The 8 Best Workout Headphones of 2021

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

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The Rundown
These earbuds are compact and designed to provide a secure, low-profile inner-ear fit that’s great for exercise and general use.
Our tester raved about the “near-perfect” sound quality of the Sennheiser Momentum Earbuds.
Best Durability:
Jaybird Vista at Amazon
These earbuds have been put through the wringer and passed military standards for durability.
The soft silicone StayHear Max tips eliminate the need for an ear hook by creating a secure yet breathable seal.
Best Wireless with Ear Hooks:
Beats Powerbeats Pro at Amazon
These wireless earbuds depart from other designs with an inner earbud and an exterior hook.
The BackBeat FIT have an IPX2 rating, which covers light dripping and sweat.
Best Budget Over-ear:
Treblab Z2 at Amazon
These over-the-ear headphones cost under $100, all in, and come with a protective travel case.
Best Budget Earbuds:
Soundcore Liberty Neo at Amazon
For under $50, the Liberty Neo earbuds offer what some of the most decked out and premium models don’t: an IPX5 waterproof rating.

The best workout headphones will go the extra mile, rep, or circuit with you. While any pair of close-fitting wired earbuds or over-ear cans could do the trick, the most exercise-ready headphones go above and beyond a general-use model with more durability and stay-put comfort. These strengths stand alongside other essential audio accessory criteria, such as price, sound quality, noise isolation and cancellation, and battery life for wireless models.

When it comes to durability, workout headphones set themselves apart with dust and waterproof ratings on the Ingress Protection (IP) scale. Headphones with IPX2 can handle some sweat, while IPX4 can withstand splashing. More protective headphones combine higher numbers to exhibit protection from dust and immersion in water, IP57, for example.

Top workout headphones offer the amount of comfort you prefer in this accessory and provide extra measures for the kind of fit that best suits the activity. For higher-impact exercise, you might be interested in wireless earbuds with fins or over-ear hooks, while on-ear or over-ear models with water resistance could be best for strength training or low-impact sessions. 

With all of that in mind, we tested and researched some of the top options to help you decide which pair of workout headphones will be best for your workouts.

Best Overall: Jabra Elite Active 75t Wireless Earbuds

What We Like
  • Long battery life

  • IP57 durability rating

  • Great call and sound quality

  • ANC and HearThrough

What We Don't Like
  • On the pricier side

The Jabra Elite Active 75t are a popular pick for avid exercisers who love a true wireless build. Like the non-active Jabra Elite 75t, these earbuds are compact and designed to provide a secure, low-profile inner-ear fit that’s great for exercise and general use, too. In addition to a comfortable but close fit, the Active 75t earbuds come with an IP57 durability rating. These small earbuds can handle just about anything that comes their way, including dust, sweat, and splashing. 

Outside of exercise, the Elite Active 75t earbuds excel in just about every area. You can expect up to 5.5 hours of battery performance with active noise cancellation (ANC) enabled and 7.5 hours when it’s turned off. With the charging case, those times extend to 18.5 hours and 20.5 hours, respectively.

Like other Jabra Elite models, the Active 75t also features a convenient HearThrough slider for controlling how much ambient noise to let through during workouts and otherwise. Our reviewer of the Jabra Elite 75t remarked at how clearly the four-microphone system (also found in the Active 75t) delivers call quality. To control music and sound optimization, Jabra provides personalization through the MySound app.

Type: In-ear | Connection type: Wireless | ANC: Yes | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IP57)

"For my money, these are possibly the best on the market when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity." — Jason Scheider, Product Tester

Jabra Elite 75t

Lifewire / Jason Schneider 

Best Sound Quality: Sennheiser Momentum 2 Earbuds

What We Like
  • Up to 28 hours of battery life

  • ANC

  • Supports aptX

  • IPX4 water resistance

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Not as durable as less-expensive models

If you’re an audiophile who wants to stay true to that when you work out, the Sennheiser Momentum 2 Earbuds could be the perfect choice for you. Our tester raved about the “near-perfect” sound quality of the Sennheiser Momentum Earbuds.

Like that model, this second-generation version delivers excellent audio quality with support for the advanced aptX audio codec. With ANC, a built-in equalizer, and pass-through hearing feature, it’s easy to control your listening experience based on the situation and your preferences.

In an improvement from the original Momentum Earbuds, the Momentum 2 Earbuds also offer a solid battery life of up to 28 hours with the case and a continuous 7 hours with the earbuds alone. Our reviewer of the first model reported a 4-hour average, extended by a mere 8 hours with the case. This enhanced battery performance should be more than enough to power through your workouts. So will the IPX4 rating for splash resistance, which should also suffice for most sweat sessions.

While the Momentum 2 Earbuds are one of the pricier options on this list, if you’re a casual exerciser or you dabble mostly in lower-impact activities and you care about a top-of-the-line listening experience, these earbuds could be worth every penny.

Type: In-ear | Connection type: Wireless | ANC: Yes | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IPX4)

"I’ve owned about a dozen different earbuds from Sennheiser, ranging from full-on studio monitors to their cheapest earbuds, and I’m almost never disappointed in how music sounds." — Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Sennheiser Momentum

Lifewire / Jason Schneider 

What We Like
  • IPX7 and MIL-STD810G rated

  • Up to 32 hours of battery life

  • Good sound quality

  • Convenient portable charging case

What We Don't Like
  • Few advanced features

  • Slightly pricey

The Jaybird Vista true wireless earbuds distinguish themselves as the go-to headphones for runners and athletes on the move. The biggest source of appeal for active users comes from durability and water resistance. The Vista earns an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means they can handle splashing and sweat like a champ. These earbuds have also been put through the wringer and passed military standards for durability with a MIL-STD810G rating that labels them tolerant to just about any shock or drop.

Even if you’re not an athlete traveling to rough-and-tumble locales, the Vista present plenty of appeal for the average user. The charging case is compact and portable to use when you need to power up, but the earbuds are good for up to an impressive 32 hours of use. Sound quality is good and comes with customizable EQ profiles via the companion app, but it’s not on the same level as earbuds from the likes of Sennheiser or Bose. Though these are on the pricier end of the spectrum, considering the lack of audio extras or special features, few competitors come close to the durability of this model.  

Type: In-ear | Connection type: True wireless | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IPX7)

Best Fit: Bose Sport Earbuds

What We Like
  • Breathable and close-fitting for exercise

  • Solid sound

  • IPX4 water resistance

What We Don't Like
  • No ANC

  • Average battery life

The Bose Sport Earbuds improve upon the Bose SoundSport line and are a solid pair of wireless earbuds for those who care most about fit. Like the Bose SoundSport Free earbuds, Bose designed the Sound Earbuds for working out. They offer an IPX4 rating against sweat and splashing and feature Bose’s signature fitness-oriented StayHear Max tips. The soft silicone StayHear Max tips eliminate the need for an ear hook by creating a secure yet breathable seal. I’ve used these tips on the Bose SoundSport Pulse, and I can attest to their comfortable but immovable design.

Bose removed the buttons that appeared on the SoundSport Free and replaced the Sport Earbuds with touchpad responsiveness, which may or may not appeal to you depending on what you’re used to. Battery life is also average at about five hours with each charge and up to two additional cycles with the case. This estimate is a downgrade from what our Bose SoundSport Free tester logged. He saw 6 to 7 hours from the earbuds and over 10 hours with the case. While Bose doesn’t offer ANC on the Sport Earbuds or any sound control, you can expect the solid, appealing audio quality the brand is known for in a durable form factor.

Type: In-ear | Connection type: Wireless | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IPX4)

Best Wireless with Ear Hooks: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Powerbeats pro
What We Like
  • Excellent sound

  • Ear hooks offer fit flexibility

  • Long battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Lower IPX2 rating

  • Pricey

  • Fit could be challenging

If you want to work out in style the way your favorite athletes do, look no further than the Beats PowerBeats Pro. These wireless earbuds depart from other designs with an inner earbud and an exterior hook. Where fit is concerned, some people find a natural fit right away and are immediately impressed by the comfort and sound quality.

As our tester emphasized in his review, the fit experience is highly customizable once you get the right adapters fitted and adjust the ear hook the way you like it. He also noted that the hook creates a secure closure, which means you won’t have to worry about these earbuds falling out even with a lot of jostling.

This secure fit is a bonus for exercising. The IPX2 rating also provides some resistance to sweat, but be careful to avoid any large splashes with the PowerBeats Pro. When you’re in between sets or working, there are plenty of additional traits that make these premium earbuds worth the investment.

Our reviewer reported speedy performance with the Apple H1 headphone chip and first-rate sound quality, a hallmark of the Beats brand. Another bonus for logging workouts and daily use? The BeatsPro has a long battery life: up to 9 hours of continuous playback or up to a day with a mix of use and charging. 

Type: In-ear with hooks | Connection type: Wireless | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IPX2)

They’re going to be the last pair of earbuds you’ll need for at least a few years to come.” 

Jeffrey Daniel Chadwick, Product Tester

Beats Powerbeats Pro

Lifewire / Jason Schneider 

Best On-ear: Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 On-Ear Sport Headphones

Plantronics Backbeat FIT 500
What We Like
  • Comfortable floating design

  • Lightweight

  • Long battery life

  • IPX2 reinforced with P2i nano-coating

What We Don't Like
  • No ANC or advanced features

  • Not as portable as wireless earbuds

Not everyone enjoys the feeling of in-ear or over-ear headphones. The Plantronics BackBeat FIT let fans of the floating on-ear headphone style take these headphones to the gym without worrying about battery life or durability.

The BackBeat FIT have an IPX2 rating, which covers light dripping and sweat. That protection comes reinforced by a durable, military-grade P2i nano-coating that adds splash resistance. The BackBeat FIT also support up to 18 hours of playback and use on one charge and convenient onboard controls to answer calls or control media playback.

While these on-ear headphones lack advanced features such as Bluetooth 5.0, ANC, or any sound calibration, the lightweight 5.5-ounce form factor and solid performance get the job done when you need an extra push of musical motivation mid-workout.

Type: On-ear | Connection type: Wireless | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IPX2)

Best Budget Over-ear: Treblab Z2

What We Like
  • Affordable for over-ear headphones

  • IPX4 water resistance

  • Long battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Less portability compared to wireless earbuds

  • Sound can be muffled

Over-ear headphones aren’t commonly associated with working out and budget prices, but the Treblab Z2 checks both boxes. These over-the-ear headphones cost under $100, all in, and come with a protective travel case and support for Bluetooth 5.0, HD aptX audio codec, plush earpads, and what the brand calls T-Quiet active noise cancellation.

To sweeten the deal, the Z2 can operate up to 35 hours before requiring a charge. That extended battery life is a pleasant counterpoint to these headphones’ overall lack of portability compared to smaller wireless earbuds.

Stowing the Z2 in your gym bag shouldn't weigh you down since these headphones come in at just about 5.5 ounces. The IXP4 durability rating should also put your mind at ease when you’re pushing through a challenging circuit. While overall comfort is always subjective, be mindful that the combination of the over-ear fit and protective IXP4 protection against sweat and splashing could create a muffled and overly bass-y experience.

Type: Over-ear | Connection type: Wireless | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IPX4)

Best Budget Earbuds: Soundcore Liberty Neo

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • IPX5 water resistance

  • Good sound quality

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks a lot of bells and whistles

  • Shorter battery life

If you’re on a budget for your wireless workout headphones, the Soundcore Liberty Neo are worth a closer look. For under $50, the Liberty Neo earbuds offer what some of the most decked out and premium models don’t: an IPX5 waterproof rating.

On the IP scale, five indicates that a product can withstand sustained low-pressure jets of water. Anker also adds on to that by claiming that the Liberty Neos will be just fine for workouts in the rain or rinsing these earbuds off after a tough session.

There are a few trade-offs for the affordable price. These earbuds lack bells and whistles such as ANC, and battery life maxes out at around 3.5 hours. On the other hand, the Liberty Neo do offer solid Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and an extremely lightweight form factor, 0.2 ounces, thanks to light graphene drivers that punch up the bass while also helping to keep these earbuds compact and comfortable. Speaking of comfort, Anker uses proprietary GripFit technology that aims to keep these earbuds secure in your ear no matter what.

Type: In-ear | Connection type: Wireless | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IPX5)

Final Verdict

For most people interested in investing in a pair of workout headphones, the Jabra Elite Active 2 (view at Amazon) is the clear front runner. The IP57 dust and waterproof rating is impressive in the true wireless earbud category. Plus, the array of other premium features such as a 7.5-hour battery life, solid sound quality, and control over the amount of ambient noise you hear transitions well outside of exercise too. 

If you’re interested in a workout-friendly pair of headphones with ANC and next-level audio quality, consider the Sennheiser Momentum 2 (view at Amazon). While they’re pricier than the Elite Active 75t, the IPX4 rating has you covered for sweat sessions and supports advanced audio codecs with an upscale design.

About Our Trusted Experts

Yoona Wagener is a tech writer and product reviewer who has covered various gadgets, wearables, and fitness tech for Lifewire, including headphones from Bose, Sennheiser, and 1More. She’s a fan of the Bose Soundsport Pulse headphones for her long runs.

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.

Danny Chadwick is a tech writer focused on consumer and mobile technology. He has been published on Top Ten Reviews, LAPTOP Mag, and BusinessNewsDaily. He is an expert in several tech categories, including mobile audio equipment.

FAQs

What does the X mean in a headphones IP rating?
If your workout headphones contain an X in the IP rating (IPX2, for example), the X represents a non-rating, or zero, for protection against solid objects, such as hands, fingers, and dust. The second number stands for the level of water resistance. If you see numbers in both slots after IP, that means the headphones have both dust and water protection.

What’s the difference between sweatproof and waterproof headphones?
A rating of IPX1 or IPX2 can handle moisture drops that fall vertically onto the device, which correlates to sweat resistance. Headphones with higher IPX4 and IPX5 ratings, which represent resistance to splashing and pressurized water jets, do even better against sweat and contact with water. For protection against water immersion, look for headphones with an IPX7 rating or higher.

How can you prevent headphones from slipping during exercise?
Choose headphones that are best for the activity. Smaller, wire-free designs sit close or flush with the ear canal to cut down on excess weight or prevent getting tangled up with an in-line mic. If you have trouble with earbud fit, consider features such as ear hooks and multiple earbud sizes that can help you create a customized, secure feel. For over- and on-ear designs, look at the measurements of the cups, the weight, and headband adjustability to determine if you’ll be able to find a close, wobble-free fit.

What to Look For in a Pair of Workout Headphones

Durability

Workout headphones should be able to handle a little bit of sweat and wear and tear. If you exercise hard or you’re tough on your gear, consider looking for a rating closer to IPX7. Some manufacturers also list military durability ratings or specialized technology and materials that provide added protection for tough workouts.

Comfort

Even if you aren’t logging long workouts, make sure you find the right style and fit that helps you focus on the activity. Consider adjustability, weight, and how secure the in-ear, over-ear, or on-ear headphones fit. Look for in-ear designs with multiple tip sizes and maybe even a model with ear hooks if you prefer that feel.  

Price

Workout headphones can be costly, but if decent sound and a relatively durable build are your main priorities, it’s possible to find a pair of capable workout headphones for $50 or below. If you’re interested in special features such as upgraded audio quality, ANC, and an extra-rugged design, you may have to pay a bit more.

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