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-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 220 over-ear headphones, 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 Beats Studio 3 are the best over-ear headphones for working out that we've tested. These well-built Bluetooth headphones are stable enough to stay in place during most workouts but aren't so tight that they cause discomfort quickly. Their lightweight design should be comfortable even during longer sessions at the gym.
They have an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature that does a good job of isolating you from background noise, so it should help block out distractions when you're at the gym. Their fairly well-balanced sound profile is suitable for a variety of genres, and they don't leak a lot of sound so you can turn your music up without worrying too much about bothering people nearby. There are onboard controls for calls and music, and the buttons are easy to use.
Unfortunately, like most headphones with an over-ear design, they aren't very breathable and may cause you to sweat more than usual during workouts. Also, their ANC feature isn't very effective at blocking out bass-range sounds like rumbling bus and plane engines. Otherwise, if you're looking for over-ears to take with you to the gym, these comfortable, stable headphones are a solid option.
If you're looking for more affordable over-ear headphones to take with you to the gym, you may prefer the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless. These aren't as comfortable as the Beats Studio3 Wireless and their ANC doesn't block out noise as effectively, but they're much cheaper and have a similarly stable fit. Out-of-the-box, their sound profile is well-balanced enough to suit a variety of genres, and if you prefer a different sound, their companion app gives you access to a few EQ presets. The onboard controls are easy to use and allow you to turn up the music or answer a call without taking out your phone. Unfortunately, they take up a bit more space in your bag than the Beats, since they don't fold into a more compact shape.
If you want better-built headphones or noise cancellation is a priority, go for the Beats, but consider the Plantronics instead if you're looking for a more budget-friendly pair of over-ears for workouts.
The best over-ear headphones for running that we've tested are the Razer Opus Wireless. These Bluetooth headphones have a sturdy-feeling high-grade plastic construction that feels like it should endure minor bumps without much of an issue. They also feel very comfortable on your head and do a good job of staying in place if you wear them while running or jogging. Depending on your usage habits, they also supply more than 32 hours of continuous runtime, so they shouldn't need to be recharged very often.
Out-of-the-box, they have a very well-balanced sound profile, so they should suit whatever kind of content you enjoy listening to during your workout, whether that be EDM music or an audiobook. However, that can be adjusted to your liking via their in-app graphic EQ. While their ANC system does a remarkable job of filtering out background noise, which could be helpful if you want to run on a treadmill in a loud gym, they also have an adjustable ambient mode to help you keep tabs on your surroundings when jogging outdoors.
Unfortunately, their integrated microphone delivers mediocre overall performance, so they might not be the best option for taking calls while you're on the go. They're also a little on the bulky side, which can make carrying them around when not in use a bit of a hassle, though they do have a sturdy feeling carrying case and can be folded up into a more compact shape. Overall, their solid build quality, comfortable fit, and wide range of sound customization features help make them some of the best headphones under $200 that we've tested.
The best budget over-ear headphones for working out that we've tested are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600. These wireless headphones have a lightweight construction and a decently stable fit, so you should be able to wear them without worrying about having them fall off while you're on on a run. They're also fairly breathable, especially by the standards of a pair of closed-back over-ears, though your ears are likely to sweat if you wear them during really strenuous workouts.
Their slightly bass-heavy default sound profile is a good fit for genres like EDM or hip-hop, though this overemphasized low-end response doesn't completely overwhelm more delicate genres. They also feature a built-in 'Bass Boost' EQ preset if you're the type to want even more thump and rumble in your music to stay motivated during workouts. Their 17-hour-plus battery life should also be more than enough for you to go a couple of days without needing to charge them. They can pair with two devices simultaneously, which is rare for headphones in this price range.
Unfortunately, they feel a bit cheap, mostly as a consequence of their all-plastic construction. They're also somewhat bulky, making them a bit of a hassle to carry around when not in use, and their included soft carrying pouch isn't likely to protect them from drops or bumps. Their audio delivery is very sensitive to their fit, seal, and positioning. Still, they're a solid choice if you're looking for wireless headphones that can cope with workouts and day-to-day life without breaking the bank.
If you're trying to stay focused on your workout by blocking out the chatter of other gym-goers as well as clanking of weights, consider the Anker Soundcore Life Q20. These over-ear headphones are bulkier than the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600 Wireless and don't feature any sort of multi-device pairing capability, but their ANC feature blocks out a lot more ambient noise, and the headphones themselves feel a little bit sturdier. Their 33-hour-plus battery life is also much longer than the Plantronics, so you probably won't need to worry about charging them too often. They also do a decent job of staying on your head and shouldn't fall off while you're running or jogging, but anything more intense than that could cause them to move around. Their bass-heavy sound profile is a good match for listeners who crave a little more thump and rumble in their music to stay motivated, but it could be perceived as overwhelming and muddy by others, and they lack any sort of sound customization features.
Consider the Plantronics if you're looking for sleeker over-ear headphones that won't break the bank, but take a look at the Anker if you want to filter out a lot more ambient noise and prioritize durability.
Jun 17, 2021: Verified picks to ensure that the best products are being recommended and that they're in stock.
Apr 20, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
Feb 19, 2021: Added Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless to Notable Mentions. Verified that the rest of the main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
Dec 22, 2020: Replaced Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless with Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. Added Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless and Sony WH-H910N/h.ear on 3 Wireless to 'Notable Mentions'.
Oct 27, 2020: Slight changes to the text for accuracy and consistency; no change in product recommendations.
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 over-ear headphones, ranked by their suitability for sports and fitness. 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.