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, 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.
If you prefer the feedback of physical buttons to a touch-sensitive control scheme, then get the Beats Studio3 Wireless instead. They’re not as customizable as the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless, but they’re much easier to use. They’re more comfortable and are also easier to pair with iOS devices. They sound decent and have punchy bass to help get you pumped while working out.
On the downside, they don’t have a companion app for added customization options like the Sennheiser. They also can’t be used passively, so once their battery runs out you won’t be able to use them to listen to music. The JBL Live 650 BTNC are customizable and can be used passively with a regular audio cable, but they’re not as comfortable as the Beats. Overall, if you’re a fan of Beats’ bass-heavy sound signature and are looking for a no-fuss experience with iOS, these are decent over-ears for working out.
If you’re looking for reasonably priced over-ear headphones that are stable enough to wear while working out, then get the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810. They have a physical control scheme that’s very easy-to-use and provide good feedback, which is important while working out. They have a lightweight design that’s tight enough to stay put even while jogging.
They are great-sounding headphones for those who prefer a more neutral sound profile. They have a very balanced, even sound that’s well-suited to nearly all genres of music, as well as audiobooks and podcasts. Their 24.5-hour battery life is excellent and they charge in about 2 hours, which is great.
Although they are noise cancelling headphones, their noise isolation performance is rather disappointing. They still do a decent job at blocking out noises in the high-mid and treble range, though, so they’ll be alright for masking out disruptive gym chatter.
If you care most about comfort, then consider the JBL E55BT Wireless. They’re not as easy to use as the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless, but they have a more comfortable fit. They also fit securely enough to be alright for working out thanks to their relatively lightweight frame. They sound decent, but their bass response varies a lot depending on your head shape and whether or not you wear glasses. Their 18.5-hour battery life is alright, but they don’t have a standby mode like the Plantronics. They’re also a bit more difficult to use and their controls don’t provide more feedback than average. That said, they’ll still be okay for working out thanks to their decent fit.
If you like to wear over-ear headphones while working out but are on a tight budget, then get 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 workday 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.
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.