a gym.

    Anker Soundcore Life Q30 ANC app

    Noise isolation and cancelling: Effective with minor flaws

    While the passive noise isolation is average, the active noise cancellation is great for the price. There are 3 different modes for various environments. They’re suitable for commuting and use in public.

    Bluetooth: Superior connectivity

    They have an excellent Bluetooth range with no audio stutters and with multipoint connectivity. This feature is beneficial if you want to stay connected to multiple devices, such as a phone and a laptop, without the hassle of re-pairing.

    Should you get Anker Soundcore Life Q30 for exercising?

    The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 over-ear headphones are an excellent choice for fitness enthusiasts looking for quality, comfort, and versatility.

    They are particularly suitable for those who value long battery life and customizable sound. However, they might not be the best option for users who prioritize a tight clamping force or need headphones with a higher IP rating (water resistance) for intense workouts.

    Soundcore Life Q30 review

    More top picks under $100:

    Best On-Ear Workout Headphones

    5. Adidas RPT-01

    trophy Best On-Ear
    • Fit stability: A tight, clamp-like fit ensures they stay secure during vigorous activities
    • Sound quality: Good audio quality for the price, some limitations in clarity.
    Adidas RPT-01 wireless sports headphones

    Adidas RPT-01 are the best on-ear workout headphones if you prefer a smaller body and washable padding.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: On-ear | Battery life: 40h | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Washable fabric
    • Punchy, bassy sound
    • Washable fabric for keeping them fresh
    • Treble lacks energy and detail

    The Adidas RPT-01 on-ear headphones are specifically designed for exercise enthusiasts, offering a combination of features and benefits that cater to active lifestyles.

    Sound: Good for the price

    The Adidas headphones have a bass-forward presentation that might sound overwhelming to some. However, punchy bass is excellent for working out, pumping the beat to finish your exercise.

    While they won’t win awards for audio fidelity, they provide good audio quality that’s versatile enough for various music genres. However, they do have some limitations in clarity, which might affect the listening experience of more intricate music.

    Comfort & fit: Snug but potentially tight

    These headphones are designed with a tight fit to ensure they stay in place during vigorous activities. The earcups are covered in a sweat-wicking fabric, adding to the comfort during workouts. If you have small ears, you should find them comfy. The on-the-ear design uses enough clamp force to help headphones stay in place during workouts.

    However, the snug fit might be uncomfortable for day-to-day use outside of exercise routines. It exerts a bit too much pressure on the skull.

    Durability: Sweat-wicking and washable

    They’re dressed in washable fabric that covers most of the headphones, so you can always keep them clean and fresh-smelling. This design choice adds to the longevity of the headphones by protecting them from moisture but also allows for easy maintenance, as both the earcups and the headband sleeve are detachable and machine washable.

    Also, they have an IPX4 rating for sweat resistance and light water splashes. A note on design: there’s a reflective Adidas logo on the headband, which looks cool.

    Battery: Long-lasting

    One of the most impressive features of the RPT-01 is its battery life, which extends beyond 40 hours. Even though they’re small in size, you get a solid battery life with USB-C charging. The long battery life means less frequent charging, making the headphones a convenient choice for regular gym-goers.

    Features: Basic

    The headphones come with basic features like USB-C charging and an action button on each earcup for voice assistant activation or playlist control.

    The control nub allows for easy track skipping, pausing music, or adjusting volume. Additionally, the Adidas Headphones app provides more control over the sound with a full equalizer and sound presets.

    Noise Isolation: Moderate

    They have moderate noise isolation, primarily due to their tight earcup fit. However, there’s no active noise cancelation (ANC), which means that in noisy environments like gyms, you might need to increase the volume.

    Bluetooth: Standard Connectivity

    The RPT-01 have an average Bluetooth range of around 30ft (10m) and provide reliable wireless connectivity for exercise.

    Should you get Adidas RPT-01? for working out?

    They are an excellent choice for those who prioritize a secure fit and durability for exercise. Their sound quality, battery life, and practical features make them a solid option for fitness enthusiasts. However, they might not be the best choice for those looking for all-day comfort or advanced features like ANC.

    Top deals today:

    Best Sweatproof Workout Headphones Under $100

    6. Treblab Z2

    trophy Best Sweatproof Under $100
    • Fit stability: Stable during workouts with loose clamping force.
    • Sound quality: Bass-heavy sound signature, clearer with ANC on.
    Treblab Z2 workout headphones on the table

    If you’re looking for affordable full-sized gym headphones with a sweatproof body, the Treblab Z2 are the best we’ve tested – See review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 35h (ANC on), 20h+ (ANC off) | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 3h – Micro-USB | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: ANC, 3.5mm port, multipo supportint
    • Comfortable, plush earpads
    • Great noise isolation
    • Good build quality
    • IPX4 water-protection
    • Great sound performance
    • Hard carrying case
    • 35-hour battery life
    • Micro-USB port
    • Average ANC performance
    • Earpads get a bit sweaty

    Sound: Bass-heavy, enhanced with ANC

    The Treblab Z2 headphones offer a sound profile that appeals to bass lovers, with the ability to become brighter and more detailed when active noise cancellation (ANC) is turned on.

    Without noise canceling, the sound is quite bassy and warm but lacks detail. With ANC, the sound signature becomes more balanced and detailed. However, the bass is almost completely gone. For bassy options, see the best bass headphones.

    Comfort & fit: Lightweight and stable

    With soft pleather ear pads and a lightweight design, the Z2 headphones provide a comfortable fit, ideal for long workout sessions.

    Their clamping force is loose enough to prevent discomfort but secure enough to stay in place during activities like running or rope jumping. They stayed secure during our head-shaking test and they’re suitable for running too.

    Durability: Robust with sweatproof body

    Their build quality feels nice, with a hard plastic body that has a soft, premium finish. The design is quite understated yet trendy, so they don’t look weird on your head.

    They’re mostly plastic with an aluminum frame and feel decent in hands. They come with an IPX4 rating, making them sweatproof and suitable for intense workouts and use outside in the rain.

    Battery: Long-lasting for extended use

    The Z2 boasts an impressive 35-hour battery life, ensuring they last through multiple workout sessions without the need for frequent charging. This long battery life is a significant advantage for those who spend a lot of time at the gym or outdoors. One charge lasts for many workouts.

    Features: Practical and user-friendly

    Equipped with physical buttons for easy navigation, aptX codec support, and a 3.5mm port for wired listening, they are practical and user-friendly. Their simple control scheme is particularly useful when exercising, as it allows for hassle-free operation.

    But there’s no app or equalization or any customization options. So, while they’re great for the gym, they aren’t the best for daily listening.

    Noise Isolation and cancellation: Effective passive isolation & decent ANC

    They provide great noise isolation thanks to their soft and plush ear cups, which effectively seal off external noise.

    This feature is beneficial for maintaining focus during workouts, although the ANC performance is average at best. So, if you want to reduce a lot of background noise, these aren’t the best.

    Bluetooth: Adequate wireless coverage

    While the Bluetooth 5.0 coverage is average, the inclusion of aptX support ensures a better audio and video experience. This is particularly useful for those who like to watch workout videos or listen to music without worrying about audio lag.

    Should you get Treblab Z2 for activity?

    The Treblab Z2 headphones are a great choice for active people looking for comfortable, sweatproof over-ear workout headphones for an affordable price.

    However, they might not be the best option for those who prioritize advanced ANC performance or more customization options.

    Treblab Z2 review

    Honorable Mentions

    7. Shokz OpenRun Pro

    Shokz OpenRun Pro

    Shokz OpenRun Pro are the best bone-conduction headphones for workouts. The latest TurboPitch technology boosts the bass, making the sound fuller. The open design offers a high level of comfort and stability. Their battery life is topping at 10h per charge. Bluetooth 5.1 is a minor upgrade, providing a more reliable connection. But the OpenRun Pro aren’t waterproof anymore. With an IP55, they only survive splashes of water. For more options, see the best bone-conduction headphones.

    Check Shokz OpenRun Pro price

    8. Apple AirPods Max

    Apple AirPods Max transparency mode

    One of the best premium over-ear headphones when it comes to active noise cancellation, comfort, and decent stability for light exercise. They have a rock-solid connection with an H1 chip for iPhone users. They also deliver good sound and microphone quality and a useful Transparency mode that keeps you aware of your surroundings.

    Apple AirPods Max review

    How We Test

    We evaluate headphones on 9 decision-making categories, combining technical measurements with real-world user experiences to assess their overall performance. Read more in our testing and scoring methodology.

    To pick the recommendations for headphones suitable for working out, we primarily focused on fit security during movement, build suitability for active use and audio quality.

    What to Look for in Workout Headphones

    Let’s be honest. Most headphones are NOT suited for working out.

    You need to look for specific features. Ask yourself these questions:

    To learn why asking this is an important factor, check the explanations below.

    How will they fit during a workout?

    You want a fit that is suitable for working out. For over-ear headphones, it’s important they stay secure when moving your head or lying down on a bench to do bench presses.

    Look for stronger clamping force and an adjustable headband to ensure a tight fit. Pick smaller headphones over bigger ones.

    Sony WH-1000XM5 plastic headband
    The headband length impacts the clamping force and, consequently, the fit stability.

    Are they sweat-resistant?

    You want resistance to moisture…

    • When you’re pushing yourself and sweating heavily.
    • If working outside and getting caught in the rain.

    Sweat can ruin your headphones if you’re not careful.

    If you mainly workout inside and don’t sweat profusely, then you can get away with headphones that have no water resistance. But if you exercise outside, in the rain, or sweat excessively, then IPX4 sweatproof headphones are a better pick. In-depth IPX explanation here.

    Treblab Z7 Pro water-resistance test
    Sweatproof headphones can be worn in the rain, even by excessive sweaters.

    Keep in mind, just because the manufacturer says the headphones are waterproof, it doesn’t mean you can shower with them.

    If you don’t know, it’s better not to try it. We’ve made a guide for the best waterproof Bluetooth headphones that are suitable for showering.

    How durable are they?

    Build quality is an essential factor.

    If you’re a regular gym-goer, you’ll be using your headphones quite a lot. Picking a well-built product that doesn’t break after a couple of months will save you money in the long run. Perfect gym headphones have to sustain hits and bumps without suffering damage.

    In this guide, we recommend only better-quality workout headphones with lower failure rates.

    Wireless or Wired?

    For working out, wireless headphones are the most popular. They offer a better overall experience and convenience.

    Here are the benefits and flaws of wireless workout headphones.

    • You’re free to roam around—in the Bluetooth range of roughly 30ft (10 m)
    • No wires to entangle and annoy you
    • All wireless Bluetooth headphones support phone calls
    • Must charge the battery (battery capacity lowers with age, increased failure rate)
    • More expensive on average—though you can still get them on the cheap

    You can put your iPhone or Android smartphone somewhere in the gym, connect to it, and start working out.

    If you’re exercising outside, you can put your phone in a pocket and never worry about pulling on wires.

    The single issue with wireless headphones is the battery.

    • It needs constant charging
    • It adds weight
    • Is prone to deterioration

    Thankfully, the new wireless headphones last for 30+ hours, and many support quick charging. If you don’t mind charging the battery, wireless headphones are the way to go.

    When to get wired workout headphones?

    On the plus side, wired sports headphones are usually cheaper and more reliable.

    • Wires are a proven technology that works really well
    • Workout headphones come with improved tangle-free cords
    • Plug & play operation. No worries about batteries dying during workout session
    • You have to keep your music device in your pocket.
    • You could potentionally pull on the wire and damage the headphones.

    In case you aren’t working out too intensely and have a 3.5mm audio device (many new smartphones don’t have the AUX), then wired workout headphones are a solid choice.

    We advise to wire the cable under your shirt or behind your back. That way, it doesn’t dangle right in front of you.

    In the end, it comes to personal preference. Overall, wireless headphones have become excellent. Thus they easily out-compete the wired competition.

    Do I want good noise isolation or better awareness?

    Reducing ambient noise is great for:

    • When you don’t want to be bothered by external sounds (like noisy gym music, traffic noise, etc.).
    • When you don’t want other people to hear your music, which might be embarrassing.

    To block the maximum amount of background noise, check the best noise-isolating headphones.

    Taxi driving in the street.
    Good environmental noise awareness protects you from oncoming traffic.

    On the other hand, good situational awareness is critical in situations like running in the city. Being aware of your surroundings can save you from injury.

    In this case, get open headphones that let through all the background noise.

    How is the sound quality?

    Audio quality that gets you going. Most people aren’t criticaly listening to music during a workout. They just want a fun, enjoyable sound, preferably with a stronger bass response for extra motivation.

    You’re not going to hear the details due to heavy breathing anyways. Get a pair that has good sound, and don’t fret about not sounding as good as the latest audiophile cans.

    Most people prefer boosted bass for exercising because it gives them rhythm and motivation.

    Most of the Bluetooth workout headphones in this guide have a bass-emphasized sound signature. Also, many come with an equalizer that makes it easy to change the sound to what you want (those at a higher price tag).

    What’s the minimum battery life I need? (if wireless)

    Workout headphones need to have enough power to get you through at least a couple of workouts.

    The good thing is that, nowadays, many can surpass that duration. Better models can last up to 40 hours with ANC, while it’s reasonable to expect over 20 hours from most.

    More related guides:

    Are Over-Ear Headphones Good for Gym?

    Over-ear headphones are good for working out in a gym if you lift weights and cardio. Any more intensive exercise where you move quickly and with force can make your headphones lose the fit.

    The majority of exercises in a gym are light or moderate in intensity, so over-ear headphones are suitable.

    If you exercise in positions with the head down or moving haphazardly, then smaller workout earbuds are a better fit.

    Is it better to work out with earbuds or headphones?

    Earbuds vs. headphones

    Which type of headphones is better for you depends on your exercise type and intensity.

    Here’s a comparison between headphones and earbuds for working out:

    Over-earEarbuds
    Stability for lifting weightsGreatGreat
    Stability for running/cardioSome models are goodGreat
    Stability for sprinting/intense exerciseNot suitableGood
    ComfortHigh comfortGood comfort
    Water resistanceNone, some are sweatproof – IPX4High – IPX6+
    Man running with on-ear sport headphones
    Full-sized headphones are a good alternative to smaller earbuds, but not for the most intensive exercise.

    Pros & cons of over-ear workout headphones

    • Offer superior comfort
    • Many people use them for a slower activity like weight lifting
    • Have a less secure fit
    • Mostly suitable for light exercise like sprinting due to higher weight (prone to fall off)

    Pros & cons of workout earbuds

    • Have the most secure fit for working out
    • Are lightweight
    • Usually come with stability ear-wings or ear hooks
    • Offer plenty of “staying power” even for the most intense sports
    • Less comfortable for long-term sessions

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I swim with waterproof workout headphones?

    No, waterproof workout headphones need at least an IPX7 or higher. There are no over-ear or on-ear headphones with such high water protection right now.

    Can I shower with my workout headphones?

    You can, but only if the water protection of your headphones is high enough. We recommend waterproof headphones with at least an IPX6 rating or higher. Right now, there are no waterproof over-ear headphones for showering, but there are many suitable earbuds.

    What headphones do weightlifters use?

    On-ear and over-ear headphones are the most popular with weightlifters. Bigger headphones with ear cups offer superior comfort for long gym sessions.

    21 Comments
    1. Thanks for sharing the reviews, you helped me find the best headphones for my jogging, please keep on posting helpful stuff like this, I got them from amazon and they are great, they are doing well and they came with a great price.

      Reply

    2. How did you not include a review of the Jabra Rox for the wireless roundup? I’ve used Jay birds and Rox goes toe to toe with X2. If not for the Comply ear cushions, Jay birds would lose hands down. You can swap out the Jabra tips with Comply tips and still spend less overall so the value proposition is even better still. Curious if Jay bird paid you for this review? Maybe provide an updated review including the Rox w Comply tips and see which comes out ahead. In addition the Powerbeats have horrible durability and battery life is mediocre at best in real world usage, maybe on the test bench it8ght be great.

      Reply

      1. Jabra Rox seem good, but durability and customer service is not on par with Jaybird. We think Jaybird X2s are still a better option and if you take a look at other reviews that aren’t paid (btw, Jaybird didn’t pay us anything, we don’t do sponsored reviews) most agree. By all means keep using the Rox if you like them.

        You are right Powerbeats don’t shine in every category, but they are still a good option and that’s why people buy them.

        Reply

    3. No, the Jaybird x2 is not the best sports earbud. Nowhere close. I’ve had these for three years, tried various solutions from the company, and the buds just will not stay in your ears. What a huge waste of money. And I guarantee there is no one else out there that has tried harder to make this product work.

      Reply

    4. Just got a set of Jaybird X2s.. Very disappointed in the sound quality, i get better bass out of the standard headphones i got with my iPhone. Went to MySound app to customize sound, X2 is not supported by the app for customization. I am completely disappointed and will be returning them.

      Reply

      1. If you want strong bass you picked the wrong earbuds, Jaybird X2s have a balanced sound signature so like we said in our review they aren’t bass heavy.

        Reply

    5. While I have experienced the oft-referenced issue of the earbuds falling off or falling out of my ears, the most recent issue I have experienced was with a set of JBL Reflect Mini sport buds. These “sport” earbuds literally sound like you’re wearing a stethoscope and someone is tapping the mic end after every stride while running. I couldn’t be more disappointed after buying them and giving them a go. I never read anything about this issue in these reviews. Am I crazy? Could I be the only one experiencing this phenomena?

      Reply

      1. Seems you got a faulty model or the earbuds have bad microphonics. No headphones/earbuds should sound like someone is tapping the mic. The microphonics which can be very annoying for running and can greatly diminish the sound quality.

        BTW, we didn’t recommend or review the JBL Reflect Mini buds for working out or running. Must’ve been another website. 😉

        Reply

    6. Bought the Plantronics BackBeat Fit in April. They were perfect for running and cycling. Sound quality isn’t that important when you’re working out (at least to me it’s not), so I appreciate the ambient sound coming through, cause it keeps me safe.
      The problem with my Backbeat Fit came after four months, when the buttons stopped working. First the play/pause, then the on/off. Had to send them back. Real pity, cause they were near perfect up to then.

      Reply

    7. Just wanted to say thanks for your thorough reviews. Just clicked through from you to order the 66 Audio over ears model from Amazon. I too can’t keep earbuds in while in motion. Went to a high-end pair with soft tips, which fit and sound great when sitting (plane rides, etc), but fall out when I start moving too fast. If I push them in hard enough to stay put I get that uncomfortable clogged ear pressure effect. Anyway, I appreciated how you covered all the key points and gave them true test runs. I worried that over ear models wouldn’t work either, but these seem good. Thanks

      Reply

    8. How about the FX-Sport VRX? I see you gave it a good review for swimming, but for me it’s main strength is as a land based training device. The headphones have an excellent integrated mp3 player, but also come preloaded with hundreds of training sessions in all sorts of categories [even multi-week running programmes], with instructional messages playing over your own music. Certainly been great for me. http://www.fx-sport.net/product/products/vrx-mp3-personal-trainer/

      Reply

    9. I would suggest updating this article and then listing the date of the last update was in 2017. This article was very useful for me but the prices have changed for a number of the models. The Jaybird X3 are now $100 at Best Buy & the Bose SoundSport Wireless are now $150 on Amazon or Best Buy. Updating price will help inform decisions consumers make about which product to purchase.

      One quick comment is that I wouldn’t recommend the Bose SoundSport
      (Wired) so high. I followed the advice above and immediately exchanged for the Jaybird X3s. I tried both the Bose SoundSport (Wired) yesterday and the Jaybird X3’s yesterday. I would recommend the Jaybirds because they are cheaper, have the same if not better sound quality and are wireless. With the Bose you are paying $130 for a wired headphone. They both stay in your ears super well, but for $130 either upgrade to the wireless Bose for $150 or get the Jaybirds.

      Hope this helps someone because I spent way too much time at BestBuy yesterday figuring this all out.

      Reply

      1. Thank you for your recommendation. Updated the Jaybird X3s info. The prices listed are not exact but rather a price range you can expect to pay. Prices change all the time and even though we’re trying to keep everything updated we are sometimes too slow.

        Our top recommendation is the wireless Bose SoundSport. But for people who don’t like Bluetooth we provide a wired option too. The Bose SoundSport wired are one of the best wired sports in-ear monitors today.

        We’re happy you decided for Jaybird X3s, we like them a lot too!

        Reply

    10. Strange comparison on Wired (Pros & Cons) section not comparing the fact of having the phone into your pocket for BT will eliminate the comparison with distance. Can you use a 8m long wire? So then forgot to explain the BT connection is even faster then installing a wire plug-and-play as it recognise the device already….and then can you answer calls, pause music adjust volume with similar price wired headphones? This was not mentionnés into the Pros & CONS…

      Reply

      1. Thanks for your comment Carl. The distance comparison depends on how you use the headphones so it comes down to personal preference.
        Plugging in the headphones/earbuds doesn’t take any more time than turning on the Bluetooth.
        You can also answer calls and control music with wired models so that’s something both types can do.
        Hope that explains the pros&cons a bit.

        Reply

    11. Hi.. Great article! Thanks for it. These are some very good selection indeed.
      Got a Rowkin earbud recently and really loving its sound and other features. I’d love to add Rowkin to this list.

      Reply

      1. Rowkin earbuds seem to be getting a lot of bad rep about their connection issues.

        Reply

    12. Check out Pulse & Surge from Rowkin as well. Pretty sturdy and well priced headphones.

      Reply

    13. seeing as this was a review on headphones, how is it the audio/sound quality isn’t one of the rating factors in the list…I mean, who wants to read this entire article just to find it doesn’t COMPARE sound quality….pass.

      Reply

      1. How would you objectively compare the sound? We’re open to suggestions. We thought putting a frequency response in the comparison but most people can’t read those/don’t care. We could describe it with words but again this is only useful for audiophiles who know the differences in sound signatures. It’s hard to make a sound comparison in the limited space of a table.

        Reply

    14. Thanks a lot! Very informative article

      Reply

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