The 10 Best Sports Bras
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in June of 2016. The right workout gear can enhance your exercise routine and even allow you to push yourself further, and this is especially true for women when it comes to sports bras. Whether you're looking for a lightweight style to help you relax in yoga class or significant support to keep you comfortable during a long run or when competing, our selections will guide you to your best fit. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 01, 2020:
For this update we've continued to evaluate a balance of sports bras for both smaller cup sizes and larger-busted women. No matter the size or how often she exercises, most women will probably own more than one style so they can choose what to wear depending on that day's activity.
We included choices like Champion Women's Freedom and the Calvin Klein Reversible for those who value comfort above all else. While this style won't support the largest sizes for anything other than a relaxing yoga class, it's still popular with women in the large to XL sizes. Many women enjoy wearing this style as a layer, around the house, or for sleeping.
On the other end of the spectrum we added the Enell Maximum Control. This bra is for the well-endowed woman who is dedicated to high impact exercise like running. It's well engineered to keep everything in place, and one of the best things about it is how comfortable the user's back and chest will feel after it's taken off.
Sweaty Betty High Intensity All of Sweaty Betty's high support sports bras are engineered to be fashionable and supportive for sizes from an A to an F cup. The combined encapsulation and compression make the High Intensity well-suited for running, interval training, and boot camp style workouts. sweatybetty.com
Energy Bra The Energy Bra is Lululemon's classic that provides medium support for fitness classes and training. The stylish, strappy back makes it a favorite to wear as a top while working out, and the stretchy fabric is breathable and has a smooth, cool feel. It doesn't have any padding, but there are pockets for adding cups, if needed. shop.lululemon.com
Why You Should Wear A Sports Bra
However, a sports bra does a lot of things that a regular one cannot.
Whether you're just getting into a new fitness routine or you've always been a gym rat, you likely have a nice collection of regular, everyday bras already. They keep things in place well enough, so you might be on the fence about dedicating funds to undergarments that are specifically for exercise. However, a sports bra does a lot of things that a regular one cannot. Maybe you don't need one for casual strolls but, it's important if you're into high-intensity interval training or any other type of workout that calls for sporadic, but dramatic movements. Sports bras compress the breast, protecting each part including the walls, ligaments, and tissue. Rapid and extreme movement of any of these can cause tissue damage, which can potentially be irreversible.
In addition to keeping the breast walls from stretching or tissue from tearing, the compression created by the sports bra does another good thing: it improves your performance. Nobody can do their absolute best at any workout routine if their breasts are moving up and down. They will be feeling insecure that others around them are looking at them, as well as dealing with discomfort. Even if you don't work out in a group (though maybe you should, since it can release more endorphins) and don't need to worry about onlookers, roaming breasts can interfere with certain movements, like lifting weights and using machinery. A lot of movement in that region is just distracting and is sure to affect your reps.
Though sweat is a normal part of exercising, nobody likes the look or feel of it. Running even one errand after going to the gym can feel unbearable when you have large, wet stains under your breasts — you just know everyone is staring. Sports bras are made from materials meant to wick away moisture. Unlike the cotton found in most traditional bras, which absorbs around seven percent of its weight in water, the high-tech polyester found in most sports bras only absorbs about 0.4 percent. This also helps you work out longer because you don't have to cut your exercise short due to feeling damp and sticky.
How To Choose A Sports Bra
The number of options out there may be overwhelming, but if you think about how you workout, and some other factors, it's easy to narrow down your choices. Consider the aesthetic, which is actually more complex than it seems. Starting with the hue, you should know that there are a lot of ways color influences the way we feel and behave. If you need a little help feeling excited about going to the gym, try a yellow design, since this hue makes us feel cheery and playful. Should you respond better to the sense of being challenged, you might grab a red bra, since that one will raise your blood pressure and ignite your fight or flight instinct. However, if you just want one that will match anything, you may prefer a simple black, white, or grey option.
That being said, some include clips that allow you to alternate between both back styles.
Proper support is essential, of course. Considering that you'll be bouncing up and down, heavy-duty straps are critical. You want thick ones that will not stretch out over time. A wide band beneath the breasts, with good strength, will reinforce things, and keep the breasts from sliding downward. Most women will appreciate adjustable straps, too. Throughout the month, breasts go through several changes due to hormones like progesterone. This can cause a women to be a completely different cup size at the end of the month than she was at the beginning. Adjustable straps will allow you to work with those changes, and make sure the bra fits snugly, any time during your cycle. Add a back clasp with various settings, and you have a bra that will be comfortable throughout weight fluctuations.
The cut is also something to consider. Those wanting a more feminine aesthetic or subtle design to complement cute workout tops might want a lower neckline. Meanwhile, women seeking more coverage might prefer a design that rises a bit higher. As for the back, there are racerback looks, as well as those with straight straps that resemble traditional bras. That being said, some include clips that allow you to alternate between both back styles. With the proper sports bra, you'll feel ready to tackle anything from an advanced aerobics class to a rock climbing wall.
How To Take Care Of Your Sports Bra
Taking good care of your sports bra can ensure that it lasts through years of intense workouts. First and foremost, take off your sports bra as soon as you're done working out. Try not to keep it on for hours while you run errands because the bacteria and moisture trapped in there can cause the fabric to wear thin. Give it a rinse immediately after removing it, even if that means stepping into the dreaded locker room. Naturally, you'll want to have a regular bra in your gym bag to wear on the way out.
The whole purpose of the item is to keep your breasts in place, after all.
When it comes to cleaning, if you have the time and patience, hand washing is the best way to go. Then simply hang it on a drying rack (avoid the dryer as it's rough on sports bras and can stretch them out). If you must put it in the washing machine, put it on gentle, and only wash it with similar materials. Cleaning it with rough items like denim can scratch and deteriorate the bra.
Knowing when it's time to replace your bra is also important. If you've noticed more movement than usual when you exercise, then yours is likely stretched and ready to be recycled. The whole purpose of the item is to keep your breasts in place, after all. If the band is stretched out and shifts around during exercise, it's probably time to swap out the old bra and bring in a new one. You should also be able to raise your arms above your head without the bra moving up at all — if this occurs, then it's likely shrunk too much. Hopefully, by taking good care of the item you won't need to replace it for years to come.