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An essential part of your sports kit, a sports bra will keep you comfortable and help you give your best performance, whatever activity you are doing. Here are the four things you need to consider to find the right one for you.

Support

First up, it’s important to match your sports bra with the type of activity you are doing. Designed to provide three levels of support: low, medium and high support for use in low, medium and high impact sports, the type you need will depend on your cup size and the type of exercise you do.

Low support/Impact

Walking, yoga, strength training.
Key characteristics:
Often cut like a crop-top and made
from thinner material.

Medium support/Impact

Moderate hiking, skiing, road cycling
Key characteristics:
Crop-top styling, wireless, sometimes with adjustable straps or molded cups with wide shoulders for extra support.

High support/Impact

Running, mountain biking, HIIT
Key characteristics:
Made from less stretchy material and include supportive seams and overlays, sometimes are underwired.

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Construction

Once you have decided on the support, you need to look at the construction of the bra to minimise movement. Your sports bra should fall into one of the following categories.

Encapsulation sports bras:

These bras use individual cups to surround and support each breast separately. There is no compression in these bras (most everyday bras are encapsulation bras) making them generally best for low-impact activities. Encapsulation bras provide a more natural shape than compression bras.

Compression sports bras:

These bras typically pull over your head and compress the breasts against the chest wall to restrict movement. They do not have cups built into the design. Compression sports bras tend to work best for low- to medium-impact activities.

Compression/encapsulation
sports bras:

Many sports bras combine the above methods into a supportive and comfortable style. These bras offer more support than compression or encapsulation alone, making them generally best for high-impact activities.

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Strap type

Regardless of the strap type you choose, thin straps will generally provide less support than wider straps.

Crisscross:

These straps crisscross in back and usually provide good support. The straps are often adjustable so you can fine-tune the fit. Depending on the style, crisscross straps can hide nicely underneath a sporty tank top or make their own fashion statement.

Tank top:

This strap style is most similar to an everyday bra. The straps are often adjustable so you can fine-tune the fit. Bras with tank top straps often have a back closure, which offers additional adjustment. Some tank top bras are designed to allow the straps to be crisscrossed for versatility.

Racerback:

Sports bras with a racerback have shoulder straps that come together between your shoulder blades to create a Y-shape. Racerback bras provide good support for medium- to high-impact activities, but they are typically not adjustable, so it’s important to size the bra correctly. Racerback straps hide well underneath a racerback tank top.

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