Updated 9 March 2022
We have tested sports bras and name Shock Absorber - Ultimate Fly Bra as best sports bra of 2021. It is a high quality sports bra which sits in place well and has soft edges. The sports bra is suitable for all types of activities and comes in a wide range of colours. Another sports bra which performed well in the test is Shock Absorber Active Shaped Support Bra, which ha a fantastic fit, sits comfortably on the body and is made from a quality material which lets the skin breathe.
Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.
We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. In our tests of sports bras, all models have been tested during both low and high intensity training sessions. In a gym environment they have been tested with free weights, kettle bells and with exercise machines. The bras have also been used during medium intensity running and running intervals and during bodyweight exercises, burpees and yoga. We have taken the following parameters into account in our assessment:
Fit: How well does the bra fit? Does it adapt to your body shape? How comfortable is it, and does it have any seams or tags that chafe? Does it ride up when you stretch, or stay in place?
Support: How does the sports bra behave during exercise and how much support does it give? Does it keep your breasts in place without feeling stiff?
Quality: What is the sports bra like after it has been washed? Is the fit still good, is the material unchanged?
The overall impression of the sports bra in all of these different activities formed the basis for our assessment. This was then compared to the price to determine value for money and allocate a score.
Fits like a glove and gives all the support you could want
Exercise type: Low to high intensity Available colours: 3 Wash temperature: 30 degrees Material: 77% polyamide, 19% elastane, 4% polyester Sizes: 70B-85E
Shock Absorber are known for delivering on their promises of support regardless of the size of your chest – and the Ultimate Fly Bra is no exception. You buy this laser cut sports bra according to cup and band size, which gives it an advantage over brands that only go from S-XL, as the fit is better. This is a high-performance bra that gives plenty of support regardless of the exercise type or breast size, and it stays in place through trail running, obstacle courses and long-distance rowing sessions.
At the same time that the Ultimate Fly Bra offers plenty of support, it’s so thin that you can barely feel it on your body. There are no seams that chafe, no shoulder straps that dig themselves into your skin or slide off. And despite the fact that the bra lies close and tight to your skin, you never feel that it’s too restrictive or getting in the way of any exercises.
The Ultimate Fly Bra has a racerback with adjustable shoulder straps and two clasps; one on the back and one between the shoulder blades. Even if the clasps mean that you don’t have to do major acrobatic feats to put it on and take it off, the clasp between the shoulder blades sometimes takes a bit of wriggling to reach. But you get used to it after a couple of times and during the test period our testers never needed a training partner's help with it.
The bra stood up to washing well and quickly became a favourite in the exercise wardrobe, as it simply does a really good job.
Really stays in place and is suitable for all types of activity
Exercise type: Low to high intensity Available colours: 8 Maximum wash temperature: 40 degrees Material: 45% polyamide, 41% polyester, 14% elastane 270g/m2 Sizes: A/B cup XS-XL, C/D cup XS-XL
The Casall Iconic Sports Bra really stays in place. The bra practically becomes part of your skin, an extra layer that you can hardly feel. When you put it on it can feel a little tight, but after a while you completely forget it’s there. It’s really comfortable during an exercise session and the racerback design means it's not in the way when lifting. The soft edges mean the bra doesn’t chafe. Because it’s very tight it gives excellent support and keeps your breasts in place. So it’s even suitable for more intense sessions. Even if you're running or doing burpees, your breasts will stay still. The Iconic Sports Bra isn’t padded and doesn’t have cups. But the fabric is taut, which provides support.
After washing, this sports bra is still like new. You can’t tell it’s been worn and washed either in terms of the colour or quality. The Iconic Sports Bra comes in a wide range of colour variations. It’s available both in neutral black and white and in several strong colours, together with patterned versions. This means that there's a style for everyone. The fabric breathes well when you’re wearing it and doesn’t feel restrictive. The fact that Casall has made a sports bra suitable for all different types of activities makes it an extremely good value for money option.
A sports bra for those who want support with good freedom of movement
Exercise type: Medium/intensive Available colours: 3 Maximum wash temperature: 40 degrees Material: 48% polyamide, 45% polyester, 7% elastane Sizes: XS-XL
We think the Icaniwill Seamless Dynamic Sports Bra will quickly turn out to be a big hit in your workout wardrobe. This is a sports bra that offers real support, making it ideal to wear for running. It has a very tight fit, but never feels uncomfortable or obstructive when you’re moving.
But it’s not only on the running track or during workouts requiring good levels of support that the Icaniwill Seamless Dynamic Sports Bra is effective. It also offers really good freedom of movement during yoga, crossfit or powerlifting sessions. This is mainly due to the thin, crossed shoulder straps. Even when you stretch, this bra doesn’t restrict your movements.
The material is robust but also breathes, which gives the Icaniwill Seamless Dynamic Sports Bra an airy feeling. This makes it not only suitable for winter, but also good to wear during the summer season. It also gets an extra plus because it’s very stylish.
But not everything is perfect about the Icaniwill Seamless Dynamic Sports Bra. The removable inserts for the cups are actually really bad. They quickly roll up into sausages, and because the openings to access them are so small, it’s almost impossible to straighten them out again. On the other hand, if you remove them and throw them away, this is a sports bra you’ll come back to again and again precisely because it provides a lot of support but still allows good mobility.
Absolutely fantastic fit and great quality
Exercise type: Low to high intensity Available colours: 1 Maximum wash temperature: 40 degrees Material: 53% polyester, 38% polyamide, 9% elastane Sizes: 70A-85E
Soft yet substantial at the same time – it’s not often that a sports bra succeeds with this combination, but for Shock Absorber it seems to be no problem. The sizes are the same as for a normal bra, which means that both cup and band size can be adapted. The band around the chest has hooks at four different points, and the shoulder strap is also adjustable to obtain a better fit. The band size is quite small, which you should bear in mind when choosing your size. What makes the fit truly great is the fabric in the cups. The material is a dri-fit fabric that manages to be both stable enough to give good support yet also sufficiently soft to shape itself to the chest. The triangle-shaped external fabric at the top of the bra means that the breasts are held in place without the fabric having to be too stiff. This is quite simply a really great fit.
The stability of the Shock Absorber Active Shaped Support Bra makes it perfect for running or other bouncy activities. However, the lack of a racerback design means that it's not as good for the gym, as the bra can feel like it’s in the way during some lifts. Because it still stays in place, this downside doesn’t reduce the score by much. The fabric is soft and breathes well. The quality is very good, and after washing the bra still looks like new. The Shock Absorber Active Shaped Support Bra is a very comfortable and good value for money sports bra which completely justifies its high price.
Extremely attractive with good support and adjustable shoulder straps
Exercise type: Low to medium intensity Available colours: 3 Maximum wash temperature: 30 degrees Material: Body: 87% nylon, 13% elastane, Lower edge: 81% nylon, 19% elastane, Cup lining: 87% nylon, 13% elastane, Side lining: 87% nylon, 13% elastane, Internal lining: 80% polyester, 20% elastane, Padding: 100% polyester Sizes: XS-XL
This sports bra from Nike is perfect for the gym. The Pro Indy Bra is neat with a narrow band and soft fabric. The bra doesn’t get in the way or chafe when you’re lifting. This model has a racerback and an attractively feminine cut at the front. The fact that it’s a little bit smaller and with a deeper neckline also means that it’s suitable for wearing under more types of exercise tops. The cups contain inserts for extra support which can be removed if desired. Despite its neat design, the Pro Indy Bra gives amazingly good support for the breasts and is even suitable during more high-intensity exercise sessions.
The shoulder straps are adjustable, which is nice as even bodies with the same chest measurement can be slightly different. A less positive feature is that Nike has inserted a set of long tags on the inside of the left arm hole. The tags are attached with two stitches and the idea is probably to remove these because they chafe and are in the way. However,we think that if something should be removed, you shouldn’t have to unpick it – you should simply have to get out your scissors. This sports bra can be washed in a machine, but only at 30 degrees. The quality is good and you can’t tell it’s been washed. Overall, the Nike Pro Indy Bra is a good value for money bra that’s attractive and comfortable and suitable for a number of activities.
Supportive crossback that shapes itself to the body
Exercise type: Low to high intensity Available colours: 7 Maximum wash temperature: 30 degrees Material: 90% polyester, 10% elastane Lining: 80% nylon, 20% elastane Sizes: XS-XL
Under Armour’s Crossback Mid is so comfortable it becomes one with your skin, and once you've finished training you may completely forget it’s there. The padded cups make the bra comfortable to wear without it becoming too hot. The crossed straps over the back help provide a lot of support without putting too much weight on the shoulders. Because it’s a crossback, it gives you the same great freedom of movement as a racerback. Wearing it causes no problems when doing either military presses or monkey bar swings. The bottom band is elasticated, and this isn’t merely attractive but also helps to prevent the bra from slipping up.
The Crossback Mid has a number of tags that you should cut off. But the edges where the tags have been sewn in still chafe, and it’s best to completely unpick them. Something else that’s worth mentioning is that this bra is primarily suitable for A-C cup breasts, which isn’t obvious as the sizes aren’t standard cup sizes. Even if this sport bra is primarily intended for medium-intensity exercise, it can also be a high-intensity exercise bra for anyone with small breasts. Because the parts of the bra are soft and it gives so much support, it’s perfect for both a calm yoga session or running an obstacle course. Quite simply a great value for money bra.
Under Armour Mid Crossback, Light and Breathable High Support Sports Bra, Modern Running Bra for Women Women, Black / Black / Graphite, XS
Under Armour Mid Crossback, Light and Breathable High Support Sports Bra, Modern Running Bra for Women Women, Black / Black / Graphite, M
Under Armour Mid Crossback, Light and Breathable High Support Sports Bra, Modern Running Bra for Women Women, Black / Black / Graphite, XL
An attractive sports bra with extra padding
Exercise type: Medium to high intensity Available colours: Several different colours and patterns Maximum wash temperature: 30 degrees Material: Front: 84% polyester 16% elastane Back: 88% polyester 12% elastane Sizes: XS-XL
Craft's Motion Bra is a really attractive sports bra that doesn’t compromise on functionality.
In the description for this bra it says that it’s suitable for medium to high intensity exercise. In our tests, we thought it was most convincing during medium intensity exercise, but that you’d perhaps need a bit more support if you were going running. But of course this depends a lot on your taste and the size of your bust.
The Craft Motion Bra is padded, which is pleasant when it’s cold out. If you don’t like padding in your sports bra, however, it’s easy to remove it through an opening on the side of each cup. The padding also has a tendency to fall out when you machine wash the bra, so it’s a good idea to use a washing bag to avoid them disappearing in the tornado of socks in your washing machine.
The shoulder straps on the Motion Bra are adjustable, which our testers appreciated. Being able to adjust the shoulder straps means greater comfort levels. The straps stay in place and never slip around during exercise.
This is a sports bra that does its job well, and if it had just given a bit more support on our jogging circuits it might well have scored full marks.
A soft and flexible sports bra that’s perfect for yoga or strength training
Exercise type: Low to medium intensity Available colours: 3 Maximum wash temperature: 30 degrees Material: 43% polyester 21% recycled polyester 28% polyamide 8% elastane Sizes: XS-XL
Craft’s Fuseknit Mid Impact Bra is a pleasantly soft sports bra that doesn’t chafe anywhere. With its soft seams and elastic material, this bra makes a perfect training companion as long as the session isn’t too intense.
It isn’t a sports bra that will take you through high-intensity workouts or running sessions, but for low and medium intensity exercise it works really well. Wearing it when you’re doing strength training is really nice, as the fabric is so flexible that even when you’re doing squats with a bar behind your head you won’t feel any chafing. And during a yoga class it follows along with all of your movements without bunching up, pinching or slipping.
This is quite a long model, so you can wear it on its own during a sweaty yoga session without needing to put a top over it. In other words, it works really well as a sports top when things get really hot.
The moisture is effectively wicked away, and the Craft Fuseknit Mid Impact Bra generally feels dry and comfortable even during a really sweaty exercise session. The bit at the very bottom of the bra, immediately under your bust, gets a little bit damper than the rest of the bra, which you feel clearly after a really energetic session.
This is a soft and flexible sports bra that so comfortable it’s actually a shame to take it off after you’ve exercised.
Soft, comfortable and perfect for yoga
Exercise type: Low intensity Available colours: 6 Wash temperature: 30 degrees Material: 61% polyamide, 30% polyester, 9% elastane Sizes: XS-XL
The Ness from Kari Traa is a soft and flexible sports bra that you really don’t want to take off because it feels so nice on. When the labels have been removed, there’s nothing to chafe or feel uncomfortable. The Ness doesn’t give enough support for high-intensity training and is definitely not a bra you would want to wear if you’re going jogging. If you have a small chest, it can work for a medium intensity session, but it’s really at its best for low intensity training – on the yoga mat or for balance training it will quickly become a good friend. The Kari Traa Ness has removable cup inserts, which don’t feel the right shape and just get in the way. But they’re easy to remove, and because the fabric is really thick the bra isn’t see-through even without the inserts. The elastic under the breasts is broad and the model is long, which means that the Ness can even be used on its own without a vest on top if you’re doing a sweaty yoga session and you don’t mind showing a bit of skin. If you’re looking for a soft sports bra without any seams, and don’t need much support, the Kari Traa Ness is a good buy.
Too low a neckline causes problems
Exercise type: Low intensity Available colours: 1 Wash temperature: 30 degrees Material: 75% polyester, 25% elastane Sizes: XS-XL
Despite being made of soft, comfortable material and having an attractive design, it quickly comes apparent that the Adidas All Me 3 Stripes is a sports bra that simply doesn’t do the job. The biggest problem with this bra is the deep neckline which, in combination with the fact that the model has a kind of push-up effect, means that your breasts simply don’t stay in place. The Adidas All Me 3 Stripes contains removable padding, which reduces the push-up effect a bit, but doesn’t do anything in terms of support. If you run in this bra, your breasts bounce all over the place and during any exercise where you have to bend forwards, you may fall out of the bra completely. This means that it doesn’t work either for low or high intensity training, which makes it very difficult to find a good use area for the All Me 3 Stripes.
However, the bra does effectively remove sweat and feels nice on your skin. The shoulder straps are adjustable. But unfortunately they’re a little bit too thin, and have a tendency to either slip off or bite into the skin, which leads to chafing and irritation. This is a sports bra that disappoints, and one that will probably be quickly forgotten in the back of your underwear drawer.
Gives maximum support and has adjustable shoulder straps
Exercise type: Low to high intensity Available colours: 3 Maximum wash temperature: 40 degrees Material: Main material: 71% polyamide, 29% elastane, Mesh insert: 75% polyamide, 25% elastane Sizes: 65A-85E
This sports bra from Adidas delivers maximum support. For larger breasts, the CMMTTD Chill bra gives support because it has proper cups and very stiff fabric. The band is broad both back and front and therefore provides support and keeps your breasts in place. However, for smaller breasts, these extra constructions are largely unnecessary. And if the cups aren’t completely filled, it’s uncomfortable because the stiffness means that the bra doesn’t mould itself to the body at all. If you bend or do crunches and you aren’t exactly the right size, the bra folds and feels bulky. So the fit has to be absolutely perfect before the bra feels right. The CMMTD Chill has adjustable shoulder straps and a clasp at the back, which obviously increases the chances of getting it to fit correctly. If you've got the right size, the bra is suitable for high-intensity exercise as it effectively prevents the bust from bouncing around.
The fabric in this sports bra breathes well and is comfortable to wear if you’re sweaty. Unfortunately the quality of the seams is not very good. Several of the seams and even the clasp chafe uncomfortably. The low quality of the seams and the difficult fit unfortunately reduce the score of this sports bra, and the Adidas CMMTTD Chill doesn’t live up to expectations.
A sports bra for the coldest winter days
Exercise type: Intensive Available colours: 6 Maximum wash temperature: Wash on wool programme Material: The main material is 93% polyester and 7% elastane, while the lining layer is 100% wool Sizes: 70B-80D
On paper, the Kari Traa Driva sounds like a good idea – a sports bra lined with merino wool to keep you warm even on the coldest winter days. But the design lets this bra down. Because the Kari Traa Driva is a sports bra that restricts your range of motion quite a lot.
The Kari Traa Driva has moulded cups, which in combination with the rigid material it’s made from means that it doesn’t shape to your figure at all. Instead, it feels a bit like those bras Madonna wore during her Vogue era, albeit in a sportier look. This means that even though the material is quite firm, you don’t get the support you need during exercise.
The overall comfort is also nothing to write home about. The shoulder straps cut into your shoulders, even though they can actually be adjusted. The material in the band is also hard and unforgiving and chafes all of our testers. The bra has a double fastening with a clasp on the back and another higher one up, just below the neck. The clasp that sits at the neck is difficult to reach and both clasp are made from hard and uncomfortable plastic. These clasps actually make it quite difficult to put on and take off this bra.
Kari Traa garments are usually impressive, but this bra will soon find itself at the back of your drawer. Workout clothes should be comfortable, but this bra isn’t.
Iconic and attractive with soft, good quality fabric
Exercise type: Low intensity Available colours: 4 Maximum wash temperature: Hand wash Material: 53% cotton, 35% modal, 12% elastane Sizes: S-L
The iconic appearance of Calvin Klein’s underwear can also be found in this Modern Cotton sports bra. It’s available in neutral colours with a wide elasticated band at the bottom printed with the brand name. Unfortunately, this bra really only wins in terms of appearance. Once on, it doesn’t provide any support to speak of. A normal jogging session turns into a bumpy ride and when doing box jumps it’s not merely our testers’ legs that get a workout. During burpees it easily slips around, and because the elasticated band is hard and the rest of the bra is soft, it doesn’t automatically slip back into the right position.
Calvin Klein have also placed a plastic tag that chafes right up at the back of the neck. You can easily remove the tag, and the rest of the sports bra has very soft fabric that feels nice on the skin. So it’s a good choice for calmer gym sessions involving heavy lifting. The fact that it contains a large percentage of cotton is obvious, and means that it doesn’t really feel like it’s intended to get sweaty. Unfortunately, this bra is hand wash only, which is obviously a pain over time. And given the price we think that the quality should be up to machine washing. The Calvin Klein Modern Cotton sports bra is comfortable during low intensity training, but the limited areas of use and hand wash restriction unfortunately reduce the overall score.
Regardless of the size of your chest, it’s normal to use a sports bra during exercise. Today there are almost more variants of these than of normal bras, with everything from push up to entirely without padding. They may be made from dri-fit fabric or completely in cotton. Every woman should be able to find a model that suits her.
But why should you use a sports bra? When we exercise, regardless of whether or not the exercise is intensive, our breasts move. Obviously they move most without any support, but even with a normal bra they move quite a lot. A normal bra is designed for you to wear while walking or sitting still, while a sports bra is designed to give good support during more active movements, such as during an exercise session. When the breasts move, they stretch the ligaments that support them and keep them up. There’s no natural way of remedying this when the ligament has been stretched. So it's important to avoid this in order to maintain the breasts in good shape. Sports bras also keep the breasts in place, which helps many women to feel more comfortable during exercise sessions so that they can focus on their performance.
When you're choosing a sports bra, there are several things you should consider. It's important that it’s suitable for the type of exercise you’ll be doing. For example, there’s a big difference between how much your breasts move during activities such as jogging or riding compared with less intensive activities such as yoga. If you're going to use a sports bra in the gym it’s nice if it doesn’t have hard seams. Breast size also has an effect on the model that’s most suitable. For larger bust sizes, it's best to choose a sports bra with a lot of support. There are both underwired and padded bras, and some people also feel that it's nice to have a variant without a racerback. Just remember that on a sports bra without a racerback, the straps can get in the way and be irritating during some types of exercise.
You also need to think about what other equipment you’ll be using during the exercise session. For example if you’re going to fit a pulse band for your running watch around your chest. Perhaps the sports bra also needs to fit under special exercise clothes, which means the design has to be just right. There are also different types of fastenings, both at the front and with a clasp at the back. Many models have no fastenings at all, but are simply put on over the head.