The best fitness headphones and earbuds

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Does anyone actually exercise without music these days? Music motivates us and helps us get into a flow, especially when running. But finding the perfect audio companion for when you’re on the move can be tricky. Over-the-head style headphones are more for leisurely walks or your commute to work, and working out involves a lot of movement and a lot of sweat- something that can really hinder your listening experience if you don’t have the right listening tool. 

That’s why earphones and earbuds are a lot less cumbersome and make for a great companion when working out either at home or at the gym. Wireless are probably the best kind you can get right now, which slip into your ears with a barely-there feel which makes jumping around a whole lot easier. These headphones usually work via Bluetooth, and can be easily connected to your device with the ability to accept calls through them and even track your fitness via a corresponding app. 

If you just can’t get to grips with wireless earphones, there are plenty of wired sets that are specifically designed for fitness so that they won’t end up falling out every five seconds and interrupting your workout. Some are designed for runners, so they have a special clip that keeps them firmly placed in your ears, and many also feature special protection against sweat to ensure the highest quality sound each time you listen. 

How good you want the sound quality to be will obviously have an effect on price, there are some great options available from the likes of Bose and Beats by Dre, but be prepared to pay as high as the £200 mark for the luxury. If you’re overly bothered about having the best sound quality and just need a second pair of headphones you don’t have to worry about getting a little roughed up when exercising, then there are plenty of budget options around also. However, it is recommended to still aim for a budget of around £100 if you want some that will actually last. 

We’ve picked out some of the best fitness earbuds and earphones for all types of workouts and all types of budgets. So, there’s no excuse not to start that workout you’ve been putting off recently because these earphones are bound to get you motivated. 

1. Jabra Elite Sport

Barely-there headphones with excellent sound quality

Best for: Wireless | Battery life: 4.5h | Wireless: Yes | Fitness tracking: Yes

Portable charging case
Waterproof 
Expensive 

These wireless headphones are on the pricier side but they are also some of the best quality headphones all-round for both sound quality and sports. They are designed to be waterproof so that you can even shower with them in without the risk of damaging them (although, we would approach this with caution, too), and they come in a handy portable charging case which can give them up to 9 hours’ worth of juice on the go. They come paired with a sport tracker app that can give you personalised in-ear audio coaching as well as tips and tricks to improve your performance.  Some users found they didn’t sit right in their ears, but found when they swapped out the earbuds for different sized ones, this eliminated their problem. Sound quality hasn’t been faulted by customers and they are said to connect seamlessly with your device and are great for taking calls on the go. Many feel that you get what you pay for with these headphones and they provide exceptional quality whatever you’re doing.  

2. Bose SoundSport Pulse

Track your performance with these earbuds and built-in heart rate monitor

Best for: Monitoring heart rate | Battery life: 4h | Wireless: Yes | Fitness tracking: Yes

Choice of colours
Stable fit
Not the comfiest  

For a little bit more stability, these wireless earphones are connected to each other which users feel provides a much sturdier fit in their ears which is great for high intensity workouts or playing sports while listening to some tunes. They connect to your device via Bluetooth and they also have a built-in heart rate monitor which allows you to keep track of your health and fitness. They aren’t noise cancelling, so users say you can still hear background noise sometimes, but sound quality is decent and many find the Bluetooth connection strong with no interruptions. Some customers felt these headphones were a little uncomfortable but with the 3 different sized buds included, you can change them to suit your own personal needs.  

3. Jaybird X3

Reliable and comfortable earbuds for gym goers

Best for: Gym bunnies | Battery life: 8h | Wireless: Yes | Fitness tracking: No

Safeguarded against sweat
Wear under or over the ears
Charging clip is easy to lose 

If you’re a regular gym goer, then these are a reliable pair of headphones that will keep you motivated during your workout. Users find them very comfy and a good fit as you can choose which way you like to wear them. They have been praised as one of the better sport-focused Bluetooth earphones but the only downside is the tiny little charging clip is very easy to lose. Several customers have mentioned this can be incredibly frustrating. However, if you’re good at keeping things safe, these headphones charge quickly and can provide a whole weeks’ worth of listening at the gym.  

4. SkullCandy XTPlyo

Comfy, colourful earbuds for those with smaller ears

Best for: Small ears | Battery life: n/a | Wireless: No | Fitness tracking: No

Sweat resistant
Range of funky colours
A bit basic 

These SkullCandy headphones may seem quite basic compared to the rest of the wireless options on the list, but if you’re just looking for a reliable pair of headphones that get the job done then these are for you. There’s no faffing about with these headphones as you simply plug and play and you don’t need to worry about charging them up, either. They are affordable and come in a wide range of colours to suit your tastes. Users say they feel secure in the ears and they make a great second pair of headphones for when you’re working out. 

5. Beats by Dre Powerbeats3

High-quality sound and comfor

Best for: Sound quality | Battery life: 12h | Wireless: Yes | Fitness tracking: No

Long battery life
Secure-fit ear hooks
A bit fiddly

Beats by Dre are the go-to headphones for the best sound, and these certainly don’t disappoint. Users find the sound to be of excellent quality, with a nice deep bass. They come in a range of colours and have secure-fit ear hooks to make running or other activities hassle-free. Some users say they prefer the design and comfort on the Bose SoundSport earphones better, however if they are a little out of your price range then these are a very good alternative.  

6. Platronics BackBeat FIT

An ergonomic design for comfort during long workouts

Best for: Long workout sessions | Battery life: 8h | Wireless: Yes | Fitness tracking: No

Flexible neckband 
Good battery life
Not great for taking calls 

Cyclists love these earbuds as they have a flexible neckband which makes them more comfortable to wear and aims to help them stay on better. Users say the sound quality is good and the earphones still allow for some surround sound to be heard which is why cyclists like them for when they’re on the road. Battery life is said to be reliable and lasts a long time, but comfort wise you might not want to wear them for any longer than a few hours.  

7. URBANEARS STADION

An ultralight set of earphones for runners

Best for: Running | Battery life: 7h | Wireless: Yes | Fitness tracking: No

EarClick technology
Reflective detailing
Volume is a little low 

Running with headphones in can be a real pain, but these earbuds have EarClick Technology which aims to keep your earphones in place while you run with no interruptions. They have a band around the back which features all the buttons you need, and they are soft for extra comfort when running.  Some users say these headphones don’t go up as loud as they’d like, but others prefer this so they can still have awareness when running.

8. KitSound Outrun Bluetooth Wireless

Good quality earbuds on a budget

Best for: Budget buy | Battery life: 3h | Wireless: Yes | Fitness tracking: No

Affordable
Simple controls
Battery life not the best 

If you just want a decent pair of headphones to get you through your weekly workouts, then these headphones will do the job nicely. They aren’t jam packed with fancy features, but their simplicity is what users love. They are quite small with interchangeable buds for the best comfort and you won’t have any wires flying about when you’re running or cycling. The controls are easy to use and they come in a range of colours. Customers say the sound quality is good for the price, so if you can’t afford the Bose or the Beats, these are a good alternative option.  

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