Bra shopping is often a whole ordeal, and that also and especially applies to supportive sports bras. If you’re planning on doing any activity more strenuous than sitting on your couch (and yes, most of the time, that includes chasing after children), a supportive sports bra can make all the difference. Like a good BFF or partner, a good sports bra should be a comfortable companion, let you move freely, and provide support without smothering you. (And if you need recommendations on nursing bras, training bras, or backless bras, we’ve got you covered, too).
When it comes to the right sports bra for you, it will depend on your chest size, what you’re using it for, and personal preference. But here are a few things to look for, according to Jessica Pfister, Vice President of Le Mystère lingerie.
What to look for in a sports bra
- Straps: The last thing you want to do is to have to fuss with adjusting your straps while on the move. Pfister recommends looking for straps that are wide and plush, but don’t have a lot of stretch in them. “Regardless of the impact required, a good sports bra should always incorporate no bounce straps. Even if the wings of the bra are snug, and the cups encapsulated, if your straps are bouncing it negates all of the other positives,” she says.
- Support: Needless to say, a sports bra should prevent your breasts from doing their own thing while you’re moving. A sports bra should “encapsulate the breast, locking them in place to prevent movement, or it should compress your tissues to your chest wall, so your breasts move in unison with the rest of your body,” says Pfister. In addition, “the Cooper’s ligament, also known as the suspensory ligament, which is the connective tissue that maintains structural integrity of the breast tissue, if not properly supported during workouts, over time can stretch your tissue and can cause discomfort and the dreaded sag,” she says.
- Breathable fabric: Boob sweat is a thing, and you may not be able to avoid it, but you can try to minimize it. Pfister recommends finding a sports bra with good wicking properties or to be antimicrobial and breathable to prevent repeat rubbing and/or painful chafing.
How a sports bra should fit
A sports bra should be snug and supportive but also comfortable. Other fit factors include:
- Cup size: The top of the cup shouldn’t bulge or gape. “If it’s bulging, the cup is too small or your straps are too tight,” says Pfister.
- Band: The bra band should hug firmly around your body, anchoring the bra cup and underwire (which should rest on the ribcage) in place, says Pfister. The band should also fit horizontally across your back. “If it rides up in the center, this indicates that the weight of the breasts is pulling the back of the band up and the band is too large. You may need to go down a band size.”
- Straps: “If your straps are correctly adjusted, you should only be able to fit two fingers under the strap,” says Pfister. The center front should also lie flat, close to the breastbone.
Best Sports Bras
This Champion sports bra will provide maximum support for all your favorite activities. It has a breathable front mesh panel, molded cups, gel-infused adjustable shoulder straps for comfort, and a padded, tag-free back hook-and-eye closure. Bonus: It comes in 27 different colors.
One reviewer said, “This has become my favorite and only sports bra I will wear. As a DD girl, I need a sports bra to keep the ‘girls’ from flying around and hitting me in the face. This pretty much accomplishes the task. There is still a little bounce but this is the closest I have come to them staying put while I attempt to run or do aerobics…The fit is comfortable (hey, comfort is in the name, what do you expect). The colors are attractive enough and provide good coverage that you do not need to cover up with a shirt to work out in public.”
This Nike sports bra is a one-piece made with at least 50 percent recycled polyester and has sweat-wicking Dri-FIT technology to keep you cool. It has a removable one-piece pad that can be put in and taken out from the top (no more lopsidedness from having two removable pads shifting around during the day). The top loading pocket also lets you store small essentials, and it’s available in sizes XS-2XL.
Says one reviewer, “Has removable padding, great fitting, good choice for a padded medium impact sports bra.”
Le Mystère’s high impact sports bra is made to fit like a traditional bra, says Pfister. It has hidden lightweight foam pads, a cushioned underwire, padded front shoulder straps, and convertible, rigid-back shoulder straps. It’s available in sizes 32C-34G.
One reviewer said, “Great sports bra for those of us who are well endowed and need extra support for high impact workouts. Very comfortable and pretty at the same time. Very glad I decided to make this purchase.”
Under Armour is a brand synonymous with high quality performance workout gear so it’s no surprise their keyhole sports bra is a SM favorite all around for A-C cups. Perfect for tennis, yoga, hiking, and biking as the HeatGear fabric creates a next-to-skin feel and makes it so the material wicks sweat and dries super fast. Available in 18 colors in sizes XS-XL.
Best Sports Bras for Large Breasts
This sweat-wicking sports bra has a built-in mesh camisole layer to provide breathable, full coverage. It’s wire-free and also has wide, non-stretch straps and an adjustable back hook-and-eye closure. It has over 12,000 five-star ratings, including one from this reviewer who said, “My search for a sports bra is finally over!! No longer do I have to stuff myself into three sports bras, crushing my bosom and my soul, to be able to get a good workout. My 36G bust is fully supported in this bra — it’s comfortable, easy to put on, and cute! I especially like the panel that prevents too much cleavage, which has always been a problem for me. Now I can go to the gym without feeling self conscious. I’ll definitely be purchasing more.”
The Freya sonic sports bra is double lined and has mesh panels built in to help keep you cool and dry. The straps are wide, cushioned, and adjustable, and there’s an option to clip the straps together if you prefer a racerback. The wide underband has underwire for support, and the bra comes in sizes 28D-40G.
One reviewer said, “There is nothing I hate more than a lake forming into between my girls and dripping down my front. Even though the Freya bra can’t stop me from sweating, it decreases the amount significantly, and, most of all, keeps things breathable — and me WAY more comfortable — in the process. And as many others have mentioned, the no-bounce factor is key. I do a wide variety of activities in the Freya and it keeps me in line (so to speak) no matter what I’m doing. The fabric is fabulously colorful and so far has held up very well to weekly washings. It’s easily the best money I’ve spent on a sports bra in my life. Highly recommended!”
The Knix Catalyst bra supports up to a G-cup and has performance molded cups to encapsulate your breasts as well as extra ventilation in between your breasts to maximize airflow. The wide straps are adjustable, and it’s wire-free but will sit snugly on your body.
Said one reviewer, “I have a huge chest and this bra is the best, most supportive, most comfortable bra I have ever owned! I was so thrilled to find a bra that feels good that I ordered 3!“
Lululemon’s Enlite bra is made for running, and available in sizes 30C-40E. It’s made with a sweat-wicking, breathable fabric and has built-in cups, a bonded underband that won’t dig into your body, and a criss-cross back.
One reviewer said, “I’m a 30E and have a very hard time purchasing bras and sports bras. This one is absolutely the best! So comfortable and keeps everything where it should be.”
Best Sports Bras for Medium-Impact Activities
Pfister recommends this Le Mystère sports bra for low to medium impact activities. It has adjustable, cushioned straps and contour cups made from hi-density foam that also encase the underwire for comfort. The mesh trim provides both breathability and style.
Sweaty Betty’s Stamina sports bra is breathable, sweat-wicking, and has seamless and compression construction. The wide straps and a racerback style also help keep everything in place. It’s available in sizes XS-XXL and supports up to a C cup.
One reviewer said, “Super supportive & comfortable. Love that it is long enough in the body to not ride up.”
The fabric on Athleta’s Ultimate sports bra is sweat-wicking, breathable, and sustainable, made with recycled nylon, to help you look and feel good. The racerback design provides support and mobility, and the bra comes in a variety of colors, and A-C cups (there’s also a version for D-DD+ cups).
One reviewer says, “I have tried all different brands and this one hits the mark! It dries fasts, holds up the girls well, pads do not have weird creases after washing like most and doesn’t hurt my shoulders!”
The RUNNING GIRL criss cross sports bra features a medium impact design with removable cups and high level of elasticity that’s ideal for yoga, Zumba, walking, and more. We love the cute criss-cross design and antimicrobial, moisture-wicking fabric, and the fact that it’s available in 24 different color options is an added bonus! Available in sizes XS-XXL.
Best Sports Bras for Low-Impact Activities
This light-impact sports bra has plunging wickable cups draped in a unique fabric to provide light compression and breathability, says Pfister. It has adjustable straps that can be hooked together to convert it to a racerback as well as side-smoothing wings.
One reviewer says, “No spillage or smashing, no digging or rubbing, great support and very, very aesthetically pleasing. Super comfortable.”
This low-impact Zella sports bra is a one-piece and seamless. It’s lined and has removable soft cups, and has a strappy back design to add some style while still maintaining support. It’s available in sizes XS-Xl and comes in 18 different colors.
One reviewer says, “This bra is extremely comfortable and looks nice! I forget I am wearing a bra when I am wearing this one. It is soft and gives enough support for everyday wear. For me, it gives light/average support. The nice thing is that I don’t spend time tugging at it. It fits very nicely.”
BESTENA’s sports bra is so lightweight and comfortable that it can easily be worn every day as well as for low-impact activities like yoga and pilates. We love that this comes as a 3 pack so there is one to wear, one to wash, and one to spare! There is even removable light padding for added comfort. Available in black, white, and nude in sizes small to 4XL.
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