Clothing

The Best Sports Bras for Your Fitness Activities, According to the Pros

Whether you need more support during spinning or less chafing when you run, we've got a bra solution for you.


sports bras

The Alo Movement bra from Carbon38 is a favorite sports bra for Ride co-owner Katie Graham. / Photograph courtesy Katie Graham

Can we all agree that bras are one of the most difficult pieces of clothing to shop for? Not only is your size typically vastly different depending on the brand, but they’re rarely both comfortable and attractive. And, if you’re bigger or smaller than standard sizes, good luck.

This conundrum definitely extends to sports bras. You’d think not having to deal with cups would make them more likely to fit well, but no — there’s always chafing or your nipples show through or the straps are too tight or you don’t have enough support for intense activity (which is the whole reason you’re wearing a sports bra in the first place, but we won’t even go there).

That’s why we turned to the women who essentially live in sports bras — fitness instructors — to find out their go-to brands and styles for specific types of high-octane exercise. Whether you’re a spinning addict or a regular runner, we’ve found the bra that, fingers crossed, will work for your workout.

Barre

Stephanie Maas, owner of and instructor at Barre3 Rittenhouse Square: “My all-time favorite sports bra is the Energy Bra from Lululemon. I have it in so many different colors to wear as my base under any tank! I love that it is supportive yet not constricting. I tend to wear a lot of basic tanks, so I love that I can add a little flair to my outfit with one of the patterned options. I just got the camo one a couple of weeks ago and have been pairing it with a blank tank and love the look!”

sports bras

The energy bra from Lululemon has optional, slip-in cups to provide extra coverage and medium support for women in a B or C size. / Photograph courtesy Lululemon

The team at Focus Barre and Yoga: “It’s funny you reach out about this now, because we were just talking about our new favorite bra! It’s definitely the Alosoft Serenity Bra by Alo. It’s got full coverage, great support, and it’s really comfy! And it comes in a variety of colors. We also love the Elevate bra by DYI. Both of these bras are available in our studio for sale.”

 

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Larkin Silverman, co-founder of Lumos Yoga & Barre: “Whether I’m taking or teaching a barre class, I can’t live without the Lululemon Free to Be Serene Bra. Since discovering this style, I had no idea how much unnecessary constriction and pinching I was suffering through in my other higher-support bras. I find that the generous cut of this bra lets me feel spaciousness through my chest but still gives me enough coverage to prevent spillage. I also love how beautifully the straps lay on my back without painful pressure on my shoulders. Being larger-chested rocking my D cups, I love that I finally found a bra for lower-impact activities that isn’t a joke in terms of coverage and support. The only downside of this bra is that it isn’t yet available in an inclusive size range.”

Boxing

Carly Rubenstein, founding trainer at the yet-to-open Rumble Boxing Center City“All of the brands Rumble carries are amazing for boxing. One of my favorites that is fashionable and supportive is Year of Ours. They are supportive; they absorb sweat well; and they are cute, too, which doesn’t hurt. I also love anything that is a crop top bra. Long story short, medium coverage to support you for your high-intensity and boxing movements and tons of burpees.”

 

 
 
 
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Dance Fitness

Holta Tegu, instructor out of 954 Dance Movement Collective: “I often hear about and recently purchased from DoYouEven. And I am now obsessed. I love that they’re seamless but still supportive, super comfortable, and flattering.”

 

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Miranda Dougherty, instructor at CKO Kickboxing Center City: “I swear by JoyLab sports bras from Target. They have a lot of great options for $20 and under! For our workout, the medium- to high-impact ones are best. This is the one I chose to share because who wants to pay $100 for a sports bra?! This is a great and affordable option.”

Miscellaneous

(In this category, instructors provide recommendations for multiple types of fitness or mention a bra that works for lots of different workouts.)

Katie Graham, co-owner of Ride: “I’m a big fan of Carbon38 and the brands that they carry. (I love them so much that I’m an ambassador for them!) For barre, I love the Alo Movement Bra, the Alo Knot Tank Bra, and the Beach Riot Twist Top. Barre is low-impact typically, so I like to wear bras with fun backs and such that may not offer enough support for an activity like spin. For spin/TRX: I like Carbon’s brand of bras, specifically the Seminyak Bra and the Glossy High Neck Bra.”
sports bras

Katie Graham is an ambassador for Carbon38 and loves the company’s sports bras in particular. / Photograph courtesy Katie Graham

Juliet Sabella, owner of the Wall Fitness: “My recent favorite is the Time To Sweat Bra from Lululemon. It’s structured to keep the parts of the upper body that tend to become the sweatiest more ventilated. It’s really been a game changer for me. I’m also a small-/medium-chested person, so it’s the perfect amount of support for the intensity of spin, high enough coverage for the swinging of KettleBarre, and offers easy movement for the flow of barre.”

Jillian Dreusike, founder of Allongée Technique“There are two brands that are my go-to’s and it’s definitely dependent on if we’re teaching a Sculpt, Sweat or S+S (hybrid) class. I love Fabletics bras in general as they categorize their bras into low, medium and high support, similar to what we find we need for the three different class categories we run at the studio. For sculpt classes, I tend to lean toward the lower support bras that allow for largest range of movements. These include Fabletics Seamless collection as well as the Free People Movement bralettes. For S+S/Sweat classes, the work is a bit more cardiovascular and higher impact, so we tend to opt for the higher-support bras for those. One of my favorites is from Athletathe Run Free Bra as it offers the perfect amount of freedom and support, allowing me to move big without feeling like I am being held back (and without me feeling as though my girls will be on the run).”

sports bras

Dreusike likes the Athleta bra for more high-impact classes. / Photograph courtesy Jillian Dreusike

Callie Kim, co-owner of Tuck Barre & Yoga: “My barre/yoga recommendation (for the smaller-chested ladies out there) is hands down Joah Brown’s Legend Bra. Why? SUPER soft material, and my girls want to be coddled. The material and straps are thicker, so it’s supportive enough for barre/yoga, and the material doesn’t wear from washing. I also love the gray color — I get pit stains on anything not black or gray. For Barre Bounce (again for smaller-chested ladies), I swear by the Puma Seamless Sports Bra with removable cups – it’s supportive, has adjustable straps, lasts forever, AND is inexpensive (I buy the two-packs from Costco, which also sells super cute and comfy matching undies).”

Pilates

Hally Bayer, owner of Thrive Pilates: “I recently tried a brand called Phat Buddha, and I got them over at Addison Bay. I like them because they’re supportive and also soft and don’t feel like they’re suffocating.”

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Running

Takia McClendon of City Fit Girls: “Since I’m running shorter distances and focusing more on strength training, my favorite bra to train in is the Nike Pro Classic Bra (in every color). It provides medium support and doesn’t chafe or rub.”

Kiera Smalls of City Fit Girls: “I love running and working out in the Brooks Juno.” Whether I’m doing eight miles or training at BPM Fitness, it’s a really supportive bra that keeps everything secured.”
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Tara Moyer, ambassador for Black Girls Run!: “I’m a larger woman, and I love my SheFit Ultimate Sports Bra. I have three of them.”

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Spinning

Tiffany Wallace, owner of Cycle Brewerytown: “My riders and my instructors and me are about affordability. I’ve heard for full coverage, Under Armour’s great, and they’re durable and affordable. Nike also has some good back-banded bras. When cycling, what’s really most important is support. It’s not comfortable when they’re not strapped in. You don’t want to feel like you’re bouncing up and down.”

 

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TRX

Tiffany Gwilliam, barre and TRX instructor at Aim High Studio: “When instructing a TRX class or gearing up for a challenging workout, the Athleta Contender sports bra gets the job done!  The Contender offers high compression, instantly wicks away sweat, and allows me the confidence to perform at my peak.”

 

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Yoga

Carly Markowitz, marketing director, brand manager, and yoga instructor at Maha Yoga Studio: “Hands down the most comfortable sports bra I’ve ever worn for yoga is the GapFit Breathe. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a drawer full of bras from Athleta and Lululemon and Fabletics and Free People, and they are all great for their own reasons. But the one I always come back to is this GapFit bra. The straps never dig in, and the bra stays put even when you’re all folded over and limbs tangled. Everything stays in place and on top of all that, it’s made out of very thick yet incredibly soft material that doesn’t feel restrictive in the slightest. …I didn’t realize how strongly I felt about this bra until I started writing this email.”

 

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