How to Choose the Best Sports Bra

Nike Sports Bra

The woman in the dressing room next to you is jumping up and down and you think there may be some kind of heavy breathing going on? What in the world (as we say in the south)?? Get your mind out of the gutter, she’s testing out a sport bra by running in place and it’s the sixth bra she’s tried on. That, ladies and gentlemen, is dedication to finding a good sports bra.

Why is it so important? Two good reasons in three words: Comfort and sag. Comfort, because you want to be able to focus on what you’re doing in the bra, not on the bra. And, number two, the breasts are held in place by ligaments. These ligaments do not return to their original length after being stretched. Think of an overstretched elastic cord. These ligaments are the same. Exercise causes more movement of the breast, thus, without support these ligaments are being stretched further, contributing to sagging.

How high impact is the activity you are doing? Low, medium, high? The more movement, the more support you will need to minimize the stress on “the girls”. Women with larger chests will need more support.


Measure at the area just below your breast, where your bra’s bottom band normally sits.  Make sure the tape is snug but not too snug, making it hard to breath. Round your measurement to the nearest inch.  Find your size in the chart below.

Now measure around the fullest part of your breast. Round that number to the closest number. Subtract that number from your first measurement, where you measured under your breasts, from the measurement around your breasts. With that number, determine your cup size.


Make sure the cup fits properly. Your breasts should be fully held inside of the bra. Spillage is a sign the bra is too small. In sports bras, there are two primary types of cups.

  • Encapsulation- This cup type separates each breast to cushion a support them individually. These bras tend to be offered in cup sizes, offering better fit. May be a better option for larger chested women. Encapsulation bras tend to look more like an everyday bra.
  • Compression- Both breast are housed together and “compressed”, restricting their movement. Compression styles are better for smaller sizes (A-B).

While not a true third type….Some manufactures have created bras that are a hybrid of the two styles that can be worn by smaller to medium size chested women looking for the support they need.


Why is the band important? This is where the main source of support in a sport bra exists. The band should not move during movement. Try stretching your arms overhead. Does the band move significantly? If so, try on a smaller size. Also, you want a band to be snug, but never to where it’s uncomfortable or restricts your breathing.

  • Wider-A wider band gives you more support.
  • Narrower-A narrower band gives you less support.

Should you purchase a bra with hook and eyelet closures, remember, the bra will stretch as you break it in. If you have to hook it at the last position just trying it on, when it stretches after use, where are you going to go? Buy a bra that fits at either the first or middle of the closures.


For the most support, look for wider straps as well as Racerback style straps. Depending on comfort and preference, there are bras that have cushioned straps and bras that have adjustable length straps. Adjustable straps may come in handy if you’re using this bra during a weight loss program.

Other Details

  • If you get a sports bra with an underwire, make sure it will not cause you discomfort. Are the wires poking you? Bad sign.
  • Moisture wicking fabrics are very important to a good sports bra because a wet bra is an uncomfortable bra. 100% Cotton fabrics will stay wet instead of drying quickly.


Review Time

So, now armed with this information, a couple of us decided to check out our selection and test drive a couple of bras.

For the A/B Ladies


Women’s Pro Essentials Compression Nike Sports Bra

Pros: This bra was comfortable. It seems to run a little bigger than the comparable Women’s Under Armour Endure Sports Bra. It is classic Nike Dri-FIT so it will keep you staying dry. It comes in a myriad of colors and prints. Nike also offers coordinating compression shorts and capris, which are a hit with the ladies who love their matching workout gear.

Cons: The material, while soft and comfy, was thin. That is great for breathability but in white, it was sheerer than some would want to wear alone.

For the C/D Ladies


Women’s Protégée D Cup Under Armour Sports Bra

Pros: This bra scored well. It is an encapsulated style and was very comfortable. It did what a good sports bra should do, minimal movement, which may be harder to find the larger the size. Too, the bra offered a front zipper, which is great come time to take off the bra. We’ve all been there, the “this is more awkward than it should be” moment trying to take a sports bra off.

Cons: Price, which seems to be the case with many of the bras made for larger chest sizes. The bra came in at $49.99, so there is some investment.


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