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Low-impact vs. medium-impact sports bras

Are low-impact or medium-impact sports bras better?

When it comes to choosing between a low-impact or medium-impact sports bra, there are a few factors to consider, such as support, size, fit, material and design. A bra with medium-impact support is best for those who engage in moderately strenuous activities such as cross-training. But a low-impact sports bra is better for casual exercise such as walking, Pilates or lifting weights.

Low-impact sports bras

Low-impact sports bras are primarily designed to support the wearer during light exercises that don’t result in a lot of bounce or unwanted movement in the chest area. These undergarments provide gentle compression and are semisupportive.

They’re usually lightweight and have minimal to no padding. Most come with narrow shoulder straps that are comfortable enough for lounging around or participating in light activities such as strength training, weightlifting, walking, yoga or Pilates. Some people with a smaller cup size can wear a low-impact sports bra during more intense exercises such as jogging or cycling since they require less support.

Most basic pullover style bras are low-impact. They’re commonly found online or at most major clothing retailers for $10-$35.

Low-impact sports bra pros

  • They provide minor compression and support, so they don’t restrict the wearer very much.
  • The straps are usually more relaxed than higher-impact options, so they don’t dig into the shoulders or cause chafing.
  • Some come with no padding, which is best for low- to medium-impact activities.
  • Many feature built-in cups, which give the wearer targeted support, a contoured form, additional support and more protection.
  • Some have removable cups, making them more versatile since the wearer can choose to use them or not depending on their activity level.
  • These undergarments come in nearly any design and often have adjustable straps.

Low-impact sports bra cons

  • They’re not as supportive to those with a medium or larger bust size.
  • Ones with removable inserts can be tricky to wash and may lose their shape more easily than those with built-in or no padding.
  • These bras are not recommended for more intense exercises such as hiking, running or snowboarding.

Best low-impact sports bras

Klvee Crisscross Low-Impact Sports Bra

Available in either a two-pack or three-pack, these sports bras have an elastic closure and cross-back design that prevents sagging and reduces unwanted movement during activities such as yoga or weightlifting. They have removable pad inserts for extra support.

Sold by Amazon

Kindred Bravely Sublime Support Low-Impact Sports Bra

Made for both nursing and light exercise, this racerback sports bra doesn’t have snaps or hooks, making it easy to pull on and take off. It’s stretchy and comfortable enough for all-day wear. It also has clips and cups that fold down for easy breastfeeding.

Sold by Amazon

Evercute Cross-Back Sports Bras

Offered in packs of three and five, these undergarments are elastic and seamless, making them ideal for light exercises. The fabric is moisture-wicking and they have four-way stretch for maximum comfort. These bras also come with removable pads and are designed to contour the chest while providing support with a wide band underneath.

Sold by Amazon

DKNY Sport Strappy Low-Impact Sports Bra

With a strappy back design and scoop neckline, this sports bra is perfect for lounging, Pilates or yoga. It features moisture-wicking technology to keep the wearer dry. And it provides moderate coverage. It comes in black and light green.

Sold by Macy’s

Medium-impact sports bras

Similar to any other sports bra, medium-impact sports bras come in nearly every fit, size and style imaginable. They provide more coverage, control and support than low-impact bras, though. At the same time, they’re great for individuals with a small to medium bust size. This makes them ideal for activities such as running, cycling, skiing, hiking or cross-training.

These bras generally have a wider band and built-in or removable cups for extra support, shaping and modesty. They offer less compression than high-impact options. Most standard sports bras are medium-impact.

Expect to spend $20-$50 on a medium-impact sports bra.

Medium-impact sports bra pros

  • Many have a pullover design, making them easy to put on and take off.
  • They bind the chest in place without feeling too restrictive.
  • Some provide extra coverage (encapsulation) while letting the chest keep its natural shape.
  • Most provide optimal support, coverage and contouring.

Medium-impact sports bra cons

  • Medium compression styles aren’t that comfortable for those with a larger bust, though some are designed to support the chest without causing discomfort or chafing.
  • The rigid cups and bands restrict movement but can be uncomfortable for those with a larger chest.
  • This style of bra is less common than low-impact and high-impact options.

Best medium-impact sports bras

Yianna Cross Back Padded Sports Bra Medium Support

This medium-support sports bra features crisscross back straps and moisture-wicking material that keeps the wearer dry while exercising. It’s stretchy enough to be comfortable while still supporting the chest.

Sold by Amazon

Powerreact Training Medium-Support Bra

Available in black, gray, white and blue, this undergarment consists of moisture-absorbing materials. It has breathable mesh and is comfortable for activities such as running and cross-training.

Sold by Adidas

Champion Freedom Seamless Racerback Sport Bra

With a thick bottom band, seamless design and four-way stretch, this sports bra provides optimal support during moderately intense activities such as running, skiing and cycling. It also features mesh for extra breathability.

Sold by Amazon

Adidas Women's Believe This Bra

This pullover-style, compression-fit sports bra wicks moisture to keep the wearer dry and comfortable. It has removable pads for extra support and an inner mesh lining for added breathability.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get a low-impact or medium-impact sports bra?

You need the right sports bra for optimal performance, support, coverage and comfort. This means choosing one that fits well and suits your needs. If you don’t need a lot of extra padding or protection and want to participate in light exercises such as weightlifting or yoga, a low-impact sports bra is best. But if you’re interested in moderate exercises such as running or cross-training, choose a medium-impact sports bra with extra compression and support.


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

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