THE ATHLETE'S GUIDE TO SPORTS BRAS:
FROM LOW- TO HIGH-IMPACT
When your breasts bounce during exercise it can distract you from your workout, whether it be a competitive sport or an hour at the gym. This discomfort can be avoided by choosing the right type of sports bra for what you’re doing.
High-impact, medium-impact, and low-impact sports bras are designed for different activities. The impact level is determined by the amount of bounce experienced; choosing the right bra will counteract the bounce and keep your chest at its best. The main features that separate these categories, making a sports bra more or less supportive, include:
- Underwire vs. wire-free
- Encapsulation vs. compression
- Padded vs. unlined
You can read more about these features in the Sports Bra Style and Fit Guide. In this guide, we’re going to share with you our experts’ favorite high-, medium-, and low-impact sports bras.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you’re shopping for a sports bra suited to a particular sport, check out the Activity-Specific Guide below to find out which section to jump to.
Activities that cause more bounce require more support from your bra. Our Activity-Specific Guide shows the category into which some of the most popular sports fall:
WHAT IS A HIGH-IMPACT SPORTS BRA?
A high-impact sports bra majorly minimizes the movement of your chest as you exercise. With high-impact activities—such as tennis, basketball, volleyball, running, mountain biking, soccer, aerobics, cheerleading and kickboxing—you need to counteract gravity and motion with a full-coverage, supportive sports bra. This often requires an underwire “encapsulation” style bra, which has a cup for each breast to separate them and hold them in place. Women with A-B cups can typically wear wire-free “compression” style bras as long as they’re built for high-impact exercise, and there are select “compression” sports bras that will work for larger breasts.
High-impact sports bras can also involve a combination of encapsulation and compression designs, which provide each breast with individual support in the form of a cup and also compress the breasts against the body. These encapsulation-compression hybrids tend to be the best bet for larger-busted women and runners of all sizes.
If you’re an avid runner, be sure to check out our guide to the Best Running Sports Bras, which has a running bra shopping list curated by our Bra Fit Experts.
BEST HIGH-IMPACT SPORTS BRAS
Which specific styles and brands are best for size DD+ breasts? Our Bra Fit Experts have come up with a list of fabulous choices.
Shop all High-Impact Sports Bras.
WHAT IS A MEDIUM-IMPACT SPORTS BRA?
Medium-impact activities cause a moderate degree of jostling, as with the elliptical trainer, power walking, road cycling, dancing, hiking, skiing, gym workouts and spinning.
A medium-impact sports bra won’t be as seriously structured as a high-impact design, but it will provide the appropriate amount of support for what you’re doing.
BEST MEDIUM-IMPACT SPORTS BRAS
Shop all Medium-Impact Sports Bras.
WHAT IS A LOW-IMPACT SPORTS BRA?
Low-impact activities don’t involve a lot of bouncing yet still cause you to sweat. Think yoga, golf, walking, weight training and Pilates.
Low-impact sports bras have the least built-in bounce support, but they’re incredibly comfortable. Although these bras are typically compression, there are a number of encapsulation styles that work well for busty women. Encapsulation separates the breasts into separate cups, which keeps the sweat from pooling in your cleavage.
If you’re a serious yogi, then check out our guide for the Best Yoga Sports Bras, which has a yoga bra shopping list curated by our Bra Fit Experts.
BEST LOW-IMPACT SPORTS BRAS
Shop all Low-Impact Sports Bras.
Tip: What if you do a mix of sports? Maybe you take a yoga class, run five miles a week and ski in the winter. If that sounds like you, know that you can use a high-impact bra for a medium- or low-impact activity, but not vice-versa. Too much support is better than not enough, so if Fitness is your middle name, your bra wardrobe should include mostly high-impact sports bras.
All sports bras are not created equal. To find the right one for you, first determine what type of exercise you’ll be doing: high-impact, medium-impact or low-impact. For a healthy lifestyle (and healthy breasts), you need a bra designed to mitigate bounce and keep you comfortable and focused on your workout.
Shop all Sports Bras by Level of Impact.