While most people prefer earbuds for sports, many find over-ear headphones more comfortable for light exercise. It can be difficult to find the best over the ear headphones for the gym, though. They usually don't fit securely enough to stay in place while training and make you sweat more than usual. However, there are still a few Bluetooth options that could be a decent option for working out or running.
Keep in mind that most over-ear headphones aren't designed to withstand heavy physical activity - regularly working out with them could result in issues not covered by the manufacturer's warranty. None of the over-ears in this article are designed for sport, so extra care must be taken if you decide to use them while working out or running. Keep an eye on their performance, and make sure to give them lots of time to air out between training sessions.
We've tested over 200 over-ear headphones so far, and below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones for working out to buy. Also, check out our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds for running and working out or the overall best headphones for running.
The best over-ear headphones for working out that we've tested so far are the Beats Studio 3. These Bluetooth over-ears are very comfortable thanks to their lightweight and well-padded design that feels premium and well-built. They fit tight enough to feel secure enough for most workouts, without being so tight that they cause discomfort quickly.
They have a good ANC (active noise cancelling) feature, which is helpful if you like to have some peace and quiet while you're at the gym. Their sound profile is versatile enough for most genres, but they have a good amount of extra bass to help keep you pumped up and motivated. They also leak very little audio, so you won't bother people nearby, even when you're blasting your favorite workout playlists.
Unfortunately, like with most over-ears, they don't breathe very well, and will likely cause you to sweat more than usual. While this may not be an issue for a quick run on the treadmill, it may be a concern during more intense workout routines. Also, despite feeling quite stable, they're a bit on the bulkier side and may slide around a bit while laying down or going upside down. That being said, their comfortable and premium design combined with good stability makes them a decent gym companion.
If you need something with a good stable fit and simple physical controls for working out at the gym, but don't want to spend a fortune, then get the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810. They don't feel quite as well-built or comfortable as the Beats Studio 3 Wireless, but they're a lot more affordable and still have a decent design for exercising at the gym. They also have a more versatile, neutral sound profile that's better suited to a wider range of music, though some people might find it a bit bass-light for working out. Their ear cups are also a bit small and shallow, which might not fit everyone equally well, especially if you have larger ears.
Get the Beats if you're concerned about fit and don't mind spending a bit more money; however, if you'd like something more affordable, you'll want to consider the Plantronics, which are some of the best over-the-ear headphones for the gym.
The best over-ear headphones for running that we've tested so far are the Razer Opus. These Bluetooth over-ears are impressively well-built and have a very comfortable fit that also does a good job of keeping them in place when you’re out on a run. Their touch-sensitive control scheme is easy to use and fairly comprehensive. Meanwhile, their near 33-hour continuous battery life will have no trouble dealing with marathon distances.
They have a very neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, making them a good fit for everything from audiobooks to EDM. However, if you’re the type who needs a little more bass to keep you pumped up, their dedicated companion app has a graphic EQ and a range of audio presets to dial in a little more thump and rumble. They also have an adjustable talk-through mode that lets in more background noise, which is handy if you’re running in a busy area and what to stay aware of what’s happening around you.
On the downside, while they’re quite stable on the head, they're still somewhat bulky overall, which can be a little annoying when you’re carrying them around when not in use. If you tend to make a lot of phone calls during your runs, you should also be aware that their integrated microphone struggles to isolate speech from loud background noise. Still, the Razer are a very good choice if you’re a runner looking for a versatile pair of wireless over-ears.
The best over-ear headphones for working out that we've tested so far in the budget range are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600. They don't fit quite as securely as some of the other options in this article, but they're more breathable, which can make all the difference while working out. They have a very lightweight design that you can wear for a long time without fatigue, and their simple physical controls provide good feedback.
These wireless over-ears have a good 17-hour battery life, so you won't have to worry about charging them too often. They can connect to two devices at the same time, too, which can be useful if you like to bring your phone and another media player with you to the gym. Due to the way their ear cups fit, they can sound quite different depending on who's wearing them, especially in the bass range. However, most people will find that they sound generally fairly well-balanced.
Unfortunately, they don't isolate very much noise. This can be a good thing if you work out outside and need to be able to remain aware of your surroundings, but also means that all the chatter and ambient noise of a crowded gym will seep into your audio. They also don't feel the most durable, and might not stand up too well for daily use in the gym. However, the price point makes them one of the best over-ear headphones for working out if you want to save money.
If you need a lot of thump and rumble in your music to help you push out those last few reps, consider the Skullcandy Hesh 3. They have a less intuitive control scheme than the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600 Wireless and don’t let your ears breathe as much. However, their tighter fit yields a more consistent listening experience and a lower chance of having them fall off your head during moderately-intense workouts. They have a heavily overemphasized bass response that gives your favorite EDM and hip-hop tracks an extra helping of punch and kick. Meanwhile, their 19-hour continuous battery life should have no trouble getting you through more than a couple of long workout sessions.
Get the Plantronics if you value a more neutral listening experience and want your ears to breathe easier, but consider the Skullcandy if you want a powerful bass response to keep you motivated.
08/28/2020: Replaced Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless with Razer Opus Wireless for 'Best Over-Ear Headphones For Running', added JBL CLUB ONE to 'Notable Mentions'.
06/30/2020: Updated text for clarity and accuracy; no changes in product picks.
05/01/2020: Structure changes to better distinguish between the best over-ears for working out and for running.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best over-ear headphones for the gym to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and where you use the headphones will matter more in your selection.