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When you’re shopping for the best pair of workout headphones, you want to listen to your favorite music to stay motivated while pushing through reps or to keep the pace on your daily run. Workout headphones can come in an array of configurations, although connected earbud models are the most popular option within this product category. Still, you can find on- and over-ear models that are catered to the needs of more active users.
In most cases, you’re usually focused on a durable construction that can handle being dropped. Additionally, you’ll want to prioritize water resistance and even submersion if you plan on wearing headphones around water. And of course, audio quality is important, too. Equally important is a pair of headphones with on-ear controls, so you won’t have to fumble with your phone while exercising.
Keep reading our best workout headphones buying guide to learn more. And if you’re not sure that you need a set of performance earbuds, check out our best headphones buying guide to check out other types.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: The headset boasts sleek aesthetics with exquisite lights. It has a high-quality battery and charging case, providing exceptional run time, and water-resistant construction provides sweatproof performance.
The Bmani VEAT00L headphones feature an LED display that provides visual appeal and showcases the battery status. These buds come with a high-quality charging case that safeguards the earbuds during storage. They connect via Bluetooth, providing compatibility with devices ranging from computers to tablets and smartphones. This headset has a one-button control and it pairs automatically for simple operation. It’s available in blue, black, pink, and purple. However, the ear tips on this model are uncomfortable for some users.
With a wireless connectivity range of up to 33 ft, this device is suitable for outdoor use. It has a secure fit with ear hooks to secure the gadget during early morning jogs. A set of 3 pairs of earcups enables users to get the perfect fit. These headphones are suitable for use on rainy days and they are perfect for track, camping, and the gym. This device has a built-in rechargeable battery that provides power for up to 48 hours.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The headset boasts handy on-ear controls and supports various voice assistants for effortless navigation. It has a built-in battery and charging case that provide up to 48 hours of music listening time.
Designed for sports, the Occiam T17 is weather-resistant and durable. It has a lightweight design that’s ideal for on-the-go use. Equipped with LED lights, the headphones excel in both form and function. These earbuds are equipped with a 600 mAh charging case battery that provides power for up to 48 hours. They charge quite fast, getting enough power for 8 hours of music playback time within just 1.5 hours of charging. However, these headphones occasionally drop wireless connections.
A one-step pairing mechanism helps provide a simple operation. This headset comes with three pairs of various-sized ear cups to fit a wide variety of people. They have ear hooks, which secure this headset onto the ears to prevent falling off. A noise-canceling mic system facilitates voice calls and gaming. This unit works with various voice assistants, allowing voice control. It’s equipped with on-ear controls for hanging up, answering calls, volume control, and more.
Award: BEST SOUND REDUCTION TECH
WHY WE LIKE IT: This device has advanced background sound reduction tech, which is effective against traffic noise and gymnasium chatter. It has an IPX4-certified water-resistant design and features heavily padded ear cups for comfort.
Equipped with active noise canceling tech, the Treblab Z2 headphones are ideal for people who work out on the street or in busy gyms. It uses Bluetooth 5.0 aptX tech, providing super-fast pairing and lag-free audio delivery. This headset is IPX4-certified for water resistance and sweatproof performance. A built-in rechargeable 620 mAh battery plays music for up to 35 hours on a single charge, and it charges fully in about 3 hours. However, these headphones are a bit heavy.
This headset has super soft ear cushions with a skin texture liner for comfort. It integrates voice assistants, allowing hassle-free navigation, and it uses cVc 6.0 technology for managing calls effortlessly. This headset has a high-quality mic with an excellent sound pick up pattern and it comes with a case for storage. In addition to Bluetooth, this device comes with a 3.5mm cable for connecting to computers and various devices. This unit has a wireless range of about 33 feet.
Award: BEST SWEATPROOF HEADPHONES
WHY WE LIKE IT: A high-quality sweatproof design stands up to daily use in a variety of conditions. This unit features built-in ambient sound reduction and comes with four different eartips.
The Redzoo Flame headphones use Bluetooth 5.0 tech, delivering excellent wireless connections without a heavy draw on the battery. Charging fully in about 2 hours, this device is user-friendly, and it has indicators to help users keep tabs on the battery status. It’s equipped with 11mm dynamic drivers that deliver outstanding music, calls, and in-game sounds. Integrated ear hooks secure these buds onto the ears. However, this model doesn’t come with a charging case.
A built-in cVc 6.0 system supports making calls, and this device has high-quality noise-canceling mics that reduce street noises and background chatter for clarity. Equipped with four different sizes of ear tips, this device will fit a wide variety of people. It has an IPX7-rated waterproof design that’s ideal for exercising in mild rainfall. The earbuds feature a number of controls, including volume adjustment, changing the track, pausing, and answering calls.
Award: BEST FOR BUSY STREETS
WHY WE LIKE IT: Using advanced conducting technology, these earbuds provide a pleasant listening experience without compromising spatial awareness when exercising on the streets. They have an IP67-certified waterproof, sweatproof design suitable for workout.
With a groundbreaking bone conduction design, the AfterShokz Aeropex headphones deliver powerful audio without completely blocking out outside noise. This headset is especially suited to jogging, helping users to maintain spatial awareness and enhance safety on busy streets. It has a multifunction button that allows users to engage in a number of functions, including answering calls, controlling the volume, and pausing playback. However, these headphones are not as immersive as units with ear tips.
An IP67-rated waterproof design stands up to sweat and mild rainfall. This device comes with a silicone carrying case that provides secure storage. A magnetic system provides convenient charging. The earbuds also come with earplugs to help reduce background noise, and a built-in lithium-ion battery provides up to 8 hours of runtime. With built-in voice assistants, this device supports easy navigation, and the headset is available in various attractive color schemes, including Solar Red, Cosmic Black, Lunar Grey, and Blue Eclipse.
Award: BEST LIGHTWEIGHT HEADPHONES
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a compact, lightweight design, these buds are comfortable. They come with innovative StayHear Max ear tips that securely embedded in the ears without the need for ear hooks. They are sweat-resistant and come with a charging case.
The Bose Sport headphones are engineered with exercising in mind. These earbuds come with three different sizes of StayHear Max ear tips, offering users options for a comfortable fit. These ear tips are designed to embed firmly in the ears, so they don’t accidentally fall out. A weather-resistant IPX4-certified design stands up to sweat. This headset has a matte black finish and is also available in Glacier White and Baltic Blue. However, this device has limited controls and lacks an on/off switch.
These buds have a built-in battery that runs for up to 5 hours on the built-in battery. An included charging case protects the headset during transportation and provides enough power for an extra 2 hours of runtime. The headset has controls for the volume and other parameters. Connecting via Bluetooth tech, these Bose headphones are compatible with a wide variety of devices, including computers and mobile gadgets. These headphones have remarkably compact, lightweight construction built for comfort.
Workout headphones are simply headphones that are usually designed to be more compatible with an active lifestyle. While you can technically use any pair of headphones when exercising, this might not be the smartest option. Moreover, you want a pair that stays in place, like a comfortable pair of in-ear headphones, and those that cut out sound, like a good pair of nose-cancelling headphones.
Workout headphones have enhanced features such as sweat resistance and water resistance, and some will even feature drop protection. But other key features can include a secure fit without compromising on comfort, noise cancellation, and isolation, as well as support for situational awareness. Note that workout headphones can include high-quality, true wireless earbuds and connected earbuds, as well as on-ear and over-ear headphones.
The biggest differences between a pair of workout headphones and other types of headphones center around durability. In particular, a top-notch model is going to incorporate sweat resistance so that the critical electronic components aren’t susceptible to failure or malfunctions when your workouts get very intense. This includes if you’re a swimmer, you’ll want an excellent pair of swimming headphones that won’t break down after one or two swim workouts.
Additionally, many workout headphones also feature water resistance, which is a must-have function for anyone who spends significant time in the water. Likewise, comfort is usually prioritized. Whether you’re rocking a pair of earbuds or a more traditional pair of headphones with cans, you want a secure fit that doesn’t pinch or cause other discomforts — otherwise, you’re unlikely to want to wear them for extended periods.
In contrast, most standard-use headphones don’t always come with water or sweat resistance support. However, features such as active noise cancellation, on-ear controls, and even sound quality are comparable between workout headphones and standard versions. Likewise, call support is a standard feature for the best wireless headphones, regardless of design.
Wireless workout headphones work similarly to their standard wireless counterparts. This means that they typically rely on a Bluetooth connection to pair with a mobile device and leverage a transmitter to receive and convert radio signals into audio content. Our BlueAnt pump HD sport Bluetooth headphone review details a pair of headphones with Bluetooth capabilities that are perfect for working out.
As with standard wireless headphones, workout headphones can also be purchased as traditional earbuds, on-ear, and over-ear configurations. The main concerns with any set of workout headphones will center around liquid resistance (water, sweat, or both), and a comfortable — yet secure — fit.
For active earbuds, you’ll often find that models marketed as sports headphones will feature a connecting cable between the earbuds that runs behind your head and rests against your neck. This helps to minimize the risk of losing your headphones if one slips out of your ear.
But alternatively, you’ll usually find that sports earbuds are designed with materials that are more slip-resistant, such as silicone-tipped earbuds to guarantee a more customized and secure fit. And several more will feature an ear hook design to ensure that they’re less likely to slip out as you sweat or move.
Meanwhile, on-ear and leading over-ear headphones for working out will incorporate sweat resistance functionality that ensures moisture doesn’t damage the internal components located within the cans. Additionally, the ear cups will feature more durable materials that aren’t as likely to experience damage from sustained exposure to moisture or sweat which would otherwise cause materials like basic vinyl to become dry and cracked.
Keep in mind that you can still find wired headphones that can double as workout headphones. However, just as with wireless models, you’ll want to ensure that they’re sweat-resistant for added durability. And, you want to keep the cord intact, which can be done with Cord Cruncher headphones.
If you’re the type who works out regularly — especially if your sweat sessions are vigorous — a good pair of workout headphones is important. Beyond being a functional item that can withstand serious sweat sessions, they can also help to keep you motivated and focused on your form rather than interrupted by surrounding distractions.
Regardless of the headphone style or category, the average pair of headphones will usually last from two to five years. While individual experiences will vary, this usually is determined by user behavior, as well as technology.
With previous models that rely on a Bluetooth connection, the compatibility between the Bluetooth version of your headphones and any paired devices will impact whether you experience frequent connectivity drops. For example, anyone using headphones that are older than Bluetooth 4.0 will experience connection problems. Meanwhile, Bluetooth 5.0 and Bluetooth 5.1 are the latest iterations and will have more longevity. It should also be noted that Bluetooth 5.1 models may offer more immersive sound than previous versions.
And of course, user behavior will also dictate whether you can go several years between buying new headphones or if you have to replace them frequently. Obviously, with earbuds, the biggest risk is losing one of them. But being unnecessarily rough with them, failing to store them somewhere secure when not in use, and not cleaning them can all work towards premature failure. And the same holds for on-ear and over-ear headphones.
While some factors like the rich sound quality and on-ear controls are the same regardless of whether or not you’re shopping for workout headphones, there are a few specific factors you should consider such as sweat and water resistance.
While earbud-style workout headphones tend to be the most popular option, they’re not the only solution. Some people find earbuds uncomfortable or that they slide out of their ears. In that case, you should opt for a pair of on-ear or over-ears that can sit securely on your ears but are designed to withstand sweat and moisture.
Not only do you need to select a style that works for you, but you need to be sure that it’s compatible with how you exercise. Someone that’s simply lifting weights at the gym might not mind a pair of over-ear headphones or even a wired set of earbuds. Meanwhile, someone that’s running might find that the neck wire is annoying as it slaps against their neck. In this case, earbuds would be the preferable option for running headphones. And the active individual that always has a sweaty workout will want to focus on the water resistance.
This is a question that’s solely geared towards earbud headphones. But, given that everyone has different ear sizes and shapes, getting a good fit is important. Often, workout headphones will come with additional earbud tips to help you customize the fit.
The last thing you want is a pair of headphones that moves too much when you’re exercising. For earbuds, this could very well mean that it slips out of your ear when you’re moving vigorously. With more traditional on- and over-ear headphones, this can mean jostling which can translate to added noise as the connection between the ear cups and the headband move against each other.
For earbuds, consider investing in a pair with either ear clips to hold them securely to your ear, or a neck cable that connects the two earbuds.
Always check the IP rating. At a minimum, you won’t sweat resistance that’s at least IPX4. This is the baseline for ensuring that your headphones won’t die prematurely because of an occasional intense workout. But if you’re the type that’s engaged in constant vigorous workouts, look for a higher rating that will offer enhanced protection.
Similarly, if you know that you exercise in the water or run rain or shine, you’ll want a pair of headphones that are rated for sustained water resistance. Models like the Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds not only resist splashes of water but can also be submerged in up to a meter of water and have a decent dust resistance rating.
If you need to answer a call or skip a track, you shouldn’t have to fish your phone out of your pocket. Ideally, your headphones should feature on-ear touch controls that are intuitive to use and placed in locations that are easy to access. Alternatively, you might prefer physical buttons.
Again, everyone’s goals are different. And some people truly like to be in a world to themselves when exercising. Active noise cancellation, like you’ll see in our Bose noise-cancelling headphones 700 review, and even noise isolation can ensure that external noise like ambient (or not so ambient) noises at the gym or if you’re running through town won’t disturb you.
While noise cancellation and isolation are nice features that can help you focus, especially if you exercise outside, it’s still good to be aware of what’s happening around you and have some external sounds filter through. For someone who runs in the street, being able to hear a car honking behind you is a critical safety factor to prioritize. Alternatively, you might want to consider bone conduction headphones which allow for commendable audio quality but don’t completely block ambient noise for added safety.
The last thing you want is a pair of headphones that dies in the middle of your workout session. Some models have shorter battery lives than others. Always check to see how much playback and talk time is supported on a single charge, and how many total hours of battery life you’ll achieve in standby mode. Knowing these figures can ensure that you remember to recharge your headphones periodically. Especially for earbuds, ensure that wireless charging is supported.