Sorry to be dramatic, but there is something diabolical about an uncomfortable sports bra. Seriously! On top of ruining your workout, it can ruin your entire day. On the other hand, there is something truly magical about a sports bra that feels good—that gives you confidence in the gym, lets you sink deep into your savasana-cum-nap, or prevents your boobs from getting too slap-happy (literally) during a 30-minute jog.
Finding a sports bra that’s up to the task can feel like digging for a needle in a haystack. Enter SELF’s annual Activewear Awards, the culmination of our ultimate search for the best sports bras and leggings on the market. This year, we’re crowning eight bras we think are worthy of your shopping cart—including one that’s receiving our inaugural Reader’s Choice Award. For more on how we select our winners and why we love each one, keep reading.
How We Picked the Best Sports Bras
For the 2024 Activewear Awards, we asked SELF editors and a group of handpicked expert judges (read more about them below!) to nominate their favorite sports bras of all time. The only rule? The piece must still be available for purchase.
Simultaneously, we revisited the splashiest new releases from the past year. We combed through these, alongside the editor and expert judge submissions, keeping an eye out for pieces that were nominated more than once. We also did some additional research: Is the product well-reviewed online? Is it available in a wide range of sizes? Does it suit multiple body types? Is it a reasonable price?
As we were doing this, we set out to find our first-ever Reader’s Choice Award winner. We sent a survey to SELF readers and followers, asking them to nominate their picks. Then we dug through thousands of responses—the most common bra our readers submitted is the Reader’s Choice Award–winner you’ll see below.
Now, let’s talk shop: There are certain factors anyone should consider when trying out a sports bra, and we wanted to make sure our winners had high marks on each one. When nominating sports bras, we asked our editors, judges, and readers to consider:
- Low-impact bras should be stretchy and comfortable but less supportive; you’d typically want to wear them for walking, yoga, Pilates, or lounging. For people with larger breasts, low-impact bras may not feel like enough for even gentle movement—whether you opt for something with more support is up to personal preference.
- Medium-impact bras should ensure minimal breast movement when you’re jumping or running. You might want to wear them for lifting, strength training, or workouts where you’ll be doing some cardio.
- High-impact bras should offer plenty of coverage (think: little to no cleavage showing) and restrict all breast movement during activity. You’d typically wear them for running, HIIT workouts, or something like a dance cardio class; they should be tight-fitting but still comfortable!
Fit, Cut, and Style
- A sports bra should always be comfortable (yes, truly), particularly in the band/rib cage, shoulders, and chest/cup area. Consider whether it feels good to wear not only during your workout, but before and after too.
- Take note of the sports bra’s strap style (racerback, crisscross, wide straps, etc.), strap thickness and features (are they adjustable?), and where the band sits on your torso. You should like the way it looks and also feel unrestricted in your movements (like twisting, reaching, pushing, and pulling) and while breathing heavily or taking deep breaths.
- Is the bra easy to put on and take off? A zipper or hook-and-eye clasp might help with this. You shouldn’t have to struggle!
Moisture Management and Fabric
- How wet does the bra get during a sweaty workout? How long does it take to dry afterward?
- You’ll also want the bra to be soft and comfortable—it should never feel scratchy or too stiff.
How You Feel
- Perhaps the most important factor of all, a great sports bra should feel good physically—and make you feel good on the inside too. That might mean the design is super cute, or maybe the bra is so secure that you forget your deep-seated fear of a nip slip during a Barry’s class.
- So consider it all: At the end of the day, does the bra make you feel confident and excited to move?
The Best High-Impact Bra: Brooks Racerback 2.0 Sports Bra
Why we love it: The Brooks Racerback 2.0 is seamless with flexible built-in cups for a supportive fit. It’s adjustable from the front (no more awkwardly reaching behind you to tighten a loose strap) and closes with an easy hook-and-eye in the back—great for anyone who hates wrangling a sopping wet sports bra over their head post-workout.
One judge said: “This is my go-to bra for all of my runs—and it’s great for any low-intensity activity, like yoga or hiking, as well. You won’t feel constrained or restricted while getting the coverage and support that you need.”
Available in band sizes 32–44 and cup sizes B–FF.
The Best High-Impact Bra: ThirdLove Kinetic Adjustable Sports Bra
Why we love it: ThirdLove might be best known for their everyday undergarments, but if you’re not shopping their activewear section too, you’re really missing out. Perhaps because they’re so good at nailing feel-good day-to-day pieces, they’ve been able to master the art of the perfect sports bra: The Kinetic is just as comfortable as it is supportive.
One judge said: “I spend a lot of time in sports bras, and it seems like the more high-impact they get, the less comfortable they get. The ThirdLove Kinetic adjustable sports bra isn’t that—it’s very supportive without feeling extremely tight and heavy. I wear this for more intense lifting sessions, boot-camp-style classes, and HIIT.”
Available in band sizes 32–44 and cup sizes A–H.
The Best Medium-Impact Bra: Superfit Hero Racerback Sports Bra
Why we love it: Superfit Hero’s classic racerback style is made in a gently compressive polyester-spandex blend. A soft-knit inner lining allows your boobs to breathe freely while keeping them covered. The bra is relatively no frills—no cups or padding, and you put it on overhead—and stays perfectly put…which is exactly why it might become your everyday favorite. Our judges also noted that this bra lasts for several years of workouts and wash cycles, without wearing down.
One judge said: “I love the full coverage—my 46DD boobs don’t spill out of the arm holes or bottom when I’m jumping or rolling around on the ground. I also love the length—it can give the look of a crop top or sports bra.”
Available in sizes L–7X.
The Best Low-Impact Bra: Harper Wilde Move Racerback Sports Bra
Why we love it: This Harper Wilde style is the pajama of sports bras, if you will. So utterly stretchy and comfortable—but still sweat-wicking and ready for action—you can toss it on before a walk, yoga class, or, you know, a day where you have to do three weeks’ worth of laundry.
One judge said: “I have four of these bras because I love them so much. I love NOT feeling distracted by any rubbing or tight contact with my skin for a change. It’s perfect for when you’re craving an extra-comfy workout and just need some casual support.”
Available in sizes XS–3XL.
The Best Padded Sports Bra: Nike Indy Bra
Why we love it: Want a little oomph? The Nike Indy bra will get you there with its sleek, padded, and honestly…sexy (?!) design. It’s got mesh details, straps that adjust in the front, and a sleek V-neck. It’s functional, yes, but it also looks kind of hot, so take note if that’s something you’re looking for in your gym gear.
One judge said: “I had a double mastectomy four years ago. Since then, I’ve had multiple breast reconstructions and been multiple sizes, and this bra has been with me through it all. It’s a great bra to lift in, but I find myself running and boxing in it as well.”
Why we love it: SELF editors, expert judges, and readers all raved about Athleta’s Conscious Crop bra. The ultra-smooth top has two separate layers—an outer mini-tank and built-in bra underneath—and is best suited for low-impact workouts, walks, or jaunts around town. Our larger-breasted judges appreciate its generous coverage, which allows them to still rock a crop without letting it all hang out.
One judge said: “It’s very compressive, so it keeps my chest in place during a workout. Plus, the high neck means not having to worry about spilling while exercising—I don’t have to actively think about my boobs at all while working out.”
Available in sizes XXS–3X (cup sizes A–C and D–DD).
The Best Pregnancy and Postpartum Bra: Storq Body Bra
Why we love it: If you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance that the last thing you’ll want to do is wear a bra. If you do want to wear a bra, the Storq Body bra is your most comfortable bet. (And if you don’t want to wear a bra, and you try on the Storq Body bra, you might just change your mind.) It has a scoop front and back, so it’s not going to be the kind of item you throw on before a 10-mile run, but for stretching, yoga, Pilates, walking, going to work, or just laying on the couch, it’s perfect. If you’re postpartum it’ll feel gentle when everything else hurts, and it’s super-stretchy, so it’s easy to pull down for nursing too.
One judge said: “In my fourth month of pregnancy, my boobs grew two cup sizes seemingly overnight. I was already dealing with a truckload of unpleasant symptoms and body changes, and I had no desire to add ‘buying new bras that both fit and are comfortable’ to my to-do list. This Storq bra basically solved all of my problems. I wear it under sweaters to work and when I do prenatal yoga. Its stretch is generous enough to grow with me and the material feels like butter. I can totally see myself sleeping in this once this baby is here.”
Available in sizes XS–4XL.
Reader’s Choice Award: SheFit Ultimate Sports Bra
Why readers love it: If you’re not already familiar with SheFit, a brand known for making bras designed with larger chests in mind, prepare to be converted. Tons of SELF readers nominated the Ultimate as their all-time favorite sports bra, and our editors stand behind it too: The style racked up a SELF Activewear Award in 2018, and experts have recommended it in our coverage again and again and again. It is, well, the ultimate: A front-zip closure keeps all your goods secure; the bra comes with removable cups, so you can take them out if that’s not your thing; and it keeps you lifted without any stiff underwire.
SELF readers said: “This is the first and only bra that actually holds me together while still being comfortable. It’s the perfect merger of real support and style, and keeps my 38Fs from hitting me in the face during a full marathon. I used to double up on bras—and I’ve tried other brands—but SheFit is my savior.”
“This bra supports ALL THE LADIES (yes, even those of us with small rib cages and larger breasts), and I’ve been loving it for everything, from yoga to hiking to tennis to running. I’ve even worn it as swimwear! It’s supportive, wicking, infinitely adjustable, and LASTS.”
“I am a soccer referee, and this bra keeps my breasts immobile while sprinting and jogging. I do not need to wear two bras anymore to deal with high-impact workouts. (My size is 36DDD.) I also do some running and take boxing fitness classes. This is a great bra for boxing, and I can do burgers without pain! It’s also super adjustable. I’ve been using this product for one and a half years, and I am not going back to big sport-brand names. This is the best bra I have ever used.
“It’s perfect for running and any high-intensity activity. It holds the girls down, and for someone with DD/DDD breasts, it’s a godsend!”
Available in sizes XSmall-6Luxe (bust sizes 29–55″ and cup sizes A–I).
Photography: Ryan Segedi
Wardrobe styling: Kat Thomas
Hair: Chika Nishiyama
Makeup: Monica Alvarez
Editor in Chief: Rachel Wilkerson Miller
Associate Director, Special Projects: Hannah Pasternak
Creative Director: Amber Venerable
Producer: Melissa Kramer