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The Best Compression Bras for Working Out in 2023

The best compression bras reduce motion and keep you comfortable so you can focus on enjoying your workouts.
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Compression bras keep bounce under control and let you focus on your workout rather than what your breasts are doing. A sports bra is an essential piece of equipment that can be more important than shoes, shorts or a running app. But finding the right one can be a frustrating experience.

These popular sports bras come in different styles, such as racerback, cross back and U-back designs, to accommodate different activities and body types. Different brands and modes have varying levels of compression. In general, high-impact sports and activities need higher/stronger compression to contain movement.

Sports bras do more than reduce movement. They prevent pain. A 2015 study found that 17 percent of the 245 women in the study avoided working out because of breast pain. Lack of a supportive bra can cause pain to radiate into the shoulders, neck and back. The best sports bras, including the best compression bras, offer enough support that you can forget about discomfort. We’ve made a list of some of the best the market currently has to offer. These bras do more than offer extra support. They wick moisture, improve breathability and move with your body so the last thing on your mind is your sports bra.

Our Picks for the Best Compression Bras:

Best Compression Bra Overall: Alphalete Ozone Crop Bra

Alphalete Ozone

Key features:

  • Design: Body contouring
  • Material: Recycled nylon, spandex
  • Size range: XXS-XXL
  • Support level: Medium-high
  • Adjustable straps: No
  • Padding: No
  • Customer rating: N/A

The Alphalete Ozone Crop Bra gets the top spot for its comfortable, medium-high compression. Because it’s part top, part compression bra, it covers most of the back and has a high neckline. That added compressive coverage smooths the back and keeps breast tissue contained in the front, making it a comfy and attractive option for yoga or higher-impact activities.

This crop top compression bra is made of a recycled nylon and spandex for an eco-friendly take on fitness. It creates a soft, plush fabric that moves with the body. Reinforced bindings on the neckline and arms prevent wear in high-friction areas. Finally, a ribbed waistband offers excellent stretch for easy (and comfortable) entry and exit. It comes in nine colors and Alphalete carries a line of matching workout shorts and leggings. We love this bra but wish it had enough compression for high-impact sports.

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly, recycled nylon material
  • Reinforced arms and neckline
  • High neckline
  • Compression throughout the upper back

Cons:

  • Not designed for high-impact sports

Best Comfortable Compression Bra: Athleta Advance Bra

Athleta advanced bra

Key features:

  • Design: Racerback
  • Material: N/A
  • Size range: 32B-44DD
  • Support level: High
  • Adjustable straps: Yes
  • Padding: Molded cups
  • Customer rating: 4.1/5

The Athleta Advance Bra offers impressive high-impact support specifically targeted toward B-DD cups. However, this model is made in cups up to a G. If you’re a cardio-loving gal, the Advance Bra can handle HIIT, running, basketball and other high-impact sports. Its racerback design has adjustable straps and an adjustable band. Racerbacks don’t always have adjustability options, but this one offers a good chance at a comfortable fit.

The Advance Bra combines strong compression with molded cups that gently encapsulate to further reduce motion. This model also features Athleta’s highest neckline, keeping breast tissue fully contained. A moisture-wicking fabric and back mesh panel improve breathability and keep you more comfortable during workouts. However, all that compression comes with a downside. More than one reviewer on Athleta.Gap.com reports that it’s hard to get on and off.

Pros:

  • Strong compression with molded cups
  • Carries sizes up to a G cup
  • Higher neckline for full coverage

Cons:

  • Difficult to get on and off

Most Breathable Compression Bra: Lululemon Run Times High Support Bra

Lululemon run times

Key features:

  • Design: U-back or crossback
  • Material: Nylon, Lycra, polyester
  • Size range: 32B-42DDD
  • Support level: High
  • Adjustable straps: Yes
  • Padding: Yes
  • Customer rating: 4.1/5

The Lululemon Run Times High Support Bra is packed with ventilation technology for comfortable breathability. That includes ventilation holes on the front of the bra and moisture-wicking fabrics used throughout the bra’s several layers. Lycra provides strong four-way stretch, but it also helps maintain the bra’s shape long-term.

The U-back design has plenty of adjustability in the straps and the three clasp hook-and-eye closure. This running bra’s straps convert to a crossback design if that better suits your style or comfort preferences. Padded straps cushion the weight of the breasts on the shoulders. We like that the Run Times Bra comes in five colors and sizes that range from 32B-42DDD, including several sizes that come in a G cup. However, not all cup sizes are available in all band sizes. And reviewers on Lululemon.com report that it can push breasts together, giving a "uniboob" appearance.

Pros:

  • Wide band size and cup range
  • Ventilation holes and moisture-wicking, breathable fabric
  • Adjustable padded straps and band

Cons:

  • Can lose breast definition
  • Not all cup sizes available in every band size

Best Compression Racerback Sports Bra: Reebok Running Essentials High-Impact Bra

Reebok Running Essentials High-Impact Bra

Key features:

  • Design: Racerback
  • Material: Recycled polyester, elastane
  • Size range: XXS-XXL
  • Support level: High
  • Adjustable straps: No
  • Padding: No
  • Customer rating: 4.1/5

The Reebok Running Essentials High-Impact Bra has a racerback style and pullover entry. It features wide straps and higher-than-average coverage at the neckline. We like the wide straps because they're designed to prevent the strong compression from cutting into the skin. The high neckline aims to fully contain breast tissue during high-impact activities.

The Running Essentials is made from recycled polyester and elastane that combine to create Reebok’s moisture-wicking, Speedwick fabric. The fabric pulls moisture away from the body and dries quickly for better comfort while you work out. Runners can appreciate the reflective logo that adds a small level of visibility for drivers. It comes in six colors and seven sizes. As a potential con, the strong compression has led to a few issues with a tight neckline as reported by reviewers on Reebok.com.

Pros:

  • Wide straps
  • High neckline
  • Partially made of recycled materials
  • Moisture-wicking fabric

Cons:

  • Neckline can be a bit tight

Best Compression Sports Bra for Large Chests: Under Armour Eclipse High-Impact Front Zip Sports Bra

UnderArmour Eclipse High-Impact Front Zip Sports Bra

Key features:

  • Design: Crossback
  • Material: Cotton, polyester, elastane
  • Size range: 32A-38DD
  • Support level: High
  • Adjustable straps: Yes
  • Padding: No
  • Customer rating: 4.0/5

The Under Armour Eclipse High-Impact Front Zip Sports Bra gets extra points for easy entry and exit. For those who struggle to pull a compression bra over their head and shoulders, the front zipper on the Eclipse makes it easy to get dressed or remove your sweaty sports bra. This model offers high compression for high-impact activities. However, the crossback and band design leave the back fairly open, which can prevent heat build-up.

For a crossback-style bra, the Eclipse offers excellent adaptability with adjustability in both the straps and band. It’s made of a cotton/polyester/elastane blend called StudioLux. Cotton can sometimes be problematic in sports bras because it absorbs and holds moisture. However, it also creates softness. The polyester content of the fabric wicks moisture while the elastane gives it stretch and maintains the shape over time. The only downside is that some reviewers on UnderArmour.com with a larger bust find that the bottom of the zipper digs into the skin.

Pros:

  • Easy entry and exit
  • Soft but compressive material
  • Adjustable straps and band

Cons:

  • Zipper can dig into the skin

Best Everyday Compression Bra: Lululemon Energy Bra

Lululemon Energy Bra

Key features:

  • Design: Crossback
  • Material: Nylon, Lycra, polyester, elastane
  • Size range: 2-14
  • Support level: Medium
  • Adjustable straps: No
  • Padding: Yes (removable)
  • Customer rating: 3.8/5

The Lululemon Energy Bra has modest front coverage with an attractive, strappy back. The medium support compression works well for yoga and other low-impact activities. That same medium-impact compression makes it comfortable to wear all day. It doesn’t hurt that the strappy back gives it a little style, too.

The Energy Bra is made of several fabrics, including Lycra to maintain shape. All of the fabrics work together to wick moisture and reduce movement. The fabric closest to the skin is a slick, low-friction material that moves with the body while at the same time supporting the breasts for added comfort. It comes in 15 colors and patterns, making it even easier to make a style statement and wear it with everyday clothes. However, the size range is a little disappointing.

Pros:

  • Comfortable compression for lounging or casual wear
  • 15 color and pattern choices
  • Low-friction, moisture-wicking material in interior

Cons:

  • Disappointing size range

Best Compression Bra for Working Out: Nike Alpha Sports Bra

Nike Alpha

Key features:

  • Design: Racerback
  • Material: Polyester (50 percent recycled), spandex, nylon
  • Size range: XS (A-C)-3X (F-G)
  • Support level: High
  • Adjustable straps: No
  • Padding: Yes
  • Customer rating: 3.8/5

The Nike Alpha Sports Bra comes in a huge range of sizes separated by XS-3X sizes and cup sizes, with cup options for each size range. It’s a bit of a different sizing system, but one that gives a woman with a large bust the same opportunity to find a good fit as a woman with a small bust. Add to that a hook-and-eye closure on the back for added adjustability and you’re getting a bra that can customize to your body. However, the Alpha is easy to get into, thanks to a zip-front.

The Alpha has strong compression combined with molded cups with light encapsulation for better movement control. Nike brings their Dri-FIT technology into this model to wick sweat away from the skin for improved breathability and long-term comfort. The straps adjust from the front, a unique design that helps you get a better fit while still wearing the bra. It comes in six colors and 27 sizes. However, some users on Nike.com have had issues with the zipper staying shut and sliding straps.

Pros:

  • 27 sizes
  • Band and strap adjustability
  • Dri-FIT technology wicks moisture

Cons:

  • Zipper may come open
  • Strap buckles may slide

Best Compression Bra on Amazon: Champion Compression Bra

Champion Compression Bra

Key features:

  • Design: Racerback and U-Back
  • Material: Recycled polyester, spandex
  • Size range: XS-XXL
  • Support level: Medium
  • Adjustable straps: No
  • Padding: No
  • Customer rating: 5/5

The Champion Compression Bra, also known as the Champion Soft Touch Sports Bra, is basic and simple and that’s what we love about it. It has medium support, so you can wear it for walking, yoga, Pilates and other low-impact activities. The sweat-wicking fabrics prevent moisture retention for better temperature control. It’s available in a racerback or simple U-back, both with a pullover design.

The simplicity of this bra extends to sizes and colors too. It comes in two colors on Amazon, though there are a few more on Champion.com and six sizes. While we’d like to see more sizes, sometimes basic is what you need to get out the door for a quick workout.

Pros:

  • Moisture-wicking fabric
  • Simple, pullover design
  • Available as a racerback or U-back

Cons:

  • Comes in few sizes

What Is a Compression Sports Bra

Sports bras can have two types of technology to reduce breast movement—compression and encapsulation. Compression sports bras compress or squeeze the breast tissue against the chest to reduce the three-dimensional movement created when exercising. Compression comes in varying levels, from light or low to high. You can choose the level of compression that works best for your body and the activities you do most. Additionally, the compression should feel comfortable to you.

Breasts are of different shapes and sizes with varying densities of breast tissue. Compression bras often work best for women with less dense breast tissue because this tissue better flattens against the chest. Women with denser breast tissue can still wear compression bras. However, they may need a compression bra that has molded cups to offer light encapsulation in addition to compression. Some sports bras have a compressive outer layer and an encapsulating inner layer. These combo-type bras are another option for those with dense breast tissue.

Women of all cup sizes can wear a compression bra. Women with larger busts may need higher compression from a high-impact sports bra or a combo bra that harnesses both compression and encapsulation.

How To Choose the Best Compression Sports Bra for You

Consider the following characteristics when choosing the best sports bra for you. 

Material

Compression bra materials should be breathable and moisture-wicking to eliminate or, at the very least, reduce chafing and keep you more comfortable. Nylon, polyester and elastane (also known as Lycra or spandex) are the three most common fabrics in compression bras. Elastane, Lycra or spandex provide the bra’s stretch and help the bra maintain its shape over time. You may have to try a few compression bras to find the fabrics and percentages of those fabrics that work for you.

The materials used in compression bras wick moisture to promote sweat evaporation. Evaporation keeps you cool, but it also removes sweat, which can reduce chafing. Chafing is caused by the friction created when materials rub on the skin.

Design

A number of compression bra design factors, from the cut and colors to the strap design, affect the bra fit and bra size that works best for you.

Aesthetic features

Color and cut create the bra’s overall look. While color doesn’t affect how the bra performs, it can affect how you feel about working out. Most compression bras come in a wide range of colors so you can find a compression bra that coordinates with your other activewear. Colors that make you feel happy, strong or confident may help motivate you to work out.

The cut of the bra includes cutouts and mesh overlays. These kinds of features affect the look of the bra, but they also impact ventilation. High-impact activities that get you sweating require a bra with excellent breathability. Design features that help keep you cool can look good and enhance the performance of the bra.

Strap design

  • U-back: U-back compression bras have straps that fall straight down from the shoulders and attach to the band. They look the most like everyday bras. U-back bras typically have adjustable straps and bands, offering a more custom fit than some of the other compression bra types.
  • Crossback: A crossback compression bra features straps that cross one another at the upper back. They can have adjustable straps but frequently don’t. These pullover models can be harder to get on if you have limited shoulder mobility, especially if they have a high compression level.
  • Racerback: A racerback compression bra has either a single piece of fabric that comes together at the center of the shoulder blades or two straps that connect between the shoulder blades. These bras are a favorite for people who like to wear workout tanks because the design hides the bra straps. They also preserve your range of motion in the shoulders. Racerback bras don’t usually have adjustable straps. If the straps are adjustable, the adjustability may be somewhat limited.
  • Convertible/combo: Some bras can convert between two strap designs. For example, some U-back bras have straps that can be configured for a crossback or racerback design. However, the bra usually functions better in one design than the other. For example, with straps in a crossback design, the bra pulls the breasts closer together, which can add extra compression. However, it can also cause some of the breast tissue to spill over the neckline. You might have to use trial and error to find which configuration works best for you.

Band design

There are really only two types of bands—adjustable and non-adjustable. Adjustable bands may have several hook-and-loop closures or clasps to provide different levels of compression. Band adjustability is a good idea if you fall between sizes or you have a large or small rib cage, which can be hard to fit.

Take a good look at the band’s width. Narrow bands are more likely to dig into the skin, which can especially be a problem for people with larger breasts. A wide band increases the surface area that supports the breasts, which can reduce the chances of chafing and rubbing. The band should also be stretchy but provide enough support that you can only fit one finger between the band and your body.

Finally, your shoulder mobility may also affect the kind of band and bra design that work for you. U-back bras with a hook-and-loop closure or zip-front are the best choices for those with limited shoulder mobility. These designs don’t need to be pulled over your head, which can be hard to do if you have stiff or injured shoulders. Non-pullover compression bras can also be easier to exit once your body gets sweaty and sticky after a workout.

Reflective elements

Reflective strips, trims and logos make you more visible to drivers. These types of elements go well beyond design and style into safety. If you run, play basketball or simply walk outside in your sports bra, reflective elements are helpful at dawn and dusk when visibility might be low. A bra with reflective elements shouldn’t be the only reflective gear you wear. Combine it with running shoes and shorts or pants with reflective elements to increase your visibility and overall safety.

Fit

A poorly fit bra can ruin a good workout. It could also leave you with welts and chafing that take days or weeks to heal. The bra band is the foundation of your support. You should be able to fit one finger between the band of the sports bra and your body. More than that and the bra may be too big. A band that’s too big can move around and cause chafing in and of itself. One that’s too small can cut or dig into the skin, also resulting in chafing.

The shoulder straps shouldn’t sag or gap but lie flat against your body and gently pull up on the breast tissue. Adjustable straps are the best option because the distance between the shoulder and breast can vary from person to person. Additionally, adjustable shoulder straps let you adjust the straps as the fabric relaxes over time.

Bra fit tips:

  • Breast tissue spilling out the arm holes or neckline indicates you need a larger cup size.
  • Gaps between the breast tissue and bra may mean you need a smaller cup size.
  • You should be able to fit only one finger between the band and the body.

Adjustability

Adjustable straps and bands let you get a better fit, which means less breast movement. U-back compression bras typically have the most adjustability because of their strap length. Crossback and racerback compression bras can have adjustable straps. However, the amount of adjustability tends to be less than that of U-back designs. But some adjustability is better than none.

Bands can vary in the amount of adjustability they offer, too. U-back bras with hook-and-loop closures may have three to five rows from which to choose. Crossback and racerback compression bras are less likely to have an adjustable band, though some do. However, the amount of adjustability varies and is usually less than what you find on a U-back bra.

Activity

The kind of compression bra you need and that feels best to you will be heavily influenced by the types of activities you do. If you’re doing yoga and Pilates, there’s no need for heavy-duty, locked-in compression unless that’s what feels best to you. A sports bra that’s too tight might be uncomfortable for low-impact activities. Someone who focuses on yoga and Pilates may be better served by a compression bra with a high neckline to better contain breast tissue when doing inversions.

On the other hand, runners, basketball players and tennis players who do more high-impact workouts will probably be more comfortable in a high-compression bra. High-support or high-impact compression bras can contain the higher forces created when running or jumping.

Having said that, you should wear what feels comfortable to you for the activity you’re doing. Some women prefer a running compression bra that moves with their body rather than one that tightly holds breast tissue against the chest. Others want a complete lack of movement. There are compression bras on both ends of the spectrum and plenty that fit in between.

FAQs

Are compression bras uncomfortable?

A compression bra that fits correctly and is suited for your activity level should be comfortable. If a compression bra feels uncomfortable to you, you may have a cut or style that doesn’t work for your body type or the compression level may be too high for your activity or comfort level.

Why do athletes wear compression bras?

Breast tissue moves three-dimensionally during intense movement, which puts strain on the ligaments that support the breast tissue as well as the shoulder, neck and back. Compression bras hold breast tissue against the chest to reduce movement so that women can enjoy exercise, sports and other activities.

Can I wear a compression bra every day?

If you find compression bras comfortable, you can certainly wear them every day.

How tight should a compression bra be?

A compression bra should reduce movement so that you can work out, participate in a sport or go about your daily activities comfortably. The band should be tight enough that you can only fit one finger between the band and your body. There should be no sagging in the straps, nor should the straps slide down your shoulders. However, personal factors like your breast shape, breast tissue density and comfort preferences will also influence the compression level that best works for you.

Final Thoughts

Compression bras are a staple piece of activewear among female athletes and any female who exercises. That’s why female runners, yogis, Pilates instructors, rock climbers and so many more consider compression bras a go-to piece of equipment they can’t do without. There are compression bras to fit various comfort preferences and body types. They’re also made to meet the needs of low and high intensity workouts and breast sizes, from AA to DDD cups and beyond.

Before you buy, consider your personal preferences, the activities you do most and the style elements that matter to you. Compression bras do what a regular bra can’t. They let you perform your best and often leave you looking great while you do it. Knowing you’ve got a supportive compression bra can also give you extra confidence on the court, road or in the gym.

Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.

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