The best sports bra

Samantha Loomis

If you’re looking for more support in a sports bra, purchase one with a wider band. The thinner the band, the less support it offers.

It's an essential workout item for every woman -- the sports bra. It keeps women comfortable while also providing beneficial aspects to any workout, including easier breathing, sweat absorption, and rash prevention. Whether a woman is particularly endowed or not, it's necessary to wear a sports bra during a workout, simply for the added comfort.

There are so many options available in the sports bra marketplace that it may seem overwhelming to choose an appropriate option. We've broken down all the considerations and features of sports bras to aid you in your search. Our top pick, the Panache Underwire Sports Bra, is for any and all who want to add comfort and ease to their workout routines.

Considerations when choosing sports bras

It's beneficial to wear a sports bra for the sake of the body. When running or doing a vigorous activity, breasts bounce and strain without any support. Bouncing up and down and from side to side causes sagging and stretching of the skin. Wearing a sports bra offers support, and a properly fitted one can reduce bouncing by at least half.

Types of sports bras

Compression sports bras press breasts against the chest wall in order to minimize bouncing. The sports bra fits tightly without squeezing in order to reduce the space available for breasts to move. This type is recommended for women with smaller breasts.

Encapsulation sports bras contain two individual cups, one for each breast. The cups hold the breasts in place, so they aren't bouncing while retaining their natural rounded shape. These bras contain more support and stability with rigid cups, bands, and straps, which make them ideal for women with larger breasts.

Band size

Band size measures the circumference of the chest. The band should fit tightly without squeezing or causing air restriction. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit a finger underneath the band without it being too tight. If you can't slip a finger into the band, the bra is too tight for your chest.

Cup size

Cup size takes into consideration the size of each breast. You don't want any spillage or gaping cups because then the bra isn't able to do its job. The bra should hold the entire breast comfortably with the fabric pulled smoothly over the skin. Wrinkles or puckering means the cup size is too big.



Racerback sports bras connect the two straps between a woman's shoulder blades, which cinches the straps tighter. This design is useful for sports or workouts where women need a lot of freedom of movement like yoga or running.

Tank top sports bras have wide straps that fit over each shoulder. They are similar to regular bras in that they may have a back closure, and they are usually adjustable.

Pullover sports bras have an elastic fit. They can be pulled on quickly, but they are limited because they can't be adjusted. They lack the support of the other two styles.


Look for moisture-wicking fabrics when purchasing a sports bra. These include polyester, nylon, Lycra, spandex, or a cotton blend. Another way to keep cool while working out is wearing a sports bra that has breathable mesh panels. They absorb sweat while allowing air to pass through the material to cool your skin.

Impact level

Impact level denotes what type of exercise you do when wearing a sports bra. Different exercises require different impact levels:

Low-impact activities include walking, yoga, or pilates.
Medium-impact activities include hiking, skiing, and cycling.
High-impact activities include tennis, basketball, aerobics, and running.

Sports bra prices

Depending on the material and the support offered, sports bra prices differ. Bras with less support range in the $15 to $40 range, while bras with more supportive material cost between $50 and $70.


Q. Can I wear sports bras while I sleep to be more comfortable?

A. Yes, contrary to popular belief it is okay to wear a sports bra while sleeping. It does not stunt growth or cause you to develop cancer -- those are myths. Women with larger chests may find more comfort when wearing a sports bra to bed.

Q. Should I wash my sports bra after every use?

A. That's mostly a subjective question, but generally, yes you should. If you went on a short walk and barely broke a sweat, it doesn't necessarily need to be washed. A good rule to follow is if your body was sweating, the sports bra most likely absorbed some of it and needs to be washed.

Sports bras we recommend

Best of the best: Panache Underwire

Our take: Offers stellar support with an underwire, wide cushioned shoulder straps, and a hook-and-eye closure.

What we like: Made from almost 40% polyester, which is a moisture-wicking fabric designed to keep you cool.

What we dislike: Must be hand-washed, which is inconvenient.

Best bang for your buck: Glamorise No Bounce, Full Support

Our take: Reinforced wire-free cups offer lift and impact support for high-impact activities. The bra has a camisole that rises slightly above the cleavage line to help support larger chests.

What we like: The straps are adjustable and padded to increase comfort. There's also a hook-and-eye closure in the back that increases adjustability.

What we dislike: Because of the extra camisole and wide straps, this sports bra can be difficult to fit. With so many ways to adjust, the bra can become cumbersome. 

Choice 3: Champion Absolute Workout

Our take: Almost 90% polyester, this sports bra will keep you feeling fresh and cool. Its racerback design is tag-free, which eliminates that annoying itch.

What we like: It's machine washable, which makes it easy to clean, and it's categorized as medium impact, which is the most common category of exercise.

What we dislike: The bra is a pullover design that doesn't offer any adjustability.

Samantha Loomis is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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