Most listeners prefer the fit of over-ears to in-ears and earbuds for most uses, and even for working out. However, over-ears do have quite a few inconveniences that make them less than ideal for sports. They're bulky, typically not water or sweat resistant, and they're not as stable or as breathable as in-ears and earbuds. However, they are more comfortable on average, have better battery lives, and are easier to use with better control schemes.
We've tested nearly 200 over-ear headphones so far, and below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones for working out to buy in 2019. See also our recommendations for the best headphones for running, the best over-ear headphones under $100, and the best wireless earbuds for running.
The best wireless over-ear headphones for working out that we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. Although they’re not explicitly designed for sports or fitness, they have a surprisingly stable fit for over-ear headphones. They’re lightweight, comfortable wireless headphones that fit securely and don’t fall off easily. Even if they do slip off during a particularly intense workout, they have a good build quality that feels solid enough to survive a couple of accidental drops.
These headphones are versatile, feature-packed headphones that sound very good. They have a decent active noise cancelling (ANC) feature that will mask some of the noise in a busy gym, a great companion app to fine-tune your entire listening experience, and an outstanding battery that lasts for nearly 28 hours of continuous playback. You can pair them with 2 devices simultaneously, and they can be used passively with the included audio cable if their battery dies.
They have a touch-sensitive control scheme that’s decent overall but can be a bit difficult to use, especially when working out. They also trap a considerable amount of heat under the ear cups, so they’ll make you sweat quite a bit more than usual. That said, they’re still a decent choice for fitness thanks to their stable and comfortable fit.
The most ergonomic over-ear headphones for working out that we’ve tested so far are the Beats Studio 3 Wireless. They fit securely while still being very comfortable headphones. Their physical controls are easy to use, especially while running, and they come with a great hard carrying case so you can toss them in your gym bag without having to worry too much about them.
These headphones have powerful, punchy bass that’ll help you get pumped while training, especially if you prefer bass-heavy music genres like EDM or hip-hop. They isolate a good amount of noise in the mid-range, which means they’ll help out block out disruptive gym chatter so you can focus on your workout.
Although these headphones have a great 23-hour battery life, they don’t have an auto-off timer, so you’ll need to remember to turn them off after use or else their battery will continue to drain. They also don’t support passive playback, so you can’t use them wired if the battery is dead, but they do have a quick charge feature which provides 2.5 hours of playback on a quick 10-minute charge. Overall, their ergonomic design makes them a great choice for those who aren’t a fan of touch-sensitive controls.
If you’re looking for less expensive over-ear headphones that are stable enough to wear while working out, then get the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810. The Beats Studio 3 Wireless feel better-built, but the Plantronics are cheaper and have a more accurate audio reproduction. Their physical control scheme is also very easy-to-use, and they have a lightweight design that’s tight enough to stay put even while jogging. They sound great and have an excellent 24.5-hour battery life with a standby mode to save power.
Although these are noise cancelling headphones, their noise isolation performance is rather disappointing. They’re also not the most comfortable on-ears we’ve tested. If you have the budget, the Beats are a more comfortable option that’s slightly easier to use while working out, but the Plantronics sound better and are more affordable.
The best over-ear headphones for the gym in the budget category are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600. They’re not as well-built as some of the more expensive wireless options out there, but they’re still lightweight and stable enough to wear during light exercise without feeling too tight on the head. They have an efficient and easy-to-use control scheme and provide pretty good value considering their price point.
They have an exciting sound profile that’s perfect for getting your heart pumping at the gym. They have a very good battery, lasting over 17 hours, which is more than enough to last you a full 8-hour work day plus time at the gym. They can also be used passively with the included audio cable if their battery dies.
Unfortunately, they have poor frequency response consistency, especially in the bass range, meaning that some people may get less bass than others. They also have rather poor noise isolation, which means they won’t be useful for blocking out the noises of a busy gym. On the upside, this makes them an option for outdoor runners who need to be able to remain aware of their surroundings.
If real deep, thumping bass is essential to your workout, then get the Skullcandy Hesh 3. They’re a bit heavier than the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600, but they still have a very stable fit. They pack a significant amount of bass, which is sure to please those who like working out to techno, dubstep, or house music and have a great 19-hour battery life.
Unfortunately, these headphones have a plasticky build quality and feel a little cheaply made. They don’t feel as durable as other budget headsets that we’ve tested, like the Mpow H5, but they fit more securely which makes them better for use while working out or running. If you prefer a lighter design with a more neutral sound, then get the Plantronics, but if you live and breathe bass then you’ll want to go for the Skullcandy.
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 for sports/fitness 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.