A good sports bra should be like a best friend: It is always there to lift you up, provides much-needed support when you feel like you want to quit, and holds you comfortably—but never restricts you.
But like a BFF, a sports bra that checks all the boxes can be tough to find. Luckily, once again, we’ve done the hard work for you. This year SELF editors, fitness pros, and workout enthusiasts tested nearly 100 sports bras to pull together the very best new offerings on the market for our 2023 Activewear Awards. Below, you’ll find our eight top picks—perfect for a wide range of activities. Keep scrolling and find your new favorite.
What to Look for When Shopping for Sports Bras
When testing sports bras, we considered a number of factors, including support, fit, cut and style, strap style, ease of putting on and taking off, moisture management, fabric, and how confident and comfortable our testers felt while wearing the bra.
While support is the most important quality of a good sports bra, the specific level of support you’ll need will depend on your personal preferences and the types of activities you’re planning to do. Low-impact bras should be stretchy and comfortable—ideal for activities like yoga and lounging around. Medium-impact sports bras should allow for minimal breast movement and are ideal for strength training, cycling, and other activities that don’t involve a lot of jumping. Finally, high-impact sports bras should entirely eliminate breast bounce. And though they are restrictive by design, they should never crush or pinch. These bras are ideal for running, dance, cardio, and HIIT workout classes—anything where you’ll be jumping and moving around a ton.
In the end, it’s also important to keep in mind that a lot of personal preference factors in. People with larger busts might prefer a traditional hook-and-eye closure versus pullover styling, while others might like lower- or higher-cut bras purely for style reasons. Our testers did a variety of workouts as well as basic movements in each of these bras. We also asked that testers continue to wear the bra for an hour after their workout to see how the material held up once it got sweaty.
How We Picked the Best Sports Bras
The sports bras we considered for the 2023 SELF Activewear Awards had to meet our submission guidelines, which you can read more about here. After brands submitted almost 500 items, a group of 45 testers (consisting of SELF staffers, fitness professionals, and exercise enthusiasts) got to work testing. Testers had two months to wear an item several times and in a number of ways, judging its performance against the standards set in SELF’s Activewear Buying Guide (a summary of which you can read above!). The sports bras that came out on top are listed below.
During our selection process, we were met once again with the disheartening reality that plus-size activewear options are not nearly as numerous as they should be, nor are they offered in the same quality as many straight sized lines. For that reason, we decided to include items that went up to a size 2X on the winners list, while instituting a new extended sizing badge system so you can easily tell at a glance which products are made for you (or not, as the case may be). For items that do only go up to 2X, we’ve mentioned comparable options from brands we trust that weren’t part of the testing process but are available in additional sizes. We hope that these awards, the badge system, and SELF as a whole will continue to push the industry forward when it comes to size inclusivity and fat acceptance.