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 260 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 best over-ear headphones for working out that we've tested are the Beats Studio3. 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 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 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 Wireless. They don't feel quite as well-built or comfortable as the Beats Studio3 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. Some users have reported that their unit's headband has cracked or broken with continuous use over time, too.
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-ear headphones for the gym.
The best over-ear headphones for running that we've tested are the Razer Opus. These wireless over-ears are very comfortable and clamp your head tight enough to stay on your ears while you're out on a run. Their touch-sensitive control scheme is pretty easy to use, so you should be able to adjust while you're out and about without losing your rhythm.
They have a very well-balanced default sound profile that should suit most kinds of audio content, though their companion app does grant you access to a graphic EQ and audio presets to fine-tune your own listening experience. If you like to tune out the outside world while you're running, their ANC system should have no trouble filtering out the rumble of passing vehicles or the chatter of other pedestrians. On the opposite side of things, their pass-through mode lets in more ambient noise if you feel like you need to keep tabs on your environment.
Unfortunately, their integrated microphone does a mediocre job of separating speech from background noise, so they might not be the best option for making calls as you run outdoors. They're also a little bulky, which can make it a bit of a hassle to carry them around when not in use. Still, thanks to their rich feature set and well-balanced sound profile, these headphones are also among the best over-ear headphones 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.
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.
Aug 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'.
May 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 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.