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The 8 Best Workout Music Players of 2021

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The RundownBest Overall:SanDisk Clip Sport Plus at Amazon"he SanDisk clip Sport Plus is a great example of a music player designed for working out."Best Smartphone:Apple iPod touch (7th Generation) at Amazon"A great multi-use player that gives you a lot of the same functionality as your smartphone at a fraction of the price."Best for Swimming:H20 Audio Stream Waterproof MP3 Player at Amazon"he Stream 2 is perfect because of its small size, physical buttons, and its IPX8 certification."Best for Running:Sony Walkman NW-WS623 at Amazon"The Sony Walkman was the iconic cassette tape player of the '80s, and the brand still survives to this day."Best Advanced Features:Apple Watch Series 6 at Best Buy"Brings a ton of fitness and health-tracking functionality to your wrist; it's the best tracker for Apple users."Best Budget:Mighty Vibe Portable Music Player at Amazon"This little guy gives you the freedom of streaming music, without being confined to a phone and having to pay for additional service."Best Capacity:Sony 8GB Walkman MP3 Player at Amazon"It's very small, but still manages to have a screen built-in, which makes navigation music easier."Best Headphones:Sony Walkman 4GB Headphone at Amazon"The Sony Walkman 4GB headphones have local storage that lets you play your music while leaving your phone at home."in this articleExpandOur PicksAbout Our Trusted ExpertsFAQsWhat to Look for in a Workout Music Player

The best workout music players are designed for just that—working out. There are plenty of music players out there, but they haven't been designed specifically for pumping iron or getting your reps in. Those players have been designed specifically to be lightweight, water resistant, and easy to control while your focus may be elsewhere. They also need to be durable to put up with time at the gym, drops on a run, or tosses onto the floor. Touchscreens usually are going to be a non starter, since sweaty fingers won't do you any favors.

These music players will be your companion while you're off being your best you. They're designed for just that occasion, and they'll do a great job. If you're on the hunt for a general music player, check out our list of the best mp3 players you can buy right now. If you are looking for tunes while you're at the gym, you're in the right place.

Best Overall:SanDisk Clip Sport Plus MP3 Player

3.4 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on WalmartWhat We Like

Built in FM radio

16GB holds over 4000 songs

Clips to your clothing

What We Don't Like

Small buttons

Small screen

The SanDisk clip Sport Plus is a great example of a music player designed for working out. It's tiny and very lightweight. It clips to your clothing or your gear bag with the included sturdy clip. As a result of its small size, the buttons and screen are also very small, and can be hard to get to when you're in the zone. But if you just want to set it and forget it, you'll be good to go.

The 16GB of on-board storage will get you around 4,000 songs, though the lack of microSD slot is a downer. Of course, if the music you have loaded isn't what you're looking for, the included FM radio might have something you like, as well. Overall, this is a great choice because of its size and additional features.

Sandisk Clip Sport Plus MP3 Player Review

"The SanDisk Clip Sport Plus MP3 player has some perks, like water resistance, a durable design, and support for several file formats, but the lack of a MicroSD card slot is a major shortcoming."— Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best Smartphone:Apple iPod touch (7th Generation)

4.3 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on AppleWhat We Like

Full iOS functionality

Comes in a variety of colors and capacities

What We Don't Like

Big for a workout device

The Apple iPod touch is basically an old-generation iPhone without phone connectivity. You can connect to the internet using Wi-Fi, of course, but no phone calls, unfortunately. Aside from that, basically what you're getting is a 4-inch iPhone that can run the full suite of App Store apps, including Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and more. That's very powerful for a package that costs a lot less than a modern iPhone.

It is fairly large for a workout player, though. Even with a 4-inch screen, it's the largest on the list. This has no SD card expansion, but it comes in a variety of colors and storage options up to 256 GB. Overall, this is a great multi-use player that gives you a lot of the same functionality as your smartphone at a fraction of the price.

Apple iPod Touch (7th Generation) Review

Best for Swimming:H20 Audio Stream Waterproof MP3 Player

3.8 Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartWhat We Like

Waterproof

360 degree clip

Tiny

What We Don't Like

No screen

Small buttons

The H20 Audio Stream 2 is well named because it's completely waterproof, making it great for water sports and activities. The Stream 2 is perfect because of its small size, physical buttons, and its IPX8 certification, which means it's waterproof up to 3 meters (or about 10 feet) underwater. That certification also includes the bundled earbuds, so yes you can take this swimming. You'll get around 10 hours of playback of the 2,000 songs it holds (8GB of storage).

The tiny device also has a 360-degree swivel clip on it, which means you can clip it just about anywhere and it'll work like a champ. There is no screen on this little guy and the buttons are a little bit smaller than we'd normally like, but those are perfectly fine compromises when you consider this music player can go anywhere with you, including the pool.

H20 Audio Stream Waterproof MP3 Player

"The H20 Audio Stream MP3 player is a neat device that makes its mark by being light, easy to use, and most importantly—waterproof."— William Harrison, Product Tester

Best for Running:Sony Walkman NW-WS623

3.5 Buy on AmazonBuy on B&H Photo VideoWhat We Like

Bluetooth connectivity

Onboard storage

What We Don't Like

Uncomfortable

Not great for wearers with glasses

The Sony Walkman was the iconic cassette tape player of the '80s and the brand still survives to this day, although in a dramatically different form. Today, the Sony Walkman is a stereo Bluetooth headset that has its own onboard storage. What that means is, you can play your music, podcasts, and other entertainment from your phone, or you can leave your phone at home and just hit the road with this headset.  That's pretty powerful. 

The headset has a unique design that isn't suited for everyone, though. Our reviewer had a tough time finding a good fit in their ears, despite all the different ear tips they tried. Also, if you wear glasses, this headset can be a bit difficult to position correctly. Our reviewer never had the headphones fall out on their own, even during running and weight training, but it felt like they were going to. That's enough to make you uncomfortable, and when you're working out, that's not a great feeling.

Sony Walkman NW-WS623 Review

"The device impresses thanks to a durable, sleek design, outstanding battery life, and quality of life features—particularly the ambient sound mode that makes your gym workout more tolerable."— William Harrison, Product Tester

Best Advanced Features:Apple Watch Series 6

4.5 Buy on Best BuyBuy on AppleWhat We Like

Robust health/fitness tracking

Bright, always-on display

Appealing new color options

Speedy and responsive

Fun, diverse watch faces

What We Don't Like

Modest upgrade over Series 5

Still need to charge daily

No third-party faces

Apple Watch Series 6 Review

The Apple Watch Series 6 is one of the best smartwatches and fitness trackers to get. As Apple's latest and greatest, it's loaded with robust fitness and health tracking features including a blood oxygen sensor, ECG, fall detection, and more. You'll also get sleep tracking, step tracking, and GPS functionality to track your runs and routes when you're on the go. With its focus on overall wellness, the Series 6 is a great option for those who want more than just fitness tracking features. There are plenty of third-party apps supported, a solid operating system with reliable updates, and options for music controls and notifications.

Hardware hasn't changed dramatically, but you have some new color and style options. The screen is as bright and colorful as ever, and the performance is slightly improved with the new dual-core S6 chip. However, if you have the older Series 5, the upgrade likely isn't big enough to warrant the splurge. But otherwise for iPhone users, the Apple Watch Series 6 is one of the best devices to get.

The 9 Best Smartwatches of 2021

“Series 6 is the best Apple Watch to date, but also the one that provides the least incentive to upgrade if you already have last year's model.” — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Budget:Mighty Vibe Portable Music Player

Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on Bemighty.comWhat We Like

Tiny

Spotify and Amazon compatibility

Stay Fresh feature

What We Don't Like

Not a lot of storage

Battery life

Leaves out some other music choices

This little guy gives you the freedom of streaming music, without being confined to a phone and having to pay for additional service. The Mighty Vibe music play stores up to 1,000 songs from your Spotify or Amazon music playlists. The music is synced to the device, so it can play while offline. Plus a"Stay Fresh"feature updates the music whenever you are connected, so you get new music every time.

Of course, coming in such a tiny package comes with compromises. A thousand songs isn't a lot for modern music players, nor is 5 hours of playtime on a charge. If you want to nitpick even further, Spotify and Amazon music are great, but the device leaves out services like YouTube Music, Tidal, and Apple Music. However, this thing is microscopic and works offline, making it the perfect workout companion.

Best Capacity:Sony 8GB Walkman MP3 Player

Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on B&H Photo VideoWhat We Like

Small with a screen

Available in up to 16GB

35 hours of playback

What We Don't Like

Hard to use controls

The Sony Walkman has evolved from a pocket transistor radio to a pocket music player, and the Walkman NWE394/R fits that description admirably. It's very small, but still manages to have a screen built in, which makes navigating music easier. Plus, the player manages up to 35 hours of continuous playback, which is pretty great.

The controls take some getting used to. There's a five-way rocker for navigation, plus buttons for home and options. There are switches on the side, as well, for volume and for locking the player (so you don't interrupt a workout). All those buttons on a small frame can make this player a little unwieldy. But that also means the player has a lot of functionality, so there's definite a trade off.

Best Headphones:Sony Walkman 4GB Headphone

Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on B&H Photo VideoWhat We Like

Self-contained unit in the

headphones

12 hours of playback

Waterproof

What We Don't Like

No bluetooth

Small storage

The Sony Walkman 4GB headphones have local storage that lets you play your music while leaving your phone at home. It's an all-in-one, self-contained unit with 4GB of storage. That will hold about 1,000 songs or so, and a single charge will give you 12 hours of playback. Plus, these headphones are waterproof, meaning you can take them in the pool up to 2-meters deep.

Unfortunately, these headphones do not have Bluetooth connectivity like the others higher in the list. What you store on the headphones is what you have to choose from. That's an understandable compromise, but we still miss it. Also, 4GB of storage is not the biggest on this list, even though they come in a compact package. Overall though, if you know what music you like to work out to, these might be a good fit.

Final Verdict

All told, our top pick has to be the SanDisk Clip Sport Plus. It's a small, versatile player with a screen that clips to your clothing and won't get in the way. Plus, the price is right, and 16GB of capacity will store a ton of music for your workout. It's just the best out there.

If you have a little extra money, the Sony Walkman NWWS623 is another great choice. Not only do the headphones have Bluetooth, but they also have local storage, which means you can work out with your phone or not. A close third place is the Mighty Vibe, which is tiny and connects to online music sources, keeping your music fresh automatically.

About Our Trusted Experts

Adam Doud has been writing in the tech space for almost a decade. He always has his head in between headphones whether he's working, working out, or just relaxing.

FAQs

How are workout music players different from normal music players?Music players designed for working out have to have a certain amount of durability and water resistance. People working out get sweaty and tend to put their devices into precarious positions, so the music player will need to stand up to those conditions.

Can't I just use my phone?You can! However, a dedicated music player is almost always going to be smaller, lighter, and more durable than your smartphone. That's important when you're working out. Smartphones can be unwieldy when you're trying to run or lift weights, or even doing stretches.

What kind of headphones can I use?That depends. Most music players still have the 3.5mm headphone jack, while others rely on Bluetooth connectivity. Some come with headphones already, and still, others are headphones themselves. You'll want to check your specifications.

What to Look for in a Workout Music Player

Water resistance - Workouts tend to involve water in one form or another. Usually it's sweat, but it can also involve water sports. Depending on your workouts, you'll want to look for the properties"sweat proof,""water resistant,"or the best,"waterproof."

Physical controls - When you're working out and sweating, touchscreens tend to be difficult to use. So physical controls are important, because sweaty hands can have trouble controlling touch screens. 

Storage - This is how many songs you can keep on the device. Obviously, the longer your workout, the more songs you'll listen to. Plus variety is the spice of life, so in terms of storage, higher is always better.