What types of sports bra are available?

What types of sports bra are available?

 Do you know the different types of sports bras available? Do you know your encapsulation from your compression? Your combination from your racerback?

Don’t worry if you said no to either, or even both questions! We are here to shed some light on the sometimes confusing world of sports bras- we've got you covered, both metaphorically and literally!

Let’s go back to basics and discuss the 3 main types of sports bras:

Compression Bra


These are generally the most common. As the name suggests they are designed to ‘compress’ the breasts against the chest holding the breasts in place to prevent movement. They do not have individual cups to separate the breasts and are usually sized XS-XL. Compression sports bras are very elasticated and are pulled on over the head and then over the breasts. They may or may not have adjustable straps. This type of sports bra is great for activities like yoga, strength training and lighter exercise, or for women with a more minimal bust size in general, will support running and higher impact activities. 


This style is designed to support each breast separately, providing each breast has its own cup. Encapsulation sports bras are sized by underband and cup just like your everyday bras, such as 32B, 34DD by way of example. This method of sizing provides a more individualised fit. Encapsulation sports bras can be wired or non-wired. They are worn like a traditional bra and provide a more pleasing silhouette for the wearer by avoiding the uni-boob look. This style is recommended for women with a cup size C and above, particularly when it comes to higher impact activity such as running, HIIT workouts and so on. 

Encapsulation Bra
Combination Sports Bra


The combination style, is again, as it would suggest a combination of compression and encapsulation support. This means they have cups to separate and support each breast individually, but also use compression in order to ‘compress’ the breasts against the chest. This style is quickly growing in popularity due to the greater support provided by the encapsulation design, and greater comfort provided through the compression approach. This style is also appropriate for women with a more generous bust, particularly when it comes to higher impact activities, including running. 


So, that covers the different designs of sports bras you can expect to come across, when it comes to the technology and method used to lend support. Each of these designs can come in padded, non-padded or removable padding versions, depending on manufacturer. What’s most suitable to you however, depends on your activity, size and personal fit preference.


Another consideration when choosing your sports bra will be strap designs. So, let’s have a look at these now:


Regular Back Sports Bra


As the name suggests, the regular back features a ‘regular’ or ‘H’ back, just like your normal everyday bra. The straps go straight over your shoulders and down the back. They are easy to put on, again, just like your everyday bra. They also normally have a hook and eyelet closure.


A racerback sports bra has a fixed point at the back where the shoulder straps join. The design provides good back support and is advantageous for women who have sloping shoulders causing the straps to slip. The straps will most likely be more easily hidden underneath your outer gym wear.

Racerback Sports Bra
Cross Back Sports Bra


As the name suggests, the straps are crossed at the back. Like racerback, these are useful to be worn under a racerback vest where the straps will not be seen.


The convertible style allows you to switch between a regular back or racerback, giving you the best of both worlds! The bra straps will have a small clip on allowing the straps to be clipped together. It can sometimes be a little difficult to adjust at first but once you know how, it’s usually easy!

Convertible Back Sports Bra

We hope you've found this article informative. Choosing your sports bra will be a highly personal preference. No two bodies are the same, which is why at Runderwear we stock 63 different bra sizes, in our best attempt to get you covered! 

To find your perfect sports bra check out the Runderwear Bra Size Finder to find the style thats right for you. If you need help along the way drop us a line at

Reading next

What makes a good sports bra?
Meet our ambassador running coaches

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.