If you want to get your body right, narrow your focus. Think about yourself instead of the people around you. Get your heart rate up, and find your zone—that mental quiet place where life's distractions become ambient noise. Because plenty of things matter, but for the hour that you're working out, you matter most.
Music can light the path to this zen-like mental state. Yes, you could listen to music on the gym's speakers or on the stereo. But then the music simply becomes more noise, competing with the other noise of everyday life. You want isolation from all that. And a great pair of headphones will provide that.
But for workout headphones, sound quality isn't enough. You're going to be sweating a lot; do you have a secure fit? Is it a pain to adjust the volume? Should you go wireless? And if so, how many hours of battery life do you have? There are lots of options for the smart consumer.
We scoured the internet, read reviews, and compared brands to find the best workout headphones. Some are high end, while others give you the best bang for your buck. But each will fit comfortably, stay put, and last in the long run—all while the delivering the great sound you crave.
Skullcandy Sports Earbud
Here's an interesting aesthetic choice. The Skullcandy Method is a wireless headset with a collar, which ensures that your earbuds will stay in place and never get lost.
Couple this with a 9-hour battery charge, and you have a good recipe for a mid-priced model. It costs $58, and users praise its comfort and reliability.
Anker Wireless Headphones, Soundcore Spirit X
One of the best budget options is the Spirit X, which has a 12-hour battery and boasts trademarked SweatGuard technology. It claims to have comparable sound quality to the higher end headphones. We’re not sure about that, but the average person probably could not tell the difference, and the majority of downloaded and streaming music is flattened and clipped, anyway.
The Jaybird X4 is the latest edition in a well-respected line of sports headphones, and follows the widely popular Jaybird X3. The Jaybird X4 has 8 hours of battery life and ups the durability; these things are nigh unbreakable. Their IPX7 rating means they can be submerged in a meter of water for 30 minutes, and be no worse for wear.
You can buy these headphones new for $129. The Amazon reviews are almost universally high.
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
Noise cancelling technology costs a little extra. You could spend anywhere in the realm of $350 and $400 for a high-end pair, if you were so inclined.
Of the lower-priced noise cancelling headphones, Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is in a reasonable range, has a 24-hour battery charge, and is designed for comfort and long-term use. It retails for $248, which is over $100 less than its close competitors.
Jabra Elite Active 65t
These headphones are Alexa-enabled, and also have one-touch access to Google and Siri. Unlike many other brands in the same price range, the Jabra Elite has a motion sensor built into it, which allows you to track your fitness and performance.
With the charging case, you get 15 hours of battery life. These retail for $140.
Aftershokz Trekz Titanium
And now for something a little different. Most people wear earbuds, and that's okay for the gym, where you're jogging on a treadmill. But if you exercise outdoors? You don't want to jog into the street and not hear the beeping of an oncoming car.
The Aftershokz Trekz Titanium offers an alternative to earbuds. Via "bone conduction technology," these headphones sit on the upper cheek next to the ear, allowing the ear canal to remain open so you can stay aware of your environment. The price is right, too: $100 on the official website.
Senso Bluetooth Headphones
Here's another budget option. Senso Bluetooth promotes its adjustable earhooks, quick charge (only 1.5 hours), long battery life (8 hours), and competitive sound. They’re both waterproof and sweatproof, and they retail for $28. There is a widely beloved earlier model that is also available for the same price.
The price point is high: $159. But if you have an iPhone, or Apple Watch, or are otherwise indoctrinated into the Apple ecosystem, then it's hard to go wrong with the totally wireless Apple Airpods.
The big question with these is whether or not they endure after a workout. Thankfully, a trial run by MacWorld spoke highly of the Airpods’ durability, even under the sweatiest conditions.
The sound is decent, if not phenomenal. But what really makes this option appealing is its voice-activated synchronization with Siri and all of Apple's other useful workout and tracker apps. Just remember: you're paying for the seamlessness and convenience. But if you've read this far, you're probably an Apple customer, so you already know that.
Beats by Dre Powerbeats3 Wireless
Beats by Dre has the name recognition; there's a reason why Dr. Dre was able to sell to Apple for $3 billion.
The Beats sports headphones retail on their official site for $199, but if you search a bit, you can get at least a 25% discount from the big retailers. These contain one of the best sounding systems. There's lots of bass and a great, detailed sound—important for drowning out the constant buzz of gym activity. And perhaps best of all, the charge lasts for 12 hours.
An ideal choice, so long as cash is not a prohibitive barrier.