Choosing the right earbuds for your workout routine can be a very different process than finding a pair for casual, everyday listening. The best fitness buds need to hold up to intense exercise, whether you’re just in for a quick gym session or drenched in sweat on mile 25 of a marathon.
Battery life is crucial, and most people prefer them to have a lively sound that can motivate and keep things moving down the stretch of a workout. And most critical of all, they need to reliably stay in your ears during exercise without constant readjustment.
If you’re searching for a pair of regular, bring-everywhere buds, these might not be the right fit: instead, check out our best earbuds guide for those picks.
The best workout earbuds of 2023
The best gym earbuds for most people
Noise cancellation: Yes / Battery life: 6 hours / Water and sweat resistance: IPX4 / Warranty: One year / Controls: Physical buttons, voice
The best running and gym earbuds you can buy right now are the Beats Fit Pro earbuds. And Apple now sells them in even more colors like bright yellow, pink, and blue. The Powerbeats Pro were our go-to exercise bud recommendation for years — and they’re still great if you need the stability of ear hooks — but the Fit Pros are much smaller, easier to take anywhere, and include active noise cancellation. That’s something the Powerbeats never offered, and the ANC can help drown out obnoxious grunters and screamers at your local gym. If you want to hear your surroundings, just switch over to transparency mode to pipe in ambient sound. As for the sound, the Fit Pros offer plenty of kick and oomph in the bass — but nothing near the bloated boom of older Beats headphones.
Instead of wraparound ear hooks, the Beats Fit Pro earbuds have permanently attached, flexible wings that hook into your ear to keep them secure and anchored in place no matter how strenuous your fitness regime is. Ask anyone you know that owns them: these things really don’t budge. And for controls, Beats critically uses tactile button presses instead of capacitive tap gestures, which makes all the difference when you’re trying to skip a track while mid-stride.
The Fit Pros are rated IPX4 for water and sweat resistance. That’s not the best among our fitness earbud picks, but it’s standard for the category. They’ll last for up to six hours on a single charge with noise cancellation turned on, which should be plenty to motivate you through any race or workout of the day. The case is good for another 18 hours of total playback time. With bonus Apple ecosystem features like spatial audio (with head tracking), audio sharing, and more, the Beats Fit Pro deliver a ton of functionality and value for their price.
Best cheap workout earbuds
Noise cancellation: No / Battery life: 8 hours / Water and sweat resistance: IPX7 / Warranty: One year / Controls: Physical buttons
If you’re looking to spend under $100 and still come away with a satisfactory set of workout earbuds, Anker’s Soundcore brand — as is often the case — is the go-to recommendation. The Soundcore Sport X10 have pliable, rotatable wraparound ear hooks that guarantee they’ll stay in place from start to finish. And their flexibility can make them even more comfortable than Beats’ Powerbeats Pro. They’ve got a bass-forward sound tuning and IPX7 water resistance, making them basically impervious to rain and even the sweatiest gym sessions.
The Sport X10s last for up to eight hours on a charge, and their slim charging case won’t take up much room in your gym bag. You can pick between 22 different EQ settings in Soundcore’s app, and the earbuds have a transparency mode to pipe in outside sound when you need it. For just $79.99 (and often on sale for less), there’s a lot of value packed into the Sport X10s.
The best-sounding fitness earbuds
Noise cancellation: No / Battery life: 9 hours / Water and sweat resistance: IP54 / Warranty: One year / Controls: Tap gestures
If you’re a fitness buff and also an audiophile, Sennheiser’s Sport Earbuds might be the ideal choice. They don’t compromise on sound and have integrated fins for a secure fit. And while technically there’s no noise cancellation, Sennheiser took a unique approach and includes both closed and open-style ear tips in the box; the former provides natural noise isolation, while the latter will make it easier to hear your surroundings and eliminate your own breathing or footstep sounds. There’s even a toggle in the Smart Control app that optimizes the EQ depending on what style of tip you’re wearing.
With an IP54 rating against dust and water and up to nine hours of continuous playback, the Sport Earbuds should be up to the task of handling any workout routine or race. Their sound profile offers plenty of bass kick without any unwanted muddiness. These earbuds don’t have many frills, but they deliver where it counts for exercise.
Best running earbuds that don’t need fins
Noise cancellation: Yes / Battery life: 8 hours / Water and sweat resistance: IP57 / Warranty: Two years / Controls: Buttons, voice
Jabra’s Elite 7 Active earbuds have a special outer coating that helps them remain in your ears even during vigorous exercise — without the help of wing tips or fins that some people find uncomfortable. They also support multipoint connectivity, so you can connect them to two devices at the same time.
Instead of hooks or fins that some ears don’t agree with, Jabra’s Elite 7 Active earbuds use a special coating that the company calls “ShakeGrip” to keep them sturdy regardless of how sweaty your ears get over the course of a workout. They also offer adjustable active noise cancellation, so you can personalize the level of ANC that feels right for whatever activity you’re doing. Moreover, Jabra beats out Beats and other competitors with more substantial IP57 certification against dust, water, and sweat. Battery life also bests some rivals by stretching up to eight hours.
These provide the same sound quality as Jabra’s flagship Elite 7 Pro buds. The only difference is that the Pros are optimized for voice call performance and everyday use, whereas these stick to the fitness realm. You can customize that audio profile using the hearing analysis in Jabra’s
If you’d prefer to spend less, Jabra’s Elite 4 Active buds maintain the IP57 durability while omitting features like multipoint, wireless charging, and the adjustable noise cancellation. But giving those up drops the price down to $119, and you can often find the Elite 4 Actives for under $100 when they’re on sale.
The safest workout earbuds when running outside
Noise cancellation: No / Battery life: 5.5 hours / Water and sweat resistance: IPX4 / Warranty: One year / Controls: Wide-area controls
The donut-style hole in the middle of Sony’s LinkBuds makes them unbeatable if you need to maintain situational awareness when you’re running or walking outside. Only bone conduction earphones would keep your ears more open to the outside world. The tradeoff is that you might have to crank the volume in louder environments like city streets, but some people prefer that if it means hearing the world around them at all times.
They’ve certainly got a unique style and shape, but Sony’s unconventional design helps the LinkBuds stay put quite well in my ears. You can swap between five different sizes of “fitting supporters” that lock into your ear concha to keep the LinkBuds in place more securely. They offer IPX4 certification against water and sweat and can last for up to six hours on a charge.
Next to their open design and great voice call performance, my favorite thing about the LinkBuds is Sony’s “wide area” controls. These allow you to tap your cheek near the earbuds to skip tracks and activate other controls; you don’t need to touch the actual buds at all. This can be a relief mid-workout when you don’t have to be so precise about exactly where you’re tapping.
Self-cleaning fitness earbuds
Noise cancellation: Yes / Battery life: 10 hours / Water and sweat resistance: IP67 / Warranty: One year / Controls: Tap gestures
If you’re not the most diligent when it comes to cleaning your earbuds, LG’s Tone Free Fit TF8 buds have you covered; while the case is closed and the buds are charging, UV-C light kills “99.9 percent of bacteria on the ear gels,” according to LG. That’s not the only unique trick that these earbuds are capable of. You can also plug the case into a 3.5mm aux output — on a plane or at the gym, for example — and have that audio play over the wireless earbuds.
Aside from those standout features, the Tone Free Fit TF8 earbuds are also some of the most comfortable fitness buds I’ve worn, and that’s even with the integrated fins. They include active noise cancellation, a decent transparency mode, and up to 10 hours of uninterrupted playback time (with 30 hours total including the charging case).
The best audio sunglasses for hikes and outdoor workouts
Noise cancellation: No / Battery life: 8 hours / Water and sweat resistance: IPX4 / Warranty: One year / Controls: Buttons, temple swipe gestures, voice
In some cases, audio glasses like Bose’s Frames lineup can be a smarter choice than traditional earbuds. They keep your ears completely free and shield your eyes from the sun — all while playing audio directed at your ears from the built-in speakers on the temples.
The Frames Tempo are the most sporty of Bose’s lineup; they don’t look out of place next to a pair of Oakleys or similar shades. More important is that they provide the longest battery life (around eight hours) and best bass performance of any of the Frames. It’s still not going to match the low-end boom of earbuds that are actually seated in your ear canal, but you’ll get enough bass to keep it moving during outdoor runs or hikes. The hardware is rated IPX4 for water and sweat resistance, so as long as you avoid the heaviest downpours, you should be just fine.
Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge
Update March 17th, 11:45AM ET: The buying guide was updated with new formatting and details on new Beats Fit Pro color options.