Are AirPods Good For Working Out At The Gym? Pros & Cons

by Alex.   Last Updated On June 18th, 2022.
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Getting into the Apple ecosystem is not easy; it’s going to cost you. However, once you go to Apple, you never go to Android, especially if you’ve already got a Macbook, Apple Watch, and AirPods (the whole shebang).

Now, if you are someone who works out regularly, you might be tempted to use your Apple AirPods to listen to your favorite music instead of headphones. (Considering their great sound quality, who wouldn’t.) This begs the question: Are Apple AirPods good for working out at the gym?

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend regular Apple AirPods to enjoy music while working out. The vanilla AirPods aren’t very stable on everyone’s ears; they tend to fall out, especially when doing complex movements.

On top of that, there are a couple more issues that plague regular AirPods. In the following sections, I’ll cover this issue in detail using topics such as:

  • Is Apple AirPods good for working out?
  • How to use your Apple AirPods safely while at the gym?
  • Pros of using Apple AirPods
  • Cons of using Apple AirPods
  • Several alternatives to Apple AirPods
  • Common questions regarding workout headphones

Let’s get into it.

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Are AirPods Good for the Gym?

Although I don’t recommend them, you can workout while using AirPods (instead of using over-ear headphones) to listen to music. However, you have to be extra careful since these wireless earbuds can fall out of your ears or get exposed to water or sweat.

All generations of the standard AirPods do not come with silicone tips; Hence, unlike the AirPods Pro, you can’t change the size of the earbuds to suit your ear canal.

This one-size-supposed-to-fit-all approach of the third (and previous) generation AirPods does not sit well with people who work out at the gym. Many users complain that the AirPods would loosen up (and sometimes, fall off) during yoga and weight training sessions. On top of that, some are reluctant to use it because of the IPX4 sweat and water-resistant rating; which is not fully waterproof.

AirPods are not cheap, and if these wireless earbuds take a nasty fall or a splash, they will burn a hole in your wallet (and your heart). However, if you are still adventurous and have enough green stuff, you can use your AirPods at the gym, just make sure you follow some of the steps mentioned below.

How to Use AirPods at the Gym?

If you want to use AirPods at the gym but still haven’t decided to purchase a pair of headphones or earbuds, I suggest getting a set of AirPods Pro. They might be more expensive, but that extra $80-$100 you spend over the vanilla third-gen AirPods can make all the difference.

Third-Generation AirPods VS AirPods Pro

There are only a few notable differences between the regular AirPods and the new AirPods Pro. Although the sound quality, wireless charging case, and IP rating are the same (IPX4), the active noise cancellation, ambient sound transparency mode, and the customizable ear tips make it a worthwhile investment. I would buy the AirPod Pros just so I could customize each ear tip and see how they fit inside my ears. (Unfortunately, I’m in the Samsung Eco-system and use a pair of Galaxy Buds Pro.)

However, there’s a small catch, due to the ANC feature, the battery life of the AirPods Pro is slightly lower than that of the vanilla AirPods. Whereas you would get six hours of continuous playback time on the third-gen AirPods, the Pros will only last 4.5 hours with ANC on. (A small price to pay for salvation.)

I recommend the AirPods Pro for working out primarily because of the customizable ear tips. These have a more secure fit and are specifically designed for those with an active lifestyle. In my opinion, the ear tips are the next best revolutionary customizable feature that Apple has released ever since iPhones started allowing widgets inside the home screen.

How to Keep Your Apple AirPods Safe While at the Gym?

You can safely wear AirPods and work out as long as they don’t fall off or come into contact with water. As mentioned previously, the AirPods are rated at IPX4, which means they are water-resistant, not waterproof, so if you go swimming with them on, or even wash your face wrong, you can cause water damage to the inside components of the earbuds.

Here are some tips and tricks for people who work out in the gym using Airpods.

  • Before starting a workout, wear your wireless headphones properly. Make sure they are snug, comfortable, and won’t fall easily.
  • Before performing a complex move, one you’ve never tried out before, try doing it carefully without weights to see if the earbuds will fall off.
  • If you sweat a lot, wipe down the earbuds and your ears in-between sets.
  • Wipe your Airpods, and dry them out before putting them inside the case
  • Keep the charging case inside your gym bag or your pockets, don’t get it wet.
  • Don’t charge the case when it is wet.

How to Keep Your AirPods Safe While Running

Weight training is different from running, and when you are moving around like a fast boi, you need to make sure buds don’t fall out of your ears. Thankfully, most TWS earbuds do not fall out of your ears easily, even if they look like they are hanging on for dear life.

AirPods are also designed not to fall out of your ears. However, not everybody’s ears are the same, so if you use vanilla AirPods, there’s a higher chance that these buds are going to fall out of your ears.

That said, you are not alone, many athletes have faced this same problem, and there are several solutions to prevent AirPods from falling out while running; here’s how:

  • Use ear hooks or ear fins for standard AirPods
  • Use foam tips for AirPods Pro
  • Make sure headbands or other forms of headwear don’t press into the buds
  • Wear the buds securely and achieve a tight fit before running
  • Don’t wear the Airpods upside down
  • Take a break and wipe down your ears and buds whenever you start getting too sweaty

Pros of Using AirPods

Impressive Sound Quality

Apple’s AirPods are not the ultimate audiophile TWS earbuds; other alternatives offer amazing sound quality at a similar (or even lower) price tag. However, Apple has always been consistent when delivering earbuds that sound good for casual listeners; hence, their sound quality is always top-notch.

The overall frequency response of AirPods is neutral, with a slight valley in the bass range. Consequently, you will be missing out on that extra thump created by other bass-heavy earbuds, but other than that, the audio is clear, neutral, and worth listening to.

Also, the Airpods Pro has an adaptive eq function, along with hands-free “Hey Siri” voice controls (Similar to Alexa, where you don’t have to press a button to activate the assistant; just call her out.)

Active Noise Cancellation

The active noise canceling feature of the AirPods Pro is one of the best in the business. Its noise cancellation capabilities are comparable to that of Bose QC TWS earbuds.

It does an amazing job canceling out most noises you might come across during everyday use. These include the hum of an airplane, the constant whirring of trains coming and going inside a train station, and the hustle and bustle of a busy street.

Therefore, the AirPods Pro is great for commuting, and you can comfortably listen to your music or podcasts without having to turn up the volume.

Transparency Mode

On the flip side, you also have Transparency mode, which is Apple’s version of an ambient noise mode. In this configuration, the AirPod Pros amplify the outside world so you can be more aware of the surroundings and even strike up a normal conversation while wearing AirPods.

If you aren’t convinced of its utility, I highly recommend trying it out. The transparency mode is a literal lifesaver because it keeps you alert to people and vehicles around you; without compromising on sound quality.

Cons of Using AirPods

Expensive Up-Front

Let’s face it, Apple products are expensive, and with current gas prices, there’s no way I can afford to spend $250 on a pair of AirPods Pro.

However, despite their price tag, if you buy a pair of Airpods Pro, you won’t have to worry about getting another set of earbuds or headphones for a long time. Also, if you lose an earbud or the case, you can easily get a replacement since AirPods are widely known and available. (Unlike the thousands of other obscure brands out there.)

Needs an iPhone/iPad for the Best Experience

Although you can use AirPods with Android devices, they work best when paired up with an Apple device. There are a ton of features you would miss out on if you would use this on an Android phone. A few of these include:

  • Spatial audio
  • Customizable double tap
  • Checking AirPods battery
  • Automatic ear detection
  • Animation screen
  • Faster Bluetooth connection
  • Auto-switching between devices

Fortunately, you can use the Airpods like any other TWS earbud pair; the touch controls, sound profile, Qi-based wireless charging, and included USB-C to lightning cable will work with non-Apple devices.

Difficult to Achieve a Tight Fit

If you are using the standard AirPods (third-gen or older) you might have trouble finding a perfect fit, and the lack of silicone tips can hinder your workout session. Luckily, you can use third-party accessories and foam tips to make them more comfortable.

IPX4 Rating

If you’ve already read our article on the best waterproof headphones for the shower, you are already familiar with the IPX4 rating for headphones. Although this rating is designed to handle sweat and light splashes in the gym, this rating doesn’t guarantee complete protection against water or sweat, so if the Airpods fall into a puddle (or, if you’re like me, a bathtub), they are done. (Luckily for me, I use IPX7-rated Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro)

So I highly recommend being extra cautious when using Airpods, they may be sweat resistant, but they are not sweat-proof.

Alternatives to AirPods

Jabra Elite 7 Active

These TWS earbuds are the best alternative for AirPods Pro. These bad boys have an IP57 rating (much better than typical sweat resistance headphones) and include removable tips to customize and get a better fit. On top of that, they include noise-canceling features, ambient mode, and a customizable sound profile with several presets (hip hop, metal, vocal, etc.).

They also have a very impressive battery life; they can last up to seven hours (or more) continuously with ANC on. These are the best option for anybody who wants a more improved version of the Apple AirPods Pro when it comes to working out.

AfterShokz OpenRun Pro

If you know about how bone conduction headphones work, you might be interested in the AfterShockz OpenRun Pro. Unlike other headphones that utilize bone conduction technology, these open-ear wireless headphones are very comfortable to wear, and you can perform complex movements (and running) with ease.

Unfortunately, the possible downsides include sound leaking out and a less immersive music experience since you’ll always be able to hear the background noise.

Beats Fit Pro

Powered by Apple’s H1 chip, this pair of earbuds (along with beats powerbeats pro) are great substitutes for the AirPods. Although they are IPX4-rated, these earbuds have built-in wingtips that can fit inside your ears for better stability.

On top of that, they also include spatial audio, active noise cancellation, and support for Apple’s AirPod features such as auto-switching, Siri voice wake-up, etc.

I highly recommend these buds because they are highly versatile (work with both Siri and Google Assistant) and have an impressive configuration for controlling playback and switching between ANC modes.

Conclusion

Sure, you can use AirPods for working out, but that doesn’t mean you should. As we’ve gathered from this article: AirPods, especially the standard ones, are not the most ideal headphones for the gym. (Primarily because of the sweat-resistant IPX4 rating and the loose grip.)

Thankfully, there are some accessories and practices to help you keep your AirPods safe. Also, I’ve mentioned some alternatives that could substitute the Airpods for your time in the gym. Hopefully, you found this info helpful.