The 8 Best Workout Music Players of 2019

Exercise with these great workout music players

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best for Running: Sony Walkman NW-WS623

3.5

At first glance, the Sony Walkman NW-WS623 looks like a pair of wireless headphones. But with options for either 4GB or 16GB of internal storage, the NW-WS623 is a great standalone music player for runners who don’t want to worry about bringing along a separate MP3 player.

The NW-WS623 is waterproof and sweatproof, making it ideal for exercise. It can even withstand being submerged in salt water, so you can take it swimming or surfing in the ocean. With an ergonomic in-ear design, the NW-WS623 should stay securely on your head, even while running. The internal storage can hold hours of music, podcasts and audiobooks that you can play for up to 12 hours per charge. The device also has a quick-charge option where you can get up to 60 minutes of charge in three minutes.

Since you can upload audio files directly to the NW-WS623, you can use it without connecting your phone. That may be ideal for some runners, but if you prefer to take your phone with you during a workout, you can pair it to these headphones and stream music or even answer phone calls via Bluetooth.

Best Budget: SanDisk Clip Jam MP3 Player

4.2

Nothing makes a workout more fun than great music to get you going. For less than $30, you can pick up the popular SanDisk Clip Jam, a lightweight clip-on MP3 player that comes with 8 GB of storage. That equals up to 2,000 of your favorite songs or audiobooks so you’ll always have another motivating song available while you sweat.

With a built-in microSD card slot, you can add even more storage if you need it, and the long-lasting battery life gives you up to 18 hours of great sound (marathon training, anyone?). Better yet, the SanDisk Clip Jam player supports most popular audio formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and Audible files so you don’t have to deal with converting your favorite songs. It even has an FM radio tuner so you can pick up local news and sports coverage. With an easy-to-read screen and large navigation buttons, it’s a snap to switch songs or even create custom playlists right on your device.

Take a peek at some of the other best budget MP3 players you can buy.

Best for Swimming: H2O Audio Stream Waterproof MP3 Player

3.8

With 10 hours of straight play time, 8GB of memory (2,000 songs-worth), and an IPX8 waterproof rating (the highest you can get), this ergonomic MP3 player is an ideal fit for all types of swimmers. The device supports a variety of files, including MP3s, WMAs, FLACs, and more. You can also pair the player with your smartphone—be it an iPhone, Samsung, Android, etc.—to connect wirelessly to your Spotify and Pandora accounts. 

Lap swimmers will appreciate the H2O Audio Stream Waterproof MP3 Player's superior underwater performance. With a 360 snap-clip, the player easily connects to goggles, shorts, and swimsuit straps. 

Best Advanced Features: Apple Watch Series 4

The reigning king of the wearable space, the new Apple Watch Series 4 is tough to beat. With a new design and upgraded health features, the Watch is perfect for listening to music and keeping track of your personal fitness. Use Wi-Fi or a data plan to stream music from your favorite services or download music directly onto the device for offline listening. Apple includes 2GB of storage directly on the watch, which should be room enough to hold a few favorite workout playlists. Listen through Bluetooth headphones or over the Watch’s built-speaker. The controls (play, pause, next song) are always right at hand on the watch display.

The Series 4 Apple Watch also includes a bevy of state-of-the-art fitness options, like a dedicated Workout App, water resistance up to 50 meters, and built-in electrical and optical heart sensors. The app lets you set goals, measure burned calories, and track your progress over time. It even keeps you motivated by urging you to meet daily fitness quotas. But the most advanced new features are the new heart rate and fall notifications. These features will warn you if you have sudden or unexplained changes in your heart rate and can send out an SOS if the Watch’s built-in gyroscope detects that you’ve fallen. The new Apple watch not only helps you stay in shape — it can also help keep you safe.

Most Compact Player: AGPTEK E02

The charming AGPTEK E02 comes with 8GB of memory, weighs .67 ounces and measures 2.75 x 1.02 x .63 inches – roughly the size of a pack of gum.

With a clip on its back made for active exercisers, the AGPTEK features an FM Radio, voice recorder and up to 10 hours of MP3 audio playback. The tiny MP3 player has one button that acclimates to the user’s thumb, making it easy to navigate through songs, as well as pause and play. The E02 supports up to 32GB of memory with its Micro SD card and plays MP3 and WMA file formats. It comes with a one-year warranty.

Best 2-in-1: TomTom Spark Cardio

If you're looking to leave your smartphone behind while you hit the trails but still want a compact music player that also does double duty as a smartwatch and fitness tracker, your best bet is the TomTom Spark Cardio device. Capable of storing 500 songs (56 hours of listening), the TomTom Spark Cardio is worn around your wrist and comes with cordless Bluetooth headphones, so you don't have to worry about wires inhibiting your stride.

Even better, the built in fitness tracker function allows you to monitor your progress 24/7. At the touch of a button, you can see how many minutes you've been active, steps you've taken, calories you've burned, as well as measure your heart rate, thanks to the smartwatch's eight different modes. For example, enter cycling mode and you'll be able to see the duration, distance, speed and pace for your entire ride, while the swimming mode will tell you your stroke rate and number of laps. And to help you stay on track of your progress and goals, the device syncs with the following apps: NikePlus, Runkeeper, UP by Jawbone, Strava, MapMyFitness and Endomondo.

Best Splurge: iRULU H10 HiFi Lossless MP3 Player

Boasting powerful specs in a small package, the iRULU H10 is perfect for audiophiles and workout-junkies alike. Less than three ounces and 0.6-inches thick, this device comes with 16GB storage, but supports up to 256GB of expandable memory and delivers 10 hours of playback. It’s fitted with Bluetooth 4.0 and transmits a strong wireless signal through earbuds, speakers, or even your car’s stereo.

Of course, the iRULU’s true selling point is its sound quality. True to its name, this device plays HiFi lossless audio, maintaining the integrity of the music’s original recording, thereby enhancing the overall listening experience. With a frequency response of 20Hz-20KHz and a dynamic range of 98db, the iRULU captures each note with pitch-perfect clarity. Additionally, the device supports every major audio format under the sun, including MP3, WAV, DSD, WMA, APE, and FLAC.

The iRULU H10 is marketed towards athletes due to its lightweight, portable build, but any music-lover would appreciate this as a gift. The combination of its compact design and sophisticated hardware is hard to beat, especially when you consider the reasonable price point. The iRULU is a steal compared to other lossless audio players, which can easily cost at upwards of $200.

Best Accessory: Tribe AB37 Premium Water Resistant Sports Armband

Tribe AB37 Premium Water Resistant Sports Armband
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Can't fathom leaving your smartphone at home during a workout? Then the Tribe AB37 Premium Water Resistant Sports Armband is the essential accessory product. It's made of neoprene, comes with a free screen protector and the velcro fit strap will fit any arm up to 16 inches in circumference. The armband also has a reflective strip (which is great for outdoor fitness activities when there's low lighting), as well as a built-in hidden key holder. It's compatible with the iPhone 6, 6S, 5, 5S, 5C, all iPods and the Galaxy S3/S4.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought three top-rated workout music players that our reviewers tested for 42 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these music players, from their size to their special features. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Workout Music Player

Type of Exercise - Are you a runner? Or maybe a swimmer? Or do you change up the type of exercise you do depending on the weather or the mood you’re in? Different players cater to different types of workouts. Those who work out in the outdoors or swim regularly may want to look at waterproof players. And runners will want something as light and compact as possible so it won’t weigh them down.

Connection - The whole point of buying a separate workout music player is that you probably don’t want to carry your phone with you. You’ll want to make sure, then, that whichever one you pick attaches in a comfortable and secure way. Some use a watch, while others clip to your clothes. Or if you do prefer to have your phone with you, then an armband holster might be a good purchase.

Size - When it comes to workout music players, size matters. You want something that is small enough to be discreet and to tuck in a pocket, but large enough to where it isn’t cumbersome to use buttons or skip a song (or alternatively, has a headphone cord that allows you to control playback). Players often increase in price as they decrease in size, so you may need to figure out what kind of balance you want to strike between the two.

Test Results: Sony Walkman NW-WS623 (Best for Running)

3.5

What We Like

  • Great battery life

  • Durable

  • Convenient extra features

What We Don't Like

  • Rigid earpieces

  • Pricey

Our testers were impressed by the sleek design, sturdiness, battery life, and functional features of the Sony Walkman NW-WS623. In particular, one of our reviewers noted its “durability and ability to go through extreme conditions.” One of our testers was also impressed with the extra features (like the ambient sound mode) “that few others offer all in one package.” The negatives? “The way they fit and feel will not be for everyone,” revealed one of our reviewers about the earpieces. And while one of our testers noted that you’re getting an extremely “comprehensive device,” he also remarked that this product is much more expensive than many of its competitors.

Test Results: SanDisk 8G Clip Jam (Best Budget)

4.2

What We Like

  • Lightweight

  • Good battery life

  • Great price

What We Don't Like

  • Not very durable

  • Clip doesn’t keep device still

“The Clip Jam is definitely worth a purchase thanks to its cheap price, great battery life, and large potential storage capacity,” declared one of our testers. Our reviewers also liked the compact, lightweight design. On the other hand, one of our testers cautioned that with the great budget price comes a “cheap feel.” One of our reviewers also wished for a better clip to keep the device from moving.

Test Results: H2O Audio Stream Waterproof MP3 Player (Best Swimming)

3.8

What We Like

  • Lightweight

  • Convenient 360-degree clip

  • Strong bass

What We Don't Like

  • Low volume

  • Expensive

This player came highly recommended by our testers for its lightweight design, super functional clip, and great bass sound. In terms of negatives, our reviewers found it expensive, and one of our testers wished for “independent volume control buttons instead of having multi-function buttons on the face.” Overall? “If you have the money [this product] is worth the purchase, as it’s a durable, versatile device built to do exactly what it advertises,” stated one of our reviewers.