What are the different sports bra styles?

There are three main types of sports bras, and because every woman’s breasts are different, there are no hard and fast rules about what you’re going to prefer!

However, we can offer some clear guidance on each type, and point you in the right direction for bras designed with different types of breasts in mind.

The most important thing to remember when buying sports bras is that everyone’s breasts are different and need different support, and it might take a few different tries to find the perfect sports bra for you!

Compression Sports Bras

This is the traditional crop top-style sports bra. The breast support comes from the fabric rather than the structure of the sports bra, and it will usually be made of a relatively thick stretchy fabric that “compresses” to provide support. The fabric on a compression bra is really important, it’s vital to have a durable stretch fabric in these bras, if it’s cotton or t-shirt style fabric it’s probably not going to be supportive enough. In compression bras there is usually no fastening in the underband, and they stretch over the head and shoulders to put on. Most of the support in any sports bra comes from the underband, so the fact this band needs to stretch so much, means it provides less support than in other bra styles, and is probably not suitable for anything over a C cup. Usually, Compression bras are sold in sizing of small, medium and large, rather than with bust and cup sizes, so it might be a little tricker to get the perfect fit.

Encapsulation Sports Bras

Encapsulation sports bras are more structured and adjustable than compression bras. They have the support sown in to the structure of the bra, so the support comes from the way the pattern of the bra is stitched together rather than the stretchy material compressing. These bras are designed to support each breast separately. This means the bra gives each breast more support and might be a better choice for anyone with larger breasts, or who is doing higher impact sport.

Encapsulation bras are sold with a band and cup size, which allows for a better fit. Different styles of Encapsulation bras will be made from different fabrics, and have different structures and different types of closure, so it might be worth trying on a few different styles to find what suits you best.

Combination Sports Bras

Sometimes considered the “best of both worlds” Combination bras feature both an encapsulation design, but with a layer of compression too. These will still have a closure at the back, but some, or all, of the bra will be constructed from a stretchy compression fabric to add to the support. Some women find these more comfortable than pure encapsulation sports bras. The right style can provide excellent support for all cup sizes.

Other factors to keep in mind:

Back style – Research shows that racer backs are best for posture as well as support.

Hunching forwards is going to cause problems way beyond just your boobs!

Neck style – This isn’t a time for cleavage. High neck offers full coverage and support for the upwards motion, therefore helping to reduce the overall bounce

Padding – Padding that is removable and so allows for a personalised fit is great. Try to avoid sports bras that have padding designed to make you look a cup size bigger!