Sports bras have certainly come a long way since Lisa Lindahl invented the first one back in 1977 by fashioning together two jock straps. Throughout the last few years, big brands like Reebok, Brooks, and Lululemon, as well as smaller labels like Knix and Maaree, have dedicated themselves to making even better high-impact sports bras a top priority. From creative construction and technology that cuts back on bounce to designs that keeps you comfy (no more too-tight-to-move constriction!), they’ve found some seriously innovative ways to make it happen.“It’s interesting, because if you think about the bra and history of the bra, for a long time, there hadn’t been any real innovation in the way companies constructed them,” says Barbara Ebersberger, Reebok’s vice president of performance apparel. “It’s always the same principle: The idea that, in order to create a higher-support sports bra, you need to create more layers, with additional bindings and additional hardware.”
High impact plus size sports bra
Life’s too short to spend hours searching for a good plus size sports bra. Trawling the high street for actually inclusive stock gets boring, fast, so we’ve tried and tested all the best styles on the market for you.
Looking for yoga bras? We’ve found them. Need one for running? We’ve got that too. Every bra on our list is available in a size 16 and above, with some styles going up to a K cup, meaning you should be able to find something that will suit both your body and your chosen workout.
We squeezed our boobs into over 30 sports bras from all the leading brands, working with a panel of readers who wear bra sizes up to a K cup. Each bra was tested three times, across a range of 17 different activities, and judged according to its comfort, design, quality and performance. Each tester tried at least three styles to really put them through their paces.We also conducted wash tests, checking for shrinkage and discolouration to ensure that each bra’s quality was up to scratch.On your marks, get set, bra shop!
Decathlon Cardio Training Zip-Up Bra 900
Catering for bodies up to a size 18, this zip-up sports bra was a star performer in our tests. We found it supportive, with comfortable compression and adjustable straps that never dug in, no matter the workout. A fabric panel protects your boobs from chafing on the zip, which makes the bra easier to get on and off. It doesn’t feel luxe and we’d like it in more sizes, but you get far more than your money’s worth with this bargain buy. Key specs:Sizes: UK 8 – 18Colours: Floral, black and black and white Style: Zip-up racerbackWe’d wear it for: High-impact cardio
Marks & Spencer GoodMove Medium Impact Non Wired Sports Bra
We love finding a diamond on the high street, and this sports bra is certainly a sparkler. It’s designed with sun salutations or hikes in mind, with removable pads and adjustable straps that can be crossed for extra support. Testers didn’t find it secure enough for anything more intense, so choose a different style for HIIT. Though available up to a size 22, it proved a bit small for our testers, so try on a couple of sizes if you can. Overall, it’s cute, comfy and definitely one to add to the WFH-drobe.Key specs:Sizes: UK 6 – 22Colours: Green and navyStyle: Pull-on with adjustable straps and removable paddingWe’d wear it for: Yoga, hiking, Pilates
Adidas Studio Two-Tone Bra
This low-impact sports bra is a triple threat: it looks good, it made our testers feel good and it does good for the planet. The seamless design feels luxuriously comfortable to wear and it’s made with 84% recycled nylon and polyester. Sizing wasn’t an afterthought, either – it’s available in a range of plus sizes, up to a 4X, which the brand’s size chart claims will fit a 46G. It’s not cheap, but we were impressed with the compression and our testers loved wearing it for yoga and weightlifting. Our entire panel would recommend it, and what gym kit doesn’t need a splash of neon?Key specs:Sizes: XS – 4XColours: Pink and orange, black, off-white, navy, blueStyle: Pullover racerbackWe’d wear it for: Low to medium-impact workouts
Next High Impact Full Cup Wired Sports Bra
Don’t get it twisted – this sports bra might look like an everyday bra but the support it offers is seriously bounce-proof. It held our testers up well, even when braving a burpee or ten, and the smooth fabric proved breathable, keeping ye olde boob sweat to a minimum.The underwired design is ideal if you don’t like feeling squashed into a bra, but we didn’t feel like there was quite enough coverage for running. It’s available up to a 42G and comes in three chic colourways.Key specs:Sizes: 32B – 42GColours: Black, grey marl and whiteStyle: WiredWe’d wear it for: High-impact workouts
Nike Medium-Support Dri-FIT Swoosh
Nike’s crop-top style sports bra is nothing short of iconic, and our testing showed us why. It’s made from recycled bottles and we found it a very comfortable wear, albeit one that’s better suited to gentler workouts like Pilates or yoga. Oh, and did we mention it has a pocket? Because it does – on the front – and it’s an ideal place for keeping your keys as safe as your boobs while you’re out hiking or running errands. It also has just one removable pad, which makes washing it a whole lot simpler. It comes in sizes up to a 2XL – the equivalent of a 44 band.Key specs:Sizes: XS – 2XLColours: White, black, pink, green and purpleStyle: Pull on with racerback and removable cupWe’d wear it for: Yoga, pilates, lifting, spin.
Maybe you’ve only just started running to work out or maybe you’re looking to replace your worn-out sports bras of old—either way, this list of the best high impact sports bras is an excellent place to start the hunt for workout wear that’s supportive, comfortable and built specifically for your body and sport level.
What Does ‘High Impact’ Mean for Sports Bras?
High-impact activities include running, HIIT, boxing—basically anything that puts stress on weight-baring joints—while low-impact activities include things like yoga, Pilates, swimming or walking. Because you’re likely to be bouncing or jumping around during a high-impact workout, you’ll need a sports bra with more support that’s built to prevent your chest from moving too much, potentially causing pain or injury. As cute as your strappy little bralettes are for yoga, they simply won’t suffice for jogging.
How to Pick the Best High Impact Sports Bra
- Read the label. This one feels pretty obvious, but it should be stated that if a bra isn’t marketed as a high-impact bra, it likely won’t work for your needs.
- Do a jump test. Some brands have great exchange or return policies that allow you to wear a sports bra through multiple workouts before deciding whether or not it’s the right one for you. But for those who don’t (or even those who do) we recommend trying on the bra, standing in front of a mirror and doing either high-knees or jumping jacks to get a clear view of how the bra holds up to vigorous movement. Running is unlikely to cause as much bounce as jumping jacks, but if your bra can barely contain your gals for a short burst of high-knees, it likely won’t do you much good on a run either.
- Numerical bra sizing is typically better than S/M/L. That isn’t to say that all high-impact bras that come in S/M/L sizing are inferior, but brands that use band and cup sizes give you more specificity when it comes to fit. This is especially helpful for anyone with either a small band and large cup size or large band and small cup size.
- Opt for wide straps over thin ones. Yes, even if the bra has 40 adorable crisscrossing straps at the back it still won’t be as supportive as solid 1-inch wide designs. Racerback silhouettes also tend to offer more support than a traditional H-formation.
- Consider breathability and fabric. A thick spandex bra will likely do a good job of holding your bosom in place, but it will also pool sweat easily and start to feel heavy and uncomfortable pretty quickly. High-impact workouts tend to leave us sweatier than low-impact ones, so look for materials that are quick-drying, breathable and that wick sweat to keep you comfortable in the long run.