Sorry to be dramatic, but there is something diabolical about an uncomfortable sports bra. Seriously! On top of ruining your workout, it can ruin your entire day. On the other hand, there is something truly magical about a sports bra that feels good—that gives you confidence in the gym, lets you sink deep into your savasana-cum-nap, or prevents your boobs from getting too slap-happy (literally) during a 30-minute jog.
Finding a sports bra that’s up to the task can feel like digging for a needle in a haystack. Enter SELF’s annual Activewear Awards, the culmination of our ultimate search for the best sports bras and leggings on the market. This year, we’re crowning eight bras we think are worthy of your shopping cart—including one that’s receiving our inaugural Reader’s Choice Award. For more on how we select our winners and why we love each one, keep reading.
Jump to the winners.
How We Picked the Best Sports Bras
For the 2024 Activewear Awards, we asked SELF editors and a group of handpicked expert judges (read more about them below!) to nominate their favorite sports bras of all time. The only rule? The piece must still be available for purchase.
Simultaneously, we revisited the splashiest new releases from the past year. We combed through these, alongside the editor and expert judge submissions, keeping an eye out for pieces that were nominated more than once. We also did some additional research: Is the product well-reviewed online? Is it available in a wide range of sizes? Does it suit multiple body types? Is it a reasonable price?
As we were doing this, we set out to find our first-ever Reader’s Choice Award winner. We sent a survey to SELF readers and followers, asking them to nominate their picks. Then we dug through thousands of responses—the most common bra our readers submitted is the Reader’s Choice Award–winner you’ll see below.
Now, let’s talk shop: There are certain factors anyone should consider when trying out a sports bra, and we wanted to make sure our winners had high marks on each one. When nominating sports bras, we asked our editors, judges, and readers to consider:
- Low-impact bras should be stretchy and comfortable but less supportive; you’d typically want to wear them for walking, yoga, Pilates, or lounging. For people with larger breasts, low-impact bras may not feel like enough for even gentle movement—whether you opt for something with more support is up to personal preference.
- Medium-impact bras should ensure minimal breast movement when you’re jumping or running. You might want to wear them for lifting, strength training, or workouts where you’ll be doing some cardio.
- High-impact bras should offer plenty of coverage (think: little to no cleavage showing) and restrict all breast movement during activity. You’d typically wear them for running, HIIT workouts, or something like a dance cardio class; they should be tight-fitting but still comfortable!
Fit, Cut, and Style
- A sports bra should always be comfortable (yes, truly), particularly in the band/rib cage, shoulders, and chest/cup area. Consider whether it feels good to wear not only during your workout, but before and after too.
- Take note of the sports bra’s strap style (racerback, crisscross, wide straps, etc.), strap thickness and features (are they adjustable?), and where the band sits on your torso. You should like the way it looks and also feel unrestricted in your movements (like twisting, reaching, pushing, and pulling) and while breathing heavily or taking deep breaths.
- Is the bra easy to put on and take off? A zipper or hook-and-eye clasp might help with this. You shouldn’t have to struggle!
Moisture Management and Fabric
- How wet does the bra get during a sweaty workout? How long does it take to dry afterward?
- You’ll also want the bra to be soft and comfortable—it should never feel scratchy or too stiff.
How You Feel
- Perhaps the most important factor of all, a great sports bra should feel good physically—and make you feel good on the inside too. That might mean the design is super cute, or maybe the bra is so secure that you forget your deep-seated fear of a nip slip during a Barry’s class.
- So consider it all: At the end of the day, does the bra make you feel confident and excited to move?