Sports bras are the most important piece of fit-kit in your activewear wardrobe. Stat. Women need much more than a pair of running shoes to participate in sport – and while some squat-proof leggings and a wind-proof running jacket are important, nothing comes close to a high-impact sports bra. Need proof? A study by the University of Portsmouth found that breasts, if left unsupported, can move up to 14 whole centimetres when you’re working out. That’s pretty significant. What’s more, if this is repeated time and time again, you could cause irreversible damage to the Cooper’s ligaments that help hold your boobs in place. And no one wants sag.
In the name of perky breasts, investing in one of the best sports bras is therefore paramount. But with almost every retailer offering sports bras in different sizes, shapes and colours, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, we’ve done the leg work. That is: trying, testing, jumping, squatting and downward-dogging in all manner of popular styles. Ahead, everything from the most high support sports bra to sweat-wicking, racerback medium support styles – whatever your budget and chosen form of fitness.
How to choose the best sports bra for you | How to find the right size sports bra | How should your sports bra fit? | What type of sports bra is best for daily use? | How we tested the sports bras in this edit | Our full reviews
Best sports bras of 2023 at a glance:
- Best low impact sports bra: Restore Seamless Yoga Bra, £40, Sweaty Betty
- Best medium impact sports bra: Power Medium Support Sports Bra, £50, Sweaty Betty
- Best high impact sports bra: FASTIMPACT Luxe Run High-Support Bra, £70, Adidas
- Best sports bra for big boobs: Ultimate Support Serious Sports Bra A-G, £28, M&S
- Best budget sports bra: Freedom To Move Ultimate Support Sports Bra A-E, £25, M&S
How do I get the best sports bra?
- First, you want to make sure the sizing is right. Sports bra sizing can often be different to your regular bra sizing – and different sports bras are measured in different ways. Some use cup sizes, some use regular dress sizes and others use metrics like “small, medium and large”. Use the brand’s sizing chart as a rough guide, then consider taking your bust and ribcage measurements to cross-reference. Use a tape measure to do this, and ensure the tape measure is snug but not tight.
- Next, consider the type of workout you’re most likely to be engaging in. For a high-intensity workout like running, spinning or HIIT, you’ll need a comfy sports bra with a high level of support. If you have smaller boobs, a compression bra will likely do the job. They look more like crop tops and hug your body tightly. That said, if you have a bigger bust, you’ll probably need to venture into the world of encapsulation bras. These look a bit more like your regular bra and support each breast separately. They often have underwire, adjustable back straps, a normal bra fastening and moulded cups. If you only tend to engage in low impact activities like yoga, pilates and barre, go for a sports bra made from soft fabric with thin shoulder straps and which feels comfy when you’re lying down. A seamless sports bra might also do the job.
- Lastly, consider your bra’s moisture-wicking abilities so that you’re not soaked in sweat while you train. Your sports bra needs to be quick-drying, absorbing moisture from your skin in seconds. We’ve made sure all of the below picks are moisture-wicking AF, but if you want to test the claims, place a drop of water on the fabric and make sure it spreads out sharpish (and doesn’t bead up).
How should your sports bra fit?
The absolute worst thing is when a sports bra feels so tight that it restricts your breathing during a HIIT class. Those things are hard enough as it is. So, ensure your sports bra is snug without suffocating you. You should be able to fit two fingers between the straps and your shoulders. If your boob size changes throughout the course of the month (very normal) consider something with removable padding or adjustable straps to allow for extra support during your workouts when you need it.
Which type of sports bra is best for daily use?
If you want to wear your sports bra as your everyday bra, you’ll want something tailored for low to medium-impact activity. The wiring or underband should sit flat against your rib cage without pinching or chafing, and it shouldn’t move around when you walk or run. As always, comfort is key.
How we tested the sports bras in this edit:
We know what it takes to make a good sports bra – not least because our tester wore each of the reviewed sports bras for a minimum of one month across a variety of different workout styles. They were scored on their breathability, fit, style and whether they retained their quality when washed. And for those we didn’t have the time to test, we’ve scoured customer reviews to the Nth degree.