23 of the best sports bras for running

best sports bras for running
Best running sports brasClara Balzary

For female runners, choosing the right sports bra is comparable to getting the right running shoes – if it’s comfortable and it fits right, you’ll run better. A good sports bra for running might feel tight in the changing room, but keeping your chest secure and reducing bounce helps alleviate back and breast pain. A good sports bra will protect your cooper’s ligaments, which stop your breasts from sagging.

But how should a sports bra fit and how can you ensure you find the best one for you? To make things easier, we’ve explained everything you need to know about running bras below and rounded up the best sports bras for running on the market – tried and tested in the Runner's World Lab and by our editors. Here are our favourites at a glance:

What are the different types of sports bras for running?

There are two main types of sports bras:

  1. Encapsulation bras have two cups, like a normal bra, but with extra support.

  2. Compression bras look more like a crop top. They work by pressing your breasts against your chest and are usually pulled on over your head. They are a good option for smaller-breasted women; if you’re opting for a compression bra, make sure the centrepiece lies flat against the breastbone.

How should a sports bra for running fit?

If you’ve never worn a sports bra before, start with your usual bra size. It should fit snugly, without being so tight that you can’t breathe. Adjust the strap and ensure that the back band is at the same level all the way around your body – if the back band rides up, the bra is too big. You should be able to get no more than one finger under the band, and the material shouldn’t pucker.

As with shoes, sizes and measurements vary across brands, so it’s a good idea to try a few and find the one that fits you best. Find more information on how your sports bra should fit, how often you need to change it and why your sports bra is chafing in our guide.

How we test

We tested 53 sports bras from the best brands on the market – both on the road and in the Runner's World lab. Our panel of over 50 women – aged between 18 to 55 and with bra sizes ranging from an A to a K cup – each put three bras through their paces, trying them out on the road and in 16 other activities, collectively.

The bras, which ranged in support from low to high, were all triple-tested and judged according to their design, comfort, fit and overall performance. In the lab, we then conducted multiple wash tests to analyse shrinkage and colour changes and gave scores for both. Those which scored the highest collective marks received our Runner’s World Expert Tested seal of approval and are marked with this badge below.

Editors' Picks

The 'Editors’ Picks' bras listed below are those which have been tested – and highly rated – by the female editors and contributors on our team. Over the years, we’ve tried and tested our fair share of running bras and, as technology has evolved, so have our expectations when it comes to comfort levels, bounce control and fabric quality.

The best sports bras for running in 2023 – tried and tested

1. Best high-impact sports bra

Whether you’re running, lifting weights or tackling burpees, there’s no activity too vigorous for our winning sports bra. It proved highly effective at eliminating bounce, keeping testers’ boobs locked firmly in place as they put in the work. Despite the high level of compression, the smooth, sweat-wicking fabric also kept them cool and comfortable all workout long.

Stellar performance aside, the innovative design is what makes this bra really stand out. Instead of a bog-standard hook-eye closure at the back, it has swan hooks around the chest and adjustable shoulder straps at the front so you can scale up the support easily. The fastening system is a tad fiddly to begin with, but you'll get there after a couple of wears. Overall, a seriously impressive bit of kit.

Note: the sizing runs small, so it’s worth sizing up for maximum comfort.

2. Best budget running bra

M&S might not be the first brand that springs to mind when you think of sports bras, but this high-impact number was a big hit with our panel. The support comes from an underwire that keeps your breasts in place as you pound the pavement, and the moisture-wicking fabric ensures you stay cool and dry, even on lengthier runs. The straps are adjustable, which is handy, and the classic bra fastening makes it easy to get on and off.

Testers reported the sizing was hit and miss, so we’d recommend trying before you buy. When the fit is right though, this bra is a dream to run in and, best of all, it comes in at under £30. Affordable activewear at its finest.

3. Best compression bra for bigger boobs

If you wear cup sizes G to K, it’s likely that finding a well-fitting compression bra is a bit of a challenge. This is a supportive solution that helped testers go the extra mile with no discomfort. The adjustable straps can be worn normally or as a racerback – although the clip’s a little fiddly. The sports bra comes up small, so sizing up is recommended but overall this is well-designed and looks good, too.

4. Best underwired sports bra for bigger boobs

This underwired bra is designed to keep large breasts tamed during exercise, and it doesn’t disappoint. According to our testers, it’s extremely supportive thanks to separate moulded cups and wide straps that convert between straight and racerback styles.

If you’re concerned about the underwire digging in or poking you mid-run, you needn’t worry. Our runners confirmed the bra was a delight to wear, with one saying: ‘I felt comfortable after running for over two hours.' They also rated it highly for sweat-wicking and said the soft fabric was breathable and didn’t cling to the skin unpleasantly.

The only downside is that the bra needs to be washed by hand, which could be irritating if you’re running most days.

5. Best for a lightweight feel

Get set with this lightweight offering that’s made just for running. Brooks’ unique technical fabric feels luxe and supportive to wear while the easy-to-access adjustable straps and racerback clasp make it simple to fit this compression bra how you like it. There are no built-in cups but the bra feels secure as you run, especially for our testers with smaller boobs. We’d give it extra points for the attractive design.

6. Best for sweaty sessions

This non-padded bra has been specifically crafted for running so it won’t let you down, whether you’re attempting a PB or heading out on an easy run. Our favourite features? Fully adjustable straps, a hook-eye fastening for easy on/off, plus quick-drying fabric and breathable mesh panels to keep the skin cool and sweat-free. 'I didn’t feel at all overheated during my run and the bra didn’t stick to me after my workout,' confirmed one happy tester. Just what we like to hear!

Other plusses include soft padded straps, carefully placed seams and silky-smooth fabric for ultimate comfort. Top tip: size up as our runners found the band a little tight around the chest.

7. Best flattering design

Lululemon’s Enlite Bra has a dedicated following and after testing it, we can see why. With cross-back straps, built-in moulded cups and four-way stretch fabric, it proved supportive and comfortable as our runners racked up the miles. There was no digging in or chafing, and the moisture-wicking material kept everyone cool, calm and collected – even during the sweatiest of runs.

Unlike many technical sports bras, our panel found this pull-on style 'extremely flattering', thanks to the strappy back design and streamlined silhouette. Though pricey, you can rely on this good-looking bra for any high-impact workout.

Note that some of our runners found the fit a little snug, so size up if in doubt.

8. Best sports bra with pockets

Looking for a sports bra to wear on long runs? This trusty pick from the experts at Brooks is our winner. It also has not one, not two, but three pockets for stashing your phone, keys and gels.

The compressive material will keep your boobs as secure as your valuables, the high neckline provides ample coverage, and the padding is easily removable so you can customise the fit. On top of all that, the buttery soft fabric and bonded seams prevent any uncomfortable rubbing or chafing.

The bra is a bit of a struggle to put on and take off, but that wasn’t a dealbreaker for our testers – many said they’d buy it again and would happily recommend it to friends.

9. Best for technical design

From speed sessions to marathons, this technical sports bra is built to give you maximum support by counteracting the figure-of-eight motion your boobs naturally make on the run. What it lacks in style – it’s not a design to wear on its own – the compression bra makes up for in comfort, thanks to adjustable straps and a nifty clasp that combine for a secure fit, banishing unwelcome and uncomfortable movement to the past.

10. Best for cross-training

If you go as hard in the gym as you do on the road, this sports bra will work for both. Our testers found it supportive for running, but where it shone was under pressure in CrossFit and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts. The compression was more comfortable for smaller boobs and the straps proved a bit of a puzzle, but while exercising in it, your skin is kept dry and the high neckline provides unrivalled coverage.

11. Most comfortable running bra for bigger boobs

This specialist running bra is the one to choose for comfort that goes the distance. It features lots of unique design details that make it a top performer, including two fastenings, moulded cups, padded adjustable straps and fabric that feels luxe. The cups provide individualised support for each breast and really delivered for our testers wearing bigger cup sizes – to get the fit just right, it’s worth trying on a few sizes.

12. Best for innovation

Set new PBs in this innovative sports bra that is worth indulging in if it’s normally a challenge to find a bounce-free fit. It’s not just the straps that are adjustable – the design features an 'overband' that sits across the top of your boobs and can be altered to achieve the support you need. This high-quality bra fits true to size and is comfortable for even the longest of runs.

13. Best for smaller boobs

Wired sports bras are a bit of an acquired taste, but if they work for you, this design has a lot to offer. With individual cups, this high-impact bra provides support without compression and the breathable fabric feels smooth. Testers felt secure and the bra reduced movement while running – although if you wear a bigger cup size, you may find you prefer more coverage on your runs than this style offers.

Best running sports bras 2023 chosen by our editors:

14. Best sports bra for large breasts

With underwiring, padded straps and a mesh front for breathability, this Freya Active sports bra is an excellent choice for runners looking for serious support. The flattering design is available in sizes up to 38JJ and comes in black, beige and white. It’s the best running bra for larger-chested women, with size F-J cups.

15. Best pullover sports bra

A pullover style with no hooks or zips, this bra claims to offer chafe-free comfort. We were worried at first that the lack of straps would mean the bra would be difficult to adjust, but when testing, it offered a comfortable fit.

On the run, it didn’t rub and provided a good amount of support. We liked the built-in moulded cups (if you always end up pulling the padded cups out of a running bra, you will too) and the fabric is buttery soft, even after multiple washes. All in all, a great bra that didn’t chafe, had good sweat-wicking properties and wasn’t too difficult to take off at the end of a long run.

16. Best sports bras for A-C cups

Given this is On's first foray into sports bras, it's a brilliant debut. It's an encapsulation bra, meaning it supports each breast separately in a lightly padded, moulded cup - but the looks are more like those of a classic pull-on compression bra. Unlike the latter, though, it's really easy to get on and off. Trying to wrestle yourself out of a sweaty sports bra after a long run can be an ordeal, but the On Performance bra makes this easy.

The design looks great, and feels fantastic – it's completely seam-free which makes it incredibly comfortable even on a really long run. Though it offers full support, it also doesn't have that "squished-in" feel that some sports bras do. The padding in the cups is integrated into the design, so you won't have to try and play the "retrieve pads from the corner where they've bunched up in the washing machine" game, either. The sizing comes XS to XL but the website gives you a calculator to work out where you'd be from standard bra sizes. The On bra isn't cheap - but you definitely get what you pay for in a fantastically well-designed, comfortable bra that quickly has become a favourite.

17. Best sports bra for high support

Lululemon’s Run Times bra isn’t cheap. It’s an investment, but one that has been carefully designed by the brand in its research and design lab.

It comes in regular bra sizes, which we like – as it can be a struggle to convert a 32C or 34D into a XS, S or M based on different brand guidelines. It’s high support, so it’s built for running and the bra has padded, adjustable straps, which means you can tighten them for full support. You can also cross the straps on the back, if you feel you need the additional support.

Read full review

18. Best high-impact sports bras for C-D cups

This high-support bra from Gymshark is designed to keep everything in place during high-impact training. While it's not specifically designed for running, our tester, who is a 34C, found it offered ample support when clocking up the miles. There are no adjustable straps and the bra is available in XS-XL sizing, rather than your normal bra size, which is a tad annoying. That said, for a high-street brand, it's a solid – and very affordable – option.

19. Best sports bra for gym classes

This won Best In Test in our Gear Awards 2021 – and for good reason. Although primarily designed for cyclists, our 34C tester, who tried a size small, tested the bra during multiple high-intensity run sessions and during long, steady runs and found it provided excellent support.

It features the same Overband technology as Maaree's Solidarity High-Impact Sports Bra (featured above), which reduces upward and side-to-side motion, and teamed with its adjustable ‘slot and snap’ clasp racerback design, provides great bounce control and an uber-supportive fit. It’s also made from material saved from landfill and picked from the oceans, so it scores points for sustainability, too.

20. Best Lululemon sports bra

This bra's sturdy and stretchy double-cross back straps, coupled with its wide comfy back band, featuring a three-step hook-and-eye closure, make it an excellent choice for women with larger cup sizes. Designed specifically for running, it offers the high support and bounce control you would expect from a high-impact from Lululemon, but what really sets it apart is how comfy it is to run in. 'It's the comfiest bra I've ever had,' said our tester, who is a 36C. 'It doesn't ride up and the adjustable straps across the back mean you can get the fit exactly right. The fabric is so soft against the skin and it doesn't dig in – you honestly don't know you're wearing it. It also looks gorgeous on – I would happily wear it without a vest over the top when running on holiday.'

21. Best zip-front sports bra

A relatively new invention in the world of running bras, choosing a front-fastening alternative makes compressive sports bras easier to get, and off when you are sweaty.

This sports bra really is a dream come true. It's easy to get on and off, thanks to the front-zip fastening, it's buttery soft against the skin and the zip has never rubbed, even over a marathon distance. It's an investment, but if you can afford it, it's one of the most comfortable running bras we've ever worn.

Read full review

22. Best padded zip-front sports bra

This high-support bra has all the quality we've come to know and love from Nike, but with the addition of a zip to make it easier to get the bra on and off. It offers Nike's highest level of support, thanks to the encapsulation support, which individually supports each boob, and racerback, which has wide, adjustable straps. There's a hook-eye closure which allows to get the fit just right and the sweat-wicking fabric features mesh inserts in key cooling places, to keep you dry.

23. Best sports bra for training in the heat

Adidas' magenta-coloured long-line running sports bra is one of our favourites for running in the summer. Why? Not only is the material moisture-absorbing, it comes with these handy elasticated bungee cords on the back – which means you can whip off your t-shirt and thread it through the back (without having to wrap anything around your waist). There are also several handy pockets, big enough to fit your phone, keys and gels.

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