Working out while listening to music definitely helps to motivate you and pass the time quicker. Most find urban or dance music genres great to work out to, while others like a motivational audio-book or podcast. Whatever your audio preference is, you want to make sure you have the best workout headphones your money can buy.
In this article, we take a look at the best workout headphones with choices based on price, application, waterproof rating, and even a couple of unique products you may not have heard of.
Be sure to check out our buyer’s guide at the end of this article to help narrow down your choice of the best workout headphones for you. Most of the headphones options in this article are wireless which means you’re sure to find the best wireless workout headphones if that’s your preference.
Best Workout Headphones for your Ears
If you’re concerned about the potential damage headphones can cause, then the AfterShokz Trekz Air is a good alternative to the traditional headphone. Rather than sitting on or in the ear, the AfterShokz Trekz Air is a ‘bone conduction headphone’ which sits on the bone in front of the earlobe where audio is transferred through the bone rather than directly to the eardrum.
Not only does this completely eliminate any risk of damaging your hearing, but you also enjoy good spacial awareness which means you can hear what’s going on around you. This means if you’re running or cycling on a busy street, for example, you can still be aware of potential dangers like vehicles and other pedestrians.
The AfterShokz Trekz Air is also great for hiking and listening to audio in nature. Because you don’t completely block out the surrounding environment, you’re able to enjoy both listening to audio and the great outdoors at the same time.
Best Workout Headphones for Running
While the AfterShokz Trekz Air is great for running where you need to be aware of your surroundings, they might not be good if you want more isolation and bigger sound. The Plantronics BackBeat FIT, in this case, is perfectly suited for runners and even cyclists. The Plantronics BackBeat FIT is ultra-lightweight and comfortable with the headset staying in place. In fact, if not for the audio playing in your ears, after a few minutes you barely notice the Plantronics BackBeat FIT is even on your head.
Waterproof Ratings for Workout Headphones
Many workout headphones include some form of waterproofing. This is to limit any damage from sweat or moisture. If you are prone to sweating a lot or train in all weather conditions, including in the rain, then you must make sure your workout headphones have some sort of IP rating. For workout headphones, you only really need splashproof protection so, don’t let a higher waterproof rating influence your decision. Higher ratings come at a higher cost.
IP stands for Ingress Protection and is the international standard for waterproof ratings in electrical products and equipment. IP codes are formed of two digits. Here is a quick table which will help you read IP ratings for workout headphones or any electronics product you wish to purchase.
First IP Digit
Looking at the first digit, you want the highest protection with regards to waterproofing your products. American IP codes will display either the 5 or 6 for this while the international standard will display an X as the first digit is watertight and therefore irrelevant.
Second IP Digit
For the second digit, you want a rating of no less than 4 to protect effectively against any sweat. If you plan to use your workout headphones in the rain or other wet conditions, you want a rating of 5 or 6. Obviously, a 7 rating is going to offer the best protection while an 8 rating is only necessary for swimming headphones.
What are workout headphones?
As wireless technology has evolved, workout headphones have grown in popularity. There are so many choices with new features coming out all the time, it can be a little overwhelming. A typical workout headphone is earbud/in-ear style, wireless, features a short cable, and usually has some sort of waterproof rating to protect against sweat and moisture.
There are exceptions to these rules but, generally speaking, these are the features you’ll find in the majority of workout headphones. Ultimately, you’re looking for the best headphones for working out, which is why we’ve put together this article.
What is cVc Noise Cancellation Technology?
Throughout this article, you’ll come across cVc Noise Cancellation Technology. But what is cVc and what does it actually do? Unlike active noise-cancellation, cVc is better described as a noise isolating technology.
cVc is also great for headsets with a built-in microphone for hands-free calling. The technology works to limit the amount of environmental noise which the microphone tends to pick up around you. This improves the call quality making it easier for both you and the caller to converse without interruption from background noise.
|Headphone Type:||Bone conduction (off ear headphones)|
|Primary Build Material:||Silicone covered titanium|
|Color Options:||Red, green, blue, grey|
Bone conduction headphones are fast becoming popular for runners and cyclists, especially those working out in busy towns, cities or environments where they need to be aware of their surroundings. Unlike conventional headphones, bone conduction works by transmitting audio through your cheekbone as opposed to on or in your ears. There are positives and negatives to this technology which we’ll cover in this review of the AfterShokz Trekz Air wireless bone conduction headphones.
The AfterShokz Trekz Air is the updated version of the Trekz Titanium which was well received by runners and cyclists alike. The newer model is 20% lighter, upgraded to Bluetooth 4.2 with improvements in fit and audio quality.
The Trekz Air is a headset style headphone that sits on the cheekbone with a band going around the back of the neck connecting the left and right drivers. The fit is comfortable and stays in place without any issues no matter if you’re running, cycling, climbing, or hiking.
With no earbuds or headphones blocking your ears, you have ultimate situational awareness, as if you were not wearing any headphones at all. If you’re navigating your way through a busy city or want to enjoy the sounds of nature but still listen to some background music or a podcast, then using the Trekz Air allows you to do just that.
There is however a downside, the vastly different audio experience. At least, it could be a downside, just depends on what you want from a workout headphone. You have to accept the fact that because the headphones are not directly in your ears, the sound experience is completely different. For one, there is almost no bass. The audio is very clear but you don’t have a low-end response like regular headphones.
The experience is best described as background music in a coffee shop. It’s there and you can hear it clearly but it’s not in your ears like normal headphones. It’s more of a spatial listening experience. Which is essentially what AfterShokz has intended the experience to sound like.
Aside from the listening experience, the Trekz Air operate like a normal workout headphone. You have a multi-function button on the left ear which allows you to play/pause, skip tracks and manage incoming calls.
On the right side headband, you have a power/volume up button and volume down button. The power button is multi-function for muting, changing EQ settings, and checking the battery status. All settings incorporate voice prompts so you know exactly what’s being adjusted and what mode you’re in. A very useful feature that a lot of manufacturers leave out.
AfterShokz Trekz Air Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones Conclusion
Situational awareness for runners and cyclists is extremely important. Regular headphones just don’t offer this sort of safety. If you regularly compete in running or cycling races, you’ll know there are many events that ban the use of headphones for safety reasons.
A lot of these races allow you to use bone conduction headphones as they do not block the ears. So, from a safety point of view, the Trekz Air certainly makes sense.
Safety is not the only benefit the Trekz Air has to offer. Because the Trekz Air does not sit on or in your ear, there is no risk of damaging your hearing. Something a lot of people don’t consider when using headphones.
For regular workouts in the gym where you might prefer more isolation and thumbing bass to drive and motivate you, the Trekz Air might not be what you’re looking for. The Trekz Air is a very niche headphone, primarily for runners and cyclists.
At $150 the Trekz Air is quite a bit more than your regular workout headphone but the technology and build quality is a lot more advanced making them one of the best wireless headphones for working out.
|Noise Cancelling:||CVC 6.0 Noise Suppression Technology|
|Primary Build Material:||Plastic|
|Color Options:||black/grey; black/red|
One of the most popular workout headphones on Amazon is the SENSO ActivBuds S-250 Bluetooth Headphones with close on 30,000 reviews and a solid 4-star rating. The ActivBuds S-250 is available in a black with either a red or grey trim option.
At a mere 0.16oz, the ActivBuds S-250 was built to be lightweight so as not to interfere with your regular workout regime. The ActivBuds S-250 carries an IPX7 waterproof rating so you don’t have to worry about sweat or water damage.
The ActivBuds S-250 are fully wireless with the two earbuds connected via a short cable. The short cable sits neatly behind the neck so you’re free to continue your workout unimpeded by getting caught up in cables or tangles. Additionally, SENSO supplies you with a cable clip so you can wrap up any excess.
The ear tips fit deep inside the ear canal with silicone ear tips which fit over and behind the ears to keep the ActivBuds S-250 in place while you’re working out. No matter what sort of workout you’re doing, the ActivBuds S-250 do a great job of staying put without any movement or pulling on the ear.
On the right ear, you have the volume control and multi-function button. The multi-function button allows you to play/pause tracks and manage incoming calls by either answering, ending or rejecting.
The built-in microphone for hands-free calling works really well with good audio quality. This is in part due to the CVC 6.0 Noise Suppression Technology which helps cancel extraneous noise around you.
The ActivBuds S-250 features a built-in battery with 8-hour continuous battery life and standby time of 240 hours. This means you can work out 6 days a week (an hour a day) and use the ActivBuds S-250 as a hands-free kit in the car and only charge the headphones once a week. From flat, the ActivBuds S-250 will fully charge in under 1.5 hours.
The ActivBuds S-250 comes with a set of silicone ear tips in small, medium, and large so you’re bound to find a pair that fit. The ear tips are a generic fit so you can purchase other ear tip brands if you prefer memory foam, tree tips, or other ear tip types.
In addition, the ActivBuds S-250 also comes with a pouch and hard shell carry case which fits the headphones, charging cable and ear tips.
When it comes to sound quality, the ActivBuds S-250 sound great for a budget pair of in-ear headphones. There isn’t a lot of bass but enough to keep you going while working out. The overall clarity is decent with no issues listening to both music and dialogue-heavy content like podcasts or audiobooks.
SENSO ActivBuds S-250 Bluetooth Headphones Conclusion
The SENSO ActivBuds S-250 is an excellent workout headphone. These workout headphones are popular for a reason, they’re well priced, work as advertised, and sound good. If you are someone who’s always on the road meeting clients or traveling, the ActivBuds S-250 can also be used while traveling and as a hands-free device. At under $30, the ActivBuds S-250 is well priced and versatile which means you get a lot for the money you pay.
|Noise Cancelling:||Noise isolating|
|Primary Build Material:||Plastic|
|Color Options:||Black, purple, lime green, blue, red|
The Phaiser Tecton BHS-730 is a pair of Bluetooth workout headphones which come with a ton of extra accessories for every fit and training scenario. The Tecton BHS-730 is available in five trendy colors so you’re sure to find a pair to match your favorite workout attire.
These workout headphones come with an IPX6 waterproof rating which protects against sweat and splashes but not submersion. In addition, the Tecton BHS-730 employs a nano-coating which further protects the headphones from sweat and moisture.
The Tecton BHS-730 is a wireless headphone with a short cord connecting the two earbuds. The cable sits neatly behind the neck and out of the way of your limbs, clothing or training equipment. Phaiser also supplies you with cable management and collar clips to keep any excess cable completely out of the way.
The cable is a flat cord that prevents any knots or tangles forming. The Tecton BHS-730 also features an incline remote that can bounce around. The collar clips help keep the remote pinned to your clothing free from any annoyance.
The inline remote is conveniently located so you can easily reach and operate the 3-button control. All three buttons are multi-function allowing you to control an array of features on your Bluetooth device or smartphone. The volume up and down buttons also enable you to skip and seek tracks which the center button activates play/pause and call management features.
The Tecton BHS-730 is also compatible with Siri and Google with a double-tap to the play pause button activating voice prompts. The remote also houses the Tecton BHS-730 built-in microphone for hands-free calling and voice commands.
The Tecton BHS-730 comes with three styles and a total of seven pairs of ear tips. The first being the standard silicone ear tips in small, medium and large. These are also three pairs of wingtips in small medium and large. The wingtips are great for vigorous workouts as the wing prevents the ear tip from moving around keep them securely in place.
Lastly, you have a pair of medium-sized Comply T-400 memory foam tips. The memory foam tips offer the best noise isolation and great for traveling or activities where you want to block out as much of the surrounding environment as possible. All of the supplied ear tips are really comfortable making the Tecton BHS-730 great for working out, traveling, or general listening applications. The Tecton BHS-730 comes with a hard shell carry case to store and transport the headphones and all the accessories.
The Tecton BHS-730 perform surprisingly well when it comes to audio quality. There isn’t very much bass with the Tecton BHS-730 however, the mid-range and highs are upfront and clear. The Tecton BHS-730 is capable of producing some serious volume without distorting or breaking up. The built-in microphone works well with a decent call quality to hold a conversation.
The Tecton BHS-730 built-in battery lasts up to 8 hours of continuous play with a 250-hour standby time. From flat, the Tecton BHS-730 will fully recharge in under 2 hours.
Phaiser Tecton BHS-730 Bluetooth Headphones Conclusion
The Tecton BHS-730 is a versatile headphone for working out, traveling, or just general use. The audio quality is perfect for working out and general use. The included memory foam tips are great for travel as they block out a significant amount of the surrounding environment. The built-in microphone is great for making calls and using voice commands for Siri or Google. For a little over $35, you get the Tecton BHS-730 workout headphones and a tonne of extra accessories.
|Primary Build Material:||Plastic, silicone|
|Color Options:||Black, gray, green, pink, blue|
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT wireless sport headphones are possibly one of the lightest workout headphones on the market. The BackBeat FIT weight less than an ounce which is true to the phrase, “lighter than a feather”. The headphones are made of a silicone plastic with nano-coating with an IP57 waterproof rating. The lightweight design is really malleable so the headphones conform to the shape of your head nicely without any pressure or discomfort.
The BackBeat FIT is an in-ear headphone with an over-ear hook keeping the headphones securely in place. The headphones are a constructed of a single piece of silicone which connects to the two earbuds. This makes the headphones both durable and comfortable. With the headband being so lightweight, the piece behind the neck doesn’t move or bounce around while you work out. This is especially great for running where some headphones bounce around and tuck on your ears. With the BackBeat FIT, you barely notice they’re there.
The BackBeat FIT includes two buttons, one on each ear, which fits in with the design of the headphones. Both buttons offer multi-function controls which are pretty extensive.
These aren’t your regular one push buttons so you will need to consult the manual to get the hang of how the BackBeat FIT work. But, once you learn how to use the button system, you’ll find you can do a lot more than your regular workout headphones. The BackBeat FIT does include a built-in microphone for hands-free calling and the multi-function buttons allow you to control call management.
The BackBeat FIT also comes with its own app. Using the app you can change certain audio settings, change the language of the voice alerts (US English, UK English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese) and switch between your paired devices. The BackBeat FIT allows you to pair up to 8 Bluetooth devices which is more than anyone should ever need.
When it comes to sound quality, the BackBeat FIT perform really well. While the bass isn’t as good as an over-ear headphone the BackBeat FIT has a good low-end response for an in-ear. Mids and highs are clear with a really good overall sound quality. For a workout headphone, the sound is more than adequate with the headphones offering good isolation to hear the audio clearly.
The BackBeat FIT features a built-in battery with a life of up to 8 hours, depending on the features you are using. The headphones incorporate a fast charge technology with just a 15-minute charge will give you 1-hour of playing time. From completely flat, the BackBeat FIT will recharge in under 2 hours.
Additionally, the BackBeat FIT features a standby and sleep mode. In standby mode, the BackBeat FIT will last 14 days without charge while in sleep mode the headphones will stay charged for up to 180 days. That’s 6 months!
Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless Sport Headphones Conclusion
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT wireless sport headphones are, in my opinion, the dark horse of workout headphones. Not many people know about these and they’re heavily underrated. The BackBeat FIT is an excellent workout headphone offering excellent sound, exceptional durability, and unique features. The BackBeat FIT is available in black for under $70 while you pay slightly more for other color options.
|Noise Cancelling:||CVC 6.0 Noise Reduction|
|Primary Build Material:||Plastic|
The ELZU.US workout headphone is another product not many know about and yet it performs exceptionally well. These unassuming headphones feature CVC 6.0 Noise Reduction Technology, IPX7 waterproof rated with an impressive 12-hour battery life. Everything you need for great workout headphone.
The ELZU.US is an in-ear style with soft over-ear hooks to keep the headphones securely in place. What’s great about the over-ear hooks is the cable fixes to the end of the hook which means the cable is completely out of the way behind the head. Unlike other brands, the ELZU.US cable is a regular round cord as opposed to a flat cord which is better for its resistance to getting kinked and tangled. This, however, doesn’t take away from the quality of the product.
Audio quality on the ELZU.US is good when you consider these headphones come in at under $35. You’re not going to enjoy the same detail and clarity as Bose or Sony, but then the ELZU.US are less than a third of the price. That said, for the general consumer looking for a workout headphone, the ELZU.US will perform and sound just fine.
The ELZU.US has a built-in microphone for hands-free calling. Here the audio quality is also really good which is in large part to the incorporation of CVC 6.0 Noise Reduction Technology. The microphone on the ELZU.US is fairly large and aims directly at the mouth from the earpiece which is obviously beneficial to audio quality and clarity.
Most impressive is the ELZU.US built-in battery which is said to last between 12-14 hours of continuous playing time. This is impressive since most in-ear headphones don’t quite hit the 10-hour mark for battery life.
The ELZU.US also features a 3-button control panel with volume up/next track, volume down/previous track, and a multifunction button. With the multi-function operates play/pause, Bluetooth pairing, and call management for incoming calls.
ELZU.US Workout Headphones Conclusion
The ELZU.US is definitely a workout headphone to consider. The in-ear fit and over-ear hooks make the ELZU.US one of the best wireless earbuds for working out. The only downside to the ELZU.US is the rounded cable, which as I said, isn’t a major issue and certainly no reason not to buy them. For under $35 you get good sound, a comfortable fit and all the features you’d find on a premium set of workout headphones.
|Cable/Wireless:||Wireless (Bluetooth V5)|
|Noise Cancelling:||CVC 6.0 Noise Reduction|
|Primary Build Material:||Plastic|
Anker is well known for their range of Bluetooth speakers, but what many people don’t know is Anker make some pretty awesome headphones too. The Soundcore Spirit X is the upgrade to the popular Anker SoundBuds Curve which continues to sell well. The Spirit X is a wireless workout headphone with an IPX7 rating and Anker’s sweat guard technology. The headphones also feature the very latest Bluetooth version 5.
The Spirit X is an in-ear style headphone with ear hooks to keep the headphones securely in place. The headphones come with the most extensive range of ear tips we have ever seen which means you’ll definitely find a pair to fit your ears. There are also three sizes of wings to keep the ear tips securely in place. In addition, you get two cable clips and a shirt clip to keep the cable in place and secure.
The earbuds on the Spirit X are magnetic so, when you pull them out of your ears they connect together forming a loop around your neck. This means you can carry on running or working out and the Spirit X won’t fall off your neck.
The Spirit X produce an impressive amount of bass for an in-ear headphone. The low-end is punchy and tight which is great for adding that bit of motivation when working out. The mids and highs are present and clear with no issues there. The Spirit X features a built-in microphone for hands-free calling with CVC 6.0 Noise Reduction Technology for superior call quality. For under $40, you definitely get more value in sound quality than you usually do at this price point.
The Spirit X has a very impressive 12-hour battery life with a fast charge technology which allows the headphones to get 1-hour of playing time from a 5-minute charge! This is possibly the quickest fast charge we have seen on any headphone to date.
The Spirit X features a 3-button inline remote with volume up/next track, volume down/previous track and a multi-function button. With the multi-function button, you can power on/off, pair Bluetooth devices, play/pause and manage incoming calls. In addition to hands-free calling, you can also use the multi-function button to activate voice commands from Siri or Google Now.
Anker Soundcore Spirit X Wireless Headphones Conclusion
If you owned a pair of the Anker SoundBuds Curve, then you’ll love the Spirit X. The Spirit X leave the Curve, and a lot of the competition, in the dust with improvements to sound, comfort and of course, the latest version of Bluetooth. The Spirit X is also one of the best sounding workout headphones on the market today, even competing with some of the premium brands. At under $40, the Spirit X is extremely well priced offering exceptional value for money.
Headphones and Hearing Loss
While we don’t want to put a downer on the party, it is important that people are aware of the risks involved in using headphones. Most importantly, the potential damage you could be doing to your hearing as a result of overuse and excessive volume levels. Here are some tips to use your headphones responsibly. Please note, none of the below is medical advice. Always consult your doctor for professional advice on your health.
The most obvious cause of damage to your hearing is the volume you choose to listen to your headphones. Volume is measured in decibels or dB. An acceptable listening volume is 80dB which is roughly 60% volume on a pair of classic iPhone headphones. The volume will vary from headphone to headphone so read the user manual where the manufacturer will note an acceptable listening level.
It is especially important to note that kids and adolescents are at a higher risk as their hearing is still underdeveloped. A study carried out on US Adolescents (12 to 19 years) in 2005-2006 compared the results to a similar study carried out between 1988-1994. The results show that “The prevalence of any hearing loss increased significantly…” and went further to say “…loud sound exposure from music listening, may be of particular importance to adolescents as well.” So, if you’re a parent, be extra vigilant of your child’s headphone use.
Limit Listening Time
Aside from the volume, you also need to limit the amount of time you spend listening to your headphones. Listening to headphones for hours on end is not good for your hearing and may lead to permanent damage.
There is what’s known as the 60/60 rule which states you should limit your listening to 60 minutes a day at 60% volume (80-85dB). At lower volumes, you can obviously increase the amount of time you can spend using your headphones. It’s always best to consult your headphone user manual for recommendations.
Use Noise-Canceling Headphones
One of the main reasons people turn their headphones up too loud is due to the noisy environment they are in. Airplanes, gyms, shopping malls, and public transport are often places we use headphones but they’re also very noisy making it difficult to listen to headphones at an acceptable listening level. If you use headphones in these noisy environments often, it’s probably a good idea to consider purchasing a pair of noise-canceling over-ear headphones or earbuds.