How to Choose the Right Sports Bra

ThirdLove sports bras: Kinetic Impact, Muse, and Flex sports bras.

Workouts should be fun, never uncomfortable. Your best workouts are when you’re focused and completely forget about the bra you’re wearing. That means wearing a sports bra that supports your boobs just right. You might be thinking, do I need a sports bra? The short answer is yes. We’ll tell you why a sports bra can make any activity feel much better, and how to choose the right sports bra for your body.

Woman exercising in the Kinetic Impact Sports Bra in black with ThirdLove monogrammed on the straps

What’s the difference between sports bras and everyday bras?

Plain and simple — your everyday, regular bra isn’t made for workouts. In fact, sports bras have only been around since the 70s and have totally changed the game. Working out in anything but a sports bra can sometimes be painful, especially if you have larger breasts. While you move your boobs sway in figure-8 motion, so they need extra support and hold to stay in place. Sports bras are designed to do just that and more. Unlike an everyday bra, sports bras are made with a performance fabric that keeps sweat off your body, is breathable, and keeps you from chafing.

Sports Bra Construction

The main parts of a sports bra are cushy straps, a center gore (or that piece of fabric between your breasts), a chest band, wings (the sides of your bra that connect the straps to the cups), clasps (if they have them), and cups. Some are super stretchy and others offer compression, encapsulation, or all of the above.

If you see a term like compression in the description of a sports bra, that just means it keeps your boobs hugged tight to your body and presses them in for more control. Smaller breasts need compression. So think pullover styles like our Flex Seamless Racerback Sports Bra. Encapsulation is where over each individual boob, where you divide and conquer. Our Kinetic Impact Sports Bra has both compression and encapsulation to support large breasts.

How much support do I actually need from a sports bra?

The amount of support you need from your sports bra depends on the size of your boobs and the workout you’re doing. For A and B cups, you can go with a low to medium impact sports bra for everything from yoga to cycling and hiking. For cup sizes larger than C, you may want to try a medium impact sports bra for lower impact activities. High impact activities like running and HIIT workouts with larger breasts are best with high-impact sports bras for that extra support and control.

At ThirdLove, we have three lines of sports bras that range from low to medium to high impact. Our Muse Sports Bras are low impact, super stretchy, and buttery soft for those fluid movements in yoga or for your favorite long walks. Our Flex Sports Bras are made for medium impact such as Zumba or spin. And our Kinetic Impact Sports Bra is your go-to for high-impact workouts like plyometrics or circuit training. Think lock down from the top down with high impact.

How do I know my sports bra fits perfectly?

Fit is everything whenever you’re looking for a new sports bra. That means your straps, cups, and band should hold just right without moving. The size you’re looking for in a sports bra should be the exact same size as your everyday bra. If the sports bra you want comes in lettered sizes, there should be a chart for you to compare. Here’s how to tell if your sports bra fits well:

Straps staying up?

Make sure you’ve adjusted your straps to fit your shape, so they don’t slip. If they’re not adjustable and are hanging off of you, then you’ll likely need a smaller size.

Are you filling out your cups?

Your breasts should fill out the cup perfectly and that center gore we mentioned should be flat against your chest. If you’re spilling out or notice the cup has extra space, you’ll need to size up or down.

Is the band staying in place?

Your band is your added support, keeping your breasts in place while you run, jump, or dance. The band should be flexible and give you room, but it should stay in place. If it’s riding up or bunching at the wings (under your arms) then it’s too big for you.

How to prevent chafing

The right sports bra won’t cause chafing or rub against your skin. Heavier, thicker fabrics like cottons aren’t as breathable and can create friction. Performance fabrics are smooth and will glade smoothly over your skin, so spandex and poly blends are best. These fabrics also keep sweat from building up, while cotton or natural fabrics soak it up. If you’re still chafing with performance fabrics, check your fit like we mentioned above. You can also try using an anti-chafing cream around the band of your sports bra for extra care.

Now you know exactly what you’re looking for in a sports bra. So get out there and enjoy your workouts! Need a little help finding your ThirdLove sports bra? Feel free to reach out to a Fit Stylist, we’re happy to help.