Best workout headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best workout headphones you can buy in 2023.
Getting fit isn't easy. While there might not be any shortcuts, you can give your motivation a boost with a pair of headphones fit for task. Blasting some tunes should help power you through your workout.
But you can't just rely on any old pair – you want the best workout headphones built specifically for the task at hand. These headphones will deliver great sound while offering sweat-resistant designs that stay in place. Most offer wireless connectivity too, for the ultimate convenience.
Whatever your workout, be it running, lifting, rowing, cycling, swimming or a combination of the above, you'll find a pair here to serve you well.
How to choose the best workout headphones for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
Before you buy a pair of workout headphones, you need to know what you're looking for. The first decision? Do you want wired or wireless? All of our choices are wireless earbuds, because they eliminate the risk of snagging your arm on a dangling cable.
Though they do have one downside: batteries that need recharging. We've listed the below with three indicators of battery life: the battery life of the buds themselves, how long the charging case will last before needing juicing up from a wall socket, and the total battery life (which is the other two measurements combined).
Waterproofing is crucial to any workout headphones – even if you're working out in a nice dry gym, chances are your buds will see their fair share of sweat. And you don't want them conking out at the first sign of perspiration. All of the below are rated at least IPX4, which means they'll withstand water splashing. But some models can be fully submerged for swimming or just a post-workout shower.
Also consider the charging case. Some models have different waterproof ratings for the case, which is worth remembering so it doesn't get ruined.
Noise-cancelling will neutralise background noise and help you focus, and be better for your hearing as you can hear the detail of your music without cranking the volume up. But it could be a hazard if you're working out outdoors as it makes you less aware of approaching cars. An ambient aware mode can help here, as it allows in outside sound to make you more aware of your surroundings – look out for it on pricier pairs.
Lastly, you've got comfort and fit. Everyone's ears are different so there's no substitute for trying a pair to see if it's the right size and shape. Some earbuds are quite bulbous and use a single silicone tip, while others add silicone wing tips to help secure them in place.
Now, let's start making gains!
These are some of the best-sounding, most reliable workout headphones you'll find for this money. If you really care about sound quality, then these are the best workout headphones for you.
Unlike most of the entries on this list, they're not 'true wireless', as there is a soft cable between the two earbuds. Each of the buds also has an in-ear hook to keep them in place. But that's all to their credit, and it makes for a secure fit that stays put no matter how vigorous your workout gets. They come complete with a lightweight remote, and they're sweat-resistant and IPX4 splashproof, too. The battery life is a modest six hours but we would imagine that will do most people for a few runs or circuits.
The Bose sound is perfect for this kind of earphone too, delivering the kind of powerful, punchy bass that might get you working out that bit harder. The SoundSport Wireless sound dynamic and make music sound lively – perfect for getting you over the line, or even just off the couch.
Read the full Bose SoundSport Wireless review
The standard Reflect Flow have been some of our favourite workout headphones since they launched in 2019. JBL's newer, pricier, premium-er Pro pair replicate that success admirably.
They add active noise cancellation to the mix, along with ambient and TalkThru modes that make you more aware of your surroundings (handy while you're out running). They're dust-tight, and can be fully immersed in water, so won't be troubled by even the heaviest of downpours.
They sound pretty great too, with plenty of bounce to power you through that fifth mile. They're not quite as refined as a dedicated music pair, but for workout-focussed buds, they tick all the boxes.
Read the full JBL Reflect Flow Pro review
Historically, the vast majority of Bose's noise-cancelling headphones have been on- and over-ear designs, but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are up there with the very best true wireless models.
They're lightweight and we have no issues listening for hours at a time. For the average commute or exercise session (the QuietComforts are both sweat and weather-resistant) they are great to live with and they feel like a quality product too. Battery life is six hours from a single charge, with the charging case supplying an extra two charges, making 18 hours in total – decent, but by no means class-leading. Being able to customise some features and controls, and adjust the excellent noise-cancellation in the companion app, is very handy, though not mid-workout. Touch controls for volume are the icing on the cake.
The sense of enthusiasm and excitement conveyed by these workout headphones is highly infectious. There’s power, poise and a fantastic sense of dynamism. Bass notes sound full-bodied, go deep and the QuietComforts squeeze out lots of detail.
All in all, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are great all-rounders, capable of impressive musicality and topped off with excellent noise cancelling. They’re more than a match for any rival at this level.
Read the full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
Panasonic isn't a brand that immediately springs to mind when you think of workout headphones. But the arrival of the RZ-S500W could change all that.
These 2021 Award-winners are its first true wireless models, and they're very impressive. Specs are thorough, with noise-cancelling tech, an Ambient Mode, twin mics for voice calls, and a battery life that totals 19.5 hours (6.5-hrs from the buds and 13-hrs from the charging case). And a 15-minute USB-C quick-charge can deliver 70 minutes of playback. The touch controls on each bud are responsive and intuitive, allowing you to control your music and switch between noise-cancelling modes with zero fuss.
You also get five sizes of ear tips to help with fit. We found this a little hit and miss, so we would definitely experiment and consider mixing sizes.
Both noise cancelling and sound quality are excellent. Music sounds clear and there's a great deal of refinement on show, while bass is deep and detailed. Perfect for anyone on a budget.
Read the full Panasonic RZ-S500W review
If you're looking for premium workout headphones to slip into your ears, these sweat-resistant, 2021 Award-winning Sonys need to be at the top of your list. They have dynamics and detail in spades and deliver a balanced performance, with taut and weighty bass and sophisticated mids and highs. You can't help but be carried away by their sense of musicality.
Fan of longer workouts? The eight-hour battery should do you proud. The wireless charging case also extends this by a further 16 hours.
The Sonys are comfortable to wear too, with touch-sensitive controls and ear tips that provide excellent noise isolation. Combine this with brilliant noise-cancelling courtesy of Sony's Integrated Processor V1 and the WF-1000XM4 are difficult to fault.
Clever features like Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat both allow you to have a conversation without removing the earbuds – great for a mid-workout chat. If you've got the budget for a premium pair of workout headphones, the WF-1000XM4 need serious consideration.
Read the full Sony WF-1000XM4 review
When it comes to wireless earbuds, Sony has sewn up the high end with the WF-1000XM4. But can it do the same at the budget end of the market with the WF-C500?
Not quite, but it does give it a very good try indeed. The C500 handle the basics very well, with Bluetooth 5.0, and compatibility with SBC and AAC codecs. Battery life is a healthy 10 hours from the earbuds themselves, and another 10 from the charging case, making a total of 20.
They pair with Sony's consummate Headphones Connect app for sublime controls, and numerous extra features (like the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine, which upscales audio files to something approaching ‘hi-res’ quality). Voice controls come via Google Assistant and Siri, and while they're not a dedicated sports model, the IPX4 rating means they're resistant to water splashes.
Sonically, they're even-handed and nicely balanced, with well-shaped bass notes. In short, they offer a lot of what makes Sony's high-end buds so compelling, without cutting too many corners. Definitely one for the shortlist.
Read the full Sony WF-C500 review
The Earfun Air Pro buds take the standard – and excellent – Earfun Air and add active noise cancelling (ANC), more mics and larger drivers. That all adds up to a better sonic performance as well as clearer voice calls – very handy if you want to concentrate on your form.
The headphones pair easily, and they're comfortable enough for even the longest of workouts. The controls are a doddle to use, too. Two taps on the right bud pauses or resumes playback, while three skips to the next track.
They're built to survive a downpour, so are happy to deal with however much sweat you throw their way. All in all, it’s a lot of tech and durability for not a lot of money. Now you've no excuse not to get to the gym.
Read the full Earfun Air Pro review
These headphones boast app support, customisable EQ settings and both white and black colour options. But the real selling point is battery life. The 1 Plus will keep you entertained for an impressive nine hours from a single charge. Throw in an additional four charges from the carry case, and that makes 45 hours of total run time. There's no noise-cancelling onboard, but that's a small price to pay at this level.
The Melomanias deliver an open and powerful musical performance. They sound clear and more dynamic than the original Melomanias and there's a smidgen more detail too. If you want an affordable and accomplished pair of workout headphones, the 1 Plus should definitely be in the running, if you'll excuse the pun.
Read the full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review
If you want cheap and cheerful wireless workout headphones, you need to give the Earfun Air a try.
They're packed with features. You don't get noise-cancelling at this price point (you need the Earfun Air Pro higher up this list), but the Earfun Air do provide excellent noise isolation and they feel comfortable, too. They're also waterproof to IPX7 standards (submersible in one metre of water for up to 30 mins), support virtual assistants and include Qi wireless charging if you've got a suitable charger to hand.
Battery life is seven hours from the buds and a further 28 hours from the charging case. Amazingly it all feels fairly premium too. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection is solid and stable, calls sound clear and, for the money, the headphones offer an energetic and spacious sound.
If you’re after a pair of affordable and entertaining headphones for workouts, the Earfun Air are definitely worth investigating.
Read the full Earfun Air review
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are arguably the most refined-sounding workout headphones that we've heard.
The earpieces are slim, comfortable and include noise-cancelling. And it works extremely well. They're nice to use too, with touch-sensitive pads on each earpiece which can be customised to control music playback and features.
Battery life is competitive, with a single charge giving seven hours of playback and the charging case providing an additional three charges, bringing the total battery life up to a solid 28 hours.
Sonically, highs and lows are composed and controlled, while still delivering impressive dynamics. The Sennheisers present a detailed soundstage with impressive scale and authority. They're a little pricier than other workout headphones, but if your budget can stretch, your ears will be rewarded, and your workout will fly by. Money well spent.
Read the full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review
How we choose the best workout headphones
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year – and that includes plenty of headphones. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency.
Of course, workout headphones demand to be tested out in the field, which is exactly what we do. We put them through their paces in a variety of scenarios, including exercise, commuting and in environments like cafes and offices. We pay particular attention to the sound quality, naturally, as well as noise-cancelling, if it features.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same price category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years' experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.
From all of our reviews, we choose the best products to feature in our Best Buys. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended above, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.