What Are The Best Headphones For Working Out?

Top Workout Earphones For 2016

Over the years since I started getting into fitness and running, I have probably used and abused dozens of different types of headphones which has helped me to build up a fairly unique insight into what makes a decent pair of headphones hardy enough to stand up to the punishment of workouts!

I think it was around the time that my fifth pair of ear cans bit the dust that I realized that just any old set of phones may not be the best for working out. At the time I had gone from earbuds to over the ear headphones and back again, only to discover that there is no right or wrong type of headphone, but the same could not be said for each individual set. It was at this moment, I decided that the next pair of headphones I buy will be tailored specifically for the time I use them the most…when working out.

jogging with headphones

Back in the day, I mostly wore my headphones at work, but then my role at the company changed and it wasn’t possible to listen to my favorite tunes whilst performing this new job, so the only time my ear cans came out of the drawer was on my daily trips to the gym. We all want to give ourselves a small amount of distraction while working out and I find that doing my exercising in the gym while listening to music is one of the best ways to make the time go just that little bit faster. I especially like the fact that I can use the beat of the music to help pace myself on the machines.

SO..What have I learned?

The first thing you have to understand is that there’s an alarmingly diverse range of headphones these days. So you must asses a few personal preferences with regards to the type of phones you use. Do you prefer earbuds or cans? Some people just can’t seem to get earbuds to fit or stay in, despite them coming with numerous silicone end pieces that are supposed to fit just about any ear. Others, no matter how light the flex in over the ear headphones,  feel like over the ear headphones press too tightly against their head. To be fair, some are worse than others. I once owned a pair of grado’s  made shortly after they moved their manufacturing to china that pressed so tightly, it felt like I had my head in a vice!

There are many other things to consider. For example, the gym is typically a noisy place. If you are someone that’s put off by excess background noise, you might want to choose a model that cancels out that background noise.

With some of the latest bluetooth tech, we can now (finally) buy cordless headphones. Which, sound ideal for use in the gym…as long as they stay in your ear! But typically with bluetooth headphones, the sound quality does suffer somewhat which may not be to everyone’s taste.

Because of these reasons and more, I broke my top recommendations down by five different types and choose my favorite in each of these categories.The quick links section below can give you some help in finding my favorite in each category:

My Top Choice overall – Bose SoundSport In-ear

Bose SoundSport in-ear


  • Bose TriPort technology gives you crystal clear highs and booming lows for superior sound.
  • Comes with three different sized ear pieces giving you the perfect fit.
  • Silicone tips, so you can work out as much as you want with these with no worrying about sweat problems.
  • Built in mic for handling calls from either your iPhone or Android device.
  • Comes with carrying case.
  • Available in a number of different colors.
  • Perfect for running or at the gym.


  To see current prices and user reviews:

Click here for Iphone and Apple products version

Click here for Android version

Click here to read our review


Over Ear – Philips ActionFit SHQ5200

For people that want headphones that are a bit more traditional or may not find earbuds to be comfortable, over ear headphones will probably suit you better. However, with over ear phones, if you don’t do your research, you can easily choose the wrong ones that don’t work well when you are doing any kind of working out.

Beyond the overall sound, which is extremely important in itself, there are two main things that I look for in a good set of over the ear headphones if I am needing them for the gym or other sports. I check the ear pieces and the headband. If just one of these is sub standard, I look elsewhere. Why? Bad earpieces = sweat! Those spongy ear pads can get pretty gross! Some just seem to soak up the sweat, which over time can build up an odor you just can’t shake. The excess sweat can also decay the fabric, making them fall apart. However, if you choose the right type, covered in a fairly thick plastic that is somewhat water resistant this is not an issue.  I look to make sure the stitching is fairly thick also, as this can become frayed and again can cause the earpiece to fall apart.

The headband should be considered because you want something that fits well and is designed to stay in place even during the most vigorous of workouts. At the same time, you do not want them to press against your head too tightly, as with prolonged use – this can cause headaches, especially when exercising as dehydration is also attempting to give you some mind numbing brain pain and we don’t want to give it a hand now do we?

Let’s take a look at my choice in this category:

Philips ActionFit SHQ5200


  • Moisture wicking ear pieces that work effectively to disperse the sweat
  • Ear pieces are not only comfortable but stay in place while working out.
  • Open acoustic platform allows you to listen to your music while still maintaining good attention to your surroundings.
  • Non slip headband keeps everything in place and not so tight as to squash your head
  • Sound awesome!


To see current prices and user reviews:

Click here for current price

Click here to read our review



In Ear – Sennheiser CX 685 Adidas Sports

In my opinion, in ear or earbuds are probably the most comfortable of the bunch, however, it really depends on the size of your external auditory canal (your ear hole!). Some people can find earbuds to be uncomfortable, or just impossible to stay put. I’ve never had an issue with either of these problems, so they tend to be my personal preference. I also like the fact that they are very compact and you can easily roll them up and shove them in your pocket, therefore taking up less space than over the ear phones.

If you happen to wear glasses, earbuds are a great option as they won’t get in the way. As an occaisonal glasses wearer myself, I used to hate the  way over the ear headphones would clamp down on the arms of the glasses, digging them into my head.

Stylistically they can look more appealing too. Some over the ear headphones can look gargantuan on your head , which if you are blessed with a smallish head like myself, can make you look a little silly!

My Pick in this category are the sennheiser CX 685’s in the Addidas Sports range. These are designed with playing sport in mind and in my opinion they’ve hit the nail on the head. Making sure the ear pieces fit properly, is of high importance, so Sennheiser have included different sized ear plugs and a slide-to-fit feature that makes sure that these will fit anyone perfectly.

My choice for sports earbuds:

Sennheiser CX 685 Adidas Sports


  • Will not fall out while working out no matter how hard you are working!
  • Reinforced cables for extra durability.
  • Designed specifically with sports in mind.
  • Acoustically closed design making for excellent sound.
  • Come with a two year warranty.


 To see current prices and user reviews:

Click here for current price

Click here to read our review


Noise Cancelling – Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic

Do you work out in a loud gym? I find that many gyms pipe their own music way too loudly throughout the room. If it also has TV’s blaring and people talking too loudly, it can become extremely distracting. When I workout, I like to be able to zone out to my own music. I find it helps to pass the time quicker and if there is too much background noise, it can inhibit my ability to get into ‘the zone’. Sometimes simply turning the volume up on your music player isn’t enough. Or maybe you just don’t want your music to be that loud.

Welcome to the world of noise cancelling headphones. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of how this wonderful tech works, I’ll let audio technica do that. Suffice to say, it really works at cutting down the background noise, without the need to turn your music up to unhealthy levels.

The great thing about buying noise cancelling headphones for working out is that there are a number of situations that this type of earphone can help. From using on air planes to working with loud machinery like the lawnmower, there’s a multitude of tasks that can be more pleasurable if you were able to cut out the background noise.

Here is my choice:

Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic


  • Comes in versions for either Apple or Android.
  • Only hear your music thanks to the noise cancelling feature that blocks out everything else.
  • TriPort technology and Active EQ bring out the best in your music.
  • Comfortable and durable ear pieces.
  • Aware mode that allows you to check on your surroundings quickly and easily.


To see current prices and user reviews:

Click here for Iphone and Apple products version

Click here for Android version

Click here to read our review


Behind The Neck – Sennheiser PMX 686i

Now, I have to be honest and say that the behind the neck type aren’t really my thing but I still wanted to cover them some people do actually prefer them. I can certainly understand the reason for their design and whole hardheartedly agree that they are superbly well designed for working out, especially jogging. I tend to mostly use the weights at the gym – and found that behind the neck headphones got in the way a bit when doing bench presses.

It is important to note though that these can be some of the most secure haedphones you can find which makes them especially well suited to all the bouncing up and down that comes with jogging!

My choice:

Sennheiser PMX 686i


  • Available in both Android and iPhone models (for integrated mic operations).
  • Fits securely and comfortably making sure they stay in place during your hardest workouts.
  • SteriTouch (anti-bacterial) ear pieces.
  • Interesting shaped cable design reducing tangles.
  • 2 year warranty.


To see current prices and user reviews:

Click here for Iphone and Apple products version

Click here for Android version

Click here to read our review



Cordless Bluetooth headphones – Jaybird X2 Sport Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

A new concept to the workout headphone market, we now have wireless headphones that are actually good enough to be discussed here. For such a long time, the best wireless headphones one could find were worse than useless. Forever cutting in and out, if you moved your head even slightly you would have to repair them to your phone! That’s all before we even get onto the sound quality which was always tinny and quiet. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be much of an audiophile, the sound was terrible. That has all changed now and this pair of wireless headphones from Jaybird stood out above the rest, even from highly anticipated Bose soundsport wireless phones, which were a bit of a disappointment. The X2’s sound quality is comparable to high end wired ear bud headphones and that is crazy when you think how poor bluetooth headphones were not so long ago. The battery charge lasts 4 hours (+ another 4 via it’s mini charging pack) which is perfectly adequate for even the longest of workouts.

Jaybird x2 bluetooth headphones



  • Simply the best quality sound you can find on a pair of bluetooth, wireless headphones. Comparable to high end wired phones
  • Signal plus guarantees the bluetooth connection never drops out allowing for skip free music
  • 8 hour battery life (with the aid of the mini power pack that comes with them)
  • Secure fit technology ensures the earbuds stay in your ear, even during the most intense workouts
  • Come with their own App that provides full control and sync of the headphones, whilst also giving detailed info like battery life
  • Sweatproof and waterproof design

To see current prices and user reviews:

Click here for current price

Click here to read our review


What makes a great pair of workout headphones?

Comfortable – Never underestimate comfort. When you are working out, the last thing you want to worry about is your earphones being irritating and uncomfortable.

Won’t cause ear sweat – Yes, there actually is ear sweat (gross!) and who wants that! Even head sets need to breathe!

Can handle moisture – Back to the ear sweat!

Sound good – Well, this is a no brainer but I feel I need to mention it. Possibly the most important aspect really. You need quality sound. Good bass response and large frequency response range

Affordable – The key here is to get the most bang for your buck while still maintaining quality.

Easily adjustable – With all the bouncing around that comes with working out, you do not want to be fighting with headphones not staying where they’re supposed to

Noise cancelling – As mentioned above, Gyms can be incredibly loud and obnoxious for several reasons. Noise Cancelling will dampen this intrusive background noise to just a whimper.

Compatible with anything – Macs, iPhone, Ipod, Android devices and more. Whatever you take to the gym.


What were the main aspects I considered when choosing my headphone recommendations?

Price – Now I didn’t necessarily go with cheapest, but I did look to get the most bang for your buck.

Sound quality – Why buy something that just doesn’t sound good?

Build quality – This goes along with best bang for your buck. I wanted to make sure that I choose well made products.

Brand name – Now I generally don’t care too much about getting the top brands but I tend to at least make sure that it is a well established brand that has a reputation for building quality headphones and not some overpriced fashion accessory *cough*BEATS*cough*

User reviews – On Amazon and other review sites.

Versatility – Can they be used in other applications like yard work or just relaxing?


Where are these headphones located?

We are recommending buying them off Amazon. Not only do they provide the best prices available, but as their containment and shipping are second to none, thus reducing the wait time.

Just click the ‘more information’ links for any of the above products and it will take you to the amazon page where you can get the latest price, read detailed reviews and find out more information to help you make a decision.


What sports do my recommended headphones work best with?

To be quite honest, any of them! Well, let me be slightly more detailed – any individual sport. I can’t see anyone wanting to listen to music while playing a team sport like Basketball or Hockey! But for things like Running, Weight Lifting, Aerobics or any other individual sport or physical activity, they are all well suited.

More favorites from some of the top brands


Sennheiser are best known for their extremely well made headphones. They are Germans after all – so what did you expect! They’re headphones have won numerous awards over the years and one of the first brands I look at when it comes time to invest in a new pair of ear cans.

MX685 Adidas Sports In-Ear



In the sport headphone category, Philips have quite a nice variety of options to check out. In my experience, Amazon is probably one of the best place to buy Philips products. Typically their prices can’t be matched, and they are always well stocked, meaning your item ships out fast. This particular pair of headphones are fantastic value for money for such a cheap pair of headphones.

SHQ1200/28 ActionFit Sports In-Ear



The Japanese, like the germans, are always known for building quality products. Sony make a wide range of electronic gizmos, but the one thing that remains consistent is that they’re all well built. Their extensive range of headphones are no different.

XBA-S65 – Balanced Armature