Find the Perfect Sports Bra

Whether you’re after padding, adjustable straps, compression, or none of the above, find your perfect fit among these 11 great running bras

November 10, 2011
woman running in sports bra
Karen Pearson
Top Honors

For most women, a good sports bra is as important as the right shoes. And as with shoes, no one bra is perfect for everyone. To help you figure out which bra works for you, we recruited 25 testers, who ranged in size from 32A to 38DD, to run in the latest models. The 11 on the following pages are their favorites.

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Handful Bra
Karen Pearson
A-Cup with Padding

A bra designed to give athletic beanpoles a more feminine shape, the Handful Bra ($40) features a simple X-back, removable pads, and thin straps. Smaller testers appreciated how the Handful helped them fill out their tank tops without sacrificing performance. "I loved it," said one A-cup tester. "Now I don't look like a 13-year-old boy."


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Lululemon Energy Bra
Karen Pearson
B-Cup with Padding

Deceptively supportive for such a delicate-looking bra, the Lululemon Enery Bra ($48) can be hidden under tanks or worn by itself (it comes with removable pads). The straps morph into a crisscross pattern in the back that's supercute, according to one marathoner. Testers praised the soft, wicking fabric that stayed comfortable hours into a run.


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Asics Cross Back Bra
Karen Pearson
No Padding, Adjustable Shoulder Straps

Runners with short or long bodies can customize the straps of the Asics Cross Back Bra ($40). The back straps and chest band, which stays anchored, work together to minimize bounce. "I didn't notice the bra at all," said a 34B. Another tester, after a five-miler, said, "The fabric is light and cool, but the bra doesn't put too much on display."


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Patagonia Switchback sports bra
Karen Pearson
No Padding, Adjustable Torso

With an under-the-chest band that adjusts from both sides, the supersoft Patagonia Switchback ($59) is a godsend to athletes who have broad or narrow rib cages. "It's easier to get on than it appears to be," said one tester, who was initially unsure of its user-friendliness. Testers raved about the amount of coverage and support the bra offered.


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Nike Victory Shape sports bra
Karen Pearson
T-Back Bra

The Nike Victory Shape Sports Bra ($42) is an effective T-back for the C/D crowd, thanks in part to the tightly woven fabric around the bust. "Nothing moved," said a C-cup after a four-miler on the treadmill, also citing the reinforced, no-give shoulder straps. The bra's molded cups use lightweight foam to keep things modest without trapping extra heat.


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CW-X Versatx Support Bra
Karen Pearson
Compressed Look, No T-Back

Although the inner lining of each cup on the CW-X Versatx Support Bra ($65) features a starlike web that holds things firmly in place, the bra "has a little bit of a squish-them-in factor," said a D-cup tester. Still, she loved the snug feeling once she clasped the three-hook closure. "The bra didn't jiggle and left no strap marks," said another tester.


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Champion Double-Dry+ Spot Comfort Full Support Sports Bra
Karen Pearson
Sports-Bra Look, No Compression

With its V-shaped mesh through the center of the chest for venting and thick, gel-lined shoulder straps, the Champion Double-Dry+ Spot Comfort Full Support Sports Bra ($45) puts the emphasis on comfort. "The more I ran, the happier I was with this bra," said a 38D. Other D-cups hoped for a little less jiggling.


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Moving Comfort Luna sports bra
Karen Pearson
Non-Sports-Bra Look, No Compression

The seam-free, contoured cups of the Moving Comfort Luna ($52) provide a clean non-sports-bra look. It fits under form-fitting tops ("Shapely without being too busty," said a 36C) and performs capably. "No chafing, and it wicked very well," said a 38D. Testers liked the hold of the three-hook closure and adjustable shoulder straps.


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Anita Active Extreme Control 5527 sports bra
Karen Pearson
Minimal Material

Where many bras for this size are akin to straightjackets, the Anita Active Extreme Control 5527 ($66) is sleek yet still provides ample support. "I liked the reinforced cups," said one tester, a 32G. "They were just thick enough to feel supportive." Testers were also fond of the four-hook back closure. "I made it tight and was blown away by how good it felt," said a tester after a six-miler.


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Shock Absorber Max Sports Bra
Karen Pearson
Highly Adjustable

With customizable straps and two back clasps, the Shock Absorber Max Sports Bra Top ($69) offers a comprehensive dial-it-in fit. "The second back clasp is challenging to get closed," said one 32FF tester, "but it's worth figuring out because it locked me in so well." Another 38DD reported the bra "didn't move or chafe and supplied lots of support."


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Lynx sports bra
Karen Pearson
No Adjustments Necessary

"Finally a simple, slip-on bra for a larger bust," said a grateful 34DD when she saw the Lynx Sports Bra ($53). "Can't wait to try it during a really long run." The racer-back bra's firm hold comes from thick straps and tightly woven polyester panels. A few testers noted that the bra smushed two boobs into one, yet they loved its grip.

Fits 30A to 42DDD (Lynx uses different sizing);  .com

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