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 154 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 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 come off during a particularly intense workout, they have a good build quality that feels solid enough to survive a couple of accidental drops.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are a versatile, feature-packed pair of headphones that sound very good. They have a decent active noise-canceling (ANC) feature that will mask some of the noises in a busy gym, a great companion app to fine-tune your entire listening experience exactly the way you want it, 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.
Unfortunately, their touch-sensitive control scheme can be a bit difficult to use, especially when working out, compared to the physical buttons of the Beats Studio3 Wireless. They’re also rather expensive, and they don’t isolate as well as the cheaper Sennheiser HD 4.50. That said, the PXC 550 remain the better choice for fitness thanks to their more stable and comfortable fit.
If you want a more fashion-forward headset for the gym and prefer physical buttons to a touch-sensitive control scheme, then get the Beats Studio3 Wireless instead. They’re not as customizable or as feature-packed as the Sennheisers, since they do not come with EQ or an actual app for noise-canceling options. The Beats also do not have passive playback, so once their battery runs out you won’t be able to use them to listen to music.
On the upside, they have a more comfortable fit than the PXC 550 Wireless. Their design and build are a lot more appealing for a wider variety of users, and they’re easier to use thanks to the very responsive physical controls. They have an excellent wireless range, great battery life, and charge rather quickly, which is great if you forgot to charge them overnight and need a quick refill before heading out to the gym. They also sound decent, although the adaptive sound and noise cancelation can be a bit inconsistent at times. However, for working out it won’t matter as much, and they're a good choice for most uses, especially if you’re an iOS user.
If you prefer a bass-heavy headset to get you pumped when you’re working out, and also don’t want to spend too much on a decent over-ear, then get the Skullcandy Hesh 3; they're the best over-ear headphones for the gym in the mid-range category, and they're often on sale. The Hesh 3 are not as well-built as the Beats Studio3 Wireless or the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They’re also not noise-canceling, so they won’t fare as well in loud, noisy environments. On the upside, the Hesh have a lightweight over-ear design that’s tight on the head and stable enough for most activities, even running.
They also have a great battery life of 19 hours, with a phenomenally quick charge time of just above 1 hour. This means you can easily get more than 4 hours of listening time from a 5-10-minute charge. You can also use them passively when the battery dies with the provided audio cable, so you will always have music. Sound-wise, they deliver a deep and powerful low end that will get you pumped if you're a fan of bass-heavy genres when working out, but their bass is not overdone so you can still pay attention to the vocals and instruments.
Unfortunately, their build quality feels plasticky and cheap. In this case, maybe consider the Skullcandy Crusher Wireless, which have a similar design but a much more premium build, though they won’t be as good a value as the Hesh 3. You can also consider the Skullcandy Venue if you need a bit more isolation for a noisy gym environment, but they're also more expensive than the Hesh.
If you need a more comfortable alternative to the Skullcandy Hesh 3, then consider the JBL E55BT. They won't be as stable as the Skullcandy due to their slightly looser fit on the head. They also do not have as good a battery performance since they take a little longer to charge. On the upside, their over-ear fit is more comfortable. They also sound better-balanced, with a good satisfying bass range that doesn't feel as overemphasized as that of the Hesh 3. They're still stable enough for running and jogging, thanks to their relatively lightweight frame, and they have a slightly better design that looks and feels a bit more durable.
If you’re looking for the best workout over-ear headphones in the budget category, then get the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600. They may not have the same build quality 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.
The Plantronics BackBeat Go 600 have an exciting sound profile that is perfect for getting your heart pumping on the treadmill. They have a very good battery, lasting over 17 hours, which is more than enough to last you a full 8-hour workday, plus time at the gym. They can also be used passively with the included audio cable if their battery dies.
Unfortunately, the BackBeat Go 600 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. However, this makes them an option for outdoor runners who need to be able to remain aware of their surroundings.
If you want an even cheaper over-ear for the gym, then consider the Mpow H5. They are not as lightweight, stable, or as comfortable as the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600. They're also not as easy to use overall, but on the upside, they have a slightly sturdier design that feels capable of handling more physical stress than the Go 600. They have a foldable design and come with a sturdy hard case that makes them a lot easier to carry around in your gym bag than the Plantronics. They have a good sound, with a lot of bass to get you pumped when working out, and they have a good 12-hour battery life that should be enough for a workday's use and still have enough battery to hit the gym when you leave the office.
Unfortunately, they do look and feel a little cheap, even if they are quite well made for their price range. Their noise-canceling is also mediocre at best, good enough to remove the buzzing sound of the AC unit but unable to cut out all the chatter and ambient noise in a busy gym-like environment. On the other hand, the Mpow H5 are decently versatile over-ears, good enough for the occasional jog and workout session. They may be worth it for some, especially considering their budget price.
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 (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one 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.