Best workout earbuds 2020: the best gym headphones for getting a sweat on

How to choose the best workout earbuds to fill your ears with motivating beats, from Bose to Jabra

Best workout earbuds
(Image credit: Jaybird)

The best workout earbuds are an exercise essential, for what is a workout without music? An unpleasantly boring one, that’s what. And if drowning out the sound of whatever is going on around you isn’t a big enough excuse to invest in some decent workout earphones, there are also countless studies that have proven a link between music and exercise performance. So filling your ears with some bassy tunes might distract you from an arduous set of goblet squats, and help you smash your fitness goals.

But you don’t need me to tell you how a good set of wireless workout earphones is paramount when you’re getting a sweat on. What you do need is help in finding the best ones. So read on…

The best workout earbuds you can buy right now

My advice for anyone picking the best workout earphones is usually to go true wireless, as you’re going to feel more freedom in movement. My absolute favourite in this category is the Jaybird Run XT. Despite the name, they aren't just great for running and will prove a hit with any type of exercise. For around £130, they have a great all-round sound quality and are the most comfortable truly wireless earbuds I’ve ever worn. However, if you’re prone to easily losing things or you’re likely to be pulling your buds out every two minutes to chat to someone at the gym, then the wireless variety, which are connected by a single wire around the back of your neck, are a good bet. They can simply hang there when not in use, ready to be picked up and shoved in your lugs again. 

How to choose the best workout earbuds for you

So what should you be looking for when you’re about to blow some dollar on some workout buds? Well, the most important feature for exercising should be waterproofing. If you’re going to be wearing them while working out, they at least need to be resistant to sweat. Another necessity is comfort. There’s nothing worse than a distracting inner-ear itch caused by a badly-fitting pair of earbuds.

Clingability is important, too. Yes, I made that word up, but more often than not, exercise involves lots of moving about and if your sports earbuds aren’t staying in while you're flailing your limbs to and fro, then they’re just not worthy of your hard-earned dosh.

Last and certainly not least in the lineup of workout earphones must-have qualities is the audio experience. Tinny, absent sound just won’t cut it when you’re in the mood to burn some killer kcals. But a dynamic and juicy audio will help keep you engaged in whatever exercise you’re doing.

Essentially, the best pair of earphones you can buy for working out won't feel like you're wearing earphones at all. And so with that, here is my pick of the best…

The best workout earbuds to buy

Best workout earbuds

(Image credit: Jaybird)

1. JayBird Run XT

Best workout buds overall

Specifications
Waterproof: Yes, IPX7
Battery life: 4 hours
Noise cancellation: No
Weight per bud: 7g
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable and lightweight +Reliable connection and fit+Sound great
Reasons to avoid
-Poor battery life

The JayBird Run XT are the best earbuds out there for nearly all workout types. Whether you're cycling in the wind or doing star jumps in the rain, they cling on to your ears without ever failing to deliver excellent quality audio. They’re also some of the most comfortable I’ve ever tried, and especially suited to extended workouts, such as long distance cycling. 

If you like your workout music to really thump down your eardrums while training, rest assured these Jaybirds are loud if you need them to be. That's something I’ve found many wireless earphones lack these days, probably to keep up the battery life. The battery life on these, it must be said, is not terribly long so if you intend to wear them during a marathon, you had better get a move on.

Best workout earbuds

(Image credit: Bose)

2. Bose SoundSport Free

Best premium workout earbuds

Specifications
Waterproof: Yes, IPX4
Battery life: 5 hours
Noise cancellation: No
Weight per bud: 9g
Reasons to buy
+Unbeatable comfort +Great sound quality +Reliable connectivity
Reasons to avoid
-A little on the bulky side

The size of these things and the way they protrude might make you look a bit of a twit but if you can live with this, you’ll be rewarded with superb comfort and sound quality. They're the perfect accompaniment for a good ol’ weights sesh, although I wouldn't use them during a really vigorous workout or for running outdoors on a less than still day, as their shape makes them highly susceptible to wind noise. 

As you’d expect from Bose, you’ll find a great, full-bodied sound with deep, powerful bass. They are some of the best-sounding wireless earphones I’ve tested, in fact, though it's a shame they don’t feature the brand’s fabulous noise-cancelling tech. Still, they’re really well made, feeling robust and like they’ll last you a good while. 

Best workout earbuds

(Image credit: Mifo)

3. Mifo O5 PLUS

Best cheap workout earbuds

Specifications
Waterproof: Yes, IPX7
Battery life: 7 hours
Noise cancellation: No
Weight per bud: 4.6g
Reasons to buy
+Great battery life+Lightweight yet rugged
Reasons to avoid
-Not the greatest audio

A quality set of true wireless earphones that won’t break the bank, Mifo O5 Plus might be the cheapest true wireless earbuds in this lineup, but that doesn’t make them subpar. Far from it, in fact. 

They’ve been widely received as some of the best out there for sports, mainly due to their excellent battery life – a good seven hours of continuous use in a single charge, and a massive 100 hours of total use with the charging case, which is handy for ultra marathons, and also for people who habitually forget their charging cables. 

The aluminium design with blue and red rings might be a little cheap looking, but if you can look past that, you’ve got yourself a superb pair of truly wireless earphones for the price.

Best workout earbuds

(Image credit: Jabra)

4. Jabra Elite Active 75t

A pair of workout buds that's ready to handle anything you throw at them

Specifications
Waterproof: Yes, IP57
Battery life: 7.5 hours
Noise cancellation: No
Weight per bud: 5.5g
Reasons to buy
+Superb battery life+Excellent sound+Unshakeable fit
Reasons to avoid
-Can become uncomfortable after an hour or so

If your workout routine usually involves you moving around a lot - sometimes in more extreme environments - then opt for the Jabra Elite Active 75t. They’re the only earphones on this list that are IP57-rated, meaning they’re fully waterproof and sweatproof and resistant to dust. So, yes, you could go for a run on the beach in them, jump in the sea and then roll around in the sand and they'd survive. That sounds like fun, too.

Jabra's compact buds also cling onto your ears like a limpet, failing to fly off no matter how dramatic your hair flick. Offering motion detection, voice control, and a stylish look, Jabra’s buds almost have it all, apart from a cheap RRP – but you get what you pay for here. 

Best workout earbuds

(Image credit: Nuraphones)

5. Nura NuraLoop

The best workout earbuds for sound quality

Specifications
Waterproof: Described as 'Sweatproof'
Battery life: 16 hours
Noise cancellation: Yes, active
Weight per bud: 25g
Reasons to buy
+Very long battery life+Sound amazing+Excellent, comfy fit
Reasons to avoid
-Not true wireless

A personalised audio experience that sounds like no other, Nuraloop are very clever AI earbuds that automatically assess and adapt to your hearing, creating a sound personalised to you. Via an app, Nuraloop 'listens' to your ear canal and creates a listening profile just for you. The resulting sound is simply stunning and highly immersive. 

Accompanying this is a thoughtful design that touts adjustable ear-hugging bands for a more comfortable fit, as well as touch controls. Nuraloop even comes with an analogue cable that can be cleverly attached, magnetically, to a proprietary charging contact so you can use the buds as non-wireless earphones when you need to. I'm not sure how useful that is for most people but it is, again, very clever.