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 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 are excellent if you prefer bass-heavy genres like EDM or hip-hop to get you pumped at the gym as they have great, thumpy bass. They have a good premium feel and their ear cups are made from dense plastic that should be able to withstand a few accidental drops. While their ANC isn't the best, it does a good job isolating mid-range tones like voices, which is great for the gym as they should block out background chatter to help you keep focused.
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 a cheaper pair of wireless over-ears that are still stable and comfortable enough for working out, go for the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless. They aren't as comfortable or premium-feeling as the Beats Studio 3 Wireless, but they're significantly cheaper and have a much more balanced sound profile. They shouldn't move around or fall off while running or exercising, though, like most over-ear headphones, their closed cup design may cause you to sweat a bit more than usual. They have a great 24.5-hour battery life and their great sound reproduction is well-suited for a wide variety of music genres. Unfortunately, they won't be ideal for noisy environments as their ANC is only mediocre; luckily, they don't leak too much sound, meaning you should be able to turn up the volume without bothering those around you.
Get the Beats Studio 3 Wireless if you want a premium feeling and looking pair of wireless over-ears that are comfortable enough for the gym. However, if you want over-ears that are still stable enough for working out, sound even more balanced, and will leave you with extra cash in your wallet, get the BackBeat Go 810.
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. It's worth noting that these headphones tend to fluctuate in price, so depending on when you purchase them, they may be slightly more expensive than other budget options.
They have an exciting sound profile that’s perfect for getting your heart pumping at the gym. They have an easy-to-use control scheme which makes it easy to change tracks or adjust volume mid-workout. They also have a very good battery, lasting over 17 hours, which should be more than enough to get you through a work day and a visit to the gym after. Unlike many wireless headphones, they can also be used passively, meaning you can plug them in with the included audio cable if the battery should die.
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 thumping, bass-heavy tracks help keep you motivated while working out, go for the Skullcandy Hesh 3. They're a bit heavier than the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600 and they don't breathe quite as well, but they have a more stable fit which should keep them on your head at the gym. They have decent sound reproduction with very deep and powerful bass which, though not being neutral, should please fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. Their 19-hour battery life is great and you can get a couple of hours of playback from a quick 10-minute charge, which should be enough to get you through a gym session. Unfortunately, they don't have the greatest build quality, with a plasticky feel that doesn't feel as durable as other budget headsets we've tested. If you want something that feels a little more durable, consider the Mpow H5 Wireless, though they don't fit quite as secure as the Skullcandy.
Get the BackBeat Go 600 if you want a more balanced sound that may be better suited for a wider range of genres, but if you like having an extra kick of bass in your music while working out, go for the Hesh 3, one of the best over-ear headphones for working out.
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.
10/23/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.