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There’s no one sports bra, or single way to shop for one, that works for everyone. Purchasing a style isn’t just an extension of bra shopping, because your sports bra isn’t simply for everyday wear. It needs to give support and stay put throughout a workout as you run, jump and more. Meaning, finding the right option isn’t as simple as trying it on in the dressing room; you often need to take a sports bra for a test run to really know how comfortable it is.
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“Sports bras are functional apparel, so the first thing to do is to decide if you need such a bra,” says Dr. Adriana Gorea, assistant professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, whose research focuses on sports bras, knitting technologies and functional apparel design. “If you are a breast cup A, you might find it comfortable to run using a tank top and no bra, or wear a soft sleep bra or yoga bra for more coverage. So size and function are closely related in sports bras. If your breasts are bouncing when running due to their mass, then you definitely need a sports bra.”
What to consider when purchasing the best sports bra
In addition to breast size, you’ll want to consider the impact of your desired activity when choosing the right sports bra for you. “There are women who will find a low support, soft sports bra as their favorite choice for an everyday bra, but switch to a high-impact sports bra when running,” Dr. Gorea says.
And what’s comfortable today might not feel comfortable next week, as breast tissue density changes throughout the month during menstrual cycles. “Comfort is a dynamic variable, too,” she says. “Ideally, one will have a variety of sports bras that fit well but have different levels of support.”
The different types of sports bras
According to Dr. Gorea, there are two main types of support designs for sports bras: compression or “encapsulation of breasts,” she says. Encapsulation comes in the form of cups (wired or not), while compression is often found in special materials that strap breasts down. It’s often a combination of the two that makes for the best sports bra, she says — especially for larger breast sizes.
Look out for differences in closures and straps, too, suggests Dr. Gorea. Thick straps and clasp closures are often more supportive, while seamless, clasp-less bras might feel more comfortable but less supportive. A higher neckline and crossed backs straps will also add some extra support.
Keep in mind that sports bras also come in different fabrics, some of which have mesh panelling to keep you cool throughout a workout.
While it may take some trial and error to find your perfect match, we’re here to help make the process a bit easier. Ahead, we compiled 16 of the best sports bras for every bust size and activity, as recommended by customer reviews and this own author’s testing. We also spoke with three Mirror trainers and Lululemon ambassadors to get their own picks for the most comfortable sports bra styles.
Top Sports Bras
Best Overall: Outdoor Voices Powerhouse Sports Bra
Best Sports Bra for Small Busts: Nike Indy Mesh Inset Sports Bra
Best Sports Bra for Strength Training: Lululemon Stash It Bra
Best High-Impact Sports Bra: Under Armour UA Infinity High Sports Bra
Best Longline Sports Bra: HeyNuts Hawthorn Athletic Longline Sports Bra
Best Plus Size Sports Bra: Athleta Conscious Crop
Best Sports Bra for Running: Adidas by Stella McCartney Truepurpose Sports Bra
Also Consider High-Impact Sports Bra: Lululemon Energy Bra
Best Sports Bra for Medium-Sized Busts: Alo Airlift Suit Up Bra
Best Running Sports Bra for Large Busts: Elomi Energise Underwire Sport Bra
Best Affordable Sports Bra: Gymshark Seamless Sports Bra
Best Medium-Impact Sports Bra: Spanx Longline Medium Impact Sports Bra
Best Everyday Sports Bra for Large Busts: Sweaty Betty Stamina Workout Bra
Also Consider Sports Bra for Small Busts: Splits59 Caroline Bra
Also Consider for Small Busts: Lululemon Align Reversible Bra
Outdoor Voices Powerhouse Sports Bra
Outdoor Voices Powerhouse sports bra is the sports bra that made me believe in sports bras. I do not have a body that can sacrifice support, no matter how uncomfortable that bra might be. But this bra gives all of the support with none of the discomfort. The band and straps are thick and the fabric is super soft, so I feel secure and not stuck. The zip-front closure makes it easy to get on and, more importantly, easy to get off after a super sweaty workout.
Nike Indy Mesh Inset Sports Bra
Best Sports Bra for Small Busts
Nike’s Indy mesh inset sports bra is a great choice for low-impact activities and smaller-chested people. There isn’t any individual breast encapsulation, which tends to make a bra feel more constricted. It has thin straps and an easy cross in the back for light support. It’s made with Nike’s Dri-Fit moisture-wicking material but also has strategically placed mesh panels. Together, these make for a bra that will keep you cool and dry.
Lululemon Stash It Sports Bra
Best Sports Bra for Strength Training
Lululemon Stash It Bra is a favorite of Mirror Trainer + lululemon Ambassador Rachel Nicks. The medium support is ideal for B/C cups going for middle-of-the-road impact activities like boxing or strength training. “It’s designed specifically for training,” Nicks says. “It’s super supportive and when I get hot from [working out], and I love that it has a long line. I pair it with my high-waisted leggings.” The bra gets its “Stash” name from a sneaky zippered pocket on the back.
Under Armour UA Infinity High Sports Bra
Best High-Impact Sports Bra
Under Armour is constantly engineering, testing and reimagining workout gear that performs. Under Armour’s UA Infinity High sports bra is one such example of this. Its thick straps and cross back add support to the encapsulation structure of the front — offering the best of both worlds to keep you locked in and comfortable during high-impact workouts.
HeyNuts Hawthorn Athletic Longline Sports Bra
Best Longline Sports Bra
After seeing some online reviews of inexpensive sports bra buys on Amazon, I thought I’d try one for myself and HeyNuts Hawthorn athletic longline sports bra is really where it’s at. Usually tank tops with shelf bras aren’t enough for me, but I found the strappy back structure really keeps everything secure. For bigger-breasted people, this is perhaps the perfect yoga bra. For smaller breasted people, you might be able to get away with just about any activity in it.
Athleta Conscious Crop Sports Bra
Best Plus Size Sports Bra
Athleta’s Conscious Crop is a great option for most workouts, especially for those who like a little more coverage. Featuring over 700 five-star reviews, this top-rated sports bra is a crop top-hybrid with a longer line down the middle. The high neck adds both coverage and compressive support, making it one of the best sports bras for plus-size people. You can wear it for low- and medium-impact activities, but it’s also a great option for wearing as a base to your everyday outfits.
Adidas by Stella McCartney Truepurpose Sports Bra
Best Sports Bra for Running
Adidas by Stella Mccartney Truepurpose sports bra is one of the best sports bras for running because of its combination of breast encapsulation and compressive support. The wide straps and racerback are very supportive for movements up and down and side to side. The straps are adjustable, too, which is often not the case in sports bras. This also tends to be a really useful detail for those who find that their breasts fluctuate throughout their menstrual cycles.
Lululemon Energy Sports Bra
Also Consider High-Impact Sports Bra
Lululemon’s Energy bra is a go-to sports bra for Mirror Trainer and Lululemon Ambassador Hollis Tuttle, as well as for myself. A great sports bra for high-impact activities but also ideal for anything, it has a simple, compressive construction with multiple straps crossing in the back for some extra support. Tuttle likes both the original length, shown here, and the long line version, which has a bit of a wider band that sits under the breasts. “I have complete confidence in its performance and know that I won’t have any fit issues,” she says.
Alo Airlift Suit Up Sports Bra
Best Sports Bra for Medium-Sized Busts
Alo Airlift Suit Up Bra is a great middle-of-the-road option for both medium-sized breasts and medium-impact activities. It has the classic racerback construction with a bit wider of a band for under the breasts. The support here is in its compression, which holds breasts close to the body. The racerback has adjustable straps to make sure the bra is always your perfect fit. (Women’s breasts are often different sizes, so you might find one strap needs to be tighter or looser than the other.)
Elomi Energise Underwire Sports Bra
Best Running Sports Bra for Large Busts
Elomi Energise underwire sports bra is one of the best sports bra for running with large breasts because of its multifaceted systems of support. It has both wire cup encapsulation for the breasts and compression in the material. The straps are thick, and you can adjust them to sit however feels most supportive for you. The three-hook closure in the back functions as additional reinforcement.
Gymshark Seamless Sports Bra
Best Affordable Sports Bra
I don’t love wearing an intensely supportive sports bra if I don’t have to, mostly because these can be tight and uncomfortable for any activity that’s not high-impact. Gymshark’s seamless sports bra is my go-to for low-impact activities or lounging. The material is super soft, and there’s a bit of grippy material around the band, so you never feel like the bra is going to slide around while you’re moving. Plus, the style is $30, making it one of the more affordable sports bras you can buy.
Spanx Longline Medium Impact Sports Bra
Best Medium-Impact Sports Bra
The Spanx longline medium impact sports bra goes heavy on providing security. The under-breast band and cross-back straps are very thick for optimal support, plus the polyester-elastane material is dreamy. And although it’s made for working out, this is a very good option for those who prefer wearing a sports bra day to day.
Sweaty Betty Stamina Sports Bra
Best Everyday Sports Bra for Large Busts
Sometimes, you just need a sports bra that is easy to put on and take off, no clasping or unclasping necessary. Sweaty Betty’s Stamina workout bra is a great option for that. Its support comes mostly from its racerback shape, and it feels more like you’re putting on a T-shirt than a sports bra. This one is good for lower-impact activities and for smaller breasts. For bigger breasts, this one is ideal for wearing under T-shirts and in your day-to-day life.
Splits59 Caroline Sports Bra
Also Consider Sports Bra for Small Busts
Splits59’s Caroline bra is one of the most comfortable sports bras meant for small-breasted people or for little-to-no impact activities. The double layer bra feels really like a T-shirt. This one is great for things like yoga and pilates, or for wearing on days where you’re just doing some light stretching. Also complete with super soft fabric, it’s also a solid option for people who prefer to have some light support when they’re just hanging around at home or going to sleep.
Lululemon Align Reversible Sports Bra
Also Consider for Small Busts
Lululemon’s Align reversible bra is Mirror Trainer and Lululemon Ambassador Christina Jensen’s favorite bra for nearly everything: “boxing, running, dancing, lifting — you name it, day in and day out,” she says. It’s one of the most comfortable sports bras around, thanks to Lululemon’s signature Align fabric that feels as buttery soft as possible. This one is a better fit for smaller breasts, as the two tank top-like straps are not as supportive as a racerback would be and the distance from the band to the straps is a bit small for C+ breast sizes.
Carbon38 T Back Sports Bra
When testing different sports bra options, take note of how thick the straps are and where they are placed. Carbon38’s T Back bra features a halter-style neckline and racerback for effortless movement. It’s also made with Carbon38’s signature Diamond Compression to keep breasts set in place.
Info on the best way to wash your sports bras
It’s all about strategy when it comes to finding your perfect sports bra — and taking care of it long after you do. The washer and dryer can wreak havoc on the support and construction of your sports bras, much the way it can on any other type of intimate. So, it’s best to give your sports bra the same treatment you would a normal bra: hand wash it, then let it air dry. “The dryer can morph the shape, color and elasticity of clothes,” Jensen says. “If you can hang or lay them out to air dry, you’ll preserve the life of your bra for many years to come.”
Another tip? Start washing immediately. “After super sweaty activities, I actually walk into the shower with my bra on,” Hollis Tuttle says. “I use this as an important pre-wash and believe that it helps keep the perma-stink at bay.”