How to Choose a Sports Bra

two women wearing sports bras out on a run

Finding a well-fitting sports bra can make or break your workout. The right sports bra will reduce breast bouncing and prevent irritation while you move. Unfortunately, working out in a sports bra that fits poorly can lead to pain, soreness, rubbing, and chafing. No one needs another excuse to skip a workout, and a sports bra should never get between you and exercise—find sports bras that provide the right amount of support and coverage for you and your activity, and you’ll be motivated to move.

Choose Your Support Level

a woman wearing a sports bra in front of a fountain

You’ll notice that sports bras come in in three different support levels: low, medium, and high. Each level is designed to provide a different amount of compression and support so the level you need will be dependent on your activity and cup size. While the support level you need may coincide with the intensity of your workout, it’s important to remember that your breast size may require more or less support than what typical bra guides recommend.

Low Support Sports Bras

Low-support sports bras offer the least amount of compression and support. This support level is great for low-impact activities such as yoga, pilates, walking, and stretching. Women with a variety of cup sizes can enjoy light, unrestricted comfort while wearing a low-support sports bra for everyday wear and light exercise. However, many women with A or B cups get enough support from a low-support sports bra during high-impact workouts as well.

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Medium Support Sports Bras

Medium-support sports bras are a great option for medium-impact activities such as hiking, snow sports, and cycling. They offer more support than low-impact sports bras and often feature wider straps and bands. Many women with larger cup sizes choose medium-support sports bras for low-impact activities as well. 

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High Support Sports Bras

High-support sports bras will likely be your go-to for most activities if you have D cups or larger. With the maximum amount of compression or encapsulation, high-support sports bras offer plenty of support for larger breasts and high-intensity workouts like running and kickboxing. They also typically feature wide bands and straps along with adjustable features and easy fasteners so you can get the most comfortable fit. Women with B and C cups also may prefer to wear high-support bras if their activity is high-impact.

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How Should a Sports Bra Fit?

While a sports bra will likely fit tighter than your regular bra, you should still be able to move and breathe without discomfort. Most brands provide a size chart to match your everyday bra size and/or breast measurements with a size in that specific sports bra. This is typically a good guide to follow when choosing your size, but trying your sports bra on should always be the final determination. 

a woman wearing a nike sports bra while lifting weights

Follow the tips below for checking the fit of your sports bra when trying it on.

  1. Slip two fingers between the band of your sports bra. If you can’t fit both fingers, the band is likely too tight. If you can fit more than two fingers, the band is too loose. 
  2. Repeat the same finger test with your straps. If you feel your straps digging in right away, this will likely only cause further irritation with extended wear.
  3. Center your breasts in the cups of your sports bra and check for spillage or wrinkles in the fabric. If your breasts are spilling over the top or out of the bottom, the cups are too small. If there are wrinkles or bunching in the fabric, the cups are too big.
  4. Finally, move around. You should be able to jump, bend, and move side-to-side without too much breast movement or any discomfort.

Most people will want to have a variety of sports bras in rotation with different support levels to choose from based on the activity. SCHEELS carries a wide selection of standard and plus-size sports bras for women of all shapes and sizes. If you’re still unsure which sports bra is right for you, browse our selection for yourself or speak to one of our in-store experts at your local SCHEELS for the perfect recommendation.