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How We Decided
  • 16 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Spent
  • 3 Experts Interviewed
  • 65 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Shopping Guide for Best Sports Bras

    When it comes to exercise, women should do some pre-workout prep before they even begin their warm-up. And this prep should include a piece of clothing that is not just essential for us women, but also vital when it comes to working out.

    That’s right, ladies, we’re talking about sports bras!

    The right sports bra can not only affect your performance, energy level, and comfort during exercise but also after it.

    Sports bras can provide comfort during your routine, help ease your breathing, aid in sweat absorption, and even prevent rashes by allowing air to breathe through.

    And these facts have not gone unnoticed by manufacturers.

    The consumer market is flooded with sports bra styles — from colorful, strappy athleisure options, to high-performance activewear.

    If you’re looking to accent your day-to-day tee collection, you can choose a sports bra that best fits your style. But if you’re preparing to exercise or play active sports, you need a bra that offers support, comfort, and durability.

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    The sports bra you choose should match your preferred form of exercise in terms of size, material, and purpose.

    At BestReviews, we set our fitness goal high to present you with the very best sports bra choices, so your shopping experience will be no sweat. Through rigorous research, we’ve identified five bras that provide the perfect combination of performance and ease, whether you’re flowing through vinyasas or completing the final miles of a marathon.

    Please see our product matrix above for five performance-ready sports bras that will help you go the extra mile. Read on if you’d like to learn more about finding and caring for the perfect sports bra.

    Kelsi
    Expert Consultant

    Kelsi is a professional women’s rugby player and currently trains full time with the USA 7s team at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Before making the national team, she played for the Seattle Saracens and helped win two National Championships. A true fitness enthusiast, Kelsi has also participated in cheerleading, basketball, volleyball, soccer, track, gymnastics, and wrestling.


    Kelsi  |  National Champion Rugby Player

    Benefits Of Wearing A Sports Bra

    Whether you’re into aerobics with an A cup or hiking with DD’s, your breasts should be well-supported during most activities, including exercise.

    Exercise can cause your breasts to bounce up and down and side to side, straining your body and creating discomfort. Without bones or muscles to provide stability, the soft, fatty tissues in your breasts can, in fact, shift and bounce several inches. Over time, the strain on your skin and ligaments can lead to stretching and sagging - the exact opposite of what you're trying to accomplish by exercising.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Sports bras are designed to keep the soft tissues of breasts from excessive movement and stretch during workouts or prolonged physical activity.

    A properly fitted sports bra minimizes bounce by about half, holding your breasts firm as you tone and sculpt your muscles. Engineered with the right material and design for active movement, a quality sports bra prevents stress, stretch, and damage to your delicate tissues and ligaments. What's more, it keeps you comfortable!

    The size of your breasts and your chosen mode of exercise play important roles in the type of sports bra you need. A bra’s fabric and design also factor into its comfort and durability.

    Remember the three Fs when choosing a sports bra: Fit, Fabric, and Function.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you're trying on a sports bra for the first time, put it through a little dressing room workout by jumping or running in place. If you can feel your breasts bouncing, the bra is probably not right for you.


    Kelsi  | National Champion Rugby Player

    Types and Fit of Sports Bras

    There are two bra types to choose from: the compression bra and the encapsulation bra.

    Types and fit

    Compression Sports Bras

    These sports bras press the breasts against the chest wall, minimizing movement. Most pullover styles and shelf bras are compression bras. These bras bind your chest and restrict bouncing, but they can be uncomfortable for women with larger breasts.

    CAUTION

    Wearing a badly fitted bra, especially during sports or workout, can actually make you ill. More than 80% of women wear the wrong bra size.

    Types and fit

    Encapsulation Sports Bras

    These sports bras feature individual cups that surround the breasts to maintain their natural shape, yet minimize bounce while moving. These bras often have rigid cups, bands, and straps in the front to restrict movement, making them ideal for larger cup sizes.

    Most standard bras are encapsulation bras, while most pullover sports bras rely on compression to do their job. However, there are plenty of styles that combine the characteristics of both. These styles offer maximum support while you get your sweat on.

    Types and fit

    Finding the Right Fit

    Proper fit could mean the difference between an under-performing, saggy sports bra and a bra that pulls its weight during your workout. Pay attention to both band and cup size. If you're in a dressing room, be sure to take it for a test run (or jump, or stretch)!

    Band size: Make sure your bra is tight around the band, which provides the majority of support. You want it slightly tighter than your everyday bras, but not to the point that it restricts deep breathing.

    Cup size: To test for correct cup size, make sure the cup holds the entire breast. Spillage out the top or sides does not offer proper support, and could lead to painful chafing. Also, if you see wrinkles or puckering, it could mean your cup size is too big. The fabric should be smooth and flush to your skin.

    To test if your band is the right size, pull the bra away from the center of your chest by holding the bottom of the bra. It should come out only about one inch. Also, raise your arms above your head. The band shouldn’t budge.

    Staff
    BestReviews
    Types and fit

    Finding The Right Style Of Sports Bra

    In addition to the perfect fit, you want a sports bra style that suits your purpose and physique.

    • Racerback designs are common in sports bras and provide terrific freedom of movement; they're great for twisting in yoga or running. The racerback connects the shoulder straps between your shoulder blades, cinching the straps tighter and anchoring the bra closer to the body. This allows you to maintain the full rotation of your arms and shoulders without losing frontal support.
    DID YOU KNOW?

    Racerback bras have straps that angle toward the center of the back, as opposed to falling straight down the shoulders, and provide maximum support during athletic activities.

    • Tank top style bras are also popular. The straps are wide to help distribute weight and, often, they're padded for extra comfort. This type of strap is commonly seen on bras with a back closure, and they're usually adjustable so you can fine-tune your fit.
    • Pullover sports bras are the most common type. They have an all-over stretch which is great for tugging the bra over your top knot, but not so great when it comes to support.
    EXPERT TIP

    Bras with back clasps allow the front to remain rigid, which leads to better support and allows you to tighten the band.


    Kelsi  | National Champion Rugby Player

    Fabric Of A Sports Bra

    You don’t want to get distracted during your morning run by a scratchy seam or straps that dig into your shoulders. When it comes to enjoying a killer workout, comfort is the key. And the fabric your bra is made of plays a key role in that comfort.

    Moisture-wicking fabrics — polyester, nylon, Lycra, spandex, or a cotton blend that incorporates these materials — keep you dry during even the toughest boot camp workout. Some companies specialize in moisture-wicking blends that also keep you cool while providing support. Many of these lightweight fabrics offer varying levels of stretch, so you are supported but not constricted while moving.

    Ensure the material of the bra lets the skin breathe and does not irritate it, specially when in contact with sweat.

    Breathable mesh panels can also help keep you cool while maintaining adequate support. Such material absorbs sweat and also allows air to pass through to your skin, providing not only cooling but also drying of sweat. This ensures that moisture does not remain trapped on your skin.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some bra fabrics trap sweat between your breasts, resulting in a rash or chafing. But moisture-wicking fabrics keep you dry during even the toughest boot camp workout.

    Function Of A Sports Bra

    When choosing a sports bra, ask yourself, “What type of activities will I be doing in this bra?”

    Does your exercise routine involve a lot of running or jumping? Do you mainly practice yoga? Are you looking for a little extra support while walking? Just as there are different types of exercise, there are different sports bras that provide various levels of support.

    EXPERT TIP

    High-impact sports such as tennis, aerobics, and running call for total bounce control. A rigid encapsulation bra will keep you comfortable throughout such high-impact workouts.


    Kelsi  | National Champion Rugby Player

    Most manufacturers specify whether a particular bra is meant for low-, medium-, or high-impact exercise.

    • Low-impact activities such as walking, yoga, pilates, and strength training often don’t require an intense amount of support. Basic, stretchy pullover sports bras and shelf bras tend to do the trick. Women with smaller cup sizes typically don’t require more support than what a low-impact bra provides.
    • Medium-impact sports such as hiking, skiing, and cycling can lead to more bouncing and discomfort without a proper sports bra. Some compression bras may suffice, but finding a bra with the right combination of encapsulation and compression is ideal.
    • High-impact sports such as tennis, basketball, aerobics, and running call for total bounce control. A rigid encapsulation bra with some compression eliminates movement and keeps you comfortable throughout a high-impact workout.

    Reduce friction against your skin with a bra boasting seam-free construction, molded cups, or padded straps.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Tips On How To Care For Your Sports Bra

    • If you work out two to three times per week, aim to replace your sports bra every four to six months.
    • Heat breaks down spandex and other synthetic fibers, so plan to wash your sports bras in cold water with detergent.
    • Skip the dryer and let your sports bras dry in the open air. This could help you add a couple of months to your favorite racerback.
    • Even with precise care, sports bras stretch over time. If your bra loses its springy quality, it's not going to do its job properly. Time for a replacement!
    Choose your sport bra depending on the stress levels of your activity. Pilates and yoga need stretchy comfort fits while more firmness and bounce-control are needed for running.
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      Erinn
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      Researcher
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      Web Producer
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