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Editor’s Note: We reviewed our bra selections on August 28, 2023 and have updated our recommendations to include the newest top-performing models from our most recent round of testing. The sports bras below are currently the best high-impact options for runners.
When it comes to choosing the right sports bra, having enough support is likely your top priority. But how you get that support can really be a personal preference. Some runners love cups with underwire support, but others prefer wire-free. Or maybe you like a little more compression for a super secure feel, while your running buddy wants looser, adjustable bands and straps. The key is finding the right style that supports your cup size.
Here’s a cheat sheet on the most popular support features out there so you know what to look for in your next high-impact bra, followed by full reviews of the best-performing models from our wear-testing.
Our Top High-Impact Support Bras
What to Consider
Just like your everyday, nonathletic bra, some sports bras feature wired cups for support. You’ll typically find them in very high-impact bras designed for cup sizes DD and larger for superior bounce-banishing. The only drawback is that some runners find underwire styles don’t move with the body as well as wireless versions.
Runners seeking an underwire alternative should turn to sports bras with a molded-cup design. While they don’t always match up to wires for support, molded cups do offer more flexibility and often come with removable modesty pads. Molded-cup bras are also great for helping prevent the dreaded “uni-boob” appearance by providing a separated section for each breast.
The easiest thing a bra can do for support is offer you a little squeeze. Some runners opt for tight, locked-in, and bounce-free, while others balk at feeling too compressed. Generally, more compression will mean more support, so the bra will rely less on other features like underwire or molded cups—but you’ll have to decide for yourself at what point “jiggle-free” starts to feel more like “constricting.”
Encapsulation—a defined cup structure—is another feature in bra tech that keeps bouncing in check. Many designs will feature hook-and-eye back clasps (similar to your everyday bra) that let you set the bottom bust band to the right tightness. The same goes for your adjustable shoulder straps.
How We Test
We get it—all the extra doodads on high-impact bras look overwhelming, complicated, or just downright uncomfortable. But they’re not if you adjust them properly. Easier said than done, of course. To guide you in your search for the best support, we did the legwork—literally. All of these bras have been tested by RW staff and a small group of local runners. We evaluate several bras each month and update our list to provide you with the best recommendations for runners of all shapes, sizes, and experience levels.
FastImpact Luxe Run High-Support Bra
According to Adidas, 90 percent of women are wearing the wrong size sports bra. To combat this issue, the crossback has 360-degree adjustability. The underband and straps have easy-to-reach swan hooks so you can customize your fit. The bra also has a flattering scoop-neck style and is made of Adidas’s two new technical fabrics: quick-drying Adiform (which wicks moisture and helps you stay cool) and light, silky Aeroready (which boosts breathability).
“I have a hard time finding sports bras I like,” said deputy editor Mallory Creveling. “I want a super tight fit that keeps everything in place, but sometimes that means restriction and discomfort. This bra offers so much customization that you can get the exact support you need in different areas.”
Drive 3 Pocket Run Bra
This three-pocket bra has a place for your phone (mid-back), and fuel and keys (either side). It’s an ideal pick for long-distance training when you need to store gels or cash—just in case you pass a coffee shop and need an, ahem, quick espresso boost. To reduce chafing, the Drive 3 uses low-friction bonded seams around each of its pockets. One small critique is that it’s a little bit of a struggle to put on and take off. It also has removable padded cups, which can fold over and crease.
The Spot Comfort Sports Bra
Gel-cushioned straps ensure you won’t experience any raw or rubbed skin during very long and intense activities. The Spot Comfort is also extremely breathable and moisture-wicking; mesh on the adjustable straps and front panel promotes ventilation. The high-impact sports bra is lined with molded cups for non-underwire support, and the back hook-and-eye closure makes it easy to take off. One thing to consider: size up. One tester found the fit a little too snug, even on the last hook-and-eye setting.
Racerback Underwire Sports Bra
Some testers were unsure how much they would like this sports bra, thinking that an underwire design would chafe or rub. But Panache nails the support, with none of the discomfort. Made with molded and seamless cups, the high-impact sports bra is contoured to move with you as you run but still locks down unwanted bouncing. Plus, the left strap even has a hook that allows for switching between an H-back and racerback style.
The Ultimate Sports Bra
The Ultimate 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 this high-impact sports bra. She felt well-supported while running road races and playing matches on the court.
The AirSupport’s cups are injected with foam and have an internal honeycomb pattern to enhance shape, control movement, and allow flexibility. The bra also has a flattering woven crossback design and reflective details to enhance visibility in low light—it’s like Lululemon knew we’d want to run shirtless in the AirSupport.
Running Essentials High-Impact Bra
Runners liked the overall comfort of Reebok’s Running Essentials Bra, a simple racerback pullover.
“I like the soft feel of the fabric, the higher cut of the neckline, and the thicker band on the bottom—all of that made it super comfortable for me,” said one tester. “Because the material is on the stretchier side, it didn’t provide quite as much bounce control as I typically like in a long-run bra. But, I would still wear it for intervals, shorter easy runs, and strength workouts. It’s a bra you want to just keep on all day.”
One drawback was the high-cut armholes, which caused rubbing for some testers.
Said one, “I was expecting to like the Essentials High-Impact because I prefer more coverage and loved the soft fabric. But the armhole cut was too close to my armpits and it bothered me a lot.”
Solidarity High-Impact Sports Bra
Breasts move in a figure-eight pattern while running, so it makes sense to design a bra that reduces downward and upward motion. Mari Thomas, who is a size 34E and runner herself, founded Maaree to create sports bras with Overband Technology (a curved panel above the breasts).
One cool perk about this high-impact sports bra’s Overband is that it can be tightened—just like shoulder straps—from the side of each boob. And, it’s strategically placed so the plastic sliders won’t cause any underarm friction.
Catalyst Sports Bra
Knix’s Catalyst provides all-inclusive coverage, boasting an incredible support range from size 32A to 42G. The bra has easily adjustable ladder straps and molded cups that cradle each breast to reduce bouncing. Perforated vents in between the cups allow more air to flow through the bra, which helps prevent the material from getting swampy with sweat.
Like Shefit’s The Ultimate, the Catalyst has been a mainstay on our list of best high-impact sports bras—we even re-tested the bra to see if it should still be included. Literally and figuratively, the bra still holds up.
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