The 21 Best Headphones for Working Out – Ultimate Guide 2021

Are you looking for the best headphones for working out in 2021? We put together this list of the best headphones for running, cycling, and getting shredded at the gym so that your music can help fuel your best efforts.

When people search for advice from a list like this, they might look for specific features. For example, some people want the best earbuds, some want earphones, and others prefer working out with full-size headphones. None of you’re mistaken. We have taken all that into account and have listed multiple options for each category of product. You will also notice that we also offer a solution to the best workout headphones in wired and Bluetooth / wireless options.

How did we make the list of the best headphones for working out in 2021?

To decide on what makes the best headphones for working out, we had to set many parameters. Unlike most other lists of this type, I have had every set of these headphones in my hands and used them at the gym. Additionally, we take them hiking and running as well as some other sports. Those looking for waterproof headphones for swimming should check out this list of the current best models.

That’s right. Other sites make stuff up for views, but we have put over six months of research into this list. We have now tested well over 50 sports headphones in the past year. Of course, we aren’t unable to try everything. I have a social life outside the gym. However, if you think a fantastic set of workout headphones that I have missed out on, send us the info on our Audiophile On Facebook page. We will review it and add it to the list if it’s worthy of a spot.  

Now let’s get on with the list and start by talking a bit about what we think makes a great set of gym headphones.

Our Recommendations

Best True Wireless Earbud
Plantronics 211855-99 BackBeat Fit 3100 True Wireless Earbuds, Sweatproof and Waterproof In Ear Workout Headphones, Black, One Size Fits All
Best Wireless Headphone
Skullcandy Hesh ANC Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphone - True Black
Best Budget Headphone
Sony ZX Series Wired On-Ear Headphones, Black MDR-ZX110
Best Budget Earbuds
JVC HAFX1X Headphone Xtreme-Xplosivs
Plantronics Backbeat Fit
Skullcandy Hesh ANC
Sony ZX110
JVC HAFX1X Extreme Explosiv
Water Resistant
Editors Comments
The best gym earphones I have used. They reman locked in place during every sport and can take a beating
A great wireless headphone for the gym with bassy sound and noise cancelling technology
A super cheap but well performing wired headphone that gets the job done.
Powerful bass and a low price make it perfect for working out. Looks good too.
Best True Wireless Earbud
Plantronics 211855-99 BackBeat Fit 3100 True Wireless Earbuds, Sweatproof and Waterproof In Ear Workout Headphones, Black, One Size Fits All
Plantronics Backbeat Fit
Water Resistant
Editors Comments
The best gym earphones I have used. They reman locked in place during every sport and can take a beating
Best Wireless Headphone
Skullcandy Hesh ANC Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphone - True Black
Skullcandy Hesh ANC
Water Resistant
Editors Comments
A great wireless headphone for the gym with bassy sound and noise cancelling technology
Best Budget Headphone
Sony ZX Series Wired On-Ear Headphones, Black MDR-ZX110
Sony ZX110
Water Resistant
Editors Comments
A super cheap but well performing wired headphone that gets the job done.
Best Budget Earbuds
JVC HAFX1X Headphone Xtreme-Xplosivs
JVC HAFX1X Extreme Explosiv
Water Resistant
Editors Comments
Powerful bass and a low price make it perfect for working out. Looks good too.

Build Quality, Design & Materials – Best Headphones for Working Out 2021

One of the fastest ways to break any set of headphones is to use them when working out. Unfortunately, taking your headphones to the gym will put them under a lot of stress. Over time they will have to deal with stretched cables, being dropped, being thrown in a gym bag. Oh and let’s not forget they will be sweated on profusely.

These types of headphones need to be built well and need to last through some rough treatment. The best set of headphones for the gym that work remember the primary function is to help you perform better. The headphones’ durability played a significant role in featuring them on this list, as did any long-term warranty and after-sales support.

Styling – Best Headphones for Working Out 2021

Yes, Styling. Why is this important? 

Well, a lot of people care about what they look like at the gym. I guess that’s why you see people peacocking with a set of Beats Studios (even when on the treadmill). We did give a few extra points for styling, but it certainly wasn’t at the top of our list of criteria. The function should top form here, and while we want them to look good, it doesn’t have as high a priority.

The best tuning for Gym/Running/Work out headphones?

The sound quality was a significant factor but not the same as making our list of the best audiophile headphones. If you are out running, I can guarantee you won’t be doing any critical listening, and the requirements in terms of sound performance are a bit different.

We decided that highly energetic sounding headphones would be the ones to make this list. We were looking for solid bass and high speed to help fuel our gym sessions. Thankfully lots of sport-specific headphones already offer this sort of sound profile.

Budget vs. Premium – How much should I spend to get the best heaphones for working out?

Cost is an important consideration because, in the end, accidents do happen. Your gym earphones and headphones will likely live a hard life. When they do die on you, they didn’t cost a small fortune in the first place. Yes, you will find some expensive headphones on this list. However, we have included many cheaper options in every category, so there should be something for you, whatever your budget.

Consequently, if you want something super cheap that gets the job done, it’s hard to look past these JVC Sports buds that usually come in under $20.

Gym Headphones with Sports Specific Features

Some of these best headphones for working out on our list are just regular headphones. They are earbuds, and earphones designed for everyday use but just so happen to work great at the gym.

Others are headphones specifically designed for working out and sports. Some of these features can be pretty useful and help to enhance longevity and performance.

For example, some of those listed below have features like sweat resistance, touch controls, heart rate monitors. One even uses bone conduction technology.

Headphones Styles: On-Ear vs. Over-Ear vs. Earphones – What is best in the gym?

The answer to what headphones are best for your needs comes down to how you work out. You could be running, bodybuilding, yoga, or CrossFit, and many different headphones will be suited best for each activity. No one size fits all answer to this question, so think about how you intend to use them before buying.

If I am a long-distance runner, I don’t want to be weighed down by a full-size over-ear model. If I am a weight lifter, do I need to spend more money for the freedom of wireless earbuds?

On the other hand, maybe your gym is full of booming music, people screaming, and weights crashing. In that case, would you better look for noise-canceling headphones? or ones that offer lots of isolation?

Best Headphones for Working out – The Categories

To make things easier for you when deciding what headphones you should buy, we have split this list into a few different categories. These are:

  • The Best Wireless Earbuds for the Gym
  • Best Wireless Headphones
  • The Best Wired Headphones for Working Out
  • Best Wired Earbuds

Best True Wireless Earphones for Working Out

Wireless in-ear headphones are becoming extremely popular for working out because they give the freedom to move without the constraints of wires.  They are perfect for dynamic movements, such as calisthenics and CrossFit, and are becoming more popular with runners.

Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 – Best True Wireless Earbuds for Working Out

Waterproof, sweatproof, and wireless are the Backbeat fit the perfect headphones for working out?

Plantronics is another great headphone company that has turned its attention to the sports market with the Backbeat Fit 3100 model.

They are a fully waterproof true wireless earbud designed with athletes in mind.

The ergonomically friendly ear-hooks are very comfortable and provide a secure fit to stop them from moving out of place on explosive movements. Still, for added security, there is a loop that catches the tragus of your outer ear.

Big 13.5mm dynamic drivers provide big sound, and the battery life is the best on this list, with 8 hours of playback from a single charge.

PowerBeats Pro by Beats

The Powerbeats Pro is scarily popular at my local gym, and I have also seen many distance runners using them.  

I had initially dismissed them as just another set of earphones designed to dupe the masses, but actually, they are an excellent option for use in the gym.

You get good battery life (9 hours): rich bassy sound and solid build quality.

The most important feature is that those earloops mean that they never come loose or fall out no matter what exercise you do.

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds
The XM4 is our choice for the one earphone person. Capable of being used for the gym, travel, and work.

We like to give options here, and the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the earbuds we recommend if you want to use them in the gym, at home, and everywhere in between. They are the gold standard for true wireless earphones.

If it’s a do it all single earphone you are looking for, these are the best TWS earbuds on the market. The waterproofing on them makes them more than suitable for gym sessions and long runs, and they fit securely to prevent unwanted movement.

The noise-canceling here is the apparent draw allowing you to reduce the noise made by others around you so you can work out in peace.

Apple Airpods Pro

Apple Airpods Pro
Airpods Pro can be a perfect wireless earphone for runners and lifters.

Say what you will about Apple’s wildly successful Airpods Pro. However, the one thing you can’t get away from is just how good they are in the gym. Seemless pairing with your iPhone every time you take them out of the charging case means they are completely hassle-free.

They are also lightweight, comfortable, and sweat-resistant, meaning they can take punishment and work. Longevity is also a great thing, as it can wirelessly charge the headphones, which makes it less likely for you to forget to keep them topped up.

I use these personally to fuel my workouts. They are white. It might not mean much to others, but for me, this makes them easy to find in my disaster of a gym bag.

Bose Soundsport Free

The second Bose headphone to make this list, the Soundsport, is designed specifically for working out.  Bose has been making sports models for years, and we are just starting to see them find the right balance of performance and functionality.

We love the lightweight cable and inline controls, and the built quality is brilliant.

The range is excellent; they worked meters away from our device and still transmit a strong signal.  Finally, the optional ear hooks keep them locked in place until you are ready to take them out.

Best Workout Headphones: Wireless Headphones

On-Ear headphones are different from over-ear headphones in that they sit directly on the ear and not around it.  They are traditionally a more compact design and built with movement/portability in mind. That makes them perfect headphones for working out.

V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless

There is a lot of debate about who makes the best headphone for working out, but it’s not even up for discussion in my mind.

V-Moda created the Crossfade 2 as a DJ/Style headphone not specifically for sports. However, in this area, it excels, and while not the cheapest option on our list, nothing else here comes close.

Bluetooth connectivity, class-leading build, gorgeous styling, and fantastic sound quality mean head and shoulders above the rest.

A headphone that you can wear to the gym and out in the street. Our top recommendation for 2021.

Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless

The Skullcandy Hesh 3 is wireless, rugged, and comes in many colors.

The budget winners fin the best wireless sports headphones category comes from Skullcandy. An excellent headphone at an unbelievable price.

What stands out with the Hesh 3 is that it is a full-size headphone with a mic, controls, and giant dynamic drivers.

Those giant speakers mean that the headphones can deliver some powerful bass that even rivals the Beats headphones for quantity, yet the cost is just a fraction of the price.

Build quality is good, and styling is on point, with many color options available at most retailers.

Read our Skullcandy Hesh 3 Review

Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Bose 700 series noise canceling headphones

Most people think that the Bose headphones are just for flying, but many of the qualities that make them great for travel also make them worthy of consideration for use at the gym.

With the best noise cancellation on the market, you won’t be getting distracted in between sets.  

The other bonus is that they are one of the lightest and most comfortable headphones you can buy today, and for closed-back headphones, they still allow a good amount of breathability, which prevents sweating.

Anker Soundcore Life Q30

They look a lot like the Beats by Dre, but Anker is a big name in its own right. They have some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market and brought out several full-size headphones.

With an RRP of under $100 in the US, this is a great competitor to the Skullcandy Hesh 3 for value.

Forty hours of playback time, good looks, and button controls are all reasons to consider them, but the standout feature is that they also include ANC noise cancelation, making them a great choice if you work out in a noisy gym.

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH1000 XM4 headphones

I love the WH-1000XM4, and I use them every time I travel, but they wouldn’t be my pick for gym headphones due to the price. That said, they are arguably the best headphones in the world right now, with an unmatched balance of features and sound.

If you only want to have one headphone for the gym and everyday life, I can see a case for Sony.

The noise-canceling strength is unmatched, and the features are impressive, including a pass-through mode that allows you to adjust the cancelation to your environment.

Best Wired Headphones for Working Out (Fixed cable)

Over-ear headphones are the big full-size models that, due to their bulk, are not the best for running or dynamic movement—however, some people like them, especially people who primarily train with weights. 

 1. Sony ZX110 (Best Budget)

Sony is doing an excellent job sourcing a wide range of products that offer a lot of bang for your buck. These essential headphones are perfect if you are on a budget. Often found for around $10, not too much sweat will be lost if you destroy them in the gym.

Solid build quality, punchy bass, a warm sound means these are fabulous headphones for working out. You don’t get audiophile-level performance, but at this price, you’re not expecting that. What you do want is cheap, reliable, and sounds good. They fold up, have good build quality for the price, and are available in many color options at the link below.

These are a headphone I would keep around as my main gym set or as a backup to my more expensive models.

Sony MDR-XB550AP Extra Bass (Best Bass)

The named MDR XB550 AP headphones from Sony have crazy bass and cost under $50. That makes them perfect for working out.

Enhanced bass is great for fuelling your workouts, and the energy these deliver can keep you moving. They just so happen to be one of the most comfortable on-ear headphones we tested, so long listening sessions can be enjoyed.  

Build quality and styling on these headphones is good, and they have decent availability in most high street electronics stores with a user-friendly warranty.

Perfect if you like listening to EDM and other rap or hip hop music when you work out.

Sennheiser HD-25 – Best Build Quality

In the gym or the studio, the Sennheiser HD-25 can take a beating.

These headphones have been on sale forever, and they are one of the absolute best for durability.  

The HD-25 is legendary DJ headphones designed to hold up to years of abuse on the road.  That also happens to make them one of the best headphones for the gym as well.

Incredible build quality, iconic styling, and one of the most energetic sound profiles on this list mean they are perfect for working out.

We also like that Sennheiser has made replacement parts for these headphones readily available, meaning that if something goes wrong, you will probably be able to fix them.

Beats EP Headphones

Beats offer something in a wired form that has reasonable clamping force and surprisingly good build quality.

You similar style to the Beats flagship headphones, but you won’t be risking the same sort of investment should you damage them in the gym.

Many people I know from the gym use these headphones, and the reviews have always been favorable. Clamping force comes up a lot, and these seem to stay locked tight to your head without too much movement.

The sound is very Beats-like with smooth mids and hard-hitting lows—personally, it’s my favorite Beats headphone on the market and a good match for fitness fanatics.

V-Moda M100 Crossfade – Indestructible & Stylish

These are the best-looking, best-sounding, and best-built headphones on the list. These are the ultimate full-sized gym headphone.

A DJ-inspired headphone that we have praised plenty of times in the past.  V-Moda makes some rugged headphones, and you should be able to bend and twist the M100 without any ill effects.  

Considered an audiophile favorite, these don’t just perform well at the gym; they are fabulous headphones for everyday use.

Oh, and they look absolutely killer in person and are available in several different color options. There is no better for this purpose.

Best Workout Earphones: In-Ear / Earphones / Earbuds (Wired)

This is the most common style of headphones you will see when people are working out.  Earphones and earbuds are great for the gym and are perfect for running. They are incredibly versatile in any situation, don’t require charging as wireless earbuds do, and some models are extremely affordable.


They might be cheap, but these earphones are packed full of features—multiple drives on each side: sturdy build quality and punchy, hard-hitting energetic sound.

There is no waterproofing, but we are giving them a spot because of the price and the ability to wear them monitor style over the ear to ensure stability when sprinting or during dynamic movement.

The other thing I like is that the cables are detachable and you can replace them for around 10-15 dollars which should extend the product’s life as cables are usually the first point of failure.

JVC HAX1X Extreme Explosives

If you give your earphones a beating or perhaps use them when working out outdoors, trail running, and rock climbing, then check out the Extreme Explosive.  

They have some solid build quality, are dirt cheap, and have insane bass to keep the tunes pumping through your blood in the middle of an intense workout.  

How rugged are these earphones? Well, one of our testers ran the Marathon De Sables with them. In case you didn’t know, that’s a 251KM 6-day Ultramarathon through the Sahara desert, and they still look good as new when he finished (his feet, however, did not).

Shure Aonic 3 – Stage Monitors

Shure Aonic 3
Designed for stage use the Aonic 3 also works well in the gym.

These are a favorite here at Audiophile On and one of Shure’s newest models.  You can read our full Shure Aonic 3 review for more information, but we will discuss why they can fit well in the gym.

Designed as stage monitors for professional musicians, they are meant to be sweated on, run in, and generally abused daily. They have a reputation in the industry as workhorse earphones.  

The Aonic 3 also looks good, has replaceable cables, a 2-year warranty, and top-notch sound, so you can even use them as your day-to-day headphones.

They’re not designed for sport, but they ticked all the right boxes for what we wanted in a set of earbuds for the gym.

Sennheiser OCX 684i

These are a favorite among runners because they are traditional neck band-style earphones. The bar running behind allows for good stability in movement, but that’s not the main attraction.

These are not in-ear headphones; they sit in the ear like an old set of earbuds, so they don’t block out a lot of noise. If you are looking for headphones that don’t leave you detached from a situation, then these are the ones.

For example, it’s better to be aware of cars or other people when running, and the OCX6841 gives you that ability.

Build quality is fantastic, and they are compatible with Siri and Android if you buy the correct version.

So let us double up on Sennheiser headphones as they are one of the last few companies making specifically wired headphones for working out.

The OCX is an ear loop earbud inside the ear canal and offers more isolation than the PMX we recommend above.

They have a punchier bass not but are also sweatproof and have the same inline remote.

Again build quality and styling are very good.


The Alternative Wildcard – Bone conduction headphones for Cycling and City Running

I just wanted to throw this out there if you are someone who cycles or works out in a built-up environment (i.e., running in city streets).  Many people will want to block out all that external noise, but sometimes it is best to hear what is going on around you.  I am currently training for an Ironman event next year. I also live in the center of Munich, Germany. This inevitably means a lot of running and cycling near traffic.  I want to hear what is going on around me, and you should, too; safety is more critical than solitude.  

That said, I didn’t want to give up on music entirely, so I gave these bone conduction headphones a try.  I can still listen to music through my bones, and I still get access to ambient noise through my ears.  A great little trick that helps stop boredom during my training.

Audiophile On
Audiophile On is a website dedicated to high-end audio products. With over 15 years as a reviewer, all articles are hand-written by one person to allow the comparison of products. Headphones, earphones, speakers, amplifiers, or DAC's we cover here.

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