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Best workout headphones

Workout headphones for all athletes.
By
August 11, 2023
Best All-around
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100
The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100 in black against a white background.
8
Check price
Positives
Bluetooth 5.0
Lightweight
IPX5 water-resistance
Negatives
MicroUSB charging
Static with Macbook Pro
Imprecise controls
The Bottom Line.
This Bluetooth headset offers a lot for its asking price, and is quite durable and comfortable. Read full review...
Best bass and ANC
Sony WH-1000XM4
The Sony WH-1000XM4 noise canceling headphones in black against a white background.
8.6
Check price
Positives
Great noise canceling
Bluetooth multipoint
Comfortable and has hinges for folding
Negatives
Double-tap to pause doesn't always work
Custom button controls either the Assistant or noise canceling
The Bottom Line.
This is a top tier pair of headphones for everyday life with great noise canceling and a bass-heavy sound.Read full review...
Best bone conduction
Shokz OpenRun
The Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones in black against a white background.
7
Check price
Positives
Leaves ears unconcluded, good for safety
IP67 rating
Comfortable and lightweight
Negatives
Proprietary charging port
No mobile app and limited onboard EQ functionality
The Bottom Line.
Outdoor athletes will appreciate how the OpenRun keeps their ears open to passing cars while also relaying music to motivate them through workouts.Read full review...
Best ANC
Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL review
The UA Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones - Engineered by JBL in black against a grey background.
7.8
Check price
Positives
IPX4 rating
Comprehensive mobile app
Battery life
Negatives
Comfort
Cost
Heat buildup
The Bottom Line.
This chunky workout headset has a lot to offer but it comes at a price.Read full review...
Bang for your buck
JLab Rewind Wireless Retro
7.5
Check price
Positives
Lightweight
12-hour battery life
Price
Negatives
No volume controls
No isolation
No sweat resistance
The Bottom Line.
If you want a cool design and a functional pair of inexpensive headphones, these might be worth checking out. Read full review...

You shouldn’t start to exercise with the goal of getting a six-pack; it takes too long, and more often than not, our dedication dwindles before we can see those washboard abs. There’s no shame: we’ve all been there. When it comes to fitness, we recommend starting with an attainable goal to feed you that dopamine hit, and with the SoundGuys way, you don’t even need to do a single crunch. Instead, all you need is a good pair of workout headphones.

What's new?

What makes a good pair of workout headphones?

There are a few factors to consider when looking for headphones to bring to the gym. The first thing to consider is what kind of headset you actually want. Do you want wired or wireless? Over-ear headphones or wireless earbuds? Everyone has their own preferences, but in this list, we’re going to be going over the best over-ear and on-ear headphones for working out. If you prefer earbuds, don’t worry; we have you covered there too.

Now that we’ve narrowed that down, some other important factors you should keep in mind are cost, sweat resistance, comfort and fit, durability, and battery life. We go into each of these in greater detail further down in the article, but if you just want to know what the best workout headphones are, then let’s get into it. For most people, you should go with the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100.

Most people should get the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100

If you want a pair of workout headphones that aren’t earbuds, you’re going to have to make some compromises. Oftentimes you have to choose between water resistance, isolation, or sound quality when buying headphones, but that isn’t the case with the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100.

Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100
8
A woman wears the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100 workout headphones against an off-white wall.The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100 workout headphones' headband adjustment mechanism.The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100 workout headphones next to biking gear.The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100 workout headphones' ear cups slightly angled to show the 40mm dynamic drivers.The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100 workout headphones with the ear cups folded up toward the headband.
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100
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See review

This set of over-ears was designed specifically for working out. The headband features an adjustable mechanism, so you can temporarily tighten the fit for vigorous workouts. The BackBeat FIT 6100 has an IPX5 rating, which means it can withstand all the sweat you throw at it. Battery life is very good: you get 27 hours of playtime from a single charge, and the headset supports fast charging. When you plug in the micro-USB cable for 15 minutes, you get six hours of playback. It supports Bluetooth multipoint, so you can connect to two devices at a time, which is great when working out from home: you can keep an ear on incoming work chats from your computer while enjoying music from your phone.

Sound quality is only okay because bass notes make it hard to hear midrange notes. This is called auditory masking, and it’s something we encounter every day. Normally, we ding points for this, but the BackBeat FIT 6100 are workout headphones, not audiophile cans. For the price, it’s hard to find fault with the BackBeat FIT 6100.

Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100
Bluetooth 5.0, multipoint • Lightweight • IPX5 water-resistance
This is a great set of budget workout headphones.
Proper workout headphones are hard to find: oftentimes they’re too bulky and heavy to wear during vigorous workouts. Plantronics remedies this with its lightweight Backbeat Fit 6100, which are supremely more comfortable than the company’s on-ear workout headset. If you can forgive the microUSB charging input and sporadic static-noise output, these are a surprisingly good buy.

If you like bass, go with the Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are an excellent choice for workout enthusiasts looking for bass-focused performance. While not ideal for intense physical activities or rainy conditions due to their susceptibility to moisture, these headphones shine in varied listening situations. They offer a comfortable fit, high-bitrate Bluetooth audio, and exceptional bass, creating an immersive workout experience.

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4
8.6
The Sony WH-1000XM3 and Sony WH-1000XM4 sit on a marble surface folded up.Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones next to iPad Pro on a marble surfaceSony WH-1000XM4 headphones next to magazines on a wood benchClose-up of 3.5mm input on Sony WH-1000XM4 headphonesMan holding Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones in front of green plants
Sony WH-1000XM4

With improved active noise cancelation (ANC), they effectively block out distractions in busy gyms or bustling outdoor environments. The headphones also provide clear call quality, making them suitable for hands-free workouts or virtual coaching sessions. Their exceptional battery life, offering up to 30 hours with ANC on, also ensures you have enough juice for extended workout sessions or even a week’s worth of commutes.

It’s worth noting that the only reason we didn’t select the newer Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones is that they do not have an IP rating, so they are not officially rated for water or sweat resistance. This means they may not be the best choice for outdoor activity or very intense workouts where exposure to moisture is a concern. The predecessors do carry an IPX4 rating, making them suitably sweat-resistant.

Sony WH-1000XM4Sony WH-1000XM4
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Sony WH-1000XM4
Great ANC • Sound quality • Connectivity options • Auto-wear detection
MSRP: $348.00
An exceptional pair of noise canceling headphones.
High-quality Bluetooth codecs, great sound, improved noise-canceling, good battery life, and smart features like auto-pause and Bluetooth multipoint make the Sony WH-1000XM4 a great all-round pair of headphones.

Outdoorsy folk, get the Shokz OpenRun

The Shokz OpenRun headphones are the top pick for outdoor workouts due to their safety-oriented design. These bone-conduction headphones keep your ears open, allowing you to stay aware of your surroundings, making them ideal for runners, cyclists, and outdoor athletes. They are compatible with in-the-ear hearing aids and suit those who prefer not to insert earbuds into their ears.

Shokz OpenRun
Shokz OpenRun
7
The Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones rest on a pair of running shoes and next to sunglasses.A hand holds the Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones to show the volume controls.A hand pulls the Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones from a backpack.A person hooks the Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones through a backpack phone pouch.A person wears the Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones while sitting on a sidewalk.
Shokz OpenRun

The headphones offer comfort and durability, with a design that rests on your cheekbones, and they come with IP67 dust and water resistance. With up to 8 hours of battery life and quick charging, they are reliable for extended outdoor sessions. While not audiophile-grade, their sound quality is decent, making them a great choice for those who prioritize safety and situational awareness during outdoor workouts.

Shokz OpenRunShokz OpenRun
Shokz OpenRun
Leaves ears unoccluded • Fast charging battery • IP67 rating
MSRP: $129.95
One of the best options among bone-conduction headsets.
The Shokz OpenRun bone-conduction headphones leave the ears unoccluded and produce a decent sound. They have an IP67 rating and a fast-charging battery.

The Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL review is a favorite among athletes

JBL and Under Armour often collaborate on workout headphones and earbuds, and one of its latest iterations ropes in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL is an over-ear noise canceling headset with an IPX4 rating. These bulky headphones have large button controls and removable ear pads that make it easy to maintain the headset.

Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL review
Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL review
7.8
Image shows black backpack with black Under Armour Project Rock by JBL headphones and black case.A man standing at profile wear Under Armour Project Rock by JBL headphones outside by greenery in a raspberry colored shirt.Under Armour Project Rock by JBL headphones rest on a dumb bell weight plate stack on the floor beside a dumb bell.Image is of a man holding the case of the Under Armour Project Rock by JBL headphones by the carabiner by his legs while standing on cement by a green bush.Set with some weight plates and dumb bells on a wood floor the Under Armour Project Rock by JBL leans against the weights.
Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL review
Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL review
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See review

Battery life is ridiculously long, and this clocked in at 41 hours and 13 minutes of playtime with noise canceling on. You can fast charge the headset with the included USB-C cable: 5 minutes of charge provides 120 minutes of battery life. If the battery does happen to deplete, you can use the integrated headphone jack to connect to your phone.

As with many JBL headsets, the Project Rock Over-Ear has a bass-heavy response by default, which is made even bassier when you enable “The Rock’s Project Rock EQ.” With the default setting, bass notes are approximately two times louder than mids, which subjects some vocals and strings to auditory masking, but nothing too egregious.

Under Armour Project Rock by JBLUnder Armour Project Rock by JBL
Under Armour Project Rock by JBL
IPX4 rating • My JBL Headphones app EQ features • Optional headphone jack
MSRP: $299.99
The Rock and JBL created an all-around hit at a premium price. Is it more than a workout companion?
While geared towards workouts, Project Rock is pretty competent as an all around set of headphones for commutes and the gym. With custom EQ in the app and an optional headphone jack, you can do most activities with it. Those with small noggins may want to skip over this beefy headset in favor of the company's older model or something like the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.

Don’t want to spend too much? Get the JLab Rewind Wireless

If you’re of the variety that loves Stranger Things and squared-off, oversized glasses, then the retro-styled Rewind Wireless from JLab is all you need to complete your look.

JLab Rewind Wireless Retro
JLab Rewind Wireless Retro
7.5
JLab Rewind Wireless Retro: The headphones propped on a wooden box and against another labeled "Pepsi."JLab Rewind Wireless Retro: The headphones laying flat on a table in front of some worn apple boxes.JLab Rewind Wireless Retro: The headphones with the alternative ear pads and blue micro-USB on a fabric surface.JLab Rewind Wireless Retro: The blue micro-USB is plugged into the headphones with oragne foam pads.
JLab Rewind Wireless Retro
JLab Rewind Wireless Retro
Buy now
See review
See review

For the rest of us, this is just a solid pair of wireless on-ears that only cost $20. If you know you’re going to destroy your workout headphones anyway, then there’s no point paying a crazy amount of money for a pair.

The battery in this will last you around 11 hours of constant playback, which is great for most gym-goers. The Rewind Wireless is about as lightweight as Bluetooth headphones come, and you’ll barely notice you’re wearing it. Sound quality isn’t great as the ear pads do little to isolate you from the environment. But that can be spun as a positive if you prefer to hear what’s going on around you at the gym.

JLab Rewind Wireless RetroJLab Rewind Wireless Retro
JLab Rewind Wireless Retro
12-hour battery life • Virtual assistant access • Lightweight
MSRP: $24.99
You don't have to throw down wads of cash for this throwback
If you're a sucker for all things retro then the JLab Rewind Wireless Retro are throwback for you.

If you have money to burn, get the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 on black surface.
Bose redesigned its flagship headset from the ground up in order to make it more appealing to the modern listener.

The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 features an IPX4 rating, meaning it can resist rain and, more importantly, your sweat. Ergonomically, this isn’t the most comfortable option for working out, but at least you don’t have to worry about water damage. Sound and microphone quality are both very good, but noise canceling is just middling and actually less effective than the older and cheaper Bose QuietComfort 35 II.

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
SG recommended
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Excellent ANC • Lightweight design • Rotable ear pads
MSRP: $379.00
If you want some of the best ANC you can get, Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 have you covered.

For earbuds, get the Beats Fit Pro

The Beats Fit Pro noise canceling true wireless earbuds in the open charging case and next to a Samsung Galaxy S10e with the Beats app open. The app has a purple tint to it, presumably to match the earphones.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The app seems to recognize the color of your Fit Pro and matches the background accordingly.

We know these aren’t technically headphones, but the Beats Fit Pro is an excellent choice for workout enthusiasts, offering a secure and comfortable fit that stays in place during various activities. Their compatibility with both iOS and Android devices, thanks to the H1 chip, ensures a seamless experience for users of all kinds. With an IPX4 water-resistance rating, these true wireless earbuds can handle sweat and tough workouts.

One of their standout features is the user-friendly design, with an intuitive “twist and lock” mechanism for a secure fit. The automatic ear detection feature enhances convenience by pausing playback when you remove them. Plus, tactile buttons on each earbud provide quick control over media playback and calls, which is essential during workouts.

Sound quality is tailored to workout music preferences, with a bass-boosted profile perfect for pop, hip-hop, and rap. The ear tip fit test ensures effective noise isolation, allowing you to enjoy your music without raising the volume to potentially harmful levels. Although there are minor drawbacks, like the price and occasional noise canceling issues, the Beats Fit Pro offers a compelling package for fitness enthusiasts seeking reliable and versatile workout headphones.

Beats Fit ProBeats Fit Pro
Beats Fit Pro
Good fit and stabilizing ear wings • Android and iOS compatible • In-app ear tip fit test • ANC and transparency
MSRP: $199.95
Beats Fit Pro are true wireless noise-cancelling earbuds that work just as well with Android devices
The Apple-owned Beats Fit Pro are just as easy to use with an Android device as they are with an iPhone, fitting well with multiple ear tips, and boosted bass sound quality. The only downsides are the price tag and ANC issues.

What you should know about the best workout headphones

As with any kind of headphones, there are a few things you should keep in mind when perusing your next pair of workout headphones. We’ve broken down the key points for you; think of it as a cheat sheet of sorts.

The bulk of the cost goes to durability

A photo of the UA True Wireless FLASH X by JBL with the wing and ear tips on display in front of cycling glasses on a white table.
The wing sleeves keep the earbuds in place.

Workout headsets withstand a lot of wear and tear, and that’s okay. You may be wondering why you should pay for something you’re just going to destroy, and well, if you buy the right set of workout headphones for you, you won’t break it (at least not immediately).

Most workout headsets include durability features like flexible, robust headbands, replaceable ear pads, and even the occasional modular design. It’s this kind of thoughtfulness that you pay a premium for, and it extends the life of your product.

Comfort, fit, and isolation are all important

The Sennheiser HD 450BT noise canceling headphones worn by a woman as she adjusts the volume via the onboard controls on the right ear cup.
A pair of over-ear headphones should fully encompass your ears, leaving no room for gaps.

As is the case with almost every pair of headphones, a good fit is essential for keeping the bad sounds out and the good sounds in. Outside noise can really get in the way of a good listening experience because of auditory masking, which is the natural way that your brain perceives sound. That’s especially true when it comes to on-ear headphones since they don’t completely surround your ears. This kind of design leaves a lot of room (literally) for outside noise to make its way down your ear canals.

But isolation aside, what’s arguably more important is how well the headphones fit. Who cares how good they sound if they keep falling off your head? You’ll want a pair of headphones that find a nice balance between clamping force and comfort, so they won’t fall off during a workout and they also won’t hurt your ears while you wear them.

What is an IP rating?

If you’re going to be working out, chances are you’re going to be sweating; as we all know, water and electronics don’t mix. The best workout headphones feature some kind of water-resistant certification, denoted by an IP rating.

How much does battery life matter?

If you’re going for a wireless pair of workout headphones, one thing to keep in mind is battery life. The last thing you want is to show up at the gym all hyped up and ready to exercise, only to find you forgot to charge your headphones, and you’re going to be without music. Sure, most people don’t exercise for more than 90 minutes at a time (which most true wireless earbuds can easily handle), but a bigger capacity means you can go a few days without charging.

Noise-induced hearing loss is a real problem

Speedometer-style noise level depiction and how different volumes correspond to everyday noise sources.
World Health Organization Unsafe noise levels start at 85dB if exposure exceeds the safe listening time.

It’s hard to argue that the louder your music is, the easier it is to get pumped up. A higher volume usually helps you feel the bass more. Plus, you probably want to block out the sounds of weights being dropped and the pop music they play at the gym anyway by blasting your headphones. That’s not a good idea.

Noise-induced hearing loss is a real thing, and it sucks. If you consistently play your music too loudly, you can damage the cochlea cells in your inner ear over time. As a general rule of thumb, you probably shouldn’t play your music any louder than 85 dB. If you’re at or around 85dB and still can’t hear your music properly, you might have a bad fit. Definitely adjust the headphones and pads before you go putting your phone on maximum volume.

Best workout headphones: Notable mentions

Angled image of the Jabra Elite 85h headphones folded in the case with the USB-C and aux cable in the internal pocket.
The zippered carrying case resembles Sony’s and has a nifty organization system for the included cables and airplane adapter.
  • Jabra Elite 85h ($190.99 at Best Buy): This pair of wireless noise canceling headphones feature a water-resistant nano-coating that protects it from sweat droplets. The noise cancelation isn’t great, but the sound quality is good for those who enjoy vocal clarity from their music.
  • JLab Flex Sport: With a 20-hour battery life and sweat-resistant build, this headset is made for you to take to the gym.
  • JBL UA Sport Wireless Train On-Ear: The headset is sweat-resistant and supplies you with 16 hours of playtime. This is an on-ear version of The Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones and lacks noise canceling.
  • AfterShokz Aeropex: Perhaps you don’t want the clunkiness of headphones. In that case, we recommend the AfterShokz Aeropex, a set of bone-conduction headphones that keeps you aware of your surroundings by leaving your ear canals wide open.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

SoundGuys has been around for a few years now, and in that time, we’ve managed to get our grubby hands on as many pairs of headphones as we can get. Not only do we have plenty of hands-on experience with many of the top brands of headphones, but we also make sure to run each pair of headphones through our objective tests. This helps us clearly demonstrate how a product sounds and performs when it comes to frequency response, isolation, and microphone quality.


The best workout headphones: FAQs

The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100 is an excellent choice for gym-goers looking for over-ear headphones designed specifically for working out. These headphones offer a comfortable fit, sweat resistance with an IPX5 rating, and an adjustable headband for vigorous workouts. Additionally, they provide a long battery life of 27 hours, fast charging, and Bluetooth multipoint support, making them a great companion for gym sessions.

If you’re looking for headphones that can handle sweat, the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100 and the Shokz OpenRun are solid options. The BackBeat FIT 6100 comes with an IPX5 rating, which means it can withstand sweat and is suitable for workouts. The Shokz OpenRun offers IP67 dust and water resistance, making it a reliable choice for outdoor workouts where sweat and other elements might be a concern.

For those seeking a waterproof headset for workouts, the Shokz OpenRun is a top pick. These bone-conduction headphones feature an IP67 rating, which means they are not only sweat-resistant but also highly resistant to dust and water. They are designed with outdoor athletes in mind, ensuring durability and functionality during intense workouts or outdoor activities while keeping your ears open to your surroundings for safety.