On-Ear vs Over-Ear Headphones for Working Out: Which Are Better?

Both on-ear and over-ear headphones can work well when working out, and it depends on your preferences and type of workout as to which one is best. On-ear is better for playing sports or other fast-paced exercises. Over-ear works well for weight lifting.

This post will compare on-ear versus over-ear headphones to help you decide which is better for working out. I’ll give you the pros and cons of each option to show which matches the type of exercise and workouts you like. 

Let’s turn up the volume and get going. 

Key Takeaways

  • Both on-ear and over-ear headphones can be good for working out, and it depends on what type of exercise you do. 
  • On-ear headphones are better for playing sports or other movement-heavy activities because they will stay in place on your head. 
  • Over-ear headphones offer superior sound but are bulkier, so they are better for more static workouts like lifting weights.

On-Ear vs Over-Ear Headphones for Working Out

On-Ear HeadphonesOver-Ear Headphones
Stays in place betterSuperior sound quality 
Longer battery life (if wireless)Shorter batter life (if wireless)
Better for running, jumping, and sportsBetter for weight lifting
Smaller, compact profileBulkier and heavier
More sweat and water resistant optionsNot as many sweat and water resistant options

If you like to workout, then you likely need a good set of headphones to help you get in the zone and get after it. Working out while listening to music can give you better focus to help you push yourself and make the most out of every workout. 

So which style of headphones should you go with? The answer to this depends on the type of workout you like to do most often and any other preferences you might have. So let’s break some of those down here. 

On-ear headphones stay in place better and are probably the most commonly used headphones for working out. Their design secures onto your ear and will stay in place better than in-ear and over-ear options. 

This makes on-ear headphones the option to choose if you work out by playing sports or doing other fast-paced manuevers like running or jumping. Over-ear style will tend to fall off during these activities. 

But if you want superior sound quality and the ability to block out more outside noise, over-ear headphones are the way to go. The larger size of these gives you better sound, which can help you focus when you need to go hard. 

Over-ear headphones are worn by weightlifters. If you like to get in the gym and pump iron, over-ear headphones can work well because they will bump music, and you don’t need to worry about them falling off because you’re not jumping around. 

On-ear styles typically offer a longer battery life than over-ear if you want to work out with wireless headphones. You still get a long enough battery to finish a workout with over-ear, but you’ll need to charge them more frequently. 

On-ear options are also smaller and more compact, making them easier to throw in your gym bag or wear. Over-ear options are bulkier and can take up more space in your bag and on your head. 

Another thing to consider is that you’ll likely work up a sweat when working out, so you want to get headphones that can handle this. There are more options for sweat and water-resistant headphones with on-ear styles than over-ear styles. 

You can still find over-ear headphones that offer some level of sweat or water resistance. You’re just not likely to find an option that does as well at staying dry as on-ear models. 


Here are a few short answers to some of the most frequently asked questions relating to on-ear and over-ear headphones for working out. 

What is the best style of headphones for working out? 

On-ear headphones are typically seen as the best style of headphones for working out. This style is more compact but will stay in place on your head even when doing a strenuous activity with lots of movement. But other types can work well. 

Are over-ear headphones OK for working out? 

Over-ear headphones are OK for working out, especially if you just do weight lifting. These headphones are bulkier and won’t stay on your head as well as on-ear options. But they can still work fine if you aren’t running and jumping around a lot. 

Do over-ear headphones fall off when running? 

Over-ear headphones can fall off when running or doing other active movements. You can still run in them, but you might have better luck with different styles of headphones if you don’t want to deal with them not staying in place. 

What headphones do gym rats use? 

There are many types of gym rats out there, and that means they use many types of headphones. Many people who go to the gym often use on-ear or over-ear style headphones, depending on their workout type.

How to Choose Headphones for Working Out

Take the following factors into account, your decision-making will be much easier.


It’s always ideal to find out the sound quality and bass output of the headphones. You can know this quickly by checking the frequency range.

The frequency range of headphones must be remarkably high enough to drown out every low-frequency hum. With such a feature, you’ll notice the vocals from a song will be audible, and the sound beats will sound crisp, even in ambient noise.


You can’t negotiate comfort if you want to enjoy using these headphones in the Gym. Already, you are doing something that’s not so fun!

Hence, you don’t need another thing to add to your discomfort, especially if you’re going to be working out for long hours. How do you check for this? You must confirm if the manufacturer states that it has a clamp and fitment pressure.

Also, avoid going for heavyweight headphones that can weigh you down while you carry large weights in the Gym.


It’s essential to check if the headphones you plan to get come with great noise-isolation technology. You don’t want to be hearing every distracting sound in the background while you listen to your songs. It could be distracting!

Generally, everything largely depends on your budget. Most premium-quality headphones usually come with a solid noise-isolation and cancellation technology. Some budget ones do, though, but it’s kind of rare.

Build Quality

No one wants always to replace headphones every month. We all want to have something that lasts long. Thus, it’s wise to check the track record of the model you intend to buy.

How has the manufacturer faired in the past? Do they have excellent customer reviews? All these and more are what you should check for before making your purchase.


Of course, there is a particular headphone for everyone that visits the Gym. But you must realize that price and quality are best friends. Hence, have that in mind when you’re making your purchase.

What Are The Best Over-ear Headphones for Working Out?

Here is a list of our top recommendations, along with a quick review of each option.

1. Mpow 059 Headphones

The Mpow 059 is pretty standard amongst many users because of its affordable price. But that doesn’t mean the manufacturer compromised its quality. Surprisingly, it’s very durable and tough to handle your rigorous workouts as opposed to many other affordable options.

The sound quality of the headphones is pretty decent, with great options for improvements. From one look at the headphones, you’ll notice that the manufacturer had aesthetics in mind. The exterior has a glossy black color on the sides and red highlights. You can find them in seven different color combinations.

You can’t get upset with the battery life, as it lasts for up to 20 hours when it’s fully charged within 4 hours. Also, you can use it in wired mode when the battery runs out, and you’re outdoors.

2. V-MODA Crossfade

The V-MODA Crossfade is a perfect combination of sturdy build design and remarkable sound production. No doubt, the designers had design-build in mind when they created this beauty. Plus, it doubles as gaming can, it’s not only for working out.

One striking feature of the headphones is the hexagonal shape of the earcups which makes it stand out amongst the conventional round shape. With 12 hours of battery life, you can enjoy this awesome device as long as it gets fully charged. And when it’s out of juice, you can convert it to a wired headphone.

The metal backplate on the earcups is another trademark of the V-Moda headphones. You can customize or replace them, though. If you’re an EDM fan, you’ll love this device as it gives you a wholesome experience when you play songs with heavy notes.

3. Avantree Audition

Two words that best describe the Avantree Audition are lightweight and multipurpose. Its unique lightweight and excellent design make it an excellent choice for runners and people that carry heavy-duty tasks in the Gym.

It comes with a unique glossy look with a dull matte black finish for the clamp. The plastic and faux black leather used for the finishing is pretty decent. Another great feature of the headphone is its flexibility. It can be adjusted to fit various ear sizes.

To add to its comfort, the manufacturers created soft plush earcups that protect the ears. Amongst all the features, the one that struck us the most is its remarkable battery life that lasts long for up to 40 hours, which is almost two days non-stop.

4. Bose SoundLink

If you’ve ever used a Bose headphone before, then you’d have noticed that the manufacturer pays gross attention to comfort and safe sound signature.

Well, the designers lived up to expectations for the Bose SoundLink headphones. This particular model comes with fantastic fitment and the ability to become inconspicuous when you wear it. These features make it an excellent option for sportspeople.

To add more to its comfort feature, the producers, this time around, made the earcups have an oval racetrack shape. Plus, they sit moderately on large ears without exerting any pressure.

The clamp of the headphones is pretty stable with low force. For 15 hours, you can enjoy playing music with these headphones non-stop.

Final Thoughts

There are pros and cons to any style of headphones, so keep the breakdown of on-ear versus over-ear headphones in mind as you explore which options are best for your workouts. Either can work well. It just depends on what you like best. 

I prefer to use on-ear headphones because they stay in place well and offer superior battery life and protection from sweat and water. But I know plenty of people who use over-ear headphones and enjoy them. 

What type of headphones do you use for working out and why? Let me know in the comments below. 

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