Beautiful black woman in white longline sports bra and black leggings sits cross-legged next to swimming pool

The sports bra playbook

Everything you need to know to find your perfect fit for your body type.

Sports bras are an essential piece of athleticwear for women, but finding the right one can be challenging. In this guide, you'll learn how to choose the right sports bra for your body to feel comfortable and supported.

Everyone deserves the right to train and compete and pursue their best lifestyle. Unfortunately, many women face complex cultural, social, and economic barriers to participating in athletics, and as a result, many drop out of fitness and wellness programs early on. According to one study, women drop out of team sports and personal fitness programs at twice the rate of men. Worse, many women have fewer opportunities to participate in athletics overall.

We wrote this guide to help adult women and those who might need a sports bra, regardless of gender identity, find the right sports bra fit for them. Throughout, we refer to women and use the pronouns she/her/hers, but it's essential that everyone feels they can get access to the right gear for them.


There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a sports bra:

Body confidence matters

For those who enjoy body confidence or a positive body image, it's easy to accept and appreciate our bodies and their capabilities. Positive body image leads to higher self-esteem and makes us more likely to enroll in team sports or a personal training and wellness routine. Research shows that women who struggle to find apparel that fits their needs or makes them feel uncomfortable are twice as likely to drop out of these activities. However, once we start with any fitness program, it's easier to keep going. Finding the right apparel and equipment we need to build confidence is an essential step toward a lifetime of health and activity.

Everyone's body is unique.

The most important thing to remember when shopping for a sports bra is to find one that will work with your body type. It's natural and healthy for breasts to come in all shapes and sizes. It's appropriate to normalize diversity and have an inclusive attitude for yourself and others. Sports bras on the market come in all shapes and sizes to protect and support all types of breasts, whether small or large.


Finding the perfect sports bra

Consider every type of sports bra before picking your fit

There are eight main types of sports bras: 1. Compression, 2. Encapsulation, 3. Combination, 4. Bandeau, 5. Padded, 6. Longline, 7. Racerback, and 8. Front-closure. Each type has benefits that can offer support and comfort while you're active.

Woman wearing black compression sports bra holds fists up with confidence

1. Compression Sports Bras

These sports bras typically have two wide straps over the shoulders and a band around the chest. They apply pressure to the breasts to keep them from moving too much. Compression sports bras are typically made from an ultra-lightweight material and are best suited for small to medium-sized breasts.

Woman wearing brightly colored encapsulated sports bra while lifting dumbbell weights

2. Encapsulation Sports Bras

These sports bras have two cups encapsulating each breast, offering more support than compression sports bras. They often have an underwire for added support. Encapsulation sports bras are best for larger breasts.

Two beautiful black women wearing colorful sports bras and flexing

3. Combination Sports Bras

As the name implies, combination sports bras offer both compression and encapsulation. They have cups that support each breast, straps, and a band for added support. Combination sports bras are made from moisture-wicking fabric and 4-way stretch materials, making them better for larger breasts.

Woman works out on beach wearing bandeau sports bra

4. Bandeau Sports Bras

Bandeau sports bras have a wide band that goes around the chest. They provide less support than other sports bras but are ideal for small to medium-sized breasts. Bandeau sports bras are often made from stretchy fabric and don't have any straps or cups.

Woman with tattoos wearing combo sports bra

5. Padded Sports Bras

Padded sports bras have cups with padding to provide extra support and coverage. They are ideal for larger breasts and are available in encapsulation and compression styles. Padded sports bras often have adjustable straps and hook-and-eye closure.

Black woman wears white longline sports bra next to swimming pool.

6. Longline Sports Bras

Longline sports bras extend down the torso and often provide more support than other sports bras. They are ideal for larger breasts or high-impact sports or other activities. Longline sports bras are available in encapsulation and compression styles and often come with racerback straps and hook-and-eye closure.

Strong woman flexes back muscles while wearing black racerback sports bra

7. Racerback Sports Bras

Racerback sports bras have a Y-shaped back that helps to support the breasts. They are made from moisture-wicking fabric and often have removable pads. Racerback sports bras offer medium support and are best for smaller to medium-sized breasts.

Beautiful black woman wearing front-enclosure sports bra and visor

8. Front-Closure Sports Bras

Front-closure sports bras have a clasp or hook-and-eye closure in the front, making them easy to put on and take off. They are available in encapsulation and compression styles and offer medium to high support. Front-closure sports bras are ideal for larger breasts.


How to find the perfect sports bra in 3 simple steps:

  • First, consider your cup size. Sports bras are available in various sizes, so it's crucial to find one that fits well.
  • Second, think about the level of support you need. Some sports bras offer more support than others, so choose one that will meet your needs.
  • Finally, don't forget to consider the style of the bra. Sports bras come in various styles, so choose one that helps you feel comfortable.


In conclusion, finding the perfect sports bra doesn't have to be complicated. Considering your cup size, support needs, and style, you can find a bra that will keep you comfortable and supported during your next workout.

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