A sports bra is an essential piece of running gear. No matter when you're running or where you're going, you need a bra that's supportive and comfortable (and it doesn't hurt to be cute, too). But finding one that's all three can be difficult.
Modern synthetic materials, like nylon, spandex and polyester, help make sports bras lightweight and breathable. Those fibers also wick moisture to keep you from getting clammy when the mercury rises.
Some sports bras zip up in the front, others clasp in the back. But even the most advanced fabrics, best support and strappiest look won't make up for a bra that doesn't fit.
This guide will teach you how to measure yourself for a sports bra, explain different types of support and suggest the best sports bras for whatever activity you're getting into.
How to Measure Yourself for a Sports Bra
The first step to finding the right sports bra is figuring out what size you need. And finding the right size takes some measuring. Here's how to measure yourself for a sports bra.
- Find your band size. Wrap a measuring tape around your back and above your bust line in the front. If you're in between inches, round down to the nearest whole inch.
- Measure your bust. Find your bust size by wrapping the tape measure around your back and across the fullest part of your bust. Round to the nearest inch.
- Figure out your cup size. After doing steps one and two, finding the right cup size for a sports bra takes a simple math equation: Bust size - band size = cup size. The difference between your bust size and band size (in inches) will tell you what size cup you should be wearing.
Levels of Sports Bra Support
When you dial up the intensity during a workout, you need a sports bra that will keep you in place. But you don't need the same support if you're kicked back on the couch for popcorn and a movie.
Sports bras are made with different levels of support for different bodies and different activities. The three levels of support are low-impact, medium-impact and high-impact. But those support levels are relative to breast size.
Sports bra support ratings are based on larger cup sizes. So, women who wear a C or D cup might find the impact levels accurate, but women who wear an A or B cup might be able to wear a medium- or low-impact sports bra for higher intensity activities, like running.
In general, low-impact sports bras are best for activities like yoga, walking or running errands. Medium-impact sports bras work well for cycling, hiking and weight lifting; and high-impact sports bras are best for running, high-intensity interval training and plyometrics.
Even high-intensity bras, though, don't work for some women with larger breasts. So companies like Enell designs sports bras to meet those demands. Enell sports bras are specifically designed for C cups and above.
No matter what level support you need, you can find a sports bra with the right level of support to keep you moving forward — not around.
Encapsulation Sports Bras vs. Compression Sports Bras
In addition to the three levels of sports bra support, different bras employ different kinds of support.
The two main types of sports bra support are encapsulation and compression.
Encapsulation sports bras use individual molded cups to support each breast separately, which is most similar to your everyday bras. These bras provide support and shape. The New Balance Power bra, Enell Racer Bra and Panache Sports Bra are popular encapsulation options.
Shop Sports Bras by Brand
No matter where you go or what you do, your sports bra should make sure everything moves with you. Check out the best sports bras from top brands like Brooks, Nike, Enell and more so you can focus on getting after it.