10 Tips For Finding the Perfect Sports Bra

On one rather balmy morning run this past summer, I was jogging my normal route when all of a sudden my mammaries made a jailbreak from my tried and true sports bra!

Alright I admit that I was hanging on to a sports bra that had literally lasted 5-years, probably 250 machine washes and was hanging on by a few threads (and maybe a safety pin or two). My point is, my embarrassing wardrobe malfunction was my own fault, but it made one thing very clear—I was in the market for a new sports bra.

Now I know better than to sub fashion for function when it comes to workout gear. However, I hate bra shopping more than swimsuit shopping and skinny jean shopping combined (yeah, it’s that bad). What I was after was not only a sports bra that would keep the girls under wraps, but also one that would provide the best support, cushioning, fit, and still be flattering for my shape.

So here are my 10 tips for finding the perfect sports bra for any woman’s unique chest:

1. Must Support that Bust

It’s true what they say; a sports bra is like an old friend, it should hold you close and support you in times of vulnerability. And just like a loyal friend, your sports bra can be motivating and encouraging for your health. However, a bad sports bra (like a poor friend) can stress you out and embarrass you if it drops the ball (your boobs in this case). Look for a sports bra that holds your breasts snuggly but comfortably.  Give it the jump test.

2. Watch out for Escapes

Do your girls try to bust out (pun intended) when you jump up and down and lift your arms overhead?  If you notice a little jailbreak attempt at the base of your sports bra, you need a snugger size. Try going one size smaller to keep your breasts properly locked and loaded.

3. Snug Circumference

The bottom band of your sports bra (the thick elastic that keeps the girls in snug) should rest parallel to the floor. It should be snug, but not so much that it leaves firm indentations in your skin or chafes you.  Keep in mind, most sports bras will loosen with wear and washing, so a little too snug at first will have some give.

4. Look for an Adjustable Fit

The problem that I consistently have with sports bras and bras in general is that they ride up in the back.  That’s why I seek out adjustable fits that can be sized to fit properly in areas like the rib band and the straps. If your sports bra is still riding up; you need a bigger size with longer straps.

5. Consider your Activity

Are you a spin class fanatic or a hot yoga type of gal? The activity should determine the style of your sports bra. For instance, compression bras with super-sleek stretch fabric that slip on and have no hooks that chafe or dig in while be good for stretchy, sweaty environments like a Bikram class.

6. Gaping Cleavage—Oh My!

The last thing you want to do is look down in the middle of a Zumba class and realize you are flashing the instructor. This is why you want to do the cleavage check before you commit to any sports bra. If you’re top shelf is ogle worthy or gaping in the front, go a size down.

7. Fabric for Fitness Sake—Not Fashion Sake

If you do extremely sweaty fitness, like hot yoga or aerobics, you may want to consider a fabric that wicks sweat away from the skin to help control moisture buildup and rubbing. You can also find wicking sports bras with cooling ventilation.

8. Banish Muffin Top

If your two cups runneth over in your sports bra, meaning you have a pushing and gathering situation of flesh at the sides or over the top of your sports bra, you’ll want to try a bigger cup size or else you’ll risk the dreaded muffin top!

9. Loosey-Goosey Cups

If you have wrinkles or loose folds forming in the cups of your sports bra, you’ll need to be fitted down one size. The cups should fit flat and firmly, but comfortably over your bust to provide adequate support, but prevent chafing.

10. Give that Baby a Test Drive

Always recommended with any piece of active clothing—you should give your new sports bra a test fit by mimicking your fitness activity. For instance, imitate your fitness activity by doing a few downward dogs or burpies in the change room to check for fit and support.


Emily Lockhart

Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.