How to choose the best sports bra

What is the best sports bra?

When you’re exercising, not just any bra can provide you with the level of support you need to stay comfortable. A quality sports bra is an essential. And unlike the bra you wear every day, most sports bras also feature moisture-wicking fabric to keep you dry.

Choosing the best one for you means first considering the intensity of the workout you have planned, the amount of support you need and your cup size. Here’s how to find the right one for your needs.

Sports bra style

There are three main types of sports bras.

  • Compression: These are built for smaller cup sizes and are typically put on by pulling them over your head. They compress your breasts against your chest and minimize bounce during movement.
  • Encapsulated: For a big chest or high-intensity workout, separate cups are created for each breast. They encircle the breast individually for support from all angles, securing them in place.
  • Combo: You can use this bra style for a range of cup sizes and levels of workout. You can use a combo as your go-to sports bra since it will encapsulate and compress your chest, having you ready for any physical activity.

Strap design

Most quality sports bras will have adjustable straps, which are essential to ensure a good fit, but there is more to consider.

Wide vs. thin

Your strap thickness can make a difference in the comfort of your bra. Thicker straps are better for larger cup sizes because they cover more area and are sometimes padded for extra comfort. Thinner straps, however, can be more comfortable for smaller cup sizes. They can also be used for detailed strappy designs.

strap style

  • Racerback: Racerback (or cross-back) straps connect in the center of the back, providing you with even support. They are often put on by pulling them over the head and shoulders.
  • Scoopback: This looks more like a regular bra from the back and sometimes connects similarly by clipping together. The straps follow the shoulder blades straight down to meet the rib band, creating a scoop look in the back.

Fasteners

  • Clasp: Some sports bras have a clasp that clips together in the back, similar to everyday bras, and others come with clasps in the front for easier removal.
  • Closure: Clasps close in a couple of ways. There is the hook-and-eye closure, or you can also find zipper closures.
  • Pullover: If you don’t want to deal with a clasp, you can purchase low-impact sports bras that you can pull over your head.

Cups

Size

Fitting the size of your cup is essential to ensure you have proper support. Cups A to C can typically use low or moderate support. However, if you’re bigger than a 34 C, it’s recommended to use a high-impact bra for the best support. Proper support saves you back pain down the line.

Support

Not all sports bras work for every type of activity. They are designed for different levels of intensity and are often labeled accordingly.

  • Low impact: This level is great for exercises like yoga or walking that don’t require quick movements.
  • Moderate impact: Choose this level for weight training or cycling.
  • High impact: Running, horseback riding or other exercises that involve bouncing require maximum support.

Structure

  • Built-in: High-intensity sports bras will have built-in cups to ensure proper placement and great support.
  • Removable: Some bras have pads or cups that you can take out and put back in to suit your comfort level.
  • Non-padded: Low impact sports bras may not have padding and are intended for smaller cup sizes.

How to check the fit of your sports bra

If you’re trying on sports bras, there are a few ways you can check to see if it will work for you. The bra’s main components are the bands that support your breasts underneath and the panels which hold them in on the sides. You can grip the cups or the straps from either side to stretch them to ensure proper support.

Ultimately, when you try on your sports bra, there should be:

  • No spillage
  • No squeezing of the shoulders or ribs
  • No band rolling up your breasts
  • No puckering or wrinkled cups

Best sports bras

Under Armor Seamless Low-Impact Sports Bra

This adjustable cross-back design offers a comfortable fit for low-impact exercise. It fits best on smaller cup sizes and includes removable cups to improve shape and support.

Sold by Amazon

Nike Women's Victory Compression Sports Bra

Nike Women’s Victory Compression Sports Bra

This sports bra offers medium support with a racerback strap design. It has sweat-wicking technology that pulls the moisture away from the skin into the material.

Sold by Amazon

Panache Underwire Sports Bra

Panache Underwire Sports Bra

This bra has built-in cups for maximum support. It encapsulates the breasts to support them from all sides for high-impact movement.

Sold by Amazon

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Erica Redding writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money

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