Like finding the best women’s running shoes that don’t give you blisters or rub your little toes, finding the best sports bra for your workout is imperative. The right bra has the power to help you lift heavier, run further, and sink into that cobra pose you’ve been working on for months, while the wrong bra can ruin a workout before it’s even begun.
Whether you’re a runner or a yogi, below we’ve rounded up the best high-impact sports bras, HIIT sports bras and more to buy in 2022. To help you work out which is the best for you, we've put all of the bras on this list through their paces in a number of different sessions — from sweaty half marathons to gentle yoga flows.
Did you know your bra has a shelf life? In order to ensure your bra is still giving you the right amount of support, experts recommend changing it every six to 12 months, depending on how much you wear and wash the bra. Time for an upgrade? Read on.
What is the best sports bra?
The best sports bra is the one that offers the right level of support for the activity you are doing. Not wearing a supportive bra can cause damage to the connective tissue in the breasts, also referred to as Cooper’s ligaments. Once these stretch, they cannot stretch back, which can lead to sagging in the breast tissue.
The best high-impact sports bra on the market is the Lululemon Enlite bra. The support it offers is second to none and it comes in a range of cup sizes — from an A to an E. We’d opt for the traditional version rather than the front-fastening, as we found the front zipper caused chafing during sweaty workouts.
The best medium-impact sports bra suitable for HIIT is the Sweaty Betty Stamina Workout Bra, which is supportive enough for most workouts and is extremely comfortable, thanks to the seamless design. It’s available in XS to XXXL, so you’ll need to convert your bra size before buying.
The best low-impact sports bra is the Lululemon Like a Cloud bra, which is buttery-soft and comfortable for Pilates and yoga classes. In fact, it’s so comfortable, you’ll wear it all the time.
The best value sports bra on this list is the Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra, which offers a high level of support, without a huge price tag.
Best high-impact sports bras
These sports bras are designed for high-impact sports like running, boxing, or football. They offer the maximum amount of protection while also being comfortable and sweat-wicking. Here are the best high-impact sports bras on test right now:
When it comes to high support, it doesn’t get better than the Lululemon Enlite bra. We found this bra to be extremely supportive for everything from a HIIT class to a marathon. It’s available in a large range of sizes, and unlike other bras on this list, you can order your actual everyday bra size, rather than trying to convert your size to S, M, or L.
The Enlite bra is sweat-wicking and quick-drying, which comes in handy for most intense workouts. We didn’t have any problem with rubbing or chafing using the regular Enlite, however, we did when testing the Enlite with the zip-front, which rubbed when wet. It’s machine washable (on a gentle cycle) and the hook-and-eye fastening and wide back closure make the bra easy to get on and off, even after a particularly difficult run.
The downside with the Enlite bra is the price tag — it definitely won’t be suitable for everyone. Experts recommend you change your sports bra every six to twelve months to ensure it’s offering the right amount of support (obviously the more you wear the bra, the quicker it’ll wear out). Spending the better part of $100 on a bra every six months sounds like a lot, but if you can afford it, the support is unparalleled.
The Nike FE/NOM Flyknit bra fits more like a crop top that you pull over your head than a traditional hook-and-eye fastening bra. It’s highly compressive, pressing the breasts against the chest to minimize movement. For these reasons, we’d say it’s best suited to women with an A-C cup looking for a high-impact bra.
The bra’s fabric is virtually seam-free, minimizing chafing on the move. We tested this bra on sweaty summer runs and HIIT classes and didn’t have any discomfort. The Flyknit fabric feels compressive and completely minimizes any movement, which does remove all distractions and allows you to focus on your performance. We also found the bra washed well and lasted a good few months.
The downside with the Nike FE/NOM Flyknit is that it can be difficult to remove after a sweaty workout, especially after a few washes. What’s more, having to physically pull the bra over your head isn’t the most comfortable. That said, if you prefer the crop-top style design of compression bras, this is one of the best we’ve tested.
Last year, Brooks revealed a new line of bras which had been developed with research partners at the University of Portsmouth Institute for Breast Health in the UK. The biomechanical testing ensured the bras fully supported the breasts during exercise. The Dare Crossback was one of the bras released, and it’s fast become one of the brand’s most popular bras.
The cross-back design is suited to women who prefer to pull a bra over their head than worry about straps and fastenings that can chafe on the move. The molded cup supports offer a good amount of nipple coverage if you’re a runner who prefers to wear just a bra in the summer months, and the seamless design minimizes chafing. The sizing is a little unusual — the bra is available in AB, CD, and DDE cup sizes, so if you’re between two cup sizes, it can be tricky to work out which fits right, but once you get the right fit, the bra is extremely comfortable on the move.
As well as struggles working out the correct size, the straps on the Brooks bra are not adjustable, which at first glance caused concern. However, we found the bra to fit well and stay put on the move.
Best sports bra plus size
If you're looking for a high-support, or running sports bra for a larger cup size, we've found them. These bras come in a wide range of sizes, and are built to offer customizable support, whatever your bra size.
Maaree was started by Mari, a sports product tester, who set out to develop a sports bra that reduced the upward motion of breasts. The Solidarity High Impact Sports Bra is one of the best on the market for women with bigger boobs, and has superior support to prevent movement.
On test, this is one of the best sports bras for running. It has comfortable, adjustable straps, which can be fixed together for a racerback design. There's also an adjustable strap on the side of the bra, just behind the cup, to tighten the overband and customize the fit of the bra. Nothing moves when wearing this bra, even over a marathon, and we've never had any issues with chafing or pinching. The traditional hook-and-eye clasp also makes it easy to get off, even when wet.
The sizing of the Solidarity bra is a little complicated, but Mari offers free online bra fittings to ensure women get the best fit possible. There's also a helpful fitting guide on the website, but it does involve you digging out a tape measure.
This Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra is a popular choice amongst runners, and for good reason. The thick, wide, straps can be fixed using additional clasps, which prevent the straps from gradually loosening as you move. It's also got a clip-in racer back design, which makes getting the bra on and off a little easier.
The bra has been designed specifically for running, with Under Armour claiming it reduces bounce by 78%. I found the seamless design to be comfortable and supportive on the move, and didn't experience any chafing when running wearing the bra, even for sweatier sessions on warm days.
The one small drawback here is getting the size right. I ordered my normal bra size and definitely found the bra to come up small. Under Armour recommend sizing up a band size in this style (for example, if you wear a 34D in your everyday bra, buy a 36D in the Ultimate Run Bra) and I wish I'd read this advice before investing. If in doubt, order two pairs and try on at home to ensure you get a supportive fit.
Best medium-impact sports bras
These medium-impact sports bras are best suited for exercises such as rowing, spinning and hikes. The best medium-impact sports bras won’t pinch or chafe, and will wick sweat away from the body to keep you comfortable on the move. We’ve hand-picked some of the best on the market here.
The Sweaty Betty Stamina Workout Bra looks and feels great on the move. We’ve tried it for hikes, spin classes, and HIIT sessions that don’t involve too much jumping. The pull-over design is easy to get on and off (it has more give than the Nike bra mentioned above) and we loved the non-padded design. If you’re someone who doesn’t remove the padding from your sports bras though, you might miss the extra coverage.
The bra is pretty simple in design, with a wide chest band and racerback design for extra support. The bra also has a higher neckline for extra coverage during Pilates and yoga classes, which we liked. It’s compressive but not as compressive as the bras mentioned above. It’s also available in a wide variety of colorways to suit every style. The bra comes in sizes XS to XXXL, so you’ll need to use the size guide to work out how your regular bra size converts.
The downside with this bra is that even though it’s only medium-impact, it might not offer enough support for women with a bra size larger than a C cup. If you are an A-C cup, this is a comfortable bra to have in your wardrobe.
If you’re looking for a comfortable, simple, medium-impact sports bra without any frills, this Under Armour bra ticks all the boxes. It has cross-over straps and an open back design for ventilation and to make getting the bra on and off that little bit easier, and an elasticated chest strap for support. It’s also available in a number of different colors to match your favorite leggings.
The padded cups in this bra are removable, which in our eyes is a plus, as they’ll often get bunched up after washing. That said, if you prefer to have the extra coverage, the option is there. Like all the bras on this list, the bra dries quickly and wicks sweat away from the body. The support is best suited to hikes, spinning sessions and weight training, although women with a larger bust might need a little extra support.
The only downside here is the sizing — like a number of the other bras on this list you’ll need to convert your everyday bra size into Under Armour’s XS to XXL size guide. Our tester is a 32C and wore a SM bra and found that the fit was comfortable, but if you’re between sizes, it’s worth using the brand’s size guide.
If you're looking for a sports bra you can wear on it's own in the gym with a pair of high-waisted leggings, I've found it. This Gymshark bra looks great. It has a bright, eye-catching animal-print design, and it's available in a number of different colors. It's also got a high neckline, which is great for extra coverage during deadlifts and in a yoga class.
The bra has cross back back detailing, a seamless design to minimize chafing, and it is made from a sweat-wicking fabric to keep you cool and dry. The medium support is enough for most gym classes, however if you're doing anything high-impact, you'll need a little more support.
The downside here, like a lot of bras on this list, is the fact you'll have to convert your regular bra size into a generic XS, S, or M. I'm a 32C and wore an XS and found the bra to be comfortable, without being too restrictive as I moved.
Best Nike sports bras
As well as the Nike FE/NOM high-impact sports bra mentioned above, these are some of the best Nike sports bras you can buy right now.
The Nike Dri-FIT Indy low-impact bra has been one of the most popular yoga bras on the market for years and it’s easy to see why. It’s designed to be comfortable — it has adjustable straps that can be tightened from the front of the bra, rather than having to awkwardly wiggle to fix them on the back.
Nike has added plenty of ventilation panels to keep you from overheating during a workout, and the flat seams are designed to prevent uncomfortable pinching or chafing. The fit is tighter than your everyday bra, despite it only offering low-impact support. Nike describes this fit as ‘body hugging’, but this does feel reassuring when wearing the bra for a more intense yoga or Pilates workout.
The downside with this bra is the inserts. For women who prefer to keep the inserts in the bra for extra coverage, trying to wiggle them back into place after washing the bra can be frustrating. However, for those who always pull this padding out of the bra the second you cut the tags off, this is a comfortable, affordable low-impact bra worth investing in.
Where the Nike FE/NOM bra falls short, the Alpha Ultrabreathe excels — it's super easy to get on and off thanks to the double closure on the back, with a hook and eye fastening, it's wonderfully lightweight and breathable, and it offers a high level of support in a wide range of cup sizes.
At first glance, we were a little confused by the overlay on the bra — it felt a bit 90's, but it's a clever design hack to add coverage where you need it most and to minimize bounce. The bra fits tightly (our tester is a 32C and wore a small) and the straps can be adjusted for a more personalized fit. The bra also washes well and hasn't shrunk or gone bobbly.
The downside here is the price — $75 is a lot to spend on a sports bra, but this is one of the most comfortable bras on test, and we've not had any issue with chafing or rubbing, even on longer, sweaty runs.
Best Lululemon sports bras
This Lululemon Like A Cloud sports bra does exactly what it says on the tin — it’s so wonderfully soft it feels like there’s nothing there. We’ve worn this bra for yoga and Pilates classes, but also just every day and for gentle hikes with the dog. It’s brilliantly comfortable and the straps stay put.
When it comes to sizing, this bra comes in standard Lululemon sizing, so you’ll need to order your regular size. Some testers found they wanted to go down a size to get a more compressive fit, but others found the bra comfortable in their normal size. Lululemon also makes a longline version of this bra, which sits lower down the chest for extra comfort.
The sweat-wicking fabric is designed to be soft against the skin, and the molded cups aren’t removable, so you won’t need to worry about them bunching up after you’ve washed the bra a couple of times. Like most of the sports bras on this list, to best care for the bra, Lululemon recommends you machine-wash the bra on cold and avoid using fabric softeners or putting it in the tumble dryer.
The downside here is that the bra offers light support for B/C cups. If you’re bigger than a C cup, you might find the bra doesn’t offer enough support during certain yoga postures, and would likely be better off wearing Lululemon’s Energy Bra.
This is a brilliant sports bra, that offers a high level of support for B-G cups. Our tester put this to the test fresh on for a hot half marathon and had no issues with rubbing, chafing, or slipping straps. It's breathable, and wicks sweat away from the body wonderfully, without feeling too soggy.
The padded straps are adjustable and can be crossed behind the back if you'd rather hide them when wearing a tank. There's also no padding to have to remove and chuck in the bin the first time you get it out of the washing machine. The bra comes in your normal bra size and is available up to a 42 DDD.
The only downside here is that the bra isn't the best looking on the market, although honestly, who cares. But if you are looking for a bra to run in like a crop top, this might not be the one for you.
Best Adidas sports bras
Adidas have completely overhauled their sports bra line in 2022, releasing a total of 43 new bras, designed to offer support to all women, whatever their sport. We've tested two of the high-impact sports bras, designed for running and HIIT training below.
As a fitness editor, I've road tested a lot of sports bras in my time, and hands-down, this is one of the best. You can convert just about everything on the bra for the perfect fit, and although it can be a little fiddly when you first work out how to get it on (and off), once it's in place, there's no movement.
The bra fastens by the chest strap, which you can easily tighten from the front of the bra, to avoid any awkward wiggling. The straps can also be adjusted and crossed behind the back for additional support. During sweaty runs, the bra never felt overly soggy, and even when damp, it didn't rub or chafe.
The bra comes in a number of different colorways and offers support from an A cup to a DD cup. It's worth using the Adidas converter tool to work out the best size for you, and spending some time ensuring you've got a good fit before heading out the door — as a rule of thumb, the chest band on a sports bra should be tighter than your everyday bra, but still allow you to fit two fingers between the bra and your skin.
We've worn this sports bra for high-intensity HIIT classes, and on the run, and have been impressed by how little movement there was when wearing this bra. The adjustable straps can be worn crossed over the back, for a racer-back design, or worn like everyday bra straps. The hook-and-eye clasp makes it super easy to remove the bra at the end of a workout, even when wet.
While a sports bra doesn't need to look good, the mesh detailing on the front of the bra and the straps looks great, and this is definitely a bra you could wear on it's own in the gym. It comes in three different colorways, and in a range of sizes to support an A to a DD cup.
The sizing, however, can be a little confusing, and it's definitely worth using the Adidas bra converter to work out what your size should be. Remember, the sports bra should feel a lot tighter than your everyday bra, so don't be tempted to size up here.
What is the difference between a high, medium, and low-impact bra?
The clue is in the title, but the amount of support you need from your sports bra will depend on a couple of things. First, your bra size and second, the type of activity you’re planning on doing. Women with smaller bust sizes can often get away with wearing medium and low impact bras more often than women with a larger bra size, who will often need more support when exercising.
High-impact bras are recommended for activities like running, HIIT training, and playing football. A high-impact bra can fall into two different categories — encapsulation and compression. An encapsulation sports bra will look like an everyday bra, with two separate cups for targeted support that minimizes the movement of each breast. A compression bra will often look more like a crop top, and work by pressing the breasts against the chest to prevent movement. Compression bras are often comfortable for smaller-breasted women.
Medium-impact bras are not quite as supportive as high-impact bras and are best suited for activities like hiking, spinning, and cross-training. Typically, you wouldn’t go for a run in a medium-impact bra, as the compression and support wouldn’t be enough to fully support the breasts.
A low-impact bra offers a light amount of support — a little more than your everyday bra, but not all that much. Low-impact bras are usually best suited for more gentle forms of exercise, such as yoga, Pilates, or barre classes.
How to choose the best sports bra for you
When it comes to choosing the best sports bra for you, you’ll need to think about the type of activity you plan on using the bra for. If you’re a runner, you’ll definitely need to add a high-impact bra to your wardrobe, if you’re more of a yogi, you won’t need the same amount of support.
Next up, you’ll want to consider fit. Some of the bras on this list will require you to convert your everyday bra size into a generic small, medium or large. The best way to do this is to grab a tape measure and look at the brand size guides to ensure you’re getting the right size. A bra that is too large won’t offer the right amount of support and one that is too tight will pinch and chafe.
Finally, you’ll want to consider how you want the bra to fit. If you’re someone who struggles to pull a sweaty bra over your head in the gym changing room, look for a bra with a traditional hook-and-eye clasp that will be easier to get into and out of. What’s more, if you prefer to run or work out in just a sports bra, you might want one with padding in the cups for extra coverage.
How we test sports bras
We test sports bras by putting them through their paces on the run, in HIIT and spin classes, and for yoga sessions. When testing the best sports bras, we’ll look for how the bra feels during the activity — whether it wicks sweat away from the body, or feels overly damp after a sweaty workout. We’ll look at how easy the bra is to get into and out of, and whether the straps can be adjusted for a more personal fit.
Finally, we’ll consider how comfortable the bra is — a bra that pinches or chafes isn’t one that’ll motivate you to push harder during a workout.