Finding a suitable sports bra is tricky. As with any bra, you need to consider both aesthetics and comfort, but here comfort will probably be the higher priority. There are six variables to consider when finding the style that is perfect for you.
- Size of your bust: A larger bust requires a more supportive bra. Conversely, support will be less critical for a smaller bust.
- Intensity of the workout: A high-impact workout requires a more supportive bra than a low-impact workout.
- Underwire or wireless: Sports bras come with or without underwire. Underwires tend to be even more supportive, but you can choose wireless styles and feel perfectly secure. Most brands offer both options.
- Pull-on versus back-fastening: Sports bras can be pull-on styles without fastening, or fasten at the back like a regular bra.
- Your sensitivity to uni-boob: Bras that do not separate in the middle can cause what some consider to be an unflattering uni-boob effect. Consider bras with centre separation if this bothers you.
- Racerback or regular bra style: Sports bras can be racerback or regular. Some sports bras can be converted into racerback styles. Racerback styles tend to work best for sloping shoulders (the straps don’t fall off our shoulder), and sleeveless tank tops. But regular bra straps might be more comfortable.
Most women wear their normal bra size in a sports bra, although this is not always the case. I wear a 30 or 29 inch band in a regular bra, but a 32 inch band has fit in the past if the sports bra runs very small. Opt for a snug fit for maximum support.
I recently asked our forum members, who represent an excellent cross-section of shapes and preferences, about their favourite sports bras. Here’s a summary of the wealth of helpful information that they provided, categorized by the brands that were the most popular.
Moving Comfort sports bras were the most popular. They offer excellent support for all bust sizes, and are especially good for C-cups. They are great for running, yoga, Zumba and weight training. Their highly adjustable straps are a big plus for short-waisted body types. Their convenient back closure makes taking the bra on and off super easy. They are breathable, wicking, extremely comfortable and quick drying. They offer bust shaping without inner pads. And although the bustline is not separated, uni-boob is kept to a minimum. An excellent bra to wear on long flights. Available in a very broad range of sizes.
As their name implies, Shock Absorber bras offer amazing support for a large bust during high-impact sports. You will be securely locked and loaded and very comfortable. Surprisingly, Shock Absorber bras are equally good for small busted ladies because they create a nice shape and smooth coverage over the nipple. Excellent availability of sizes.
The Gap Sprint Reversible Bra is fab for the small busted lady. Their removable inner pads keep the nipple covered, which creates an extra smooth finish and a bit of shape. But the pads shift around while you launder, which is annoying. Their Extreme Control Sports Bra provides great support for a larger bust without ample coverage.
An extremely supportive bra for a larger bust, especially during pregnancy. Lots of extra coverage. Available in an impressive range of sizes (it might be the only brand that makes your bra size). No uni-boob effect because the styles separate in the middle. Great for any high-impact workout. Most styles convert to racerback.
Another excellent highly supportive bra with or without wire. Creates a pointy bust shape, but a beautiful shape nonetheless. Straps are long enough for long torsos. Large collection of sizes, and nice full coverage on top.
The La Isla bra comes highly recommended for very good shape and support on a larger bust with no underwire and a separated centre. Excellent nipple coverage too.
If you’re sensitive to chafing in a sports bra, this is the style to try for a small to average size bust. The removable cups migrate after laundry, so they’ll need readjustment. Although the cups are not separated, the uni-boob effect is minimal.
The Ta Ta Tamer provides excellent support for high-impact workouts. They also have fashionable strappy sports bras for the smaller bust that create a fun look when wearing loose sleeveless tees over the top, (check out the styles from the back). But their size assortment is narrow so you might not get the correct fit.
If you prefer a sports bra that looks less sporty, and more like a regular bra, Wacoal is a good option. These bras do not show through under tops, if you’re after an “invisible” sports bra. I wear one of these for walking and yoga and it’s still going strong after ten years.
Anita is similar to the Panache bra, but with less coverage over the bust in front. They are also available in Europe, and come in an excellent assortment of sizes for larger cups. Not the bra for the small chested lass.
A good option for small chested gals and low-impact workouts. Durable, comfortable and lightweight. The style from Target is an affordable $10, but does not have a back closure.
This bra looks like a crop top, and can be worn without layers. Of course, it works just as well under a tee or sports top. Great support for a large bust and high-impact workout. They size their bras a little differently, so you might not find the correct fit.
One of our members wears a regular racerback bra under a Danskin shelf bra tank top when she works out. It’s a cost-effective option for a small to medium sized bust and high-impact workout. Forum members outside the US and Canada recommend Casall and Triumph sports bras. By all means do add to this list if your favourite sports bra has not been mentioned.