The 9 Best Workout Headphones of 2021

Check out the best headphones for running, swimming, weightlifting, and more

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It may not seem like it, but the best workout headphones are designed for active, sometimes intense activities and offer multiple layers of protection, including from sweat and rain. While you could always wear any old pair of headphones or earbuds, you would also be contending with various aspects that might make the experience frustrating.

Wired headphones, for instance, may get tangled and limit your movements. The electronics may also wear faster being in the sun or after being exposed to sweat, whereas more durable options are made to withstand the elements. The best workout headphones are also designed to stay put while you’re moving around and come with other essential features such as exceptional sound quality, noise isolation, transparency modes, and reliable battery life.

There are different styles of workout headphones, from truly wireless earbuds to those with wrap-around fins or over-ear hooks. The latter are ideal for high-intensity workouts where you need the headphones to remain secure. Whatever the case, there are plenty of options, which means you should be able to find something perfect for you.

Knowing this, and having some first-hand experience, we researched some of the best workout headphones that are available to help you find a pair that meets your needs.

The Rundown
They’re compact, offering a low-profile design that rests nicely inside the ear canal.
Best Mid-Grade Earbuds:
Anker Soundcore Spirit X2 at Amazon
Each headphone has a hook, which slides around the back of your ear and keeps them secured, even during intense workouts.
Best Wireless with Ear Hooks:
Beats Powerbeats Pro at Amazon
With a focus on both style and function, the Beats Powerbeats Pro work as great as they look.
Once they’re in, they stay, and the sound is something to behold.
They come bundled with a storage pouch, which doubles as a laundry bag when you’re ready to wash the cushions.
They offer incredible battery life, with up to 18 hours of playback on a single charge.
Best for Apple:
Apple AirPods Pro at Amazon
They have ANC on board, along with a transparency mode that allows you to hear what’s happening around you.
Best Lightweight:
Beats Studio Buds at Amazon
Like most Beats headphones, they deliver a custom acoustic sound that’s balanced and sounds wonderful.
They’re specifically designed with Android users in mind, and sync up with Google Assistant.

Best Overall: Jabra Elite Active 75t Wireless Earbuds

Jabra Elite Active 75t Wireless Earbuds
What We Like
  • Extended battery life

  • IP57 resistance rating

  • Excellent call and audio quality

  • ANC with HearThrough support

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for large ears

  • Expensive

For anyone active, the Jabra Elite Active 75t will offer the most bang for your buck. They’re compact, offering a low-profile design that rests nicely inside the ear canal. Because they fit snugly, they’re great for all kinds of activities from running to weightlifting and beyond.

They feature an IP57 resistance rating, which means they’re protected from sweat, rain, and other particles, such as dirt. They’re tough, and can handle just about anything before showing normal wear.

Most important, of course, is the audio quality when listening, which is excellent. You also get great quality when you’re fielding calls, and the built-in quad mic system sounds great and not distant or tinny. Our reviewer praised the microphone quality.

They offer about 5.5 hours of use on a single charge, with ANC on. If ANC is disabled, they’ll last for about 7.5 hours, plus you can get 18.5 hours to 20.5 hours thanks to the wireless charging case (which is included). As a bonus, you can use the Jabra MySound mobile companion app to change equalizer settings and optimize the sound.

Type: In-ear | Connection type: Wireless Bluetooth | 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 Mid-Grade Earbuds: Anker Soundcore Spirit X2

Anker Soundcore Spirit X2
What We Like
  • Price

  • IP68 resistance rating

  • Awesome battery life

  • Ear wings for a secure fit

What We Don't Like
  • Sub-par noise cancellation

  • No style options

What’s ideal about the Anker Soundcore Spirit X2 headphones, besides the secure design, is the price. It’s more than reasonable, and you get a lot of features, including cVc 8.0 noise cancellation during calls.

Each headphone has an “ear wing” or hook, which slides around the back of your ear and keeps them secured, even during intense workouts. They have an IP68 dust and water-resistance rating so they’re safe from sweat, rain, and extra moisture.

They offer continuous playback for up to 9 hours on a single charge, which can be extended to 36 hours total with the wireless charging case. Plus, a quick 10-minute charge offers an additional 2 hours of listening time in a pinch.

They do support aptX for high-quality audio with punchy bass and clear treble—Anker’s BassTurbo adds that extra oomph. They come with a plethora of tips, wings, and hooks so you can find the perfect size for your ears. It’s a solid choice, especially if you’re on a budget.

Type: In-ear with hooks | Connection type: Wireless Bluetooth | ANC: Only during calls | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IP68)

For the price, the features are impressive, and the EarWing’s help ensure they stay secure even during some of the craziest workouts.” — Briley Kenney, Tech Writer

Best Wireless with Ear Hooks: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Powerbeats pro
What We Like
  • Exceptional sound

  • Ear hooks are secure

  • Flexible fit

  • Extended battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Lower IPX2 rating

With a focus on both style and function, the Beats Powerbeats Pro work as great as they look. They come in several vibrant colors, so you can choose your favorite. Of course, the exterior hook wraps around the back of your ear and keeps them more snug than true wireless earbuds, so they’re perfect for intense workouts.

A lower IPX2 rating is somewhat disappointing, but they’re protected from sweat and rain, so it’s acceptable. You won’t want these things around water or big splash zones, however.

The hook can be adjusted on the fly to achieve a more personalized fit. You can set them as snug, or as loose, as you want. Our reviewer praised the speedy performance thanks to the Apple H1 headphone chip inside, with exceptional sound quality the Beats brand is known for. They also offer up to 9 hours of playback on a single charge, which stretches to 24 hours with the wireless charging case.

Type: In-ear with hooks | Connection type: Wireless Bluetooth | 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 Fit: Bose Sport Earbuds

What We Like
  • Breathable yet snug fit

  • Comfortable ear tips

  • Excellent sound quality

  • IPX4 resistance rating

What We Don't Like
  • No ANC

  • Limited battery life

When you hear the name Bose, you expect above-average sound quality, and that’s exactly what you get with the Bose Sport Earbuds. Although they don’t have ANC, they still do well at blocking ambient noise thanks to their snug fit. The fitness-oriented soft silicone StayHear Max Tips are largely responsible for that tight, comfortable fit. Once they’re in, they stay, and the sound is something to behold.

The Sport Earbuds use touchpad controls, which can be a hit or miss. Battery life is also low compared to most models, with 5 hours per charge and over 10 hours with the wireless case.

Our reviewer was able to mete out a bit longer from the headphones, with 6 to 7 hours from the earbuds, and 10 hours or so with the case. They have an IPX4 resistant rating which will protect them from sweat, rain, and moisture. That said, you don’t want to take these buds for a swim.

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

“Unless you really want ANC, you won’t notice much missing thanks to the exceptional sound design and snug eartips in these Bose headphones.” — Briley Kenney, Tech Writer

Best On-Ear: JLab Flex Sport Headphones

What We Like
  • Lightweight, comfortable design

  • Great battery life

  • Premium sound quality

  • Bluetooth 5.0

What We Don't Like
  • No ANC

  • Limited styles

Maybe you don’t like earbuds. That’s OK, because the JLab Flex Sport and similar on-ear headphones are probably a better match. They’re lightweight and offer a comfortable fit, but the adjustable headband ensures they stay in place during a run or workout.

They include an earpad and headband cushion which is, thankfully, machine-washable and easy to clean. The IP44 rating means the electronics are protected from sweat, rain, and other moisture. They even come bundled with a storage pouch, which doubles as a laundry bag when you’re ready to wash the cushions.

You’ll get up to 20 hours of battery life per charge, which is awesome, and the Bluetooth 5.0 onboard ensures low-power connections stay active up to 30 feet away. Universal controls allow you to change volume, skip tracks, and take calls.

An integrated “Be Aware” mode ensures that you can still safely hear ambient noise while you’re running or working out. Built-in equalizer settings can be used to adjust the sound quality and find an optimized setup.

Type: On-ear | Connection type: Wireless Bluetooth | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: Yes (IP44)

“There’s a lot to like here for a great price. If you want an alternative to earbuds, definitely check out JLab’s Flex Sport headphones.” — Briley Kenney, Tech Writer

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

Plantronics Backbeat FIT 500
What We Like
  • Extended battery life

  • Comfortable floating design

  • Tough build

  • Great style options

What We Don't Like
  • Low IPX2 resistance rating

  • No ANC

Thanks to a unique floating and lightweight design, the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 Sport headphones are neither on-ear or over-ear, but somewhere in the middle. They offer incredible battery life—with up to 18 hours of playback on a single charge—and above-average durability with an acceptable resistance rating.

IPX2 protects from sweat and rain, but the P2i nano-coating stretches this protection just a bit further. Onboard controls, on the outside of the earcup, allow you to answer calls or interact with media. What’s more, they come in a few styles, though some stores may carry only one or two. The memory foam earcups are soft, comfortable, and breathable.

The sound quality is good, and the call quality is decent, as is your voice through the built-in mic. 40-millimeter drivers ensure the bass is extra punchy and the treble is clear and rich, with an acoustic tone.

The wideband mic also supports voice assistants like Siri, Google, and Cortana. Finally, you can automatically connect to up to two devices at a time, or pair up with a total of eight devices all together.

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

“With the BackBeat FIT 500, Plantronics’ offers yet another solid on-ear headphones option for those not interested in earbuds.” — Briley Kenney, Tech Writer

Best for Apple: Apple AirPods Pro

What We Like
  • Attractive and sleek design

  • ANC and transparency mode

  • IPX4 resistance rating

  • Adaptive equalizer

What We Don't Like
  • Low earbud battery life

  • Expensive

No, the AirPods Pro are not advertised or hailed as “sport” earbuds, but they work well for a variety of activities, including running. They’re lightweight, fit well inside the ear, and the IPX4 resistance rating means they’re protected from sweat, rain, and moisture.

Not only is the noise-isolating design good, but they have ANC on board, along with a transparency mode that allows you to hear what’s happening around you. Plus, they pair quickly and seamlessly with Apple devices, which is always a plus if you’re an established Apple owner.

The biggest downside, of course, is that they offer only about 4.5 to 5 hours of battery life with the earbuds alone, but you can stretch that out to 24 hours with the wireless charging case.

The adaptive equalizer is awesome at tuning music tones and volumes to the shape of your ear, and there are three silicone tip sizes to choose from. Quick access to Siri is a bonus, and it’s super useful to ask for her help when you’re on a run and need to keep your hands-free.

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

Best Lightweight: Beats Studio Buds

What We Like
  • Excellent for Apple and Android users

  • IPX4 resistance rating

  • ANC with transparency mode

  • Great battery life

What We Don't Like
  • No Apple H1 or W1 chip

  • Finicky on-device controls

If you like the Beats PowerBeats Pro, but don’t want the ear wings, the Beats Studio Buds are your next best option. They’re true wireless in-ear buds with ANC and transparency modes on board.

They offer up to 8 hours of continuous playback with just the buds, and up to 24 hours with the wireless charging case. A quick 5-minute charge will give you up to 1 hour of playback, which is perfect when you’re out and about.

Like most Beats headphones, they deliver a custom acoustic sound that’s balanced and sounds wonderful. Class 1 Bluetooth ensures they connect quickly and stay connected, with high-quality call performance thanks to the built-in microphones.

You can also access voice assistants through Android or iOS. Moreover, they come in a few different styles, including a bright red.

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

 “The new kid on the block, Beats Studio Buds are a great option for Android and iOS users, even if they don’t have Apple-specific chips.” — Briley Kenney, Tech Writer

Best for Android: Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Google Pixel Buds A Series
What We Like
  • Stylish design

  • Decent battery life

  • Built-in stabilizer arc

  • Custom 12mm drivers

What We Don't Like
  • No ANC

  • Not a huge upgrade

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series are kind of a weird addition to the Pixel earbuds lineup. They’re not a significant upgrade over the previous Buds 2, and they’ve actually eliminated a few features of the previous model. That’s because the A means affordability, and they are available at a great price.

The IPX4 resistance rating ensures they’re protected from sweat and rain. They also come with built-in “stabilizer arcs,” which is a fancy way of saying they have small fins. The arcs help the earbuds stay snug in your ears, especially when you’re running or working out—which also makes them a great addition to our list.

They’re specifically designed with Android users in mind, and sync up with Google Assistant, as well. However, they get along fine with iOS devices. Adaptive sound adjusts audio volume as you move between environments, turning it up when you’re in a noisy place.

Noise reduction ensures that when you take calls, the other person can hear you clearly. For battery life, you get 5 hours from the earbuds and up to 24 hours with the wireless charging case.

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

“Even if they drop a few high-profile features, Android users still get a great match for their ecosystem in Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series.” — Briley Kenney, Tech Writer

Final Verdict

You have a few options here depending on what you’re looking for, but our best overall pick is the Jabra Elite Active 75t wireless earbuds (view at Amazon). They’re not too expensive, but come packed to the tips with great features. They’re well protected from the elements and sweat, too.

Of course, the best option for Apple users is the AirPods Pro (view at Amazon). And the best for both Android and Apple users, with a lightweight design, are the Beats Studio Buds (view at Amazon).

About Our Trusted Experts

Briley Kenney lives in the always-exciting state of Florida where he works as a freelance copywriter and technology enthusiast. He regularly uses headphones to workout, do yard work, and listen to music just about everywhere.

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 resistance rating?

When it comes to a resistance rating, the letter “X” denotes a non-rating, meaning there’s either a null value or a 0 rating. IP stands for Ingress Protection, while the numbers following represent first the solid object rating, and then the water rating. So, an IPX8 rating means that the device is protected from moisture, but not solids like dust or dirt. Numbers in both slots mean the device has both solid and water protection. What’s more, the higher the numeric value the better the protection.

Are sweat-proof and waterproof headphones the same?

In most cases, sweat-proof and waterproof headphones are described as the same thing in product listings, but the truth is they are not. Some listings reference water resistance, as opposed to waterproofing, to avoid confusion, while others use the more popular term. 

The best way to tell the resistance level of a piece of equipment or device is to look at the Ingress Protection rating. Ratings of IPX4 and IPX5 can withstand some moisture contact, like sweat or rain, but they are not protected from water immersion or pressurized jets. If you want to be able to submerge your devices, or use them while swimming, the protection rating must be IPX7 or higher. 

How do you prevent headphones from slipping during a workout?

The best way to prevent headphones from slipping is to choose a pair that fits snugly inside your ear. Depending on the intensity of the workout you may want to look for additional support, like ear wings or hooks. If you find your ears are too big or the silicone ear tips just do not fit, you might also consider choosing a pair of on-ear or over-ear headphones instead of earbuds.

Jabra Elite 75t

Lifewire / Jason Schneider 

What to Look For in a Pair of Workout Headphones

Durability

It doesn’t matter whether you’re running, lifting weights, or biking, you’ll likely be sweating, and may even come into contact with rain. That means, the earbuds you choose need to be able to withstand moisture. They must also be durable enough to withstand a drop, especially if they fall out of your ears. Choosing devices with a higher Ingress Protection rating is always recommended.

Apple AirPods Pro

Lifewire / Jason Schneider

Price

Headphones can be expensive, and workout friendly headphones are no exception. Some of the well-known brands charge a lot for their earbuds, too. It’s always better to choose a budget or price range first, and then explore options in your wheelhouse.

Audio

While many workout headphones do not include ANC or active noise cancellation, they do have similar features, for both safety and convenience. Some, for example, offer cVc-driven noise reduction when you’re taking calls. Others might offer a transparency mode so you can hear what’s going on around you, helping you to avoid potential accidents. Consider what audio features you want in a pair of headphones before selecting some.

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