Without a doubt, music helps you stay focused and motivated during a workout. It keeps you going whether your time in the gym involves the smooth inversions of yoga, the powerful lifts of weight training, or the rhythmic steps of running. The best workout headphones need to be able to handle whatever you decide to do.
But with so many headphones on the market how do you know which ones will really rock your workout? Well, you let us help you out.
We did all the research for you so you can get back to what you enjoy – working out. Then, we put all the information together in this easy-to-read guide. Use it to help you decide which set of headphones suits your needs. We even review our top five picks in depth.
Things to Consider
Ease of Use. The last thing you want to be doing at the gym is wasting time fidgeting with your headphones. You expect Bluetooth headsets to pair quickly and wired headsets to stay out of the way. You want on-board controls that are simple to use.
Portability. The gym is not the place for oversized headsets that look like something from a space suit; those are heavy and get in the way. You want gym headphones that transport easily in your bag or hand.
Sweat Resistance. It goes without saying that you’re going to get pretty sweaty while you work out. You don’t want headphones that will fizzle and short-out when you start working hard. Water resistance is a must.
If you think you’ve seen us mention the BTS+ Sports Headphones before, well, you’re right. They also earned our #1 spot for Best Sport Headphones and Best Bluetooth Headphones for Running. The BTS+ Sports Headphones continue to rate highest of our choices because they are the top performer in every category that we test.
These are some of the easiest headphones to operate because it pairs to just about any device, and has controls on the outside of each earcup. The BTS+ can even pair to two different devices at once. What this means is that if you get bored with the songs on your phone you can immediately switch to another mobile device. Or, you can answer a call on one device while still listening to music coming from another device.
The controls on the outside of the earcups are easy to reach and intuitive to use. All functions are controlled from the buttons on the earcups – volume, Bluetooth connectivity, call answering or rejection, and track shuffle. The buttons are large and strong, making them easy to find for even the most tired athlete.
The sound quality of the BTS+ is fantastic – booming bass coupled with clear mids and highs. Most surprisingly, the characteristic hiss found in other noise canceling headphones is noticeably absent. Booming bass music sounded equally pleasing as non-vocal classical melodies.
If you live an active lifestyle you really can’t go wrong with buying a set of BTS+ Sport Headphones. They are easy to pair with your favorite mobile device, unbelievably simple to use, and deliver phenomenal sound.
The Skullcandy Crusher slides smoothly into our second spot because its unbeatable sound quality and easily portable design absolutely crush the competition.
The Crusher delivers powerfully balanced sound – crystal clear mids and highs that aren’t drowned by all the bass. But they do have a really cool feature for those times you want a little brain rattling bass: a battery-operated amp hidden in the left ear cup that vibrates in time with the bass. A sliding knob allows you to adjust the vibration levels to achieve as much, or as little, bass response as you want. We expected to hear distortion when we slide the amp to its max level but were pleasantly surprised. The sound was very realistic, like we were in a concert rather than feeling like something merely vibrating on our head.
Skullcandy definitely thought a lot about portability when designing these headphones. The hinge connecting the earcups to the headband folds in three directions for easy storage. The entire unit drops to about half its size when the headband is pulled small and the earcups are turned inward. The cable is detachable so you don’t have to worry about tangled cords or accidentally ripping the cord from the earcups. When you’re done using the Crushers simply fold them up, remove the cord, and put them in the convenient storage bag.
Skullcandy Crusher is an excellent choice of gym headphones for everyone seeking a distraction free workout. Their sound quality ensures you are focussed on the music surrounding you. Their simple fold-up design and removable cord guarantees you won’t have to waste time with a jumbled mess of cords hidden somewhere in the bottom of your gym bag.
If you workout frequently in the gym then you’ve probably seen the Tracks by SOL REPUBLIC; they are as popular as Beats by Dre. Their interchangeable and customizable components plus great sound definitely make these one of the best workout headphones on the market.
We love SOL REPUBLIC’s innovative design structure. It’s unlike anything else we’ve ever seen. All its parts – headbands, cables and earcups – are interchangeable and available separately. This means malfunctioning parts are easy to replace, and creates infinite customization options.
The headbands, cables and earcups come in a variety of colors and patterns. You’re encouraged to mix and match the pieces to suit your personality and style. SOL REPUBLIC is even available to create a custom set.
The powerhouse of Tracks is their earcups. The company calls them ‘sound engines’ but you don’t have to worry about your neighbors hearing it roar. These don’t feature active noise cancellation, but the cushions sit so comfortably on your ear that very little sound escapes.
And the sound is quite appealing. Whether jamming to the deep bass of dubstep or the intricate high notes of jazz the sound remained clear and precise, though it probably wouldn’t satisfy true audiophiles.
Overall, Tracks by SOL REPUBLIC are a stylish option for anyone looking to make a statement at the gym. Their unique design and intense sound are sure to keep these headphones high on our list.
The SoundLink is the first wireless headphones from Bose. Bose is known for their superior build and sound quality so you know the SoundLink performs well. But they aren’t as easy to operate as the BTS+ Sports Headphones or offer the custom features of the Tracks.
We like the way the Bose feel in our hands. Their sturdy rigid plastic frame stays in place during the most vigorous workout, and it’s still light-weight enough not to become bothersome after long periods of time.
The SoundLink delivers the immersive sound experience that Bose is known for. Music envelops you whether listening to heavy-hitting rock or the light melodies of classical.
Bose’s first move into the Bluetooth headphone market delivers an overall powerful punch. The SoundLink is a great option when looking for great sound without the extra frills.
Koss may not be one of the most popular brands on our list but it’s also not one of the most expensive.
The SportaPro offers balanced sound without overwhelming bass or treble though the experience isn’t immersive as some other models. We didn’t find anything wrong with the sound; the clarity and precision on these just aren’t as well developed as some more expensive brands.
These do offer a unique headband that adjusts from around-the-neck to over-head. This comes in handy if you tend to change hairstyles or wear hats that interfere with either style headband. It’s like having two sets of headphones in one.
The SportaPro headphones are perfectly suited for the budget conscious gym-goer. It earned its spot as one of the best headphones for working out because it offers decent sound to keep you motivated and its unique design ensures a great fit during any situation.