Health & Fit The Best Sports Bras for Every Size of Runner

20:26  29 june  2020
20:26  29 june  2020 Source:   runnersworld.com

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A runner’s wardrobe shifts with the seasons. For bitter winter jaunts you’ll shimmy into a pair of toasty fleece tights, while sweltering long runs in summer call for your most breathable shorts. But for female runners, there’s one layer that’s essential year-round, no matter how the temps rise and fall: the sports bra. It’s a piece of gear that can make or break your run if the fit isn’t quite right.

From racerback to underwire and in every cup size, these are the bras that got our test team’s seal of sweaty approval. © Staff From racerback to underwire and in every cup size, these are the bras that got our test team’s seal of sweaty approval.

Read on for a quick guide to navigating some of the bra terms and features you should know when deciding which is right for you, then keep scrolling for in-depth reviews of the top performers that delivered across the board on support, style, fit, breathability, and comfort.

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The main way a sports bra provides support is with its cup design. Underwire bras are among the most supportive out there, with the drawback being that they can sometimes feel a bit uncomfortably stiff. Molded cups can offer comparable security without the wire by using firmer, structured areas around each breast; this type of support is called “encapsulation.” Finally, cup-less bras can meet the needs of smaller runners, and have a single, undivided bust area. These bras usually rely on targeted compression, a sturdy bottom band, or adjustable straps to support A to B cup sizes.

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Style and Fit

Most sports bras you’ll see are pullovers—easy to slip on over your head like a t-shirt. However, some high-impact bras feature a zipper in the front, which makes it simpler to put on and take off. The clasp-back design, which is similar to your everyday model, provides an adjustable, secure fit for larger cup sizes. Regardless of how you don the bra, you’ll still have a slew of style options—racerback, Y-back, H-back, and crossback (X-back) all worked well and were popular with our testers.

Breathability and Comfort

To keep you cool when you start sweating, most sports bras are made from blends of moisture-wicking fabrics. Materials like nylon, spandex, and polyester fare better than standard cotton, which gets heavy and takes a while to dry. Plus, many brands have even implemented ionized and UPF fabrics for odor control and UV-ray sun protection. Outside of fabrics, keep an eye out for bras with mesh panels or keyhole cutouts. These features do a great job at ventilating sweat to keep you cool and comfortable.

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A Note on Phone Pockets

Some brands offer bras with pockets so you can run without your smartphone bouncing in a jacket or yanking down your shorts. Bras with a back pocket between the shoulder blades provide a secure place for your phone, yet they’re often hard to reach. For easy access, consider a bra with a front pocket.

Can storing your phone in your bra heighten your chances of getting breast cancer? According to Dr. Diana Medgyesy, a medical oncologist at UCHealth in Fort Collins, Colorado, the evidence says no. “There is no conclusive data to suggest that cell phones are linked to cancer,” she said. “It is most likely an evolving field since cell phone technology and use of cell phones are changing rapidly.” Use your own discretion on whether or not to run with one.

The Allston has a hidden breast pocket where you can store your phone. © Lakota Gambill The Allston has a hidden breast pocket where you can store your phone.

How We Tested

The Runner’s World team tests batches of the newest sports bras every month, putting in the sweat, stretching, and intense exercise needed to review each model’s fit, comfort, and support. Our testers’ sizes span from AA to F. We also factor in the ease of putting on and taking off the bras, their durability (through workouts and washing machine cycles), technology, and style. Then we update the list below with the top performers, keeping the bras from previous testing that still hold up.

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Adjustable Bras

Outdoor Voices Zip Bra

a person with collar shirt: Zip Bra © Trevor Raab Zip Bra


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Outdoor Voices’s Zip is so easy to put on and take off that one of our testers ventured the thought of owning only bras that zip in the front. The material is slightly thick, but the TechSweat fabric (a nylon-lycra-polyester combination) wicks away moisture. The zip front and molded cups kept our breasts locked in—without taking our breath away. The bra also comes in 10 colors (see: evergreen, scarlet, and baltic hues), which makes us want to mix and match with the rest of OV’s offerings.

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Runderwear Original Support Running Bra

a close up of a purple background: Original Support Running Bra © runderwear.com Original Support Running Bra


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The Original Support Running Bra is from the company that brought us chafe-free running underwear and socks, so you can bet Runderwear’s “runderbra” won’t cause any unwanted friction on your skin. Without much previous experience with it, two testers were game to wear the bra during the 2019 RW Half Marathon Festival (racing the 5K and 10K, respectively). Both of them were fond of the fabric’s softness and experienced no jiggling when they pushed the pace on the rolling courses.

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Original Support Running Bra Tester: Jennifer L., 36B“The fabric does double duty, wicking away moisture from your skin quickly and easily, so you don’t feel like a soggy mess after your workout. Mesh panels ensure that there’s no chafing, rubbing, or irritation.”

Lululemon Enlite Bra Zip Front

Enlite Bra Zip Front © Lakota Gambill Enlite Bra Zip Front


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This version of the high-impact support Enlite Bra is incredibly comfortable and easy to put and take off with the zippered front. Our testers weren’t distracted or encumbered by chest movement during hard runs and intense at-home strength workouts. The one hangup on this bra: the price. At $108, some testers said the Enlite was worth the investment given that it is “more comfortable than most sports bras.” Others said they appreciated the opportunity to test the bra but when it came to spending their own dollar, they preferred more affordable options.

Enlite Bra Zip Front Tester: Jennifer W., 36/38C/D

“I went into this test wondering why anyone would invest in a bra like this (because I usually look for the most economical option available). Now I understand why...great fit and function, nice fabric and finish, and a really cool style. Definitely a keeper!”

Puma High Impact Front Zip Bra

a person with collar shirt: puma high impact sports bra © Lakota Gambill puma high impact sports bra

The High Impact Front Zip is just one of those zippered bras that are cheaper than Lululemon’s Enlite, and worth almost half the price at $55. A strip of fabric ensures the zipper won’t snag on your skin or cause irritation in extreme temperatures. The straps curve into a thin racerback that exposes your shoulder blades to the sun—so remember to slather on some block. The bra is set to drop on Puma’s website in mid-July.

Shefit The Flex Sports Bra

The Flex is activewear eye candy; it comes in blush and black, with gold detail on the band and back. But the bra isn’t all looks. It provides an all-over personalized fit thanks to eight inches of Velcro on the straps—which are easily adjustable from the front—and underband. The bra goes on and comes off easily via the front zipper. Our 40DD-sized tester, who runs and plays tennis, liked the customization aspect of the Shefit and how it supports her breasts at races and on the court.

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The Flex Sports Bra Tester: Hannah W., 36F“This bra is incredibly supportive. Most sports bras put a lot of pressure on my shoulders. There’s no pressure on my shoulders in this one, and it doesn’t leave any marks on my skin when I take it off.”

Reebok PureMove+ Bra

The PureMove+ is everything its predecessor is and isn’t. We loved the original PureMove for its futuristic Motion Sense technology—the bra has shear-thickening fluid that firms up during high-intensity activities with a lot of movement (i.e., running) for support. However, some testers desired a more traditional high-impact sports bra with a hook-and-eye closure and adjustable straps (the original has no thingamabobs to tighten and/or clasp). Enter the PureMove+, which has the brand’s proprietary Motion Sense tech, as well as an adjustable back closure and adjustable straps that can be worn crossback or H-back.

Under Armour Infinity High Sports Bra

a close up of a piece of paper: UA Infinity High Sports Bra © Lakota Gambill UA Infinity High Sports Bra


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The backside of the one-piece, polyurethane-injected cups has a unique figure-8 pattern which, according to Under Armour, helps the bra adapt to your body’s movement while simultaneously controlling the movement of your breasts. The lightweight HeatGear fabric (a poly/elastane blend) dries quickly and feels smooth against your skin. Compared to other high impact bras, a tester noted how the Infinity is more comfortable, easy to put on and take off, and “does not feel like I am wearing a harness around my chest.” Because the bra runs from XS to XL, finding the right fit may be tricky, as the cup size may be too big or too small. Our A to B testers found the Infinity’s molded structure slightly overbearing, which is why we recommend this bra for C cups and up.

Infinity High Sports Bra Tester: Steph G., 32D“The Infinity is a very comfortable bra and has great high impact support for running. The inside of the cup area molds to your skin and is non-abrasive and very breathable. The band is soft and does not make indentations or marks on the skin.”

Molly T.

The Molly T. has an unconventional wraparound closure that makes it inclusive of almost all sizes. Velcro strips on the sides of the bra allow you to tighten the level of compression to your liking. AAs, Gs, and everyone in between will find the bra equally effective when it comes to stabilizing your rack. It can also serve as a supportive layer over that ratty bra you just don’t have the heart to toss. The Molly T. is set to be updated with even more adjustable features early fall.

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Anita Air Control Deltapad

Produced by German-brand Anita, which has been in the lingerie business since 1886, the Air Control Deltapad is made of an ultra-light mesh for maximum breathability as you sweat and has double-layered patented foam cups and adjustable sealed-seam straps for maximum support. Testers liked its lightweight and true-to-size fit. Their only gripe was that the bra looks too much like a “traditional bra.” Said one, “I would be less inclined to wear it shirtless and I hesitate to wear it with a tank top.”

Air Control Deltapad Tester: Laura Y, 34A“I’m surprisingly happy with the overall fit and comfort of the Anita Air Control Deltapad Bra. I was suspicious at first because of the clasp closure, which I’ve avoided for many years with my running bras. I have to be honest, the best thing I can say is that I don’t notice that it’s on.”

Pullover Bras

Under Armour Mid Crossback Sports Bra

a close up of a piece of paper: Zip Bra © Lakota Gambill Zip Bra


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The Mid Crossback is a dependable pullover bra that provides medium-impact support for A to C cups, and low impact for D and beyond. The bra features UA’s HeatGear fabric, which wicks away sweat, and has a soft elastic band that doesn’t dig into your skin or cause friction.

Mid Crossback Tester: Photographer Lakota Gambill, 36D “The comfort is amazing. It was a little uncomfortable while running, but the bra was very soft; it really was like being cradled by a cloud. The straps in the back didn’t ‘dig’ into you like some crossbacks can.”

Fittin Padded Sports Bra

a close up of a person: Padded Sports Bra © amazon.com Padded Sports Bra


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A bra costing less than a box of Franzia? That’s something to toast to. The five-star customer-rated Amazon Fittin bra is a simple, soft pullover that we kept reaching for in our drawer pre-run. The bra has a “butter-soft feel”—yes, we can confirm Amazon’s product description—and four-way stretch that won’t have D’s holding their boobs later in their run, a last ditch resort when pullover bras just don’t hold up after the first couple of miles.

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Brooks Dare Crossback Run Bra

Dare Crossback Run Bra © Lakota Gambill Dare Crossback Run Bra


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The Dare Crossback is just one part of Brooks’s new line of “run bras” that’s both seriously comfortable and supportive. Molded cups encapsulate each breast and provided support for both our A and D cup-sized testers. The bra has a smooth, seamless construction. “Unlike other bras, the bottom band on this one is fully integrated into the design, so it doesn’t bulge underneath my shirt,” said a tester.

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Aday Fast Forward Bra

Our tester, digital editor Jordan Smith, found this bra so supportive and comfortable that she made it a part of her race kit for a South Dakota half marathon last summer. The wide straps have soft elastic to hold up your breasts without digging into your skin. As testament to this bra’s quick-drying abilities, Jordan normally showers post-haste before she goes anywhere after running or HIIT. “When I work out, I get sweaty enough sometimes that I’m embarrassed to show myself in public before a shower, but the quick-drying fabric of the bra ensures that you don’t totally look like you’re soaked in sweat,” she said. “Still, I was ready to change when I got home, but I also didn’t feel so uncomfortable I needed to skip the coffee shop to head right to the shower.”

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Rabbit Supreme Bra-vo

Testers liked the Supreme’s adjustable crisscross spaghetti straps, which allowed unrestricted mobility on their runs and during cross-training. “I loved the width of the straps and chest band,” said one. “I prefer ‘thinner’ over thicker. This bra was very resilient and held its shape as well as conformed to each movement. The material was very breathable and absorbed sweat.” Some testers found the band quite snug; runners may want to consider trying a size up before making a commitment.

Supreme Bra-vo Tester: Kylie R., 34B“I absolutely loved this bra! Before I even put it on, I knew it would be a good fit because of its soft fabric yet supportive outlining with elastic and a band. In addition, the cup inserts within the bra added support and comfort. I feel that this bra is versatile and has the ability to support runners in any degree or distance.”

Janji Pace Sports Bra

The Pace has a flattering crossback string weave and provides high-impact support for AA to D cups. The underband was a little too tight for some, which is why we recommend trying a size up. Each new collection by Janji features a country—with the Pace, it’s the Philippines. The company donates to a clean water nonprofit within the country and collaborates with local artists who design patterns for the apparel. The floral design on this bra (and matching shorts) was created by Manila-based graphic designer and illustrator Raxenne Maniquiz.

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Reebok PureMove Bra

The PureMove has no hard-to-reach back hooks, adjustable clasps on the straps, or underwire. You simply slide the racerback over your shoulders and head out for a run. The front and back have perforated ventilation holes, and the bottom band is padded for a soft, cozy fit. Reebok wanted to take the next step with Motion Sense technology; shear-thickening fluid (STF) inside the PureMove liquefies while you’re at rest and stiffens when it’s compelled by force. We expected to feel a gel-like consistency in the cups, but the STF is undetectable upon touch or wear.

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PureMove Tester: Test Editor Amanda Furrer, 32D“The bra has a smooth, second-skin feel; there was no digging or scrunching. I ran downhill, took off at race pace, and pranced over puddles in the rain. My breasts didn’t budge.”

Pocket Bras

Outdoor Voices Apex Bra

a close up of an umbrella: Apex Bra © Lakota Gambill Apex Bra


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Our photographer, Lakota Gambill, who’s a 36D, gave a glowing review after testing OV’s sports bra: “I am currently on my sixth workout without having washed the Apex Bra—and it doesn’t smell. The band seems to be ‘double wrapped’ which allows it to have a secure feel without having it be too thin and insecure. The bra has thick straps versus the usual thin straps, making everything feel tight and held in. It’s high enough that you can wear it as a top and not be worried anything will, well, slip out. Best of all, it has its own pocket in the back, which fits small items. It did fit my iPhone 8 but not comfortably. I don’t know how I’ve survived without a bra like this thus far, but this is the bra I plan on rebuying for decades. Truly a game changer.”

Tracksmith Allston Pocket Bra

This smooth, lightweight racerback has a hidden chest pocket that serves as an extra place to stash keys, cards, cash, and even your phone on a run. The bra’s band is brushed with Inverno Blend lining, an Italian micro-nylon and elastane blend that pulls away moisture and is wool-soft. While the rectangular outline was quite obvious, our tester appreciated how easy it was to grab her iPhone mid-run.

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Senita Sarah Bra

“This is the bra with the Koala Clip-style pouch in the back for phones, and I loved it,” said test editor Morgan Petruny, “I did some toe-touches expecting it to fall out, but it didn’t, and when I took out my phone at the end of my run, it was bone-dry even though I was sweaty.” The stow-able Sarah is a lightweight racerback, with a low open-back design to help you cool down during hot workouts. It’s a moderate impact sports bra for AA to DD cups and made of accommodating—but supportive—four-way stretch poly-spandex fabric.

Rabbit Utilibra-vo

The UtiliBra-vo is a triple threat for its soft, non-chafing poly-spandex material; moderate support for AA to C cups; and the back phone pocket. Our smartphones were immovable between our shoulder blades as we ran. Really, this bra comes in handy if you need to keep your phone on you to sync your watch to GPS. But if you’re the kind of runner who likes to snap for the ’gram, the reach is quite difficult; once it’s in the pocket, our testers found, your phone stays there for the duration of the run. It’s a little snug for bigger phones as well. You may need help to slide it in before heading out (one of our editors almost cracked her phone screen when she dropped it on our HQ’s shower room tile).

Utilibra-vo Tester: Lisa K., 34B“This is my ‘set it and forget it’ bra. It’s reliable and comfortable so I can wear it and do all the things with out thinking about my bra.”

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