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A decent pair of trainers is an essential piece of gym kit and a well-fitting sports bra can be just as important. Did you know your boobs can move up to 14cm during strenuous exercise if left unsupported? Experts warn this movement can cause irreparable damage to your breasts’ supportive tissue, the cooper’s ligaments, which stop your breasts from sagging. Need we say more?
Although sales of sports bras have rocketed by 400% since April 2020, many of us are not buying the right size or shape. And it’s clear from the chats on the Mumsnet forums that a lot of people find it hard to choose a sports bra that’s supportive, comfortable and affordable. So we’ve trawled through the talk boards and scoured online reviews and guides to compile a list of the best sports bras to buy right now.
Here’s our pick of the best sports bras to buy in 2021.
1. Best overall sports bra: Shock Absorber Active Multi Sports Support Bra
“Shock absorber active multi sport holds my significantly bigger boobs properly in control!”
“I had a shock absorber and yes it was pricey, but it lasted me for years and was brilliant.”
This sports bra is rated very highly by reviewers of all cup sizes and achieved a 92/100 rating in a recent Good Housekeeping sports bra test. Made with quality moisture-wicking fabric, this wireless bra features comfortable straps and fastenings, so you should feel completely secure. The upper and lower clasps on the racer back help to avoid any bounce when you run. Reviewers state this fits true to size (although info on the Shock Absorber site recommends going up one band size, ie. if you’re 34E, opt for a 36E). The colours are such a big hit, you could wear this by itself in hotter months.
- Material: 60% Polyester, 36% Polyamide, 4% Elastane
- Sizes: Cups B-HH
2. Best budget sports bra: Syrokan Women's Full Coverage Lightly Padded Wireless High Impact Shock Control Support Sports Bra
“I love this one. It's padded with two sets of hooks in the back, so there's no wrangling to get it on. Excellent support and I'm an FF.”
“Syrokan from Amazon gets my vote. Easy on the shoulders and the straps are excellent for high impact. I'm a 32FF but wear a 34E in Syrokan for comfort.”
“This one is so great I ordered it in several colours.”
This is a popular choice with Mumsnetters for both value and style. The Syrokan sports bra offers wide straps for comfort, a double fastening at the back for support and slightly padded, contoured (wireless) cups to provide shape. This bra is rated highly for providing support for running as well as light exercise. A good and affordable option, whatever your bra size.
- Material: 72% polyamide, 28% elastane
- Sizes: Cups B-H
3. Best sports bra for running: Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Sports Bra
“I vote for the Shock Absorber Ultimate Run bra. Up one size in the back, down one size in the cup.”
“Another vote for Shock Absorber Ultimate Run. I have four of them that I wash and wear every week for my 4 HIIT classes. I even stick them in the tumble dryer. It was my bra of choice for the London marathon a few years ago.”
A big hit with runners for a reason, this Shock Absorber bra reduces bounce while you’re running by up to 78%. It features adjustable double back fastenings for maximum support, even on long distance runs, and the lining is soft and seamless so you shouldn’t suffer from any nasty chafing. The cups aren’t padded but the ‘infinity-8 support system’ ensures your boobs won’t budge.
- Material: 81% polyamide, 10% polyester, 9% elastane
- Sizes: Cups A-F
4. Best sports bra for big boobs: Enell Racer-Back Sports Bra
“I'm a size 34G/size 14. I wear an Enell size 2. It's a great sports bra for any sort of running or high impact exercising.”
“I really think Enell bras are worth the money for bigger boobs and running. Your assets literally do not move and because they don't really have straps, there's no chafing. Highly recommend them.”
“An Enell is the only thing that I'll run in. Once you're in it, nothing will move. Expensive but brilliant.”
If you’re looking for a robust bra to support a bigger cup size (C+) without looking like you’ve got serious scaffolding across your chest, then try this sleek Enell bra. This sports bra offers a high level of support for high impact exercise and is designed in some lovely colourful fabrics. And thanks to the cross strap design at the back, it will support your posture while running. Reviewers claim that the bra is ‘instantly gripping’ and ‘not uncomfortable’. The opening is at the front with a practical hook and eye fastening, so there’s no sweaty wrestling to deal with when taking it off after a workout. Win.
- Material: 90% polyamide, 10% elastane
- Sizes: 1-8 (band sizes 32” to 60”)
5. Best sports bra with moulded cups: Runderwear Easy-On Support Bra
“My current absolute favourite bra (I have quite a few) is the Runderwear Easy-on. You buy your regular size and it is so comfortable and still gives a good shape. I'm a 32F at the moment. I ran 12km on Monday and not a hint of wobble or chafing.”
“I just bought one from Runderwear and it’s brilliant – my boobs don’t move!”
The main problem when looking for a good sports bra is finding one that not only provides support but also feels comfortable to wear. If this is the case, then this sports bra is for you, especially if you want comfort on long runs. The moulded, wireless cups and higher neckline will reduce any bounce while the supportive underband and wide padded shoulder straps help distribute your breast’s weight evenly on your run. This helps reduce any neck or shoulder strain you might get with larger-cup sports bras. It has an open back rather than a racer back design to make it easy to get on and off. This one is worth the investment.
- Material: 68% polyamide, 32% elastane
- Sizes: Cups C-H
6. Most comfortable sports bra: Panache Women's Full Cup Sports Bra
“I'd go for the Panache bra as it’s slightly more comfortable than others.”
“Another vote for Panache! I'm a not-particularly-firm 30G and it's the only sports bra I've ever worn that really works.”
Worried about mono-boob? Then try this sports bra. This Panache Full Cup Bra for larger cup sizes is designed with underwire to separate your boobs and prevent sweat pooling down your cleavage. If you want to use this bra for a run, it’s probably worth getting the non wired version for comfort. Both bras have seamless moulded cups and wide shoulder straps. You have the option to wear this bra with the one strap fastening or as a racer back with the adjustable clip.
- Material: 49% polyamide, 36% polyester, 15% elastane
- Sizes: Cups DD-GG (B-J in some back sizes)
Price: From £39
7. Best padded sports bra: Freya Epic Moulded Crop Top Sports Bra
“I have a Freya Active Epic UW Crop Top Sports bra. I've run 10km in it and regularly run 5km. It's really supportive.”
“A great shape and supportive.”
This is a great sports bra for all activities. Freya is a quality brand that sells sports bras in the widest range of sizes: from 28 to 40 back size and B to H cup. You’ll feel like you’ve got full coverage when wearing this bra as the moulded, wired cups keep your boobs secure. For extra support, use the additional clip at the back to convert it to a racerback, which is recommended for running. A great buy that’s popular with Mumsnetters.
- Material: 62% polyester, 31% polyamide, 7% elastane
- Sizes: Cups B-H
8. Best pull-on sports bra: Nike Swoosh Medium Support Sports Bra
This is a great all-rounder that offers medium support. If you’re joining a spin class, trying your hand at boxing or tackling a strength-training session, then this is your go-to bra. You’re not just paying for the name, you’re paying for Nike’s Dri-Fit fabric which provides maximum sweat-wicking power. It’s more than just a crop top, it has removable padding to reduce shifting as you exercise. And get this – not only does it hold your boobs in place, but it also has a pocket that opens wide enough to hold your phone.
- Material: 88% polyester, 12% elastane
- Sizes: XS-XL
9. Best shock absorber sports bra: Shock Absorber Ultimate Fly Bra
“Shock Absorber bras all the way!”
We’ve already sung the praises of the Shock Absorber’s Ultimate Run Bra, but we can’t ignore the new bra in town, the Ultimate Fly bra, which provides high impact support in a lightweight package (it’s 16% lighter than the Run bra). The science is in the fabric. It has a three-layer construction which is said to feel like a second skin. A lot of work has gone into the bounce-level testing at the University of Portsmouth, the leaders in breast health. It will provide you with support without feeling restrictive. It’s worth noting that some reviews point out that this might not be the bra for you if you are a D+ cup runner.
- Material: 77% polyamide, 19% elastane, 4% polyeste
- Sizes: Cups B-F
10. The best front-zip sports bra: M&S Extra High Impact Non-Wired Sports Bra
“I’m an E cup and I swear by this bra.”
“This is fantastic! The best I've ever had and I'm huge.”
“These bras are very supportive, and I’ll be buying more as soon as the ones I’ve got have given up the ghost.”
This sports bra from one of our favourite high street retailers receives great reviews. And it doesn’t break the bank either. It’s recommended you buy your normal bra size although it should feel slightly tighter than your everyday bra. You need it to be tighter in order to provide the right support and the full cups and ribbed underband help with this. It’s comfortable to wear when running and super easy to undo afterwards!
- Material: 74% polyester, 14% elastane and 12% polyamide (exclusive of trimmings)
- Sizes: Cups F-H
How is a sports bra different to a regular bra?
Research from the University of Portsmouth has found that a sports-specific bra can reduce uncomfortable movement by as much as 78%. And many sports bras are designed with high-tech fabrics that help to wick away sweat while supporting your back and providing comfort. Wearing the rights sports bra during exercise will help your posture and prevent any breast tissue damage. Regular bras are often made from delicate fabrics like lace which doesn’t offer the level of support you need when working out.
What style of sports bra offers the best support?
The style of the sports bra you need will depend on the activity you’re doing. If you’ve got big boobs, you’ll need an ‘encapsulation bra’ which has two cups like a normal bra with extra support such as thicker straps, a wide support band, double fastenings at the back or a racer back design. For smaller cup sizes, you might go for a compression bra. These are often crop top styles and will press your breasts against your chest. It’s recommended you change your bra every six months in order to ensure maximum support.
How can I tell if a sports bra fits properly?
Just like you would when buying a regular bra, you should measure yourself properly before making a purchase. Bras from different brands can vary in size so it’s worth trying a few to find the perfect fit.
Here are some things to think about when considering a fit:
- Does your bra fit snugly (sports bras should fit tighter than everyday bras)?
- Does the back band sit at the same level around your body? If the back rides up, it’s too big. It should fit slightly closer to your skin than your normal bra.
- You should be able to fit one finger under the band.
- Make sure the material doesn’t pucker.
- You want to feel comfortable and supported and avoid chafing, so move around in your bra to test the fit.
What is the best sports bra to buy?
The range of Shock Absorber bras are very highly rated and that's because the designs are based on sports research and are made with quality and technical fabrics. You won't regret buying the Active Multi-sports support bra. But if you are big busted and doing high impact exercise, the robust Enell racer back sports bra is a big hit with buyers.
How we chose our recommendations
Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation from a real parent, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which sports bras discerning Mumsnet users had bought for themselves. We compiled a list of the sports bras they recommended for being supportive and durable and offering value for money.
We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which sports bras had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites and print media, and what customer reviews said about them.
Having collated all that information, we picked the best sports bras we thought would make the best buys.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.