Confused by all the variety in the sports bra aisle? We got measured and fitted to find out exactly how to choose the right fit for your body and workout.
First, let’s get one question out the way: Do you really need a proper sports bra? After all, it’s a lot of money to fork out for such a tiny piece of fabric. The short answer: Yes. Even if your go-to everyday bra is padded and underwired to the max (hello, cleavage!), it doesn’t offer enough support to withstand your workout.
Thing is, your breasts contain no muscle. Their only natural support structures are the skin around them and the Cooper’s ligaments – connective tissue that attaches your girls to the chest muscles beneath them. All fine for everyday strutting around. But start jumping or running and your boobs could bounce up to 21cm, potentially causing pain and damage to the breast tissue. Sports bras are specially designed to reduce breast movement during exercise.
Now we’ve established that a sports bra is a worthy investment, here are five things you need to know when you choose one.
1/ Your Bra Size
Duh, right? Well, maybe not. When adidas offered to fit the WH team with sports bras for our staff fitness challenge, they asked for our bra sizes. The answer was unanimous: “Um, I’m not sure, but I think I’m a….” All kinds of things can influence the size of your breasts, from your menstrual cycle to pregnancy to weight loss. Yet, if the WH office is anything to go by, most of us still buy bras according to measurements taken years ago. What’s more, not only do your breasts change size – bras can vary in size from brand to brand.
When to get measured: It’s been more than six months since your last fitting, your body has changed or you’re buying a different brand than your usual. Trying on? Make sure you can’t pull the band more than five centimetres from your chest or the straps more than five centimetres from your shoulders. And make sure the cups fully enclose your boobs.
2/ Your Workout Style
When you scope out the sports bras on offer, you’ll notice they’re divided into different categories. Usually these will be called high, medium and low impact or high, medium and low support. This is to help you match your bra to the type of workout you do.
Your workout: Running, bootcamp, martial arts, boxing, bodyweight training, anything involving jumping or skipping
You need: High impact. Look for racerback straps and padded or moulded cups. If your breasts are small, you could also you use a medium impact bra.
Your workout: Cycling, spinning, weight lifting, the gym circuit, hiking
You need: Medium impact if your breasts are small; high impact if they’re medium to large. Look for broad straps and padding and/or sturdy fabric with a light stretch.
Your workout: Yoga, Pilates, Barre
You need: Low impact for small boobs; medium impact for medium boobs; high impact for large boobs. Look for comfortable, stretchy fabric, padding optional, strap width according to your preference.
3/ The Fabric
You know that feeling when you walk out of a spinning class and your bra feels like a wet sea creature strapped to your chest? Avoid that sea-sponge feelin’ by choosing synthetic fabrics that don’t hold onto sweat. Words like “moisture wicking”, “breathable” and “ventilation” are what you want to see.
Looking for more? These exercises will perk up your boobs.