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Best over-ear headphones for working out 2022

The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, wearing the UA Project Rock Over-ear Headphones.
(Image credit: Under Armour)

Maybe you're here because wireless earbuds or on-ear headphones aren't what you want for your workout routine. You like the idea of over-ear cans that can better immerse you in the tunes or content, motivating you to get sweaty and reach your goals. If that's you, look no further than the pairs we've lined up here because they've got the goods to get you moving.

Wrap your head around these best over-ear headphones for working out

Woman on street wearing the Sony WH-1000XM5.

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony WH-1000XM5

Best overall

Reasons to buy

+
Class-leading ANC performance
+
Long battery life
+
Customizable sound
+
Fast charging capable
+
Great call quality
+
Pair with two devices at once

Reasons to avoid

-
No simultaneous charging & listening
-
Careful getting too sweaty with them

Normally, I wouldn't recommend any pair of headphones for workouts when they have no water or sweat resistance, but I make an exception for the Sony WH-1000XM5 for a couple of reasons. First, these can handle light workouts or jogs with ease. Yoga or stretching routines are also perfectly fine. The second reason is most over-ear headphones won't give you certified water or sweat resistance, so you have to manage on your own. Keep these clean and dry, and you should be okay.

It's just hard to overlook these cans because they're so good in many respects. The audio performance is superb, giving you an excellent bass-heavy sound signature that you can always tune yourself through Sony's Connect app. That's also where you'll find a "clear bass" slider to add a little extra to the bass response when your workout calls for it. 

Then there's the active noise cancelation (ANC) performance, courtesy of Sony's QN1 processor and a dual noise sensor that do an outstanding job blocking out background noise. If your plan is to silence the world around you as you do what you have to do, there is no better pair of over-ears to do it for you. Even their predecessors, the WH-1000XM4, still rank among the best in the industry for their own ANC performance. 

You also get superb battery life to keep you going, with up to 30 hours per charge (depending on volume level and ANC use). Fast charging is always nice when you need a quick boost for playback as you're set to work out. However, if you plan to charge and listen at the same time when you're not working out, you won't be able to, unfortunately. 

Man in a gym putting on Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100.

(Image credit: Plantronics (Poly))

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100

Best durability

Reasons to buy

+
IPX5 protection
+
Lightweight and comfortable
+
Good sound quality
+
Decent ambient mode
+
Great battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
No ANC
-
Touch controls are too sensitive
-
No aptX support
-
micro-USB charging

These headphones came out in 2019, but don't let their age detract you. Plantronics built these headphones to handle some sweat, courtesy of the IPX5 rating. That's not super rugged by all accounts, but for over-ear headphones, it's a bonus you can easily appreciate after a workout. The lightweight and comfortable fit certainly helps, and their nimbler size is less likely to get in your way during a workout.

You won't get as much bass with these as you will with others on this list, but you should expect a solidly balanced soundstage. Just a shame there's no support for aptX. You can always adjust how they sound using the BackBeat app, though you're limited with your options. Unfortunately, you lose out on any form of ANC, so your only method to drown out background noise is to get a good fit for passive isolation. You do get the benefit of an awareness mode to hear ambient noise when you need it though.

While you can customize the controls, to some degree, you can't do much about their sensitivity. It's not that the touch controls aren't responsive, it's that they're too responsive. You might try to hit pause only to end up skipping a track by accident. 

Battery life is superb at up to 24 hours per charge, though it will depend on how loud you're listening to them. Plantronics tuned these headphones a little lower by default, so you will likely need to raise the volume in a busier environment. The downside is that they charge via micro-USB, which now feels like a forgotten relic compared to the common USB-C ports.

The Rock Dwayne Johnson wearing the Project Rock Over-Ear Headphones.

(Image credit: Under Armour)

UA Project Rock Over-Ear Headphones

Best style

Reasons to buy

+
Bass lovers will like the sound
+
Removable and washable ear cushions
+
Physical button controls
+
Decent ANC and TalkThru
+
Excellent battery life
+
Unique styling

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass might be too much for some
-
Ear cushions can get hot

The Rock himself, Dwayne Johnson, endorsed these over-ear headphones under the Project Rock branding coming from Under Armour and JBL. The collaboration has an obvious fitness element to it, along with styling featuring the Brahma Bull emblazoned on each ear cup. Whether you like the overall look or not is subjective, but there's little doubt they will stand out in a crowd.

Two key things about the design also stand out. The IPX4 rating, though not-so-rugged as it generally is, gives you better protection than a vast majority of over-ear cans do. You can also remove and wash the fabric ear cushions, adding an extra sanitary condition to these headphones. Sweat in them after a while, and then give them a good wash to feel fresh again.

So, how do they sound? If you want bass, you'll get plenty here. These Project Rock cans are unsurprisingly tuned to deliver a thick response on the low end, all the more noticeable when you select the Rock's own EQ in the JBL Headphones app. Turn on ANC and the effect is even more pronounced. Headphones like these aren't made to give you a really balanced soundstage, though you can at least make your own custom adjustments in the app.

The good news is you can keep the music playing for several workouts before you even need to recharge them. With ANC on, the Project Rock lasts 40 hours, assuming volume levels aren't too high. If you're in a crunch for time heading out to the gym with low power, plug in for five minutes and you can get up to two hours of playback.

Woman wearing the Skullcandy Hesh ANC in white.

(Image credit: Skullcandy)

Skullcandy Hesh ANC

Best bass for less

Reasons to buy

+
Good, bass-heavy sound
+
Comfortable fit
+
Decent ANC and ambient modes
+
OK battery life
+
Tile tracking built-in

Reasons to avoid

-
No app support
-
Limited codec support

The Hesh ANC aren't Skullcandy's best pair of over-ear headphones, but they come in at a good price and deliver a bass-boosted sound profile out of the box. You notice this at default volume, and more so as you creep up the volume. The strong low-end comes with moderate mids and highs, and unfortunately, you can't make any adjustments because the Hesh ANC aren't supported by Skullcandy's app. No special Bluetooth codecs here — it's just SBC.

Equally important is how well they fit, and how comfortable they are wearing them over longer periods — both strong suits for these cans. You don't need to worry so much about that during a longer workout or run. When you want to block out all noise, you can turn on ANC, which is decent, though not all that exceptional. The ambient mode is solid when you want to hear the background. 

For the price, it's a package that works. The only catch is the Hesh ANC don't have any certified water and sweat resistance, making it all the more important to wipe them down and clean them regularly to keep them going.

Battery life is pretty good at up to 22 hours per charge, depending on ANC and volume levels. Use those liberally, and you're falling under 20 hours. They do charge via USB-C and can do so fairly quickly. It's also worth noting these cans have Tile built in, letting you find them in case you misplaced or lost them.

Wearing the Anker Soundcore Life Q30.

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)
Best value

Reasons to buy

+
Superb audio quality
+
Outstanding battery life
+
Better build this time
+
Great companion app
+
ANC support
+
Affordable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited touch controls
-
Bulky design
-
Unclear long-term durability

Anker didn't give the Soundcore Life Q30 any certifiable protection from water or sweat, but we liked them a lot when we reviewed them. A number of things are impressive here, and despite not having an IP rating, they are worth a shot if you want affordable cans to wear during runs or workouts. The one cautionary note, however, is that you need to take care of them to make them last. 

They sound great for what you pay, and a lot of the credit for that goes to a resonant soundstage. You can get plenty of bass if you want that, or if you'd rather listen to something different, the excellent Soundcore app gives you a customizable equalizer and over 20 presets. 

The fit and comfort are nice, giving you good passive isolation to start, though you can always turn on ANC to drown out the background when you want. The app gives you three distinct ANC settings to try out, and you don't lose out on audio quality when you enable the cancelation, too.

And you can do it all for a long while. The Soundcore Life Q30 can go for up to 40 hours with ANC enabled, and it goes up to a ridiculous 60 hours when leaving it off. For those rare times you need a quick jolt, plug in via USB-C for five minutes and get four hours of playtime.

Woman working out with Treblab Z2 headphones.

(Image credit: Treblab)

Treblab Z2

Best versatility

Reasons to buy

+
IPX4 protection
+
Lightweight and comfortable
+
Very good sound quality
+
Decent ANC performance
+
Solid battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Don't fold closed
-
micro-USB charging

You may not have heard of Treblab, or if you have, considered the Z2 as a credible option for the gym, but you'd be surprised, either way. These headphones have solid utility, starting with the IPX4 water and sweat resistance. That's not overly rugged, if we're being honest, but it's much better than most over-ears out there.

That's not the only reason the Z2 make the cut. They produce better sound quality than their price would otherwise indicate. Not to say they'll sound like headphones triple the price, but they do a great job delivering sonic performance anyone can appreciate. Good bass with real verve in the mids and highs. 

On top of that, you get pretty good ANC to go with it all, drowning out a good portion of the background to focus on your workout while the tunes play to pump you up. The sound actually gets a boost because of the ANC, so you're often better off leaving it on to get the most out of the audio.

Plus, you can enjoy it all for long periods, thanks to the battery life lasting up to 35 hours per charge. Mind you, that's with ANC off. Turn it on, and it easily chops off 10 hours, which may go even lower if you raise the volume. No fast charging options here, so when it's time to fill them back up, you'll need to wait about three hours.

Got you covered for every workout

When you look at the best headphones, they're not all ideal for workout regimens. You have plenty of options when it comes to wireless earbuds and other headphone types, whereas over-ears are a trickier mix to figure out. But they're out there, as this list makes clear. 

Despite the lack of certified protection, the Sony WH-1000XM5 are world-class, and if you treat them right, they should be able to get you through workouts with incredible clarity and noise cancelation. But if you're more comfortable with protection in place, the UA Project Rock Over-Ear Headphones and Treblab Z2 are always available as alternatives to get you through the sweatiest of workouts.

Ted Kritsonis
Ted Kritsonis

Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.