types of sports bras

The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Sports Bras for All Activities

Whether you engage in low-impact, medium-impact or high-impact sports, you should wear supportive sports bras that are comfortable. Do you know the different types of sports bras available? Here is a rundown of these bras.

Wearing a sports bra is mandatory when you are engaging in exercises. The bra not only supports the breasts but also prevents them from sagging or getting injured from the high impact activities.

Sports bras come in different designs for different activities. Even if you do not actively engage in sports, you can wear sports bras for different occasions.

Sports Bras Impact Levels

A great sports bra supports and protects the breasts. The bras are designed for performance and provide different support levels, depending on the workout intensity: high-, medium-, and low-impact.

  • High-Impact Sports Bras. These bras are designed for high levels of physical activities, such as aerobics, running, dancing, and racquet sports.
  • Medium-Impact Sports Bras. These bras are designed for moderate physical activities, such as road cycling, brisk walking, and hiking.
  • Low Impact Sports Bras. These bras are designed for less vigorous exercises, such as yoga, stretching, and Pilates.

How is a Sports Bra Different From a Regular Bra?

Sports bras are mainly designed for physical activities. The bras provide additional support and help with bounce and moisture control. Sports bras help with bounce control while regular bras only support the breasts from sagging.

Sports bras are usually made from super comfortable fabrics, like terry linings, and moisture-wicking microfiber. The materials absorb sweat, unlike other fabric like satin and nylon.

Finally, sports bras have no chafing and pain. Therefore, when wearing them, you can fully concentrate on those burpees and planks.

How Should a Sports Bra Fit?

A sports bra should fit just like any other regular bra. Besides, you should always go for the same size you usually wear. The aim is to have a comfortable fit so that you don’t need to adjust it during exercises. The breasts should snugly fit in the bra cups without any spillage.

When trying any sports bra on, take a deep breath to check how the bra feels when your lungs fill during exercise. Moreover, go for a sports bra with appropriate features for your breast size and activity level. For example, you shouldn’t be using a running bra for yoga and vice versa.

Different Types of Sports Bras

Sports bras fall in three different categories, depending on level and type of physical activity. These are encapsulation/compression, compression, and encapsulation.

The best sports bra for you solely depends on your breast size and sport.

1.      Compression Sports Bra

As the name suggests, a compression sports bra holds the breasts firmly in place by pushing them against the body or compressing them.

Compression Sports Bra
Champion The Show Off Sports Bra

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Compression sports bras usually come in a pull-over design without in-built cups. These bras are great for medium to low impact activities.

Compression sports bra works well for all breast sizes. The bras are super comfortable since they are wire-free.

However, compression sports bras for large breasts can cause a uni-boob. Uni-boob makes the breasts look unnatural and can also cause chafing. To avoid the uniboob look, well-endowed women should look for encapsulation sports bras.

2.      Encapsulation Sports Bra

Encapsulation sports bras are ideal for high impact activities. These bras come with in-built cups that may be light or heavily padded. The bras cup each breast separately and hold them firmly in place throughout the day. Some of the bras have underwires for extra support.

Encapsulation Sports Bra
Le Mystere High Impact Underwire Sports Bra

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Encapsulation sports bras not only help minimize bounce but also reduce strain and prevent the breasts from sagging

Bras made with synthetic material are more performance-oriented than those made from other fabrics. A blend of spandex and cotton is breathable but its moisture-wicking ability is limited.

Comfort and the type of activity you will be doing should help you choose the right encapsulation sports bra.

3.      Encapsulation/Compression Sports Bra

As the name suggests, these bras are a combination of compression and encapsulation styles. The bras push the breasts against the body and keep them in place in their separate cups.

Encapsulation Compression Sports Bra.jpg
Glamorise Women’s Elite Wirefree Sports Bra

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Encapsulation/compression sports bras are ideal for both small cup and large cup size women. These bras feature underwires for both structure and additional support.

4.      Padded Sports Bra

Sports bras are usually not padded. However, some push-up designs come with bump pads. The bras can either be moulded or contoured, i.e., they may have foam cups for shaping and comfort.

Padded Sports Bra
CRZ Yoga Padded Sports Bra

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Padded sports bras keep the nipples invisible underneath shirts. However, they are less structured and supportive compared to their underwired counterparts.

Wire-Free vs Underwire Sports Bras

Wire-free bras usually come in compression style. The bras are super comfortable and perfect for low- to medium-impact activities for women of cup sizes A to C. Most sports bras on the market are wire-free.

Underwire sports bras are a perfect alternative for high-impact activities since they provide extra support. The bras come in encapsulation style.

Here are some of the best underwire sports bras:

  • Brooks Maia Medium Impact Sports Bra

Brooks Maia High Impact Sports Bra

Check Price on Amazon  |HerRoom  |Bare Necessities

  • Natori Yogi Convertible Mid-Impact Sports Bra

Natori Yogi Convertible Mid-Impact Sports Bra

Check Price on Natori| Bare Necessities | Amazon | HerRoom

  • Chantelle High Impact Sports Bra

Chantelle High Impact Sports Bra

Check Price on Chantelle | Bare Necessities | HerRoom | Amazon

Supportive Bras for Large Breasts

Women who wear D cup bras and above should have underwire bras in their collection. Sports bras with inner slings are also great since they provide more support.

For lift, go for sports bras with fully adjustable straps. You will get a gentle lift and precise fit when you tighten the straps.

Below are some recommendations for the most supportive sports bras for large breasts:

  • Freya Sonic Sports Bra

Freya Sonic Sports Bra

Check Price on Amazon | Bare Necessities | HerRoom

  • Panache Ultimate Maximum Control Sports Bra

Panache Ultimate Maximum Control Sports Bra

Check Price on Bare Necessities | Amazon | HerRoom


  • Wacoal Maximum Control Sports Bra

Wacoal Maximum Control Sports Bra

Check Price on Bare Necessities | Amazon | HerRoom

Best Sports Bra Designs

Style is the most fun part of choosing a sports bra.

Sports bras come in different styles that will make you look and feel good. In turn, you will be more motivated to work out.

Here are some of the common sports bra designs you can go for:

1.      Back Styles


Hanes Sport Women’s Compression Racerback Bra

Amazon | Hanes 

The silhouette would look great under a tank top with a T-back design. The straps are not adjustable but typically stay in place all through the day. You should, however, ensure you get the perfect fit right from the start.


Snailify Women’s High Impact Criss Cross Sports Bra

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 The straps of crisscross bras are quite flexible. When you move easily, you’ll be comfortable. Crisscross sports bras have a typical pull-over design rather than claps. However, they still look elegant.


These types of sports bras feature tank tops with in-built bras. The tank tops are perfect for low-impact exercises since they offer light support.

Control Body Tank Top With Bra

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These sports bras have a few layers. Therefore, wearing and taking them off is quite easy, especially when you are all sweaty.

2.      Front Styles

High-Neck Sports Bras

High-Neck Sports Bras
Gaiam Women’s Strappy Racerback Bralette

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With these sports bras, the straps usually cut a bit closer to the neck for a more flattering silhouette. The design offers excellent support, even for large cup size women.

Low-Cut  Sports Bras

Low-Cut  Sports Bras
Core 10 Keyhole Spectrum Yoga Sports Bra

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A sports bra with a low-cut design is breathable as it facilitates airflow between the breasts when you sweat. The bra can be worn under workout shirts with V-necks. However, ensure your breasts will not spill out of the bra you choose to get the most support.

Seamless Bras

Seamless Bras
Zensah Seamless Sports Bra

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Seamless means the bra is wire-free and does not chafe from thick seams and protruding underwires. Seamless style sports bras are ideal for low- to medium-impact activities.

Push-Up Bras

Push-Up Bras
Under Armour Women’s Cross-back Sports Bra

Check Price on Dicks Sporting Goods| Amazon| Under Armour |HerRoom

Push up sports bras enhance the size of the breasts. These bras are recommended for women with petite frames. The sports bras have padding that offers support in place of an underwire without compromising on comfort.

Best Front Closure Sports Bras

Wearing and taking off a sports bra can be challenging sometimes. However, a front closure sports bra makes both wearing and removing convenient.

A front-close sports bra usually has a clasp or zipper between the breasts.

1.      Zip Front

Zip front bras are recommended for women with medium-sized breasts. You lock the zip to keep the breasts secure during exercises while the back fabric ensures the hardware doesn’t chafe.

2.      Front Clasp

Sports bras with front clasps are easy to wear and remove. The front clasp ensures there are no bulges at the back. However, sports bras with front claps are not adjustable, which is a drawback for some people.

Do’s and Don’ts When Buying Sports Bras

  • A sports bra should fit snugly than regular bras. Therefore, it would be great to opt for different designs that are comfortable and breathable.
  • A great sports bra shouldn’t chafe at all. Ensure the bra doesn’t rub around the shoulder straps, snaps, armholes, and back hooks.
  • The bra straps should not only be broad but comfortable as well. Narrow and tight straps usually dig into the shoulders, causing discomfort and pain. Also, loose straps don’t provide enough breast support. Choose a sports bra with racerback design if you want more support.
  • With bras, the band provides most of the support rather than the straps. Get a sports bra with a firmer grip on the band. If you are at a store, try moving your hands up and down to see whether the bra also moves. If it moves, then it doesn’t fit right. A fitting bra should stay in place even when you move your hands. Go for a smaller size if the bra tends to move along with the body.
  • The fabric of the cups should be super supportive and strong. Bra cups with light padding provide support and protect the breasts.
  • If you plan on losing weight, keep measuring yourself after a few months. With the weight loss/gain, you’ll have to look for a new bra size.

Taking Care of Sports Bras

Generally, a good sports bra lasts between 12 to 15 months, depending on how you take of it. Here are some hacks that will increase the durability of your sports bra:

  • Use mild detergent and cold water to wash your sports bra. Hot water tends to break the bra’s spandex fibres. Also, avoid using bleach and fabric softeners.
  • Avoid tumble drying the bra. Instead, flat-dry your sports bras.
  • Always replace your sports bras as soon as you notice any visible pills since they could be the spandex fibres broken ends.

Whenever you start feeling uncomfortable when working out, that’s a sure sign that you need to get new bras.

There are several sports bra brands in the market that not only look stylish but will also suit your needs and keep your breasts well-supported. Whether you wear a small or large cup size, you need enough support from a sports bra while working out.


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