Over-ear Headphones vs. Ear buds for working out

Over-ear Headphones vs. Ear buds for working out

Are you on the market for the best Over-ear Headphones or best Earbuds for working out?

Make no mistake; there are numerous types of headphones on the market today than there was a few years ago. From noise-canceling headphones, budget over-ear headphones to wireless open-back headphones, all of these come with different kinds of characteristics, sound qualities, and of course, different designs- among many other factors. But, which is better between over-ear headphones vs earbuds for working out?

Sweatproof over-ear headphones with a firm overhead grip are far more superior and better off than earbuds, which seem to fall off far often as you workout in the gym. While earbuds offer discreet and fashionability, rigorous gym workouts demand a fairly good grip and noise-canceling capability, which is an excellent addon you get from over-ear headphones than earbuds.

Nonetheless, there are so many different brands that specialize in making headphones as well as earbuds (some focus on making only one of these).

Some examples of the brands that have risen in terms of popularity around the world are Sennheiser, Skull Candy, Grado, and not forgetting the beats headphones (which have traveled to almost every part of the globe), just to mention a few.

Generally, when manufacturing headphones, the brand will first consider the purpose for which the headphones or ear buds should be used, because this will greatly lead to the outcome of the design of those particular headphones- which will be to fit that purpose.

That being said, some headphones are made to be used only in the studio. Such headphones have a design as well as the frequency response characteristics that allow them to be fit for all your music recording or sound mixing sessions.

On the other hand, we have those headphones made for those of us who like to travel a lot.

Some headphones are even made to be of all uses. However, such headphones are very tricky to find, and most of them do not really deliver the sound quality that you would normally expect from them. Also, these headphones tend to be a little expensive that most other types of headphones.

My favorite types of headphones are those that are made for work outs, mainly because I’m a gym person myself- well… Sort of. Does walking 3 blocks to work count as workout?

The best part is that our brands that manufacture headphones recognized the need to have headphones and earbuds perfect.

In this article we would like to talk about workout sound as a whole. Then we will look at the various features or design characteristics of headphones and earbuds and give you a comparison.

The main aim here is to know which one of these headphones would be best suited for you when you finally decide to join me at the gym- that’s if… you’ll ever find me there.

Headphones or Earbuds- Which ones are best suitable for the workout?

Before jumping to conclusions, here’s something you must know. To best decide if headphones or earbuds would be suitable for the gym, there are a couple of factors that should be taken into account.

Below are the main factors:


This factor sets in on when you are going to the gym. Most of us didn’t invest on our own home gym, which means that we have to travel to that gym around the corner, across the street, out of town- and basically wherever the gym may be located.

As such, when you are commuting to your favorite gym, it is important that you should have headphones or ear buds, and specifically the ones that are portable.

But, why?

When headphones or ear buds are portable, it simply means that they will be easy for you to carry around. So, am talking about the weight and the size of the headphones.

If you have very large headphones, they will be very hard for you to carry. Yet, this can be made simple if you have a carrying case or a pouch, into which the headphones will be carried in.

Overall, in terms of the portability, I think in-ear headphones will most likely win. They are the lightest and the smallest and they can fit into just about every pocket (except for that little pocket on your jeans- nothing fits in there), which automatically makes them the most portable headphones to carry with you to the gym.

On the other hand, over-the-ear headphones are almost always large in size. While most of them can come in a carrying case and are foldable, we to admit that the in-ear headphones will be a much better option.


Durability is another important factor, particularly when you are choosing earpieces for your workouts. Why am I saying this?

When you are at the gym, you are active- your head and the rest of the body are moving (but, of course this can depend on what exercises you are doing). Either way, you are very physical, meaning that your headsets are at a risk of falling of your head once or twice, and they will.

As such, you need to have headphones that will not easily fall of your head. Fortunately, there are so many types of headphones that are designed with cups and a padding that can really get a firm grip of your ears, without compromising its great comfort, which we will talk about in just a moment.

The term durability really leans a lot to the material of the model. It is very important to have headphones that were built with a strong material. In this case, you will be able to use them seamlessly even after a few drops per your gym sessions.

On top of that, you need to have water-resistant headphones- because when it comes to working out, sweating is inevitable.

The sweat can really damage the headphones, particularly the interiors, leading to issues like rusting of the internal parts, which can eventually kill your headphones.

However, water resistant headphones are very easy to find. How do you find them? It is very simple, just look for headphones that have been marked with the IPX rating. Once you see that marking, you have hit your gold mine.

Okay, so I’m sure you are about to ask if headphones are more durable than ear buds or vice versa. Generally, there is no particular difference between headphones and ear buds, especially when we are looking at the durability characteristic.

If both the ear buds and the headphones are built with a low quality material, they will both break when they fall of your ears- or when they fall a few times.

Also, if you go for headphones or ear buds that are not water resistant, you will suffer in the same way, after the same amount of time.

As such, I just recommend that you go for the IPX rated headphones or ear buds, both that are also made with a strong material.


I’m sure that you can agree with me that you can’t concentrate on your workout when you are dealing with uncomfortable headphones.

There are so many headphones that were designed to give users the maximum comfort, regardless of what activity the users may be up to, including working out.

In this case, most people prefer to have ear buds. The problem with ear buds is that they are not suitable for people with shallow ear canals.

If you fit that description, then I would recommend that you should use on-ear headphones. The advantage of on-ear headphones (well, at least some of them) is that they come with extra cushions of different sizes, allowing you to choose the size that will perfectly fit your ear.


I think how the headphones fit on our ear will depend on mainly two things; their design as well as their weight.

This can be a major factor when you have exercises that will require a lot of physical movement, such as tennis.

They should have a design that allows them to properly fit onto your ears. When we discuss the weight, then the in-ear headphones take the cake on this one, and that is because they are lighter and they are small in size.

However, the on-ear headphones are mostly heavier and are much larger than the in-ear headphones, which means they are less suitable for such exercises.

Value for Money

The headphone industries’ best kept secret; the ratio between price and value will determine the quality of the headphones that you will get.

While it is known that most expensive headphones are the ones that give you the maximum sound quality, there is something out there for everyone.

Whether you are on a budget, you can still get some quality headphones that will give you the best listening experience. I mean really, who doesn’t want an affordable pair of headphones?

Something to eliminate the gym noise- Noise Isolation

All gyms can be quite loud, particularly larger ones. The noise is the gym can be very annoying when you have been in there for a while.

This is where noise cancellation features come in. This is basically, as it can clearly state, a design of the headphones that allow them to eliminate background noises, giving you a complete sound isolation, away from distractions.

Fir this feature, in-ear headphones tend to give the best noise isolation results as opposed to most over-the-ear headphones.

However, if you want to use over-ear headphones, I recommend getting those that have a closed-back design and not an open back design.

Eddie Mcfarren

Eddie Mcfarren is an avid blogger and audio enthusiast who enjoys a relatively long list of hobbies from Listening to music, backyard gardening to creating small scale businesses in varying niche markets. When he is not writing about the best gaming guides, he is probably researching best pet care tips for his pet dog (Tess the Staffordshire Terrier). Or he is busy researching what skincare products work best for his daughter, who, as a mixed-race, has combination skin type. He is crazy about retirement money saving using alternative revenue streams. You can link up with him via twitter or LinkedIn. In his, on words, he says, "I know that not all retirement goals are equal, so, regardless of your goals being a lifestyle change, money-saving or emergency preparedness, now is time to find tools and ways that work best for your retirement-saving and go to work!". He is an SEO expert and publisher who runs an independently owned and operated publishing business from the northwest Greater Manchester in the United Kingdom. His business model is primarily supported through affiliate programs and digital product creation.

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