Whether the reason is a limited budget, lack of advertising, or simple modesty, when it comes to buying new sports bras, many women grab the first option on the rack and head for the door. The consequences of wearing a poorly fitted sports bra can be worse than just pinching your toes in tight sneakers; problems can range from basic discomfort to chafing materials, digging straps, bouncing pain, tense shoulders, and even restricted breathing.

“A huge number of women are experiencing some breast injury from tissue moving up and down or in and out during exercise,” Susan Nethero, the owner of 16 Intimacy stores countrywide, told Self Magazine. “Without ample support, ligaments get elongated, so there’s premature loss of elasticity and, hence, stretch marks. If we can reduce breast movement with a sports bra, we can reduce those effects. It’s even more significant than wearing the right regular bra everyday.”

When you need a new sports bra

Step one is to examine the sports bras in your closet. If a bra is more than 12 months old and you are a frequent exerciser, it’s time to replace it. More specifically, here are five signs that it’s time to replace a favorite sports bra:

The fabric is starting to lose its shape
The bra is not offering the support it once did
The fabric is pilling along edges and borders
The elastic is stretching out
Your body weight has changed significantly

Once you’ve decided that it’s time to buy a new sports bra, the first step is planning how you prefer to be fitted. Lingerie experts say that at least half of women are wearing the wrong size bra, and cheating themselves of the chance for comfort and support. To avoid that pitfall, decide whether you want to do your own measurements at home or go to a store that offers fitting services to shoppers.

Making careful measurements

To measure yourself, stand in front of a mirror wearing a non-padded bra and use a cloth tape to get your bust measurement (at the fullest part of your chest) and your band measurement (around your ribcage, just under your breasts). Add three inches to the ribcage number for the final band measurement. Some experienced retailers like to double-check this adjusted band number by measuring around your torso beneath your armpits—the numbers should be about the same.

Once you’ve made the appropriate measurements, determine your cup size. Subtract the adjusted band figure from your bust measurement, and look up that number on a common fitting chart. There is a perfect cup for every unique body type out there, but common results are:

1 inch difference = A cup
2 inch difference = B cup
3 inch difference = C cup
4 inch difference = D cup

Picking the right level of support

Now it’s time to head to the store. On your way, think about your favorite type of exercise, so you can pick a sports bra with the right support level, whether you need it for biking, running, or another activity. Sports bras are often broken down by impact level so that you can find one that is perfect for your sport of choice. That breakdown generally looks something like this:

Low Impact Bras: Yoga, climbing, paddling
Medium Impact Bras: Walking, road biking, skiing
High Impact Bras: Running, mountain biking

Once you’ve found the appropriate size and support level, it’s time to talk about the difference between compression and encapsulation. Put simply, compression bras minimize bounce by hugging your bust close to your chest with stretch fabric, as opposed to conventional cups. Encapsulation sports bras use a different strategy, supporting your bust from beneath with separate molded cups, like a regular bra.

Choosing which one to buy is more of an art than a science. Some suppliers say that compression style bras are best for A and B cups, specifying scoop-back designs for low-impact activities and racer back designs for higher-impact exercise. Encapsulation sports bras are a better match for C and D cups, though there is plenty of room for exceptions to this “rule.”

Other experts say the ideal sports wardrobe should stock both style types, allowing a woman to choose the best bra to match her daily workout. In the end, you are the only expert who can say what’s best for your body. When shopping for a new sports bra, it’s a good idea to bring at least three bras into the fitting room and take your time finding a winner.


Smaller options, like Brunton’s Echo compact 10 x 25 binoculars, have become the go-to choice for daytime sporting activities and long distance outings. Their light weight and small size makes them an easily handled accessory. However, compact binoculars are limited in their ability to collect light, and users are likely to become less comfortable with the image during extended periods of use. Their specs generally range from 8 x 25 to 10 x 25.

Taking care of your new sports bra

Follow the above steps carefully and you’ll likely improve on your exercise fun and comfort levels. But once you get home from the store, it’s important to take care of your new investment. To help your sports bra last at least 12 months, avoid the spin cycle and hand wash the garment after every few uses instead. Use a gentle detergent and avoid fabric softeners. If you must put it in a washing machine, fasten any hooks first. And try to avoid putting your sports bra in the dryer—even on a low setting, the heat can break down your new bra’s elastic, causing it to wear out well before its time.

Return to Top

At 12 years old, Holly Powell quit the swim team when her breasts outgrew her swimsuit. In college, she started jogging. “There were no sports bras for me back then,” said Powell, now 50 and still a regular exerciser. “I had broken blood vessels all across the top of my bust.”

When Powell went sports bra shopping, salespeople told her they didn’t sell bras in her size. In 2011, Powell, who lives in Portland, Oregon, left her career as a teacher and librarian to open her own bra store, The Pencil Test. Powell’s store now stocks 125 sizes, from 28D to 48G; regular bra stores stock 25 to 30, she said. “It was a case of ‘If no one else is doing it, do it yourself.’”

Powell’s store is unique, but the problems her customers face are not—and they’re common to both casual exercisers and more serious athletes. Before finding a bra that fit right, Robin Proctor, 58, of Lake Lure, North Carolina, would chafe until she nearly bled on long mountain-bike rides. “On a hot day, you feel like you physically beat yourself in the chest because your breasts are bouncing around,” said Proctor, who eventually found a bra, the Enell Sport, capable of locking down her breasts (the material, she said, is like Kevlar).

In a recent study reported on in The New York Times, researchers from the Biomechanics Research Laboratory at the University of Wollongong in Australia found a strong correlation between breast size and regular exercise: Women with larger breasts were more discouraged from working out. Out of 82 women with breasts categorized as large, 46 percent said their breast size affected their exercise routine; 58 percent of 43 women with breasts categorized as very large reported the same (researchers categorized sizes by volume rather than relying on bra size).

The good news is that a better bra can significantly increase comfort during exercise. A 2012 study from the University of Portsmouth in England found that a correctly fitting bra can reduce breast pain. Meanwhile, the University of Wollongong researchers recently developed their own app to help people find the right fit.

Powell has witnessed firsthand how a superior sports bra can impact emotional as well as physical health. “I’ve had people come to me saying, ‘My personal best improved, I go to the gym more often,’” she said. ”Having a bra that fits you deeply affects your self esteem.”

If you’re looking for a better option for yourself, follow these steps and take a look at Wirecutter’s five sports bra recommendations for different cup sizes.

Find your size

When possible, get a professional fitting and try on as many bras as possible in a store. If a professional fitting isn’t an option, the subreddit /r/ABraThatFits hosts a dynamic size calculator that considers six over-bust and under-bust measurements from different angles, far beyond the typical two. The group’s members often help with fit checks based on photos or descriptions, as do the bloggers on the website Bratabase. Sizing is inconsistent between brands, but many companies offer a sizing chart you can use to find the best option based on your own measurements.

Although many sports bras come in basic S/M/L/XL sizing, some use a familiar sizing system that includes both cup measurements (A, B, C, D, E, F, and so on) and band measurements (32, 34, 40, 44, and so on). Styles that use cup and band measurements have more sizes to fine-tune fit.

After measuring, you may come up with a size that isn’t available at a major retailer. Powell suggests looking for brands with UK sizing, which generally offer more cup-size options; you can find these at online retailers like HerRoom and Bare Necessities.

Choose your style

Illustration: Sarah MacReading

Sports bras come in three major styles: compression, encapsulation, and combination. Compression bras hug the breasts close to the body to stop bouncing. Most aren’t adjustable and come in relatively few sizes. They usually have a wide solid front panel, which can mush breasts together to create a uniboob look.

Encapsulation bras look like fashion bras. They separate breasts into two distinct cups and provide support through seaming, molding, or underwire. Typically, encapsulation bras offer more, better-fitting options than compression bras.

Combination bras offer aspects of both designs. Breasts move laterally as well as up and down during high-impact exercise, and a combination bra is often the best choice to control movement.

Some more constructed sports bras, especially encapsulation styles, can look Madonna-esque. But don’t worry about aesthetics if a bra offers you the best support, advises LaJean Lawson, a scientist and consultant for the sportswear brand Champion. “Have that boldness to say, ‘I’m going to put that personal bias aside to try new things even if they look like my grandma’s bra,’” she said.

Finesse your fit

Hook your bra on the loosest setting (you can tighten the band as the material stretches over time). Then, situate your breasts. “Take a hand inside from under the armpit and scoop it inside the cup” and then smooth the top of your tissue so that everything settles, advises Iris Clarke, the owner of Iris Lingerie in Brooklyn, New York.

Most of a bra’s support comes from the band, so it should be snug, with about a half inch of give—you can put two fingers between the band and your back to check. Raise your arms above your head to see if the band rides up or gapes. Check the straps to make sure they feel snug without digging in or falling off your shoulders, and adjust the length accordingly.

Move on to the cups, which should fully cover your breasts. If you have spillage, you may need to size up. If the fabric is baggy and wrinkly, size down.

If you’re evaluating an encapsulation bra, look at the triangle-shaped section that falls between your breasts, called the gore. It should lie flat. If the bra has wires, they should sit under the breasts, without digging into your sides or riding up onto the breast tissue (if this happens, size up).

Look for bras with adjustable bands and straps so you can tweak your fit. If your breasts are two sizes, Clarke recommends fitting for the larger breast for more coverage.

For sports bra recommendations or more fitting advice, check out Wirecutter’s guides to the best sports bras.

How to Find the Right Sports Bra: The Complete Guide

Whether you’re flexing your well-defined biceps or running a marathon, there’s one essential piece of sports gear you need.

Choosing the correct sports bra for your size, shape, and activity is vital to your training.

Despite this fact, many women find it difficult to know where to start when it comes to shopping for their ideal garment. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. From getting fitted to learning the industry terms, here’s your complete guide to how to find the right sports bra.

The importance of bra fitting

Before we delve into the topic of finding the right sports bra, let’s tackle the issue of bra sizings. Back in 2008, a study found that a massive 80% of women typically wore the wrong bra size. While there’s more education surrounding bra sizings these days, the likelihood is that many of us still make the mistake of failing to get measured regularly.

  • Your bra size changes frequently

Believe it or not, your bra size may change a whole lot over the course of your life. That is something of which many women are unaware. Hormone issues, weight changes, and age can all impact the size of your breasts. It’s quite common that your bra size will fluctuate and change over time. It’s worth getting bra fittings every few months for that reason.

  • Incorrect sizes are uncomfortable

You might wonder what the problem with wearing an incorrect size. The truth of the matter is that, if you want the right level of support and comfort, you need to make sure you’re wearing the right size for you. Should the bra be too tight, you will find that it’s difficult to perform some of the most common exercises without feeling restricted. On the other hand, if the size is too large, your breasts may bounce when you’re active.

  • Booking a fitting is free and easy

If you haven’t been professionally fitted for quite some time, you might not be certain where to start. The fact of the matter is that most lingerie shops and department stores offer a complementary fitting service. Search for a shop near you that has this service and then book online or call them up. The fitting should take no longer than 20-30 minutes and will give you an accurate understanding of your bra size.

How to find the correct bra size

Short on time? If you need to figure out your bra size in a hurry, you might want to try measuring yourself at home. You will need a tape measure to get this right. Take your top or blouse off, but leave your everyday bra on. Here’s what you need to know about how to measure yourself for an accurate bra size.

  • Finding your band size

First of all, let’s deal with your band size. This particular measurement is the number that you will find at the beginning of a typical UK standard bra size. For example, if your current bra size is a 34C, your band size will be 34.

Simply, wrap the tape measure about your ribs just below the bottom of your bra. Make sure that you keep the tape close to your skin. You need to span the entire circumference of your body. When you have your band size in inches, you can convert that to a number using the following guidelines.

  • Rib cage 25”-27”, band size 30
  • Rib cage 27”-29”, band size 32
  • Rib cage 29”-31”, band size 34
  • Rib cage 31”-33, band size 36
  • Rib cage 33”-35”, band size 38
  • Rib cage 35”-37”, band size 40
  • Rib cage 37”-39”, band size 42
  • Rib cage 39”-41”, band size 44
  • Finding your cup size

When you have identified what your band size is, it’s time to move on and figure out your cup size. This is the letter that you find after the number. If we use the same example of someone who is 34C, their cup size will be C.

Use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your back and your breasts. Then take away your band size to get your breast size. So, if your band size was 35 inches and this new measurement is 41 inches, you need to take 35 away from 41. Your breast size will be 6 inches. When you have found your size in inches, convert it to a cup size here.

  • Breast size 3”, cup size AA
  • Breast size 4”, cup size A
  • Breast size 5”, cup size B
  • Breast size 6”, cup size C
  • Breast size 7”, cup size D
  • Breast size 8”, cup size DD
  • Breast size 9”, cup size E
  • Breast size 10”, cup size F

The entire process should only take you a few minutes but make sure it’s accurate. When you have finished, you should have a number and a letter. Combine these two things to create your overall bra size.

Finding the perfect sports bra

If you’ve never invested in a sports bra before now, you might need a little guidance. Finding the ideal garment for you is something of a process. It’s smart to try on a wide range of options before you decide on which to buy. Here are just three things that you should certainly keep in mind when choosing the right one for you.

  • Comfortable

Your comfort should be your top priority when you’re choosing a sports bra. From lifting weights to running track, you will do a whole range of activities while wearing this piece of clothing. Before you choose the right bra for you, be sure to try on a range of options.

  • Flexible

If you have the correct bra size, the one that you choose ought to be flexible as well as comfortable. That means that you should have no issue moving around when you’re wearing it. Again, it could be worth trying it on and testing your movement range here.

  • Supportive

Without a doubt, you need your sports bra to be supportive. As a golden rule, it should be the most supportive piece of underwear that you own. Research from the University of Portsmouth found that commercial (i.e. non-sports bras) allow up to a 21-centimetre breast bounce rate during sports.

With that in mind, the ideal sports bra should hold your breasts close to your chest and prevent any bouncing when you move. You can test this when you try on a variety of sports bras by jumping up and down. It might feel silly but it’s worth it.

Now that you’re comfortable with your bra size, it’s time to consider how your sports bra should fit. Unlike other bras, this garment should sit a little closer to your skin and keep your breasts from moving too much when you’re active. When you first slip on a sports bra, there are some quick and easy ways to figure out if the fit is secure.

  • The cup should cover your entire breast

Does the cup fit you correctly? To find out, you only need to look at the fit of your sports bra. Each cup should fully encompass your breast. Should your breasts spill over the top of the cups, you are likely wearing a small fit. Trying going up a bra cup size.

  • The band should not move at all

When the bra is on, take a moment to raise both of your arms above your head. Should the band size be a little too large, the band will rise with your arms. In that case, you should measure your rib cage again and consider opting for a size down.

  • You should not feel any chafing

Next, let’s talk about the material. If you feel that it chafes in any way or rubs your skin, you might want to consider looking for another sports bra. Needless to say, you will be moving around a great deal when wearing this garment, and so comfort is key.

  • The straps should be a little flexible

Contrary to popular belief, the support of a bra does not come from the straps. Some women make the mistake of believing that the tighter the straps are, the more support and lift they will get. That is simply not the case. When the fit is right, you should be able to stick two fingers between the straps and your skin. If you can’t do so, they are too tight.

Selecting the right impact level

The impact level you choose will depend on the type of activity you plan on doing. If you enjoy all sports equally, you may need to get one of each so you can swap and change. However, if you tend to stick to the same types of activity, you could find that one sports bra does it all. Here’s what you need to know about each level and when you need them.

  • High-Impact Bras

Do you love running on the treadmill, speed-hiking up hills, and hitting up an aerobics class? If the answer is yes, yes, and yes, you might need a high-impact bra. These bras offer the top level of support which means that they are ideal for up-tempo workouts

The brand you ultimately choose may come down to the impact level you need. For example, top-end companies such as Falke, Adidas and Triaction often boast excellent high-impact sports bras. It’s worth taking some time to browse their collections.

  • Medium-Impact

From skiing to cycling, medium-impact sports bras can help keep you supported during some of the most popular sports and activities. These are the next level down from high-impact bras but still offer you a decent level of compression and support.

If you’re looking for the right sports bra, you may find that choosing a fashion-forward option is the way to go. Beyonce’s brand Ivy Park or Aussie-favourite Nimble are two examples of companies that provide both stylish and comfortable bras.

  • Low-Impact

Are you a fully fledged yogi? Or, alternatively, are you currently embarking on a strength training routine? These sports don’t involve fast-paced motions, which means that the bra you will need is likely to be a low-impact sports bra.

Luckily, there’s a broad variety of fashionable yet supportive bras that will easily fit the bill here. For instance, the fabulous Alo Yoga brand has a range of ‘studio bras,’ which could be ideal when you’re searching for low-impact choices.

Different styles of sports bra

Do you know your encapsulation bras from your compression bras? If not, we’ve got you covered. At first glance, you might find these names a little bamboozling. Don’t let them spook you. Let’s take a look at what each of these terms means.

  • Encapsulation

Boasting separate cups, the encapsulation bra is a comfortable and supportive option. Most low-impact sports bras fall into this category as there is unlikely to be any level of compression here. However, these bras give you a natural form and work for sports, such as yoga, pilates, and walking.

  • Compression

As the name suggests, a compression sports bra compresses your breasts towards your chest. They will usually take the form of one piece of material or panels, but are not likely to have separate cups. These types of sports bra are most suitable for low-impact or medium-impact sports, like jogging or weight lifting.

  • Combination

Also known as compression/encapsulation sports bras, the combination choice offers the best of both worlds. These bras will give you a certain level of compression while also separating your breasts with cups. Combo sports bras are ideal for high-impact activity such as running or aerobic exercise.


Now that you’re well-versed in how to find the right sports bra, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get yourself measured before shopping for a garment that gives you the ultimate level of comfort and support. Getting this baseline requirement in the bag could help improve your training game more than you know.

Ready to get the support you need? Check out our comprehensive range of sports bras >

Sorted your bra? Kit out your bottom half with our guide to the best workout leggings >

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Sports Bra Fitting Tips

Please get in touch if need some help as a measurement is just a guide to the bra size you need. A measurement doesn’t account for your body shape; breast shapes and where they’re placed on your chest wall; the difference between your breast shapes and sizes; and your height will have an effect on the bra sizes and styles right for you too. But it’s a great place to start!

Follow the steps below to measure for your sports bra:

Step 1 Band (ribcage): while wearing your everyday bra (not padded, sports or minimizer) pull the measuring tape tight directly under your bust around your ribcage, where your breast meets your ribcage and write down the measurements in inches
Step 2 Bust (cup): pull the measuring tape comfortably around the fullest part of your bust and write down the measurements in inches

Sports Bra Fitting Tips

Regardless of your breast size you need a properly fitted sports bra. Studies have found that three quarters of us are wearing the wrong type of bra when working out!!!

Did you know there are no muscles in the breast? They are composed mainly of fatty tissue, skin and Coopers ligaments. These ligaments are not elastic so a repetitive action such as running can stretch the ligaments irreversibly. IRREVERSIBLY ladies! This could result in a sagging breast nightmare, not to mention that running without the correct support can cause upper back pain and shoulder issues. Wearing a sports bra reduces the movement of your breasts when running by over 52%.

Here are some awesome fitting tips!

  • Baggy or wrinkled cups? Try going down a cup size. Cups overflowing? Try going up a cup size.
  • The cup should contain the whole of the breast with no creases in the cup (try going down a cup size) and no cleavage on show (go up a cup size).
  • Don’t let the straps take the strain.
  • Perfect fit: if you lift the straps they should only have a one to two inch give
  • If the straps are digging into the shoulders adjust them where possible
  • If straps fall off the shoulders, tighten them
  • 80% of support comes from the band, 20% from the straps.
  • Never mind a rule of thumb; here’s what you need to know about fingers. Your bra band should feel tight and firm, but with enough space to insert two fingers under the back band, and one under the centre front. If your band is too big your straps will end up taking the weight, which will cause them to dig in.
  • Ensure the band follows horizontally across your body. So look in the mirror side-on. Is your bra band at the same level all the way round? If it’s riding up at the back, you probably need a smaller band size.
  • It even helps to pull the back about an inch lower than the front and that should give you a clean line and take care of “back fat”.


  • Fasten a new bra on the loosest hook i.e number 1 in the picture above
  • As the bra begins to wear you can start moving in
  • When you get to 3 or 4 it’s time for a new one

Sports Bra Guide


As women, our bodies change quite dramatically over a lifetime; as we age and more obviously before and after pregnancy. It’s important to get fitted every year to ensure you are getting the best fit and most supportive sports bra for your needs.


Your sports bra should never celebrate a birthday. All that sweating and washing breaks down the bras ability to perform long term. Your sports bra is like a piece of equipment that need to change often, just like your running shoes. Keep rotating them to ensure they are long lasting.


Consider a sports bra with significant adjustability to ensure comfort is achievable. Many of Many of our bras have adjustable straps to allowing you to achieve a close to perfect fit and one which can be tightened or loosened depending on the level of activity you are undertaking.


To get at least one year’s use out of each sports bra (approx. 50 wears) – rotate your sports bras and wash regularly.

•A good sweat session does wonders for your body but is not so friendly to your sports bra. The chemical and salt in sweat break down elastane, making it more likely to lose stability.

•Machine wash on the gentle cycle in cold water with a mild laundry powder. Do not use fabric softener as this reduces the moisture wicking performance of our fabrics.

•Be sure to zip all zips and fasten all hooks on the bra to ensure they do not catch and tear the fabric. We recommend using a wash bag to extend the life of your sports bra.

•If your bra smells throw a cap full of white vinegar in your wash to destroy that odour causing bacteria.

•To dry, always hang it up or lay it flat; dryers ruin elastic.

How to Choose the Right Sports Bra

You know the importance of proper fit when it comes to your running footwear. That’s why you do your research to choose the right running shoes. You also understand one pair of running shoes won’t last forever, which is why you replace your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Do you approach your sports bra the same way? It’s OK, don’t feel bad if you don’t. A lot of women underestimate the value of a properly-fitting bra when it comes to supporting the girls. But, it’s time that ended … because wearing the right bra is essential no matter your size, activity, or shape. Wearing an ill-fitting bra has the potential to not only create breast pain mid activity, but it could also cause long-term damage.

What’s more, like shoes, sports bras don’t last forever. Every time you wear and wash your sports bra, the elastic stretches. Given that the elastic in the band is often the most supportive part of the bra, that’s a pretty big deal. If you participate in a moderate amount of physical activity a week (four days of running, for example), you should aim to replace your sports bra every six to eight months. Want to increase your bra’s life? Buy a few at once, so you always have one on hand to wear that’s clean, one in the wash, and one to spare.

To help you prepare, here’s our step-by-step guide to finding the right fit. While it may sound intimidating, we also recommend working with a fit expert. Most women don’t know what size bra they should be wearing! So, chances are, if you haven’t ever been fitted for a sports bra, you’re probably running in the wrong size. At best, this is slightly uncomfortable and, at worst, it can damage breast tissue.

Buying and caring for sports bras can be complicated. The right fit can often be elusive and if not cared for correctly, a bra that previously fit may stretch out and no longer offer proper support. Find your fit and learn how to care for your sports bra with this Pro Tips guide.


In order to get the support that you need, it’s crucial that your sports bra has the correct fit. Bra measuring isn’t an exact science, and there are a few schools of thought as to the best measuring technique. Because of that, it’s important to try bras on and check for common problems and solutions.

Measuring your bra size is a quick, three-step process. To start, put on your best-fitting, non-padded bra and grab a soft measuring tape.

  • Band Size – The first step is to measure your band size. Breathe out and snugly wrap your measuring tape around your rib cage, right underneath your bust. This should fall right below the band of the bra you are wearing. To help ensure your measurement is not skewed, make sure that the tape measure is level all around. Round to the nearest even number, and the resulting number is your band size.
  • Bust Size – Step two to find your right bra size is to measure your bust. Take your measuring tape and wrap it around the fullest part of your bust. This could be different for every woman, so there’s no wrong place to measure. Round up to the nearest inch and use this number as your bust size in step three.
  • Calculate – Finally, subtract your band size from your bust size and use the chart below to determine your cup size. The general rule is that one inch represents one cup size.

For example, if your band measurement is 34 inches and your bust measurement is 38 inches, the four-inch difference will put you at a ‘D’ cup. This makes your bra size a 34D.

Also, keep in mind the concept of “sister sizes.” If a brand doesn’t carry your band size, you may want to try a sister size. For every band size you go up, you should go down one cup size.

For example, if your measurement results in a size of 30C, your sister sizes are 32B and 34A.

Many sports bras come in small, medium, large and extra large sizing. These are often based on your band and cup sizes, so all of your hard work with a measuring tape need not be wasted. Sizes can vary between brands, so make sure to know your measurements, check each brand’s sizing charts and try on the sports bra you’re considering before you make your final decision.


Determine if you are wearing the right bra size with this handy problem and solution guide.


  • Off the (First) Hook – When you buy a bra, you should initially be able to wear it comfortably on the loosest hook. This can allow for it to stretch over time. If you have to wear it on the tightest hook right away, your band size may be too large.
  • Smooth Ride – Your band should lay flat and straight against your back. A band that rides up is another sign of one that is too large.
  • Back Bulge – Inversely, if you notice that your skin is bulging over your band, this is a signal that your band could be too small.


  • Don’t Dig Deep – If your straps are digging in and causing discomfort to your shoulders, it could mean that they are doing more support work than they are supposed to because your band size is too large.
  • Slipping By – If you’re constantly having to pull your straps back onto your shoulders, the solution may be as simple as tightening them. However, it may also indicate that you need a different style bra that has straps that sit closer together in the back.


  • Mind the Gap – Cups that gape can be caused by a number of problems. You may be able to easily solve this by tightening the straps or it could indicate your cup size is too large. However, the issue might be that the shape of the cups is the wrong style for your breast type. Look for cups that are angled or cut small if this is your issue.

  • Say No to Overflow – If you are experiencing spillage on either the side or top of your cups, it is a sign that you need to go up a cup size.
  • Down to the Wire – A common cause of discomfort is underwire digging in or sitting too high on your breast. You can typically solve this issue by using a sister size with a smaller band and larger cup.
  • Iron Out the Wrinkles – Sport bras that wrinkle and do not fit smoothly across your chest are likely too large in the cup size.
  • Under the Yoke – The center ‘yoke’ of your bra, also sometimes referred to as the ‘gore,’ is the piece of material that connects the cups. Ideally it should sit flatly against your chest. A ‘floating’ yoke can indicate that your cup size is too small or your band size is too large.


Taking care of your sports bras and recognizing when it is time for a new one can help ensure that you are always getting the support that you need.

Washing sports bras by hand is the best way to extend the lifespan on your bra. It can be gentler on the fabric and help to retain elasticity.

To hand wash, fill your sink with lukewarm water and an alcohol-free detergent. Soak your bra for around an hour before gently using your hands to massage out any dirt. Rinse in cool water, and then allow it to air dry.

If using a washing machine remains more your speed, be sure to use a lingerie bag and set the machine to the gentlest cycle. Clasp any bra that is not a pullover to prevent it from getting caught in the machine.

Even if you use a machine to wash your bra, you should still air dry it. The heat from dryers can wear out and warp the elasticity of your bras.

A general rule of thumb is to not use a bra for over a year. The older a bra gets, the more the elasticity can wear out and the less support you could receive. A poking underwire, broken hooks, loose bands and signs of fraying can also mean it’s time for an update. Keep in mind that if you recently went through a weight change your bra size might have changed as well and you will need new sports bras to accommodate.

Having to say goodbye to a favorite sports bra can be tough, but recognizing when it’s time for a new one can be almost as important as sizing.

Now you can celebrate knowing your specific bra size and learning how it should fit your body. Now you can discover what styles and support levels are best for you and your workouts with our guide on how to choose the right sports bra.

You’d think finding a sports bra that fits you would be an easy task. I mean, there are only so many different sizes to choose from, compared to regular bras. But you’d be surprised at how many women don’t know what to look for when shopping for one. Before we dive into specifics, a Lululemon educator shared with POPSUGAR a simple way to tell whether you should size up: “If the straps in the back and the cups in the front feel like they are cutting off movement, it’s definitely too small.” Additionally, your sports bra “should fit slightly tighter than a regular bra, but you should be able to breathe deeply and comfortably,” according to REI.

Signs Your Sports Bra Is Too Tight

  • If your breathing feels constricted: Your sports bra may feel great at first, but you may not realize how small it is until later in the day. Make sure your chest continues to feel comfortable a couple hours into wearing.
  • If your bra is chafing your skin: Any signs of chafing around your shoulder straps or armholes are a good indicator that you’re wearing the wrong size. It’s important to feel supported, but above all, comfortable.
  • If you can’t fit two fingers underneath the strap: REI suggests testing the fit by putting two fingers between the straps and your shoulder. If you’re not able to, it’s too tight.
  • If your breasts are spilling out of the cups: A clear sign that you’ve got the wrong fit on is whether or not there’s full coverage.

Signs Your Sports Bra Is Too Loose

  • If the cups pucker: If you see dents in the fabric of your sports bra cups, try sizing down or finding a different style that better fits your body type.
  • If the band rides up: Try the overhead test. If your sports bra doesn’t stay put when you raise your arms, consider that it will only do the same during a workout.
  • If there’s too much movement when you jump: Jog and jump in place to test the fit. If your breasts don’t feel secure, try a size down.

Another important thing to consider when purchasing sports bras and activewear in general is making sure you’re buying for the appropriate activity. For example, the sports bra you wear for a high-impact workout like running may not be necessary for a low-impact workout such as weightlifting where less movement is involved.

Image Source: Unsplash / bruce mars

Are sports bras supposed to be tight?

You wear a sports bra to stop your breasts from bouncing, but are sports bras supposed to be tight?

Often when we have women in the fitting room we see the pressure points on the skin where the bra band or straps are digging in. This is because many women wear a bra that is too tight, thinking that this will provide more support during exercise.

Unfortunately, the opposite may actually be happening and the tight bra means improper fit and therefore not the adequate amount of support.

Compression or encapsulation

Sports bras use two different techniques to support the breast tissue: compression and encapsulation.

Encapsulation means that the sports bra moulds around your breast, holding them in shape and providing support by stopping the breasts from moving outside of the structure of the bra.

The Athens bra is an example of a bra that uses encapsulation to support the breast tissue.

Compression means that the fabric of the sports bra is firm and elastic so that the breast tissue is pressed against your chest. Keeping the breast tissue close means that there is less movement and less gravity impact. (remember physics from school? You know – with levers and force…)

Encapsulation techniques work best on smaller breast sizes, where larger breasts benefit of a combination of encapsulation and compression.

The Barcelona bra uses a combination of encapsulation (to separate the breasts) and compression to provide optimum support and comfort for cup sizes up to 20H.

Only using compression is not recommended as this creates other issues like ‘mono-boob’, chafing and sweat pooling in between the breasts. The major issue with too much compression is that it restricts your breathing and ribcage movement.

Rib cage movement is important to take into consideration, especially when you’re engaged in aerobic exercise, like running or horse riding. When your sports bra is too tight you will feel that the restriction from a compression bra stops you from breathing deeply.

So how do I know my bra is the correct size?

First of all, check the band size. The under band should be firm but it is not supposed to be tight. When you close the under band on the first set of hooks, you should be able to pull it away from your body for about 2-3cm (about an inch) but not more. When you can put a fist between the band and your back, the under band it too loose.

The band should be firm as that’s where most of the support comes from. When your under band is too loose, you won’t get the support from the under band and you will notice the band creeping up on your back and the straps digging into your shoulders. The whole bra tilts forward because of the weight of the breasts. Very uncomfortable and not good for the muscles in your back, shoulders and neck.

The band should not be too tight either as this will make it dig into your skin and restrict your ribcage from expanding.

Next step is to check the cup size.

Just like with the band, the cups should not be too large or too small. A cup that is too large won’t give you the support you need. With encapsulation bras you will notice the cup being too large when there are large gaps between the fabric of the cup and the breast tissue. There will be too much room inside the cup and the breast tissue keeps moving around. A cup that is the correct size will cover the breast tissue and capture all movement through the structure of the bra.

When the cup is too small you will notice breast tissue spilling over the top and the sides. This is especially noticeable when there is a bit of compression function in your bra. Breast tissue with a clear line on the edge of the cup is a clear indication that your cup is too small.

The other indication of cups that are too small is when the wire is sitting on top of the breast tissue, rather than around the breasts. Always make sure the wire is large enough to go around the breast tissue to avoid bruising and painful pressure points.

So to answer the question:

Are sports bras supposed to be tight?

… the answer is yes, but.

Yes they need to be tight, but not too tight. A correct fit is important to make sure you get the best support to stop the breast tissue from moving around too much.

Want to know how to find the perfect size for you? Check out this sizing chart with instructions.

How to Choose the Perfect Sports Bra

Cavan Images/Getty Images

First rule of fighting gravity: The stakes get higher when you exercise. With each running stride, breasts move not only up and down but also side to side and in and out, tracing a butterfly pattern. Unsupported, the average A cup travels about an inch and a half in each direction, and a D cup bounces two to three inches.

A good sports bra can cut that movement in half—by 53 to 59 percent for As and Ds, respectively—which is key to sparing the support structures in your breast, says Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, Ph.D., a biomechanist at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom who studies bounce. Because breasts are made of soft tissue—alas, not muscle—what holds them up is the surrounding skin and the internal Cooper’s ligaments, a web of springy coils that are built to rebound until jumping, genetics, and gravity catch up with them. “Any permanent stretching of these can cause the breasts to droop,” Scurr says.

Maximize your lift with these expert tips for how to choose a perfect sports bra for you.

How to Find Your Best Sports Bra Fit

When we polled top bra-fitting pros for the number-one mistake women make in choosing a sports bra, they were unanimous: wearing a smaller cup and larger band than you need. Sure enough, nearly every tester whom we sent to the specialty shops Intimacy and Linda’s Bra Salon in New York City for fittings returned with a two-inch-smaller band and a larger cup size—As and double Ds alike. (Related: Ashley Graham’s Insta Story About Wearing the Wrong Sports Bra Is Beyond Relatable)

They’re not the only ones. It’s so common that LaJean Lawson, Ph.D., adjunct professor of exercise and sport science at Oregon State University and Champion’s ‘go-to guru’ in sports bra research, design, and testing for more than 25 years, estimates that only 15 to 20 percent of women are wearing the best bra for their shape. If you can’t get to an expert fitter in your local department store to help you figure out how to choose a perfect sports bra, check out Champion’s Sports Bra Guide or Brook’s Sports Bra Fit Guide for sizing how-tos. Then check out the information below to get the details on which options work for you.

How to Choose a Perfect Sports Bra

Compression or encapsulation?

  • Compression: Shelf bra styles work for smaller cup sizes (A and B) or for low- to moderate-impact workouts.
  • Encapsulation: Sports bras with individual cups are better for larger-breasted women than compression-style ones, Scurr’s research found.

Racerback or wide straps?

  • Racerback: Because they cinch in back, the straps anchor the bra closer to the body, providing more support.
  • Wide straps: Shoulder straps help distribute weight better than T-backs (key for bigger cups) and are more likely to be adjustable and padded.

Pullover or back clasp?

  • Pullover: Tank styles typically cover the back more than clasps, but those with allover stretch lack the rigid front straps, adjustability, and support to anchor large chests.
  • Back clasp: Clasps let you tighten the band, from which 70 percent of the bra’s support comes. This is especially vital for larger breasts, which place more demand on the band.

What to Know If a Sports Bra Fits

How should a sports bra fit? And how do you know that the one you pulled off the rack will hold up your, er, rack? (Related: These Companies are Making Shopping for Sports Bras Suck Less)

“Support comes from three points on a sports bra: the straps, the cups, and the band, including the side panels,” says Susan Sokolowski, senior innovation manager for Nike in Beaverton, Oregon. (Btw, Nike is Revolutionizing the Sports Bra and Extending Their Sizes)

This three-step dressing room experiment is a great test for how to choose the perfect sports bra:

  1. Straps: Hold the top of one strap and the center of the corresponding cup, then pull. Whether they’re adjustable or not, the less stretchy the front straps, the more motion control they’ll provide.
  2. Cups: Repeat a similar stretch test by tugging the top and bottom of each cup; the less give, the more motion control. Then put on the bra. Whether it’s a compression or an encapsulation style, the cup should hold the whole breast—no spillage. If it doesn’t, choose the next larger cup size.
  3. Band and side panels: Slide a finger under the band between your breasts; you should not be able to pull it more than an inch from your chest. (For an adjustable band style, set the clasp on the first eyelet; if you have to use the last eyelet to get a snug fit, you’re better off with a smaller band.) Next, reach your arms overhead; if the band creeps up, it’s too big. In both cases, pick a smaller size. (Related: Here Are More Sports Bra Shopping Tips from Pros)

How to Make Your Sports Bra Last

Follow these dos and don’ts from Joanne Sessler, design director for Champion. (And don’t fall victim to this crazy-common sports bra mistake.)

  • Wash the bra in cold water with mild detergent. Avoid fabric softener and bleach.
  • Dry it flat or line dry it. For the dryer, use the cold tumble cycle only: Heat breaks down spandex.
  • Replace the bra if the ends of the spandex fibers start showing or the fabric no longer snaps back into shape. (Average lifespan: nine to 15 months of regular wear.)
  • By Sarah D’Angelo and Charlotte Hilton Andersen

Sports Bras


Sports Bra: A Mandatory Part of Your Fitness Routine

Today, everyone aspires to have that toned and fit body, which is why so many of us hit the gym or attend yoga classes frequently. With that, also comes the responsibility of wearing the right clothing items, especially a sports bra for it plays a focal role in improving your workout. An effective sports bra for girls helps reduce discomfit and spillage during those vigorous sports sessions, providing you utmost ease and comfort, especially during jumping, running, and stretching. Some of the best sports bras online also provide excellent lift and enhance bust shape.

How to choose a sports bra?

The world of sports bras can seem daunting and confusing at first, but with a few details, you can easily pick the right sports bra for yourself. Here are some of the things that you should consider before buying a sports bra for girls.

1. Fabric:

When shopping for sports bras online, it is significant to select the fabric carefully. Any fitness routine you adapt will release a lot of sweat out of you, so stick to a sturdy fabric that wicks away the moisture.

2. Cup size:

Adjusting the bra in the gym or while walking on the treadmill can be an awkward task due to pinching and twitching of the front lines of bra. Therefore, make sure you get a sports bra that provides correct balance to your breasts and uplifts them, like a sexy seamless push-up sports bra.

3. Straps:

One of the most neglected parts of a sports bra is its straps when it should really be the other way round. When you need to shop for a sports bra for girls, make sure its straps are adjustable, so you can adjust them without any hassle when stretching or doing those strenuous cardio workouts.

4. Support:

For any fitness enthusiast, getting adequate support from the bra is important, especially when performing high-intensity sports workout, like gym, zumba, or running. In such a case, you can go or seamless high impact padded sports bra. Alternatively, you can also go for stylish sports bras online with cross back straps for improved comfort and appearance, while ensuring that your bust gets maximum support.


Now that you know what features to look for in sports bras, it’s time to make the most of your workout with Clovia’s activewear range. From the premium fabric to the level of comfort, you are sure to find everything in our sports bras online.

If you still have some doubts in terms of sports bras, we have enlisted some frequently asked questions for your reference.

Sports Bras FAQs

1. What is the difference between a sports bra and a normal bra?

A normal bra provides adequate support for everyday wear but isn’t supportive enough for high intensity workout that requires jumping, running and other strenuous activities. For that, a sports bra is a must-have to provide extra support and reduce jiggling and bouncing of breasts while working out.

2. What sports bra to choose for workout?

Sports bras are usually available in low, medium & high impact levels. Depending on the level of your activity, you can pick a sports bra to provide adequate support. For example, a low impact sports bra would be fine for yoga practice, but not for zumba or any other intense workout.

3. Which sports bra should I wear to gym?

If you’re someone who works out at the gym then you should pick a medium impact or a high impact sports bra.

4. Is it good to wear sports bras daily?

Sports bras are designed to give a snug fit to make sure the breasts stay in place while working out. These bras are meant to be worn for a couple of hours while you work out. Although, if you do feel comfortable in sports bras, you can consider them a good lounging option too.

5. How long can you keep a sports bra on?

A lot of women claim to practically live in their sports bras. That could be because of the added support & comfort that a sports bra offers. There’s no restriction to how long you can keep a sports bra on unless it’s been all sweaty after a workout. In that case, you should change for hygiene reasons, but otherwise you can switch your normal bra with a sports bra as per your comfort.

6. Can my yoga bra and running bra be the same?

A yoga bra can be a low support sports bra while a running bra should be a medium to high impact sports bra to reduce and control the jiggling of breasts while running.

7. How to care for your sports bra?

Bras are the most intimate clothing in your wardrobe and a sports bra is used more often than other bras. You should wash your sports bras after every use. Use a mild detergent and lightly rinse under water. Prefer hand wash over machine wash.

8. How Do You Tell If A Sports Bra Fits Well?

A well-fitted sports bra can be checked by –

1. Jumping to make sure it reduces bounce and has no spillage.

2. 2 finger test to make sure the straps are neither too tight nor too loose.

3. Adequate back support, either multiple hook closures or a racer back.

9. How Often You Should Be Replacing Your Sports Bras?

You should replace your sports bra if

1. It has lost stretch

2. It has been overused

3. If your body type has changed

What size sports bra

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