The best workout headphones 2022: top cans for workouts

One of the best workout headphones against a gray TechRadar background
(Image credit: Future)

Immerse in your workouts with the best workout headphones. Anyone who needs a pounding beat or the thrill of a great podcast to power through a run or an intense HIIT session deserves a great sounding pair of cans, preferably with some level of water and sweat proofing.

Workout headphones, of course, are not created equal. The earbuds to wear when you're cycling and need to hear what's going on around you aren't going to be ideal when you're at the gym and want drown out all the ambient sound. You'll need a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for that. 

In the same way, the best running headphones ideal for runs and jogs aren't going to offer the same level of waterproofing as the best waterproof headphones. And, if you need a pair for just your regular workout routine, a pair of in-ear headphones might do the trick.

There’s a lot of great choices out there, and we're here to help you find the most ideal one for you. We've tested hundreds of workout headphones and earbuds at TechRadar, and while a chunk of them might not be worth your time, a handful deliver great performance, solid sound quality, and the right features to see you through your next grueling workout. Including some of the best true wireless earbuds, these are our top picks of the best headphones for working out.

The best workout headphones 2022

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Beats Fit Pro best workout headphones against a white background

(Image credit: Beats)
The best workout headphones overall

Specifications

Weight: 5.6g (earbuds), 55.1g (case)
Battery life: 6 hours (with ANC) additional 18 hours with charging case
Heart rate monitor: No
On-ear controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Active noise cancellation
+
Spatial audio on Apple Music
+
Better battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
ANC could be stronger
-
Can be uncomfortable

With the Beats Pro Fit, Apple's taken a crowd-favorite and turned it into one of the best workout headphones we've tested. These noise-canceling earbuds takes the performance of the Airpods Pro and makes them workout-friendly with wing tips that keep them in place and a custom-designed driver for a bassier sound.

These Beats earbuds boasts a new sound profile with elevated highs and lows as well as good overall clarity. When we put them through their paces with Lil Nas X & Jack Harlow's INDUSTRY BABY, we found them to deliver the driving bass line followed by a vocal track that moves depending on which way you’re facing, supporting Apple Music's Dolby Atmos. If you want the concert experience during your run or on core day, these are the best workout earbuds to get.

They don’t support wireless charging like the AirPods Pro. But, they make up for that with around 6 hours per charge with 18 hours in the charging case with the ANC on.

Read our full Beats Pro Fit review


White Amazfit PowerBuds Pro best workout headphones true wireless headphones with charging case

(Image credit: Amazfit)
The best budget gym headphones with in-ear fitness tracking

Specifications

Weight: 6.7g
Battery life: 30 hours
Heart rate monitor: Yes
On-ear controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Bass-heavy sound for running
+
Good active noise cancellation
+
Posture-protecting tech

Reasons to avoid

-
No over-ear loops
-
High heart rate readings

The Amazfit Powerbuds Pro are a versatile pair of buds that'll serve you well whether you're running or working. But, we've added them to this list as they're an excellent choice if you'd like to track your fitness but don't want to bother with a wristband or sports watch – these buds use in-ear tracking instead.

Sound is bass-heavy, which we prefer while working out, and the active noise cancellation effectively masks sounds when you need to focus on your fitness. Meanwhile, there's in-ear fitness tracking, thanks to a hear-rate monitor in the buds that keeps tabs on you while you exercise. They sync this data with the Zepp Health app on your phone. Data from any other Amazfit fitness trackers and smart scales will be collected in the same place, so you can easily track trends.

If you do want to use them for other purposes, the Powerbuds Pro can also check the position of your head in relation to your spine while you're working to determine whether you're slouching and putting yourself at risk of back and neck problems further down the road.

They're not quite perfect. We found the heart rate measurements to be consistently higher than those measured by our chest strap monitor, and there are no ear hooks to hold them securely as there were with the original Powerbuds. However, they're an excellent choice if you just want best workout earbuds for all purposes.

Read our full Amazfit Powerbuds Pro review


The Beats PowerBeats Pro best workout headphones against a white background

(Image credit: Beats)
The best workout headphones for running

Specifications

Weight: 20.3g
Battery life: 9 hours
Heart rate monitor: No
On-ear controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Good sound
+
Immaculate fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Case is fairly bulky
-
Limited noise isolation

If you want to boost your run without the annoyance of cables, the Powerbeats Pro could be the best workout headphones for you. Beat's latest true wireless earbuds, are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out. 

The Powerbeats Pro are ideal for running thanks to their close-fitting ear hooks and IPX4 sweatproof rating. Nifty additions like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole on top of their long battery life and superior sound quality make them compelling for other workouts well. They would make a great pair of earbuds to wear at the gym. With the ability to summon Siri hands-free, they’re also great for setting timers in between sets.

Depending on your tastes, you may be disappointed to learn that the Powerbeats Pro don't come with active noise cancellation. We found during testing that they hardly do anything to block out environmental noise. But, on the plus side, it's great to be aware of your surroundings when you're running.

Read our full Beats PowerBeats Pro review


The bose frames best workout headphones against a white background

(Image credit: Bose)
The best workout headphones for cycling

Specifications

Weight: 45g
Battery life: 3.5 hours
Heart rate monitor: No
On-ear controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Allow you to hear traffic
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best audio quality
-
Battery life could be better

Now, hear us out with this one. When you're cycling, it's really important to be aware of your surroundings, particularly pedestrians and oncoming traffic – which is why we're recommending that cyclists try out the nifty Bose Frames instead of a traditional pair of earbuds or headphones. 

The Bose Frames combine your sunglasses with headphones by building in speakers that are pointed towards your ears. This means you’re able to keep your ears and head free of anything but your pair of sunglasses (and your helmet, of course), while still being able to listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks. 

The sound quality has proven to be surprisingly good during testing, albeit not as full or bassy as you’ll get from a dedicated pair of cans. You may find that bone conduction headphones like the Aftershokz Aeropex deliver a fuller sound, so it's worth checking out this form factor too, if you want to keep your ears free. Plus, the Bose Frames come with the added benefit of shielding your eyes from the sun or any debris your front wheel kicks up as your cycle – for us, thats a win-win.

Read our in-depth Bose Frames review


Zygo Solo best workout headphones against a white background with smartphone

(Image credit: Zygo)
The best workout headphones for swimming

Specifications

Weight: 66g
Battery life: 3 hours
Heart rate monitor: No
On-ear controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Streams audio underwater
+
Easy to set up
+
Excellent sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs lots of gear poolside
-
Works best with earplugs

The Zygo Solo are the only set of waterproof headphones we've tested that can actually stream music and podcasts from a phone that's sitting by the side of the pool. Bluetooth signals can only penetrate water for a very short distance. The Zygo Solo gets around this problem by using an FM radio transmitter – an unusual, but effective approach.

The transmitter is quite large, but the ability to enjoy music, podcasts and coaching tips (provided by the Zygo app) without messing around with MP3 files is a real bonus. The headset itself isn't as compact as the others in this guide either. However, in our tests it proved comfortable, and remained secure even when making turns underwater. 

The sound quality is impressive, too. Like the Aftershokz Xtrainerz and Sony NW-WS413 below, the Zygo Solo uses bone conduction to transmit sound to your auditory nerve, and while it sounds a little tinny on land, once you're in the pool the sound has an impressive amount of bass.

We're also big fans of the Zygo mobile app, which offers instructor-led workouts an drills to give you training some variety. In the future, the company plans to add Peloton-style interactive sessions, which will make use of the headset's built-in accelerometer to track your progress in the pool. The best waterproof headphones you can buy today.

Read our full Zygo Solo review


The sony wf-1000xm4 best workout headphones against a white background

(Image credit: Sony)
The best workout headphones for yoga

Specifications

Weight: 7.3g
Battery life : 8 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)
Heart rate monitor: No
On-ear controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Rapid, full-bodied and eloquent sound
+
Truly useful features
+
Impressive call quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Unremarkable battery life
-
No aptX support

If you need to block out the world for an effective yoga session, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones are essential; however, a pair of bulky over-ear headphones could slip off of your head when you transition into downward dog. 

That's why we're recommending these true wireless earbuds from Sony; the Sony WF-1000XM4 manage to offer a level of noise cancellation that's exceedingly good for a pair of earbuds. They won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear headphones we found, but its a worthy trade off for that sleeker form. 

Sony has really knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM4. Not only are these hands down the best-looking true wireless earbuds on the market, but they also combine serious noise-cancelling tech with fist-pumping musicality. So, if you like your yoga session to come with music, you're in for a real treat with these buds.

Battery life is above average, and that compact charging case is pretty slick too. The audio quality is among the best you'll get from a pair of wireless in-ear headphones, and DSEE Extreme upscaling means you'll get an approximation of high-resolution sound from standard-definition digital audio files.

Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review


Shokz OpenRun Pro best workout headphones against a white background

(Image credit: Shokz)
The best workout headphones for outdoor running

Specifications

Weight: 29g
Battery life: 10 hours
Heart-rate monitor: No
On-ear controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable and stable fit
+
Helps situational awareness

Reasons to avoid

-
Vibrations sometimes noticeable
-
More expensive than OpenRun

Bone conduction headphones allow you to listen to music and hear sounds around you. Shokz (formerly known as AfterShokz) is the biggest name in bone conduction headphones, and the OpenRun Pro are its best set to date. Released in early 2021, they feature new bass transducers, which deliver rich, rounded sound. 

They have a light, springy titanium band that holds the headphones' earpieces securely yet gently in place. They remain firmly in position in all conditions, and never pinch or rub. The bass sometimes results in a slightly tickling sensation if you're enjoying some particularly heavy tunes, but in our tests it was never enough to become annoying. 

These are a great pair of headphones if you're working out and need to hear sounds around you, like if you're running outside. This is particularly the case if you're concerned about safety or you regularly run races. Many races require that you cam hear the commands of marshals and traffic on open-road courses, which makes bone conduction headphones a great choice.

Read our full Shokz OpenRun Pro review


the sony linkbuds earbuds best workout headphones against a white background

(Image credit: sony)
The best true wireless earbuds for hearing ambient sounds

Specifications

Weight: 4.1 g x 2
Battery life: 17.5-hour battery life
Heart-rate monitor: No
On-ear controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Spacious sound
+
Clever controls
+
Tiny design

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass could be stronger
-
No wireless charging
-
No multipoint pairing

The Sony LinkBuds are the world’s first open-ring in-ear headphones, a design that leaves your ear canals totally free to hear your environment while you enjoy music. This makes them a great option for listening on-the-move while you stay aware of your surroundings, so we're including them here as a solid choice for those who like to walk outside. 

They’re also Sony’s smallest earbuds to date, much daintier than the Sony WF-1000XM4. They boast ingenious controls that mean you don’t have to fumble with the miniature housings to adjust music playback. Instead, you can tap your face to skip tracks, change the volume, and take calls. Great news if you want to use them for fitness.

We found the audio quality to be exceptional, with a remarkably wide soundstage that gives every instrument in your favorite songs the room they need to shine. Detail, clarity, and rhythmic accuracy are also excellent. If you're looking for a pair of buds that'll allow you to listen to music while you walk through the streets or on trails and keep you aware of what's going on around you, they're the best workout earbuds. 

Read our full Sony LinkBuds Review


How we test the best workout headphones

We selected the headphones for this guide based on which we think are best suited to certain sports, whether that's running, yoga, cycling or swimming. Yes, sound quality is key, but if they won't work at the gym, they can't be included here. 

To make these choices, we did the right thing: we put them to the test while working out! That's the only way to be sure the best running headphones offer a snug fit while you're pounding the pavement, whether the best swimming headphones are fully waterproofed and deliver good sound as you're gliding through the water or if the best headphones for yoga can stay put during your downward dog 'resting' moments. 

For this reason, the best headphones for sports in this list aren't necessarily the top headphones you can buy today for excellent sound quality, but they are included for the unique features that they can offer sports lovers. 

Having said that, many of the headphones here would fare well in all kinds of environments, and if they didn't sound more than passable for the money they wouldn't be here – so they're still good value for money whether you're wearing them for running or focusing at work. 

Is it better to work out with headphones or earbuds?

Whether you workout with over-ear or on-ear headphones or earbuds totally depends on you and your preferences. Some people always prefer the snug fit of earbuds regardless of what they're doing, whereas others like the immersive sound provided by the best over-ear headphones

Having said that, some activities certainly lend themselves to different styles. For example, there are some over-ear and on-ear headphones that will stay put while you run, like the Adidas RPT-01 over-ear headphones, which you can find in our best running headphones guide.

However, you'll probably find earbuds or bone-conducting headphones are a much more secure and comfortable option – especially those with an ear hook design, like the Beats PowerBeats Pro in our list above.

How to choose the best workout headphones for you

To find the best workout headphones for you, you'll need to consider what you'll be using them for. For example, if you're running or doing any kind of high-energy workout, ensuring your headphones stay put is your number one priority. Whereas if you're looking for a pair to take swimming then top waterproofing is a must. 

Most headphones that cater for sports do come with some water resistance, but you'll want to check the specs. Plenty say they can withstand water and sweat, which might be fine if you're using them for light workouts. However, if you want the best protection, choose those that come with an iPX4 rating and higher. IPX7 means full waterproofing, so that's what you'll want for swimming.

Although you'll need to consider the way you workout, for value for money you'll also want to think about whether they'll work in other environments, too. To be honest, most of the top headphones for working out will be perfect for the office and the commute, too – never be put off by the sporty design or "sport" labelling. But it is worth considering how you like to listen to music in other environments. 

If you're eyeing up a pair of running earbuds but prefer the immersive sound of over-ear headphones, you might need to make a compromise. If you're choosing wireless headphones or earbuds, consider the controls. It's probably best if they have an inline remote or easy-to-use touch controls. That way you don't have to reach for your phone anytime you want to skip a track.

But more than anything, we'd recommend considering comfort. The best audio quality or fancy features don't matter if they don't feel right or keep sliding out of your ears. Look for designs recommended for your favorite sport, as well as things like customizable eartips and ear hooks to keep them secure. 

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Becky Scarrott
Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

With contributions from