Sports Bras: How to Find the Right Sports Bra and FAQ

Whether you’re flowing through your vinyasa, flexing your well-defined biceps or running a marathon, there’s one essential piece of gear you need: A good sports bra.

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.

Why Use Sports Bras?

The main reason to wear a sports bra is to make your workout more comfortable and, therefore, better. Research from Progressive Sports suggests that breast movement can cause discomfort in around 56% of women.

When you’re active, the last thing you want to worry about is pain and discomfort in your chest area. For that reason, you need to find a sports bra that gives you support and keeps your breasts in one position throughout.

The same research also found that the quality of a sports bra had a direct impact on your comfort. The study found that the cup, straps, and underband had a relationship with breast motion during exercise.

Unsurprisingly, the more support each bra offered, the less discomfort women tended to feel. With that in mind, finding the most supportive sports bra for you should be a top priority. Investing in this type of sports gear is an absolute must!

When To Use Sports Bras?

Whenever you are exercising, you should wear a sports bra. However, it’s important to remember that not all of these bras are created equal. The bra you choose will depend largely on the type of exercise that you plan to do.

There are three types of sports bras out there; high-impact sports bra, medium impact sports bra, and low-impact sports bra. Later in this guide, we will discuss when you should wear each one of these sports bras and what activities they suit.

If you’re wondering when to use sports bras, you should consider the type of activity you plan on doing. In situations when you need to run, jump, or even simply walk, you may need a sports bra for extra support.

Needless to say, this is especially true for women who have larger breasts. Having a big chest means that your breast motion is likely to be higher than people with small chests. It’s all about working out what’s comfortable for you.

girlfriend collective 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's 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.

See our range of sports bras >

girlfriend collective sports bra

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.

How to find 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

How to find 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.

How To Measure Your Sports Bra Size

When you first start browsing sports bras, you will notice one thing. They are not always available in the same sizes as regular bras. Much of the time, they will come in XS, S, M, or L instead.

That could be confusing if you’re used to getting bras in a particular size. Never fear, you simply have to convert your bra size to a sports bra size. While sizes may vary from brand to brand, the table below is a good indicator of which bra is right for you.

Bra Size






























How Should A Sports Bra Feel?

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. With that in mind, here are three questions that may arise when trying on a new sports bra.

  • Should a sports bra be 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.

It’s important to note that sports bras may not be as comfortable as your regular bra, especially if you tend to wear a high-support bra, which offer less digging in of straps.

The reason is that sports bras serve a different purpose. They need to be tight and firm to make sure that your breasts stay in one position.

  • Should a sports bra be 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.

Since you will be moving around frequently during exercise, you need a sports bra that will support that motion. You’re going to twist, jump, and bend down.

If your bra restricts any of your movement, you will have a problem during your workout. The problem could lead to pain and discomfort that will hinder your activity and could impact your performance.

  • Are sports bras supposed to be tight?

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.

How Should A Sports Bra Fit?

Now that you’re comfortable with your bra size and know how the bra should feel, 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 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.

Low impact sports bra

Sports Bra Impact Level Guide

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. It is also worth noting that the impact level you need will depend on your bust size.

If you have a bigger bust, you may find that low and medium impact sports bras do not provide enough support and you might have to opt for a high support sports bra.

For anyone with a smaller bust, a low to medium impact sports bra could provide the support you need, even for high impact activities. Let's move on to what you need to know about each impact level and when you might need them.

High-Impact Sports 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 sports 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 Reebok often boast excellent high-impact sports bras. It’s worth taking some time to browse their collections.

So, where should you start when it comes to shopping? Of course, there’s a wide range of high-impact sports bras from which to choose. You may want to invest in a high support sports bra, a zip-front sports bra or even a front-fastening sports bra.

Finding the best sports bra for running doesn’t have to be a chore. Let’s take a look at some of the best high-impact sports bras and which you should choose for your needs.

Check out our collection of high impact sports bras >

Best High Impact Sports Bras

    The Maximum Support Sport-Bra from Falke in a White colourway with its seamless technology and racer back is almost too good to cover up. Fast-drying, stylish and extremely supportive, it's the perfect choice for cup sizes C and D, and doing running or any cardio classes.

      Sweat it out in the Nike Alpha Bra. This high-performance piece has sheet details in high-sweat zones to boost breathability, while contoured cups offer support and stability for high-impact exercises.

        Bounce won't be a problem in adidas' white Ultimate Bra. With a flattering scoop neck, adjustable padded straps and a high-performance fabric, it keeps you secure and supported through your boxing, training or dance sessions.

          Sweat it out in the Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Sports Bra. It provides stretch and support in all the right places for a compressive, secure feel and minimal bounce while you move.

          Molded cups and a nearly seamless design make it all about support and comfort to empower your performance.

          Medium-Impact Sports Bras

          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. Fashion brand Adidas by Stella McCartney or eco-favourite Girlfriend Collective are two examples of companies that provide both stylish and comfortable bras.

          Looking for a medium impact sports bra to suit your activity? It doesn’t have to be hard. There are many excellent medium support sports bra options out there, and so you have a wide range from which to choose.

          To help you along the way, let’s take a look at some of our favourite medium impact sports bras and what makes them unique.

          See our range of medium impact sports bras >

          Best Medium Impact Sports Bras

          With a conscious fabrication and refined floral design, the adidas by Stella McCartney TruePurpose Allover Print Crop Top harnesses a technical fabrication, while a high-neck silhouette keeps you cool, dry and comfortably covered.

          • Varley Kellam Bra - Silver Screen Snake £54

          Crafted from sumptously-soft stretch jersey, Varley's Kellam Bra is covered in a sultry snakeskin print and boasts a stylish V-neck shape. Stretchy, soft and crafted from mid-weight fabric, it's perfect for an afternoon of yoga, Pilates or acro.

          Take on your next sweat session in style. The TruePurpose Bra from adidas by Stella McCartney has a sturdy bonded waistband, breathable mesh lining, superior sweat-wicking properties and a sleek, contemporary design.

          Girlfriend Collective Paloma Bra

          The Girlfriend Collective Paloma Bra Classic has a tank top-like feel and close fit. Combined, those two unique features mean that you get a cool, streamlined silhouette.

          Packing breathable opaque fabric, a supportive band along with a compression fit, there’s so much to love about this bra. As a bonus, the sports bra is simple yet stylish in design.

          Low-Impact Sport Bras

          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 Beyond Yoga brand has a range of ‘studio bras,’ which could be ideal when you’re searching for low-impact choices.

          If you’re in search of the best low-impact and yoga bras, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got a list of some of the most supportive and comfortable bras for every single session.

          Whether you’re hitting up a yoga class or simply doing some weight training, you need a bra that you can trust. Here are our top picks.

          Discover our edit of low impact and yoga bras >

          Best Low Impact/Yoga Bras

          Girlfriend Collective Topanga Bra

          The Girlfriend Collective Topanga Bra is primed for either yoga or any other low-impact sports, such as barre classes. Boasting a light level of support combined with a high-level of coverage, this low-impact sports bra works well when layered up.

          On the other hand, you may want to simply wear it as a tank top. The sky’s the limit with this one!

          Engineered from Twinkle Sportflex, Beyond Yoga's Twinkle Bra blends fashion and function. Offering medium support, this v-neck bra has a compression fit, flexible feel and UVA/UVB protection.

          Luxuriously soft and breathable, the Nike Indy Luxe Light Support Sports Bra has removable pads, Dri-FIT technology and adjustable straps for a sleek look and impressive performance.

          Don't hold back in the adidas by Stella McCartney TPR Seamless Bra. Made with recycled materials, this sustainable style has a chafe-preventing seamless construction and covetable acid yellow leopard print pattern.

          Different Styles of Sports Bras

          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 Sports Bras

          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 Sports Bras

          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 Sports Bras

          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.

          Sports Bra FAQ

          Scratching your head? If you’ve got a burning conundrum that you need solving, you need look no further. We’ve got you covered right here, right now. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know when it comes to sports bras and yoga bras.

          Can sports bras cause neck pain?

          The short answer is that it shouldn’t! If you’re feeling neck pain as a result of wearing a certain sports bra, the chances are that the fit isn’t right for you.

          The likeliest cause of your neck pain is that the straps of your sports bra are digging into your shoulder. That means that there is excess pressure on your upper body.

          You may find that altering the straps helps relieve this discomfort. However, if that is not the case, you should get an expert bra fitting and ensure that you are wearing the right size for you.

          Which sports bra is best for gym?

          Everyday gym sessions will usually require a medium-impact sports bra. However, if you plan to do some high-intensity activity, such as hitting the treadmill at full speed, you might want to kick things up a gear. In that case, you may need to get a high-impact sports bra.

          Which sports bra is best for running?

          Typically, running calls for a high-impact sports bra that will give you the support that you need. This is especially important if you have larger breasts. When you run, the chances of your breasts moving is high. Getting a compression sports bra will ensure your comfort.

          What sports bra is best for large bust?

          Choosing the right sports bra for a large bust depends on the type of activity you are doing. If you are engaging in high or medium-impact activity, you may find that you need a high-impact sports bra.

          For low-impact workouts, you can choose either a low-impact or medium-impact bra. As mentioned previously, a bigger bust may benefit from opting for a high to medium impact rather than low support sports bras.

          Regardless, you should try a variety of sports bras and see what works for you.

          What sports bra has the best support?

          High-impact sports bras and compression bras will generally offer the best level of support. You should also look for a bra that has a racerback design and a thick, sturdy band to make sure that you get the best results. Investing in quality means you get more support.

          How to wash sports bras?

          You should pay close attention to the instructions given by each brand. You have two choices. You can either hand-wash your sports bra and leave it to dry naturally or use a cooler cycle and leave it to dry naturally. Take care when washing these items!

          How often should sports bras be washed?

          The answer depends on how often you wear your sports bra! If you don’t sweat much during a workout, you don’t need to wash your sports bra after every activity.

          However, in general terms, you should wash your sports bra at least once every couple of weeks.

          How long should sports bras last?

          Sports bras can last a matter of six months to a year. However, as soon as you start to notice that the support is lacking, you need to replace your sports bra. The more you wear your bra, the faster you will need to replace it in the long-run. It’s that simple.

          How often should sports bras be replaced?

          When you need to replace your sports bra will depend on its quality and how often you tend to use it. However, as soon as you notice that the bra is not giving you the support you need, you should replace it.

          As though that weren’t enough, other telltale signs include discolouration and a loss of elasticity. Keep your eyes peeled for these problems.

          sports bras


          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 >