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Which sports bra is best?

It’s an essential workout item for every woman — the sports bra. It keeps you 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. There are a number of considerations and features of sports bras you should know to narrow your search. The Nike Women’s Swoosh Sports Bra is a top choice for its compressive fit and moisture-wicking fabric.

What to know before you buy a sports bra

Why should I wear a sports bra?

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: These 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: These 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 best 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.

What to look for in a quality sports bra


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’re similar to regular bras in that they may have a back closure, and they’re usually adjustable.

Pullover sports bras have an elastic fit. They can be pulled on quickly, but they’re 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: These bras are for low-impact activities, including walking, yoga or pilates.
  • Medium-impact: Bras with a medium-impact rating are for activities such as hiking, skiing and cycling.
  • High-impact: These sports bras are for strenuous activities, including tennis, basketball, aerobics and running.

How much you can expect to spend on a sports bra

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

Sports bra FAQ

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

A. Yes. Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to wear a sports bra while sleeping. It doesn’t 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.

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.

What are the best sports bras to buy?

Top sports bra

Best Nike Womens Swoosh Sports Bra

Nike Women’s Swoosh Sports Bra

What you should know: You get medium-impact support from a sporting brand you can trust. 

What you’ll love: Its moisture-wicking properties keep you comfortable and cool. The stabilizing tension of the straps minimizes bounce during multidirectional movement.

What you should consider: Some find the sizing off, so you may need to size up. Check the size chart before buying. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top sports bra for money

Best Puma Women Medium-Impact Sports Bra

Puma Women Medium-Impact Sports Bra

What you should know: With three in a pack, this is perfect choice for people who exercise daily. 

What you’ll love: The straps are adjustable to get a good fit. It has a sporty racerback design. The cups have removable padding. 

What you should consider: Some find the removable pads move around in the wash and are annoying to fit back into place. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Champion Womens Absolute Workout Sport Bra

Champion Women’s Absolute Workout Sport Bra

What you should know: 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 you’ll love: 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 you should consider: The bra is a pullover design that doesn’t offer any adjustability.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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

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