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 working out, 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 200 over-ear headphones so far, and below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones for working out to buy. See also our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds for running and working out, or the overall best headphones for running.
The best over-the-ear headphones for the gym we've tested so far are the Beats Studio 3. They have a tight fit that keeps in them securely in place while working out but are still comfortable thanks to their lightweight and well-padded design. They have simple, easy-to-use physical controls that make it easy to quickly change tracks between sets and can fold into a more compact format to take up less space in your gym bag.
These wireless over-ears have a full, warm sound with a bit of extra punch to help keep you pumped at the gym. Their 23-hour battery life will last you a couple of workouts in a row, and they have a quick charge feature that'll give you an extra battery boost before an impromptu training session. Their active noise cancelling feature will also help block out some of the distracting noises of a crowded gym.
On the downside, these over-ears will make your ears quite warm while working out. Their secure fit traps quite a bit of heat underneath their ear cups, and the faux leather material used to cover the padding isn't very breathable. They might also start slipping around a bit as you sweat, so they aren't ideal for longer or particularly intense workouts. That said, if you're sold on an over-ear design for working out, they're the best we've tested so far.
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. They don't feel quite as well-built or comfortable as the Beats Studio 3 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.
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, then you'll want to consider the Plantronics.
The best over-ear headphones for running we've tested so far are the Sennheiser PXC 550. They have a lightweight, well-padded design that fits securely yet comfortably while running. A quick swipe on their touch-sensitive controls will change tracks or adjust the volume without ruining the momentum of your run, and they have a few extra features to help enhance your experience.
Out-of-the-box, they're a good choice if you like listening to podcasts or audiobooks while running since they put a bit of extra emphasis on vocals by default. However, they also have a few EQ preset options you can toggle through directly on the headphones to find a sound profile that better suits your needs. They have a talk-through feature that helps filter in ambient noise, which can help you remain aware of your surroundings when running outdoors, and their 28-hour battery life will last you multiple runs.
While they're a bit more breathable than most closed-back over-ears, they'll still make you sweat quite a bit more than usual. Their control gestures can also take a little while to get familiar with since they're not the most intuitive. That said, they're still a decent overall choice for runners who prefer over-ears thanks to their stable fit and solid overall performance.
The best over-ear headphones for working out we've tested so far in the budget range are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600. They don't fit quite as securely as some of the other options in this article, but they're more breathable, which can make all the difference while working out. They have a very lightweight design that you can wear for a long time without fatigue, and their simple physical controls provide good feedback.
These wireless over-ears have a good 17-hour battery life, so you won't have to worry about charging them too often. They can connect to two devices at the same time, too, which can be useful if you like to bring your phone and another media player with you to the gym. Due to the way their earcups fit, they can sound quite different depending on who's wearing them, especially in the bass range. However, most people should find that they sound generally fairly well-balanced.
Unfortunately, they don't isolate very much noise. This can be a good thing if you work out outside and need to be able to remain aware of your surroundings, but also means that all the chatter and ambient noise of a crowded gym will seep into your audio. They also don't feel the most durable, and might not stand up too well for daily use in the gym. Fortunately, they don't cost too much to replace if they do break.
If you're looking for something that produces deeper bass more consistently, then get the Skullcandy Hesh 3. They're less breathable than the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600 Wireless since they create a pretty good seal around your ears, but this helps them deliver deep, thumping bass, every time. Your ears will sweat more than usual, but they should still stay securely on your head while working out. These headphones also feel pretty cheaply made, and Skullcandy headphones tend to vary quite a bit in price between color options, so you might have to compromise on style to get a good deal.
Go for the Plantronics if you're concerned about breathability, but if you want deeper bass, it's hard to beat the Skullcandy.
05/01/2020: Text refresh to keep things up-to-date and small structure changes better distinguish between the best over-ears for working out and for running; no changes in product picks.
03/03/2020: Verification for accuracy, minor changes to the text.
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, sorted by their sports performance. 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.