We've tried the best workout earbuds to help boost your motivation

Use the best workout earbuds to soundtrack your training, with picks from Beats, Apple, Jabra and more

Jabra Elite 7 Active wireless earbuds beside a skateboard
(Image credit: Future/James Frew)
Best Workout Earbuds: Jump Menu
(Image credit: Future/James Frew)

The list in brief ↴
1. Best Overall: Jabra Elite 4 Active
2. Best Budget Earbuds: JLab Go Air Sport
3. Best For Sound Quality: Beats Fit Pro
4. Best For Running: Shokz OpenFit
5. Best For Noise-Canceling: Bose QuietComfort EarBuds II
6. Best For Apple Users: Apple AirPods Pro 2
Other Tried and Tested Earbuds

The best workout earbuds can make a huge difference to how enjoyable your training is, but if your headphones aren’t quite right they can become more of a hindrance than a help. 

Buds should fit securely, sound good and have a decent battery life. You may also want noise cancellation (ANC) so you can block out the world to focus on your training or, conversely, you may prefer headphones that allow for more awareness—so you can hear what’s going on around you for safety reasons.

We’ve highlighted a variety of picks below to suit different types of training.

How I Test Workout Headphones

I’ve been testing and reviewing workout earbuds for eight years and have tried models from all the major brands. I test sports headphones by using them for a variety of workouts, including running and strength-training, and also test them outside of training to check their suitability for general use. 

A reliable fit is the most important feature with workout earbuds because it doesn’t matter how good they sound or how long the battery life is if they fall out of your ears as soon as you get sweaty.

The quick list

Here’s a brief look at the best workout earbuds in all the key categories. Each set has a link that jumps to the more in-depth review below.

The best workout earbuds

You can trust Fit&Well We give honest reviews and recommendations based on in-depth knowledge and real-world experience. Find out more about how we review and recommend products.

Best Overall

Jabra Elite 4 Active

(Image credit: Jabra)

1. Jabra Elite 4 Active

Best Overall

Specifications

Water resistance ratin: IP57
Battery life: 7 hours, 28 hours with case
Noise cancellation: Yes
Transparency mode: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great value 
+
Secure, comfortable fit
+
ANC and awareness modes

Reasons to avoid

-
Can get better sound and ANC
-
Wing-less design may not fit well
-
Temptation to upgrade to Elite 8 Active
Buy it if

You like value for money: the Jabra Elite 4 Active offer outstanding performance for their price, and while there are better buds available, you’ll be paying more for marginal improvements.

You don’t like wing-tips: the wing-free design of the Elite 4 Active earbuds is more comfortable than using buds with wing-tips for long periods, and I’ve found their fit secure for a range of workouts.

You like adjustable awareness: Jabra’s HearThrough awareness mode can be adjusted to filter out different amounts of external noise, so you can set it up to suit your circumstances.

Don't buy it if

You want the best sound and ANC: the Jabra Elite 4 Active buds offer great sound quality and good ANC, but you can upgrade on both fronts by spending more on earbuds like the Beats Fit Pro, Apple AirPods 2 or Jabra Elite 8 Active.

You need wing-tips or an ear hook: if you find that in-ear buds just won’t stay in your ears during workouts, then opting for headphones with wings, or an ear hook, may be better than the Elite 4 Active.

You want the latest and greatest earbuds: the Elite 4 Active came out in early 2022 and so aren’t the newest, most exciting models in Jabra’s range. That doesn’t diminish their performance, but may mean they don’t get software updates.

The Jabra Elite 4 Active offer a solid mix of features and value, matching or even outperforming some earbuds that cost more. Even though there are some options within Jabra’s own range, and on the market in general, that offer better sound and ANC, in particular, the Elite 4 Active still impresses on those fronts and will save you a packet.

Design: The Elite 4 Active buds are small and light, and the IP57 water-resistance rating means they will shrug off even your sweatiest workouts. Each bud has a multifunction button on it that you can use to control playback, activate your phone’s voice assistant, switch between ANC/awareness modes and even turn the headphones off. That last one is a rare feature in wireless earbuds.

Fit: The fact the Jabra buds don’t have wing-tips helps ensure they’re comfortable to wear all day, and I’ve found the fit secure enough for runs, gym workouts, cycles and even yoga. The Elite 4 Active buds don’t have the ShakeGrip coating on the Jabra Elite 7 Active and Elite 8 Active, which creates a slightly more secure fit, but I didn’t find it notably better when testing the Elite 7 Active buds.

Sound quality and ANC: The Elite 4 Active headphones sound great and you can adjust the EQ to suit your preferences. They offer powerful bass and clear sound across the range, and while pricier buds on this list offer better sound you pay more for that privilege.

It’s a similar story with ANC, though here the difference between the Elite 4 Active and the Apple and Bose buds is clearer. The Jabra earbuds filter out a lot and are great when traveling, but the ANC on newer, pricier headphones is more impressive.

Battery life: For small, lightweight headphones the Elite 4 Active offer great battery life, lasting seven hours on a charge and outperforming the Bose, Apple and Beats buds we’ve featured. A quick-charge feature gets you an hour of playback from 10 minutes in the case.

Alternatives: At their price the Elite 4 Active are the best workout earbuds you can get, unless you need a wing-tip or ear hook for a more secure fit. If you have a bigger budget then you get better sound and ANC from some of the buds listed below, or Jabra’s own Elite 8 Active.

Best Budget Earbuds

JLab Go Air Sport earbuds on a table in front of the charging case

(Image credit: Future)
Best Budget Earbuds

Specifications

Waterproof rating: IP55
Battery life: 8 hours, 32 hours with case
Noise cancellation: No
Transparency mode: No

Reasons to buy

+
Budget-friendly price
+
Secure fit from ear hook
+
Long battery life with case

Reasons to avoid

-
No noise cancellation
-
Sound quality just OK
-
Connectivity problems at times
Buy it if

You just want cheap workout buds: if you don’t want to risk spending big on headphones you might damage in the gym, or lose, then the JLab Go Air Sport headphones are an attractive option, and great value in general.

You find it hard to get headphones that fit: the earhook on these headphones means that they should work for most ears. So, if in-ear buds often come loose for you, these should be more secure.

You always lose your charging cable: not only do the JLab Go Ear Sport earbuds last a long time on a charge, their charging cable is also built-in to the case, so you should never mislay it. 

Don't buy it if

You’re an audiophile: the Sport earbuds don’t sound bad, but they can’t match the sound quality of the more expensive headphones on this list. They also only have three EQ modes, so you can’t personalize the sound as much as with other buds.

You stretch Bluetooth’s limits: I often keep my phone in a thigh pocket when running, and I found that the connection to the headphones was unreliable at this range. If you leave your phone at the side of the gym to train, this could be an issue.

You need ANC: There’s no ANC on the JLab earbuds, and if you frequently use headphones while traveling, as well as during workouts, ANC is a useful feature. You’ll need to spend more to get it though.

The JLab Go Air Sport headphones seem almost suspiciously cheap, but having tested them extensively I can say they’re a bargain—and the perfect pick for anyone who doesn’t want to spend big on workout earbuds.

Design: Despite the low price, the build quality is good and the IP55 water-resistance rating means the buds will withstand sweat or rain, even though they’re not fully waterproof. A connectivity concern I had was that the link between the buds and my phone sometimes dropped out if I had my phone in a thigh pocket—if you keep it around your waist, in a shorts pocket or on your arm, this won’t be a problem.

Fit: The fit is a stand-out feature because the ear hook design means the headphones stay in place no matter how energetic your workout is. I found them fine for running and bouncy HIIT sessions, and they even stayed in place during inverted yoga poses. I also found that I could wear glasses with the headphones without the hook getting in the way.

Sound quality: As you’d expect from headphones in this price range, the sound quality is not as good as on more expensive buds. It’s not so bad as to distract or annoy you during workouts, though. There are just three EQ modes and no noise cancellation, or a transparency mode, but that’s not surprising at this price. No, they won’t satisfy audiophiles, but the low price means you can use the JLab Go Air Sport headphones just for workouts and blow the rest of your budget on a better-sounding set of buds for general use—where you won’t need the ear hook and might want ANC.

Battery life: With eight hours of battery life on the headphones, plus another 24 hours in the case, you won’t need to charge up often. When you do, the charging cable is built-in to the case, so you’re unlikely to misplace it, something I found particularly useful.

Alternatives: JLab has the even cheaper Go Air Pop in its range as well, which are just as good as the Sport in all aspects, though they don’t have an ear hook, so the fit is less reliable for sport use. The Pop buds still fit quite well for low-intensity activities though, and have a smaller case than the Sport headphones because the in-ear buds are smaller.

Best For Sound Quality

Beats Fit Pro in case

(Image credit: Future)
Best For Sound Quality

Specifications

Waterproof rating: IPX4
Battery life: 6 hours, 18 hours with case
Noise cancellation: Yes
Transparency mode: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound quality
+
Effective noise cancellation
+
Ear-wing design gives secure fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Wing-tips can be uncomfortable
-
Controls are too sensitive
-
User can’t adjust EQ
Buy it if

You like powerful bass: the sound quality on the Beats Fit Pro is good in general, and they are particularly strong on bass. The powerful sound is ideal for pumping you up during testing gym workouts.

You need a wing-tip: The Jabra Elite Active headphones match or outperform the Fit Pro on many fronts and are cheaper, but the wing-tip on the Beats buds means they have a more secure fit.

You run outside: the awareness mode on the Beats Fit Pro is great and lets you hear your surroundings when running in busy areas without having to take the bud out.

Don't buy it if

You have sensitive ears: the hook on these buds made my ears sore when wearing them for long periods, which considerably detracts from the enjoyment of using them.

You need long battery life: Six hours on the buds is OK, but you can get more from other headphones, like the Jabra Elite 7 Active or Beats’s own Powerbeats Pro ear-hook headphones.

You love to tinker with sound settings: most headphones in this price range let you customize the EQ settings, but you can’t do this with the Fit Pro, so you have to stick to the default, bass-forward sound profile.

The Beats Fit Pro pack a mighty punch with regards to sound quality, and those seeking powerful bass won’t be disappointed. The sound is backed up by a secure fit and good ANC as well, making the Fit Pro one the most well-rounded sets of headphones I’ve tested, if not quite as impressive as the Jabra Elite 7 Active.

Design: The in-ear buds on the Fit Pro are held in place by a silicone wing-tip, with a button on the outside of each bud. I often clicked this accidentally when adjusting the fit of the headphones during workouts, which is annoying. The IPX4 rating of the headphones is the minimum you need for workout buds in my opinion, but is high enough that you can sweat without fear of damaging the headphones.

Fit: In my experience, the wing-tip on the Beats Fit Pro creates a secure fit for any kind of workout, including sweaty indoor runs and frenetic circuit training—but it’s not the most comfortable tip I’ve come across. When using the buds for long periods I found they caused discomfort, which lessens their appeal as headphones to use in the office as well as during workouts.

Sound quality and ANC: The Beats Fit Pro deliver powerful, clear sound, and while you can’t adjust the EQ settings on the buds, they do have Apple’s Adaptive EQ, which will tailor the sound to the shape of your ears. They also offer spatial audio when using Apple Music.

The ANC on the buds isn’t as impressive as that of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II or Apple AirPods Pro 2, but it still filters out a lot of external sounds, while the transparency mode is one of the few I’ve tested that works well on runs and cycles. Often this setting on in-ear buds lets in a lot of wind noise when outside, but not with the Beats Fit Pro.

Battery Life: While the Beats Fit Pro don’t last as long as the best buds from Jabra, or the Beats Powerbeats Pro ear-hook headphones, getting six hours from the headphones is still good, and you get an hour’s playback from just five minutes in the case.

Best For Running

Shokz OpenFit earbuds laid out on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

4. Shokz OpenFit

Best For Running

Specifications

Water resistance rating: IP54
Battery life: 7 hours, 28 hours with case
Noise cancellation: No
Transparency mode: Yes, open design

Reasons to buy

+
Open design
+
Comfortable over-ear fit
+
Good sound for open buds

Reasons to avoid

-
No noise cancellation
-
Fit can be loose for some people
-
In-ear buds sound better
Buy it if

You want to stay aware of the world: the open design of the OpenFit headphones means you can hear traffic and other external noises when exercising outdoors.

You find in-ear buds uncomfortable: since the OpenFit buds don’t enter your ear canal they’re comfortable to wear for long periods, and stay in place thanks to the earhook.

You don’t like bone-conduction headphones: another open option are bone-conduction headphones from brands like Shokz, but the OpenFit sound better than top bone-conduction options like the OpenRun.

Don't buy it if

You’re all about that bass: open headphones can’t match the sound quality of in-ear buds in general, and the OpenFit lack the powerful bass you get from buds like the Beats Fit Pro.

You want to block out the world: the open design of the OpenFit is good for staying aware while running outdoors, but if you work out indoors, or want noise cancellation in general, these are not your buds.

You’ll use them while traveling: another downside of the open design is that it can be hard to hear audio from the OpenFit when traveling on noisy trains and planes.

The OpenFit earbuds have a speaker that rests near your ear canal, rather than blocking it, so you can hear your audio while staying aware of what’s going on around you. This is great for runners who exercise outdoors and want to hear the sounds of traffic and other road or sidewalk users for safety reasons.

Design: The Shokz OpenFit buds have a soft silicone hook that holds them in place on top of the ear so a speaker is positioned near your ear canal. There’s a button on the outside of the buds to control playback, and the IP54 rating, while not fully waterproof, is enough to withstand sweat and rain.

Fit: I found the fit superb. They’re comfortable to wear all day and they stay in place reliably through a variety of workouts, including long indoor and outdoor runs. However, I know that others have found them to be a little loose on the run, so the shape of the top of your ear may be a factor.

Sound Quality: Open headphones don’t sound as good as the best in-ear options, but the Shokz OpenFit still offer reasonable sound quality, and you can customize the EQ in the companion app. Music is usually loud enough, even near busy roads, but without any noise cancellation it can be a struggle to hear audio when on loud public transport.

The trade-off for this is the extra awareness you get from the buds, which is handy for running and cycling. As a runner who generally pounds the sidewalks in a big city, I much prefer to have open buds like these to in-ear ones where I can’t hear anything around me.

Battery Life: Getting seven hours from the buds is good, and with another 21 in the case you’ll rarely have to plug in to charge. I found that if I turned the bass boost EQ on the battery drained a little faster when listening to music at high volume.

Alternatives: A cheaper open option is Shokz’s OpenRun bone-conduction headphones, though they don’t sound as good as the OpenFit buds.

Best For Noise-Canceling

Bose QC Earbuds II displayed on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

5. Bose QuietComfort EarBuds II

Best For Noise-Canceling

Specifications

Waterproof rating: IPX4
Battery life: 6 hours, 24 hours with case
Noise cancellation: Yes
Transparency mod: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class ANC
+
Excellent sound quality
+
Secure fit from wings

Reasons to avoid

-
Awareness mode not ideal for running
-
More expensive than rivals
-
Extra wing sizes cost extra
Buy it if

You want to block out the world: the Bose QC Earbuds II have the best ANC I’ve come across on earbuds. They are effective at filtering out almost everything around you, so you can focus on your music and your workout.

You want one set of headphones for everything: the QC Earbuds II are great for using in all situations, from the office to traveling and workouts.

You want top-notch sound quality: the QC Earbuds II sound amazing, and you can adjust the EQ in the partner app.

Don't buy it if

You’re on a budget: the main reason to avoid them is the high price, with even other expensive options, like the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and Beats Fit Pro, coming in cheaper. You can get a great experience from rivals for less.

You prefer smaller earbuds: the Bose buds are large and so is their case, which is harder to slip in a pocket than the small case of the AirPods Pro 2 or Jabra Elite 7 Active buds.

You don’t like wing-tips: the wings on the Bose QC Earbuds II ensure a secure fit during workouts, but make them less comfortable than a wing-less design.

Bose’s top earbuds are designed for everything life throws at you, with a secure fit that’s great for workouts, tremendous sound quality, and the best ANC you’ll find. If you really want to shut out the world, these are the buds for you.

Design: The Bose buds are quite large compared to others like the AirPods Pro 2, but sit comfortably and securely in the ear thanks to the wing-tips they come with, though you need to pay extra for XS or XL wings—the latter provides the most reliable fit for sport in my experience. The IPX4 water-resistance rating is the minimum you need for sport and the buds will keep sweat and rain at bay.

Fit: Despite being big buds I found that with the wings twisted into place the QC Earbuds stayed put for a variety of workouts, even if they’re not as secure as an earhook when tackling high-intensity gym sessions. The fit is also comfortable for long periods, though buds without a wing-tip are better on that front.

Sound quality and ANC: The Bose buds sound great out of the box but you can also adjust the EQ in the partner app, where you can personalize the sound and ANC using a hearing test. The ANC is remarkable in how much it filters out and the buds are excellent for traveling. They also have an awareness mode, which is handy for general life, though I found it let in a lot of wind noise during outdoor workouts like running and cycling.

Battery life: The Bose buds’ battery life is par for the course, and they hit the numbers listed. The quick-charge feature isn’t that quick though: two hours of playback from 20 minutes of charging, whereas the AirPods Pro 2 last an hour after a five-minute charge.

Alternatives: The AirPods Pro 2 offer nearly as good ANC and sound quality for a little less, and have a more comfortable, if slightly less secure fit. The Beats Fit Pro are another cheaper option, though if you really do want the best ANC going, it’s worth splashing out on the Bose buds.

Best For Apple Users

Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Apple)

6. Apple AirPods Pro 2

Best For Apple Users

Specifications

Water resistance rating: IPX4
Battery life: 6 hours, 30 hours with case
Noise cancellation: Yes
Transparency mode: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound quality
+
Excellent ANC
+
Comfortable fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit not as secure as others
-
Can’t adjust EQ
-
Android users lose features
Buy it if

You’re an Apple user: the AirPods Pro 2 offer seamless connectivity and easy switching with Apple’s other devices.

You want comfortable in-ear buds: the AirPods Pro 2 are the most comfortable in-ear headphones I’ve tested, and you can wear them for many hours without them irritating the ear canal.

You need good ANC and awareness modes: the noise cancellation on the AirPods Pro 2 is as good as anything, bar Bose’s, and the awareness mode is the best I’ve come across, allowing in external sounds without turning into a wind-awareness mode when outside.

Don't buy it if

You use an Android phone: the AirPods Pro 2 work with Android phones, but you lose a lot of handy features including Find my earbuds. Android users should check out the Samsung Galaxy Buds2.

You find that in-ear buds come loose during workouts: while the AirPods Pro 2 will stay in place for many people, I found that they squirmed loose during sweaty gym sessions and runs because they don’t have a wing-tip.

You’re on a budget: the AirPods Pro 2 are excellent but you can get buds that are nearly as good for less, including the Beats Fit Pro and Jabra Elite 8 Active.

Apple makes life easy for people who buy several of its products, and the AirPods Pro 2 connect instantly to iPhones and other Apple devices, and switch between them seamlessly. This ease of use comes on top of the excellent sound quality, comfort and ANC you get with the Pro 2 earbuds, making them a top option for anyone with an iPhone.

Design: The AirPods Pro 2 are small and the case is easy to slip into a pocket or rucksack. The IPX4 water-resistance rating on the buds isn’t as high as others, but is still enough to withstand hour upon hour of workouts. The stem controls work well, with pinches and swipes allowing you to control playback and activate Siri, or switch quickly between ANC and transparency modes.

Fit: I found that the AirPods Pro 2 came loose during runs and indoor workouts with lots of jumping, though not everyone experiences this problem when using the buds, and the issue can be solved easily with a pair of third-party wing-tips. The advantage of the wingless fit is that they are comfortable in-ear headphones that you can wear for hours on end.

Sound quality: The sound quality of the AirPods Pro 2 is excellent, and while you can’t adjust the EQ directly on the buds, Apple’s Adaptive EQ automatically tailors it to suit your ears. The buds also support Apple’s Spatial audio, though both these features only work with iPhones, not Android devices.

The ANC on the AirPods Pro 2 is excellent, especially given how small the buds are. It filters out most external sounds and is particularly useful when traveling. The transparency mode is also good: when running or cycling outside you can hear your surroundings without the wind muffling everything.

Battery Life: While there are earbuds that last longer, the battery life is pretty good on the AirPods Pro 2 given the small size of the headphones and their case. Even with ANC they’ll last six hours on a charge and, in a pinch, five-minutes charging in the case gets you an hour of playback.

Alternatives: If you want a small upgrade on sound and ANC the Bose QC Earbuds II are a little more expensive, while you can save a lot of money by picking up the Jabra or Beats buds listed here, which are still excellent all-rounders for sports and general use. 

Other Tried And Tested Earbuds

The earbuds below are all good options, but not quite good enough to make it to the top of our list. 

Jabra Elite 8 Active displayed on wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

Jabra Elite 8 Active

These earbuds offer some nice upgrades on the Jabra Elite 4 Active model, but not enough to warrant the price different

Specifications

Waterproof: Yes, IP68
Battery life: 8 hours, 32 with case (ANC on) 14 hours, 56 with case (ANC off)
Noise cancellation: Yes
Transparency mode: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Long battery life 
+
ShakeGrip coating for secure fit
+
Durable, waterproof design  
+
ANC and awareness modes 

Reasons to avoid

-
Cheaper Jabra options available
-
Wing-less fit won’t suit everyone
-
Can get better ANC and sound quality if you’re willing to pay more 

The Jabra Elite 8 Active are the top sports headphones in the company’s range, and although I think the Elite 4 Active buds offer better value as my overall best pick (above), there are good reasons to consider upgrading to the Elite 8 Active.

For one, the Elite 8 Active offer better sound quality and ANC (active noise cancellation), with the latter being a notable improvement on the ANC you get from the Elite 4 Active. I’d say for their price, you can’t get better ANC and sound, though the more expensive Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and Apple AirPods Pro 2 still outperform the Elite 8 Active headphones for me on this front.

The fit of the Elite 8 Active feels a little better than on the Elite 4 Active thanks to Jabra’s ShakeGrip coating. This might make the difference in keeping the wing-less buds in your ears during vigorous workouts, though the 4s stayed in place for me well. The battery life of the Elite 8 Active buds is also outstanding for such small earbuds, especially if you turn the ANC off.

Jabra has also upgraded the durability on its flagship sports buds, with the Elite 8 Active being waterproof, sweatproof and dustproof. The IP68 rating is higher than the IP57 on the Elite 4 Active, though the latter are also water resistant enough to withstand any workout.


Sony WF-1000XM4 workout earbuds

(Image credit: Molly Cleary)
Great sounding earbuds with a hefty price tag

Specifications

Waterproof: Yes (IPX4)
Battery life: 8 hours, 24 hours with case
Noise cancellation: Yes
Transparency mode: Yes, Ambient Sound

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive noise cancellation
+
High-quality audio, Premium design 

Reasons to avoid

-
Controls aren't intuitive
-
Expensive 

Sony is well-known for its commitment to high-quality audio, and we thought that the WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds live up to these standards. If you want a long-lasting pair of headphones for your training that sound great, we'd put these at the top of your list.  

Despite all the audio-focused features, they aren't overly complicated. Instead, they offer a hassle-free listening experience even during intense exercise. During testing, the earbuds stayed firmly in place while working out, and we could find a good fit from the range of tips. The companion app's fit test helped here, too.

Even with noise cancellation running, we saw that each earbud lasts for up to eight hours, topped up to 24 hours with the charging case. And we enjoyed the Ambient Sound mode, which helped us stay aware of other noises around us, like traffics, cyclists, and other runners. Plus, the Speak-to-Chat mode automatically pauses your music so you can chat without distraction.