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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.


ACTIVITY-SPECIFIC GUIDE

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:

High-Impact Activities Medium-Impact Activites Low-Impact Activities
Running Dancing Yoga
Soccer Hiking Pilates
Cheerleading Road Cycling Walking
Volleyball Spinning Golf
Tennis Skiing Weight Training
Mountain Biking Power Walking  
Basketball Eliptical Training  
Kickboxing    
Aerobics    

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.


Best High Impact Sports Bra: Panache Ultimate Maximum Control

Panache Ultimate Maximum Control Sports Bra (encapsulation-compression style)
**Best Seller**

This bra reduces bounce by a whopping 83 percent, thanks to smooth underwire cups. Wide padded straps ease shoulder pressure.



Best High Impact Sports Bra: Wacoal Maximum Control

Wacoal Maximum Control Sports Bra (encapsulation style)

Underwire on the exterior means it never rubs against skin—bye, chafing! This bra is super supportive for full busts because it features inner slings to bolster up to an H-cup.



Best High Impact Sports Bra: Chantelle High Impaact

Chantelle High Impact Sports Bra (encapsulation style)

Great for larger busts, as its wide straps evenly distribute pressure. The back can be converted to a racerback for discreetly wearing under T-back tops.



Best High Impact Sports Bra: Freya Sonic

Freya Sonic Sports Bra (encapsulation style)

COOLMAX-lined contoured cups with inner slings not only provide support, they also keep you cool and dry. Straps are adjustable and can be converted to racerback.



Best High Impact Sports Bra: Brooks Maia

Brooks Moving Comfort Maia Sports Bra (encapsulation-compression style)

Gel-padded straps make them “dig-free”—no marks! Spacer-lined cups allow for breathability and comfort.



Best High Impact Sports Bra: Enell Full Figure Wire-Free

Enell Full Figure Wire-Free Maximum Control Sports Bra (compression style)

If you’re DD or DDD-cup, this bra provides the support you need…without a wire! The extra back support is also a godsend.



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


Best Medium Impact Sports Bra: Anita Active Light and Firm Wire-Free

Anita Active Light and Firm Wire-Free Sports Bra (compression style):

Get total control of your workout with this wire-free sports bra. Stay cool and comfortable with seamless molded cups lined in moisture-wicking stretch microfiber.



Best Medium Impact Sports Bra: Glamorise Medium Control Wire-Free

Glamorise Medium Control Wire-Free Sports Bra (encapsulation-compression style):

Feel your strongest as you exercise in this sleek sports bra with encapsulation cups for support and compression for stopping bounce.



Best Medium Impact Sports Bra: Natori Yogi Convertible

Natori Yogi Convertible Mid-Impact Sports Bra (compression style):

This supportive sports bra was designed expressly for mid-impact activities like hiking and cycling. The COOLMAX exterior wicks away moisture, keeping you comfortable and dry.



Best Medium Impact Sports Bra: Goddess Medium-Impact Wire-Free

Goddess Medium-Impact Wire-Free Sports Bra (compression style):

You won’t break a sweat in this comfortable sports bra. Anti-bacterial cups will keep you feeling fresh and comfortable; the ultra-soft stretch underband minimizes irritation.



Best Medium Impact Sports Bra: Champion Mid Impact

Champion Mid-Impact Wire-Free Sports Bra (compression style):

No need for an underwire here, as your shape is maintained with wire-free foam cups lined in moisture-wicking microfiber. The breathable mesh inserts keep you cool and confident.



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


Best Low Impact Sports Bra: Onzie Chic Racerback

Onzie Chic Racerback Wire-Free Sports Bra (encapsulation style)

Even with light control, the molded double-layer cups keep you from having a uniboob. The multi-crisscross racerback design is feminine and fun.



Best Low Impact Sports Bra: Brooks Anyday

Brooks Anyday Wire-Free Sports Bra (encapsulation style)

The best part about this bra? You can wear it all day and then head to the gym.



Best Low Impact Sports Bra: Bali Active Lifestyle

Bali Active Lifestyle Convertible Wire-Free Bra (encapsulation style)

Wire-free cups provide comfortable support with breathable foam linings. Cushioned straps amp up the comfort quotient.



Best Low Impact Sports Bra: Under Armour Strappy Bralette

Under Armour Strappy Bralette (compression style)

The multicolored crisscross spaghetti straps in back are super stylish. Removable foam inserts provide extra support.



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.


IN BRIEF

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.

 

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