The 9 Best Workout Headphones of 2020

Shop for the best workout headphones for swimming, running and more

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The best workout headphones mean you can listen to your favorite tunes (or cool down with podcasts and audio books) while you get shredded, without ever having to worry about them slipping off your head and shattering on the pavement. They're an awesome way to keep you pumped and motivated while you push through those final, brutal reps, or incentive you to push for those final steps on one of the best fitness trackers.

Comfort and fit are more important in workout cans than any standard version of the best headphones. They not only need to stay firmly in place during even the most vigorous exercise, they also need to be breathable and, ideally, sweat resistant. Standard criteria still apply though, so you'll want a set with great audio quality, meaning solid drivers that are capable of delivering balanced tones across the lows, mids, and highs.

Best Overall: Bose SoundSport Wireless

What We Like
  • Great fitting eartips

  • Sweat-proof

  • Booming bass

What We Don't Like
  • Spotty ambient mode

The best workout headphones should be comfortable to wear and have a secure fit. The sweat-proof Bose SoundSport wireless headphones are both. They come with small, medium and large earbuds that are each equipped with StayHear+ eartips with soft silicon fins. This offers a fit that’s comfortably loose, but also secure and snug. As a runner or biker, it’s especially important that you’re aware of your surroundings while out on the road, and the SoundSport let ambient sound filter in for safety.

As far as sound goes, the Bose SoundSport headphones deliver booming bass that will keep your blood pumping all workout long. And with a six-hour battery life, you should be able to squeeze in about a week’s worth of workouts before re-charging. Testing them, Jason loved those fins and eartips, and was impressed by the killer bass delivery.

"The Bose Soundsport wireless headphones are a reliable choice for commuters and gym-goers." — Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Most Popular: SENSO Bluetooth Headphones

What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Awesome battery life

  • Bluetooth 4.1 support

What We Don't Like
  • Not fully noise canceling

SENSO Bluetooth Headphones are hugely popular for good reason; despite a remarkably low price point, they boast eight hours of battery life, Bluetooth 4.1 CSR tech and IPX-7 waterproof rating.

The SENSO Bluetooth Headphones offer state of the art acoustic components for rich, full sound quality with deep bass and clear treble. Their lithium polymer batteries charge in under 1.5 hours and offer 240 hours of standby. With its Bluetooth 4.1 wireless technology, you can connect your mobile devices up to 30 feet away. Its CVC 6.0 noise suppression means you can enjoy your music without any outside interference. The headphones come with a one-year warranty. The SENSOs impressed in our product test with their great waterproofing and clear audio.

"If you’re in the market for the cheapest possible Bluetooth headphones that still sound great and last a while, the Senso ActivBuds will tick most of those boxes." — Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best for Running: Jaybird X4 Wireless Sport Headphones

What We Like
  • Excellent, substantial build quality

  • Brilliant sporty design

  • Bassy and full sound

What We Don't Like
  • Tight, uncomfortable fit

  • Muddy audio lacking definition

  • Slightly too expensive

With thousands of options on the market, finding the best headphones for running is no easy task. But thanks to the Jaybird X4s — which hit all the right notes when it comes to comfort, sound, and battery — you can call off your search. Each of the ultra-foam tips is designed to conform to individual ear canals. Add in thermo-reactive technology for enhanced sound and the Jaybird X4 already appears to be a winner.

It’s not just the thermo-technology that helps the Jaybird sound good, though. A custom equalizer (EQ) is available on the company’s smartphone app. From there, you can save your own personal settings for the best sound.

Every good running headset should be able to withstand the constant drip of sweat. The Jaybird meets this requirement and then some with an IPX7 rating that ensures you can run rain or shine. No matter the outside conditions, eight hours of battery life will power you through a quick jog around the block or the marathon you’ve committed to finishing. A ten-minute quick recharge will get you 60 minutes of battery life in a pinch. Jason, our reviewer, loved the Jaybird's great build quality and sporty design.

"If you want only a reliable set of running headphones that won’t break down on you, then look no further."Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Runner-Up, Best for Comfort: Bose SoundSport Pulse

What We Like
  • Excellent sound quality

  • Snug fit

  • Monitors heart rate

  • Sweat- and water-resistant

  • Carrying case included

What We Don't Like
  • Uncomfortable for long periods of time

  • Navigating tracks requires an extra button click

Not to be confused with the original Bose SoundSport, the Wireless Pulse adds an entirely new feature to distinguish itself. With a built-in heart rate sensor, these headphones are capable of providing you detailed information about your run. Connecting to the smartphone app, Pulse owners can see heart rate performance in real time. For serious runners, this will help guide them to step up the run or pull back.

Managing your heart rate isn’t the only highlight of the Pulse. When you move, twist, or turn during running, the last thing you want are headphones that move. Bose’s StayHear+ headphone tips stay in your ears no matter what. The gentle seal that’s created is not only comfortable but also serves to block out ambient noise. The extended wing above the tip also works to keep the headphone in place.

Unfortunately, every run can’t completely remove the world around you. If a call comes in, the inline microphone can answer and end calls. Along with the mic, the inline remote doubles as a way to adjust volume or pause/play music. Five hours of battery life are available with every charge. Yoona really dug their incredible audio quality and the handy included carrying case.

"Exceptional sound quality and a good amount of comfort and durability for long workouts." Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Runner-Up, Best Budget: AUKEY Latitude Wireless Headphones

What We Like
  • Pairs instantaneously to smartphone

  • Lightweight with no bounce during exercise

  • Long battery life

  • Quick to charge

  • Good wireless range

What We Don't Like
  • Sound is tinny

  • EQ presets don’t really change sound quality

  • Uncomfortable for long periods of wear

Aukey Latitude’s simple design won’t turn any heads, but when it comes to audio quality, these headphones bring their A-game. Enjoy the rich, pure wireless sound of their aptX technology and choose from three EQ settings to enhance your personal listening experience.

The earbuds feature a two-part design, with a slim in-ear tip and an ear-hook, both made from a sturdy, comfortable silicone material that isolates sound without causing strain. The headphones boast an IPX4 water-resistance rating to guard against sweat and rain, along with magnetic tips that fasten around your neck for hands-free convenience. The battery life lasts is about eight hours — that's 120 songs — and the headphones take just 90 minutes to fully recharge. Aukey also offers a 45-day money back guarantee and a 24-month product replacement warranty should the wireless earbuds not live up to your expectations. In her review, Yoona praised the AUKEY's great range and quick-charging.

"An affordable and durable pair of wireless headphones suited for exercise and everyday wear."Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Best for Swimming: Stream Waterproof Bluetooth Player by H20 Audio

What We Like
  • Super light, attractive design

  • Clip rotates 360-degrees, making it easy to attach to anything

  • Huge storage capacity and battery life

  • Easy Bluetooth connectivity

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Annoying proprietary cord for charging and data transfers

  • Low audio while underwater

When it comes to top-notch underwater performance, nothing compares to the Stream Waterproof Bluetooth player and Headphones by H20 Audio. The water-friendly gadget features an IPX8 rating, which means the headphones are 100-percent waterproof, impervious to perspiration, rain and even submersion up to 12 feet in water. Competitive athletes will be impressed by the product’s hydrodynamic design, which H20 Audio boasts as being “designed by swimmers, for swimmers.” The headphones are tailored to promote proper alignment in the ears and come with eight different sized earbuds, practically ensuring maximum comfort and security.

In terms of audio quality, these headphones sound as good as they feel, with premium underwater sound performance and a punchy bass. The MP3 player has 10 hours of battery life and an 8 GB memory to fit all your favorite music (that's up to 2,000 tunes). The Stream also offers Bluetooth connectivity, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work underwater. Still, with a 30-foot range, Bluetooth works perfectly for jogging and other on-land workouts. Our tester, William Harrison, loved the ridiculously light build and the cool 360-degree rotation of the Stream.

"A great device that makes its mark by being light, easy to use, and most importantly—waterproof." — William Harrison, Product Tester

Best Budget: Anker SoundBuds Slim

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Water-resistant

  • Excellent 18-month warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly tinny high tones

For less than $30, the Anker SoundBuds Slim gives you features slashed on most other budget headphones, including wireless audio, a solid microphone and an intuitive remote.

The SoundBuds are made of rubber that make them water-resistant rated at IPX4 and they house 6mm drivers that will deliver a solid bass. The battery will last you about seven hours, which is impressive in this price range, and they come with an extensive array of customizable earbud and ear fin options to ensure the perfect fit for your ear. Best yet: If you’re uncertain about buying budget headphones, you can rest easy because Anker offers an 18-month warranty.

Best Battery Life: Jaybird Tarah Pros

Jaybird Tarah Pro

Best Buy

What We Like
  • Excellent battery life

  • IPX7 waterproof rating

  • Swiveling earbuds

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

These Tarah Pro headphones are one of the more premium offerings from Jaybird’s lineup of workout headphones, and they offer a few features you won’t find in the more affordable X series. They earn this spot on our list because of the amount of playtime you get on a single charge. Just two hours of charging gives you up to 14 hours of music (almost double the play time of the brand’s other headphones). On top of that, you can plug in the Tarah Pros for just five minutes and get a full two hours of music time, which is great if you’re pressed for time. There’s a waterproof rating of IPX7, which means they’ll work well in inclement weather and you won’t have to worry if they’re exposed to sweat for a long period of time.

The sturdy, braided cable seems is also pretty premium, and they’ve built the earbuds themselves on a swivel, so you can wear them both under or over your ears depending on what’s most comfortable. There are also three sizes of wing-shaped silicone tips included in the box for extra comfort and a more customizable fit. Fire up the accompanying Jaybird app to customize the EQ and sound settings, and these earbuds will support you through any run or workout routine.

Best Wired: RHA T20i

What We Like
  • Great frequency range

  • Durable

  • Excellent audio quality

What We Don't Like
  • Wired

Most of the time, workout headphones should be wireless. Considering Bluetooth technology has come so far, cutting the cord will give you more time to run and go to the gym without the extra step of plugging your headphones into an audio source. But, at the same time, Bluetooth still isn't perfect. For one, it inhibits sound quality, resulting in a spectrum of sound narrower than that of analog, wired technology. The RHA T20i earbuds reel in the best of both worlds, combining unfettered, lossless sound with the durability you would otherwise get from a premium set of wireless buds.

These dual-driver headphones offer a high frequency response range — from 16Hz to 40,000Hz — and, because it employs a DualCoil system, it is able to dedicate an independently voiced driver to respective sections of the frequency spectrum. In other words, they sound amazing. And they're really sturdy, too, a symptom of their oxygen-free copper wire-connected injection-molded stainless steel enclosures.

Open up the box and you'll find eight different silicon tips, all at different sizes, along with proprietary foam tips for a tighter seal. Best of all, for working out, its over-ear wings are made of bendable cabling. Tighten them up or loosen them as you see fit.

Final Verdict

With awesome sound quality and StayHear+ eartips, Bose's SoundSport Wireless cans are the best headphones to keep up with your workout available. If you want even more state of the art acoustics, SENSO's Bluetooth cans offer some of the most high-quality components available at a reasonable price point, as well as great battery life and waterproofing.

How We Tested

Our expert testers and reviewers evaluate workout headphones the same way we evaluate most headphones, with a large focus on durability, comfort, and sound quality. We start by looking at the build material, fit, and comfort of the headphones, and try to judge their durability, waterproofing, and if they'd be comfortable to wear for hours at a time when working out. In the case of Bluetooth headphones we also consider ease of pairing, range, and battery life as important factors.

The most important element we consider is sound quality. We look at frequency response, bass, and the overall audio profile by playing audiobooks, music, streaming shows, and playing games.If they support noise cancellation, we enable the feature and see how much noise they block out in loud environments, like a crowded gym. Finally, we compare each headphone and its price to a similar competitor to help make a final judgement. All of the workout headphones we review are purchased by Lifewire; none are provided by the manufacturer.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jason Schneider is a musician who's been working in tech media for nearly a decade. With a degree in Music Technology from Northwestern and expertise in audio equipment, he's tested almost every audio device Lifewire has profiled.

Yoona Wagener is an experienced tech journalist with a background in content and technical writing. She is an expert in home theatre, audio, and entertainment gear, and is passionate about simplifying complex topics and making them accessible to everyone.

What to Look for in a Pair of Workout Headphones

Comfort - It’s possible you’ll be using your workout headphones for up to a couple of hours a day. If you go for an in-ear style, make sure they are comfortable and the ear tips fit securely in your ears. For other styles, ensure that they will stay put, even during vigorous activity.

Waterproof - One important factor in which pair of headphones you’ll buy is the kind of workout you’ll be doing. If you’re a runner, you may want waterproof headphones that will last through a rain shower. Or you may just want a water-resistant pair that can stand up to sweat.

Price - Like any other piece of technology, you can spend a lot of money on headphones, so make sure you know what features are important to you. If you’re an audiophile, you may be willing to pay more for better sound quality. Alternatively, having fully waterproof headphones for swimming might be worth a splurge.