The 10 Best Workout Headphones

Jan 28, 2021

Category: Tech

Exercising without music is absolutely possible. However, it can also be a tedious slog fraught with struggle and annoyance. By the simple act of putting on some motivating music, you might find that you enjoy your workouts a good deal more — and they might actually be more effective and efficient, as a result. That being said, nobody wants to be the guy at the gym (even if that gym is in your own home) who blasts his playlist out loud for everyone else to hear.

Thankfully, you can still listen to your albums, artists, and genres of choice without disturbing anyone around you, even if it’s only in passing. That’s because there are a wealth of workout-ready headphones of all styles available for purchase. And while not all of them are worth your hard-earned cash, the ten that have made this list — the best workout headphones — will serve you well throughout your fitness journey. All you have to do is pick out the pair that works the best for you, sync them to your music player of choice (even if that’s just your smartphone), and get to exercising.

Photo: Bose Sport Earbuds

How To Choose Your Workout Headphones

Metrics To Consider

If you’re not intimately familiar with workout headphones, you might mistakenly believe that any old pair will work perfectly. You’d be wrong, however. There are numerous features and metrics to consider when picking out the perfect pair of exercise-ready headphones. We’ve outlined some of the most impactful ones below.

Style: While this might be the most important overall metric, it’s also the most personal, will not affect anyone other than you (the user), and comes down to your own preferences. Typically, this comes down to one specific preference: comfort. Some people are fine wearing in-ear buds while others prefer over- or on-ear headphones and vice versa. Try out a couple while getting your blood pumping to discover which suits you best.

Battery Life: This is especially important if you don’t want to plug in your headphones between each workout. A few hours is usually reasonable enough of an expectation, but there are some headphones that really stand apart from the rest of the pack — either because they’re woefully underpowered or they last for far longer than the competition. Of course, old-fashioned plug-in headphones don’t require a battery at all — but they do have a cord that could get in the way and cause frustration.

Sweat Resistance: Your average, budget-friendly pair of headphones (of any style) is not going to be very sweat-resistant. That can cause some serious problems if your workouts are of the high-intensity variety, as the sweat your body produces can get into the nooks and crannies of your ‘phones and, over time, will quite literally destroy their ability to function. Higher resistances make for longer-lasting headphones, but they also tend to be more expensive.

Noise-Canceling: This matters more if you work out somewhere with a lot of noise or clashing music, as in group-focused gyms or shared public spaces. It’s a rarer tech, at least for now, but getting a pair of workout headphones with some measure of noise-canceling can help you focus on your own music and, therefore, will result in fewer distractions as you exercise. However, if you’re the type to work out in public spaces, you might want to consider veering away from ANC tech, as situational awareness is more important. You wouldn’t want to get hit by a taxi, after all.

Price: While you probably don’t need to be told that the price of a pair of headphones is a major determining factor as to their viability for purchase, it’s still something that needs to be said. It’s also worth pointing out that, the higher the cost, the greater the hurdle should your ‘phones of choice stop working and you need to replace them. Overall cost — including the potential for replacement — is likely not going to be a make-or-break factor for most of these, but it’s definitely still worth thinking about.

Outdoor Tech Mini Rhinos Bluetooth Headphones

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg in order to get a solid, sweat-proof pair of workout-ready headphones. In fact, you don’t even need to spend over $100 for these formidable ‘phones. These ultra-tough on-ear headphones boast Bluetooth connectivity, an impressive 12 hours of playback per charge, an IPX6 waterproof rating (much better than the standard IPX4), and handy and simple-to-use push-button controls. For the price, this is about the best overall pair of workout headphones you’re going to get.

Style: On-Ear
Battery Life: 12 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IPX6

Purchase: $71

Jaybird X4 Wireless Headphones

If you’re looking for a solid pair of ultralight headphones you can wear while you build up a good sweat, you can find exactly that in the Jaybird X4 wireless headphones. While they’re not “true” wireless, as they’re connected to one another by a tether with a control panel, they’re remarkably compact and feature a slew of solid features — including eight-hour playback (from a two-hour charge), IPX7 waterproofing (which is better than most of the competition), and comfortable adjustable tips for the perfect fit for even the most vigorous of workouts. It even offers custom EQ, so you can ensure they’re tuned to your preferences every time.

Style: Wireless Earbuds
Battery Life: 8 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IPX7

Purchase: $90

adidas RPT-01 Sport Headphones

For a brand that’s been involved in crafting workout gear for so long many of us can’t even remember exercising before Adidas, it sure did take them a long time to make the perfect workout headphones. However, the wait was worth it, as the RPT-01 Sport Headphones are, simply put, fantastic. The over-ear design is lightweight and comfortable, the 40-hour battery life puts its competition to shame, and the washable ear cushions and headband make it a lot easier to keep these cans sanitary even when lifting hard and heavy.

Style: On-Ear
Battery Life: Up To 40 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IPX4

Purchase: $100

Sony NW-WS623 Waterproof Headphones

The biggest part of making a pair of headphones workout-ready comes down to their waterproof rating. So, when we tell you that these ones from sony were literally designed to be used while swimming in both fresh and saltwater, you can be certain they’re absolutely perfect for above-water exercise. What’s even better about these — besides their formidable 12-hour battery life — is that they also double as a standalone MP3 player with 4GB of storage on board — meaning you don’t have to tether them to another device while you swim, lift, run, bike, snowboard, or whatever else. And, yes, they’re even compatible with iTunes.

Style: Wireless Earbuds
Battery Life: 12 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IPX8

Purchase: $110

Sennheiser CX Sport Headphone

Traditionally, Sennheiser plays more in the home and/or office end of the audio equipment industry — but that hasn’t stopped them from taking a swing (and succeeding gracefully) at building a pair of sport-focused headphones. Appropriately called the CX Sport, these lightweight wireless earbuds have a simple button control panel, can deliver 6 hours of playback from just a 1.5-hour charge, they can pair with up to 8 different sources, and — thankfully — they’re splash- and sweat-resistant.

Style: Wireless Earbuds
Battery Life: 6 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IPX4

Purchase: $111

Bose Sport Earbuds

Another brand that you might not initially consider when searching for workout headphones, Bose has once again managed to impress with their aptly-named Sport Earbuds. The first on our list that qualify as “true wireless” — meaning they’re not tethered, even to one another — these Bluetooth beauties offer simple controls and connectivity, IPX4 waterproofing, a microphone array for 2-way calls, up to five hours of playback from a single charge (with up to two more from a 15-minute charge in the included case), and much more. Yes, they’re more expensive than a lot of the others, but that’s the price of this level of finesse and convenience.

Style: True Wireless Earbuds
Battery Life: 6 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IPX4

Purchase: $159

AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction Wireless Headphones

Bone-conduction technology might not be one you’re familiar with, but it’s worth learning about and considering when it comes to workout headphones. The primary reason for this is that it gives you the ability to listen to music — it actually pipes it in through the bones of your skull — without interfering with your ears or your situational awareness therein. And that’s why these Aftershokz wireless headphones have made our list. Of course, it doesn’t hurt at all that they also offer eight hours of playback per charge, IP67 waterproofing, and a lightweight comfortable format.

Style: Wireless Bone Conducting
Battery Life: 8 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IP67

Purchase: $160

Beats Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last decade should have seen Beats’ inclusion on our list coming. After all, this Dr. Dre-backed brand has made significant waves in the audio equipment industry for some time — time enough that they’re almost always in the conversation when it comes to the best headphones. The Powerbeats Pro true wireless earphones hit all the right points — a long 9-hour battery life, a charging case that extends playback for up to 24 hours total, numerous available colorways, a lightweight format, and (perhaps most impressively) Apple’s spectacular H1 chip powering them.

Style: True Wireless Earbuds
Battery Life: 9 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IPX4

Purchase: $170

Apple AirPods Pro

You might argue that Apple didn’t intend for their EDC-friendly AirPods Pro to be called “workout” headphones. However, the long list of features these headphones offer speaks to the contrary. That includes IPX4 waterproofing (the industry standard at this point), up to 24 hours of battery life (with the charging case), built-in noise-canceling technology, the ability to turn on transparency mode for more situational awareness, Siri-compatibility, and so much more. Don’t let your bias get in the way; these are definitely workout-worthy earbuds — and they’re some of the best around.

Style: True Wireless Earbuds
Battery Life: 4.5 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IPX4

Purchase: $199

Klipsh T5 II True Wireless Sport Buds

If you want your workout headphones to be of the highest quality, then you may be in the market for Klipsh’s T5 II True Wireless Sport Buds. While their name is a mouthful, so is the long list of features these sweatproof ‘phones have to offer. That includes things like eight hours of battery life per charge (and up to 24 with the included case), high-end dynamic drivers, a built-in microphone array for calls, customizable earpieces, IP67 waterproofing, a transparency mode, and so much more. Yes, they’re pricey — but that’s what you pay for the best of the best.

Style: True Wireless Earbuds
Battery Life: 8 Hours
Waterproof Rating: IP67

Purchase: $229

The 25 Best Home Gym Equipment Essentials

If you’re working out at home — either because that’s your preference or because of the pandemic fallout — having a good pair of workout headphones is a bit less dire. However, you may need to outfit your home with some of the best home gym equipment from our comprehensive guide.

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