Best Workout Headphones 2020: Sweatproof Bluetooth Picks For The Gym - Rolling Stone
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The Best Headphones For Working Out

Work up a sweat at the gym or at home, without sweating your music too

Aftershokz Titanium

Amazon

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Can’t lift without a little music but have a hard time finding headphones that are as stable as your form? You’re in luck. We’ve done a little digging and found five, highly-rated sweat-proof headphones that will help you stay pumped while you finish your reps.

Each pair delivers on sound quality, battery life and comfort, and are designed to repel sweat and moisture while you work out. You’re already working up a sweat at the gym or outdoors — you shouldn’t worry about sweating your music too. Here are five pairs of wireless headphones that deliver on durability and stability without slipping on sound.

What Are the Best Workout Headphones?

There are many factors to think about when choosing the best workout headphones for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.

Headphone style: Headphones generally come in one of three styles: earbuds, which fit inside your ears, on-ear headphones, which rest on top of your ears, and over-ear headphones, which have large earcups that fit over your ears.

Because earbuds are the smallest option, they’re generally the most popular option for working out — we have an entire guide dedicated to the ones you should consider — but there are some on-ear and over-ear headphones you should also consider for your next workout or run.

Waterproof rating: There’s no getting around the fact that you’re going to sweat when you exercise. Regardless of how much you perspire, the headphones you wear should be able to handle some moisture without getting damaged.

Weight: Working out requires a lot of movement, which makes you hyper aware of what you’ve got on your body. Headphones that may not have felt heavy during your commute may become a huge distraction when they’re constantly bouncing up and down on your head.

Bluetooth: Wires are another potential distraction during exercise — they can get tangled up in fitness equipment, pull the headphones out of ears, and be a general nuisance — so all of the options in this guide work wirelessly over Bluetooth.

1. Mpow Thor Bluetooth Headphones On Ear

Mpow Thor

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

If earbuds don’t fit comfortably in your ears, or you don’t like the way they sound, Mpow’s Thor are a solid pair of on-ear headphones for working out.

At 6.56oz, they’re lighter than most non-earbud-style headphones, and their faux-leather memory foam ear pads should feel comfortable to wear for longer stretches of time. They have 40mm drivers (drivers are the part of headphones that create sound), which are way larger than the ones available on earbuds because they’re less size-constrained.

Mpow’s doesn’t give a waterproof rating for the Thor because most people stick to earbuds when they exercise. But, damage from sweat isn’t as likely to happen with on-ear headphones because none of the electronics are directly inside your ear.

2. Powerbeats3 Wireless Headphones

Powerbeats3

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

The Powerbeats3 from Beats is a great pair of workout headphones for people who have traditionally had trouble exercising with earbuds. They’re a behind-the-ear style earbud, which means the buds fit inside your ear, and a curved piece of the outer shell wraps around the outside of your ear to keep them in place. This design is ideal for people who like earbuds, but want some insurance they won’t fall out.

Beats says these earbuds are sweat-resistant, but doesn’t give an exact IP rating (the official scale that measures how water and dust-proof electronics are). At 0.9 ounces, the earbuds shouldn’t weigh you down, and their adjustable strap should eliminate any potential distraction from the single cable connecting both buds.

All of the headphones on this list support Bluetooth, but the Powerbeats3 also features Apple’s W1 wireless chip. Apple acquired Beats in 2014, so many of its new headphones feature similar technology. The W1 allows the headphones to automatically pair with new Apple devices, and be more power efficient when connected to one.

The only downside to Beats headphones is that they’re known to sound a little bass heavy, and there’s no easy way to adjust them. This comes down to personal preference, but if you’re looking for perfectly balanced audio while you work out, it’s something to consider.

3. AfterShockz Titanium

AfterShokz Titanium

Courtesy Aftershokz

Amazon

AfterShoks Titanium don’t fall into the general earbud, on-ear, over-ear headphone landscape. Instead, they fit in front of your eardrum, and send music to your ear using bone conductivity.

This may sound a little strange if you’ve never experienced it before, but as someone who’s tried these headphones, I can confirm that they work. Music gets played through the buds at the end of the headphones, which send music directly into your inner ear through your cheekbones. A behind-the-ear body style keeps the headphones in place while you move.

The upside to using the AfterShockz Titanium is that it allows you to exercise without blocking your ears, which is great if you’ve found earbuds uncomfortable, and don’t want to exercise with an on-ear or over-ear pair of headphones. It also means you can hear the outside world clearly while you’re on a run, so you don’t miss someone yelling or a car beeping.

AfterShockz says this pair of headphones earns an IP5 waterproof rating, which means they’re sweat-proof, and at 2.08 ounces they’re not too much heavier than a standard pair of earbuds. Still, their unique style is a “love it or hate it” sort of situation, which you should keep in mind.

4. AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

Totally wireless earbuds have revolutionized the world of portable audio, and they’re a great choice for people who want to feel totally free when they work out. If you’re going to get a pair of totally wireless earbuds for exercising, I recommend Apple’s AirPods Pro based on my personal experience.

The earbuds come with three different sizes of ear tips (S,M,L), and the AirPods Pro walk you through a try-on process to determine which size fits best in your ear. I’ve had trouble with earbuds fitting in the past, but the AirPods Pro have done a great job at staying in my ears, even on runs and during high interval training workouts.

Apple designed the AirPods Pro around the same H1 chip that’s in the Powerbeats3, so they’ll instantly pair with any Apple device. Their power efficiency is also improved when they’re connected to an Apple device. Apple says the AirPods Pro have an IPX4 rating, which means they’re sweat and water-resistant.

The AirPods Pro weigh just 0.19 ounces each, which makes them the lightest headphones on this list. They’re so light and comfortable that I’ve actually forgotten I’m wearing them on a couple of occasions when I took a break from listening to music.

As icing on the cake: the AirPods Pro have excellent noise cancellation, which you’ll appreciate if you want to tune out the world while you work out. There’s also a transparency mode, which uses the microphones on each bud to let some outside noise in so you can stay alert of you’re exercising outside.

5. Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Bose Noise Cancelling 700

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

If you’re set on maintaining your allegiance to the audiophile life while you work out, the Bose’s 700 is your best bet. The over-ear headphones build on the foundation of its legendary QC35, which were the default recommendation for noise-cancelling headphones for several years.

The reason we recommend the 700s for working out instead of other over-ear headphones is that they have a transparency mode just like the AirPod Pro. These headphones have eight microphones, which can feed sounds from the outside world into your ears along with your music. This mode makes the Bose 700s safer to use when exercising outdoors.

Beyond that you’re left with a tradeoff: these are the best-sounding headphones on this list by a long-shot (they have 43mm drivers), but they’re also 8.8 ounces, which makes them the heaviest. If you’re doing more static exercises, like leg lifts or bench presses, you won’t notice the weight as much, but it’ll be very apparent if you wear the 700s on a run.

Bose doesn’t give the 700s an IPX rating, but this is less of a problem for on or over-ear headphones because they’re not going inside your ear.

If you’re really committed to enjoying your music library to the fullest when you exercise, this is your best bet, but make sure they’re worth the weight.

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