Choosing a Sports Bra and Why They’re Essential


Since losing over 2 stone last year, it seems like I wear sports bras almost as much as ‘regular’ bras. Exercise was definitely the ‘secret’ behind my weight loss (not really anything ground-breaking, I know!), but with working out 3-4 times per week, you come to truly appreciate how essential a decent sports bra is. Yet still, I see a worrying lack of ladies wearing them in the gym.

With so many on the market, though, you can understand why people ‘swerve them’. With all the shapes and sizes, compression levels, support levels, cross-backs, thick straps, cup fit, front fastenings… they’re easily the most complicated bra category out there. If you choose the wrong fit and you’ll end up at best uncomfortable – at worst doing yourself some serious injury. We’re talking boob-punch to the face or – worse – permanent damage to the delicate muscles in your boobs.

So we all know about the minefield of picking which sports bra style you want, can we talk about the price of these bad boys?!

It’s also one of the bra types I like to really invest in – no cheap Primark crop top sports bras for me! Especially when I first started out I really really needed a ‘bra sized’ sports bra – complete with the hefty scaffolding architecture that comes with them.



That said, you don’t always need to pay full whack for your sports bras (they tend to be pretty pricey!). I always shop around or make the most of voucher codes and promotions like Debenhams voucher codes – otherwise you can expect to pay in the £35-40 region for each bra… but your boobs will definitely thank you when you’re pounding the treadmill or standing on your head in Pilates class. Avoid boob punches to the face at all cost.

I reviewed a loads of different styles a while back if you want to know about specific brands, but I thought it would be useful to know a bit more about the different types of sports bras that you can choose from.


The first step is to work out what kind of support you’re going to need your sports bra to provide. What sort of exercise do you plan on partaking in? For gentler exercises such as yoga and walking, you don’t need *too* too much in the way of support – a low-impact bra should give you everything you need. For moderate activity like hiking, skiing and cycling, you’ll need a bra that offers more of a medium level of support. And for high-impact sports like running and aerobics, you’ll need a higher level of support.

Once you know what you’re looking for, the next thing to think about is how your bra is designed. The purpose of a sports bra is to minimise the amount your breasts move around while exercising, but different brands and styles seek to achieve this in different ways. There are three main types to choose from: encapsulation, compression or a combination of both.

Compression sports bras works by compressing the breasts to minimise movement. Think strait jackets for boobs. These are ideal for medium impact sports.

Examples of compression sports bras: Shock Absorber Run, Shock Absorber Level 3

Encapsulation sports bras have two separate cups and support each breast separately. Generally these are best for low impact exercises, but the likes of Freya and Panache have adopted this style in much of their sports bra varieties. I also tend to prefer this style as you maintain a more ‘natural’ silhouette under clothes.

Examples of encapsulation sports bras: the Panache Sports bra, Freya Active Underwired

For high impact sports, I tend to look for a bra that seems to give you the best of both worlds – a bra which compresses a bit, but which has individual cups will offer you the very best level of support. I think that’s why I like the Freya Active Underwired so much.


You’ll also find that there are a dazzling array of features on the sports bra market, and it can be difficult to work out what you need. Generally speaking, cross-backed sports bras give the best balance to the entirety of the breast, which makes them best for high impact activities, while racer back or regular traditional straps are better for slower-paced exercise.

Finally, it’s important that – just as with any bra – your sports bra is the right size. To determine your size, hop over to my blog post all about fitting yourself at home.


A good guideline is that your sports bra should fit and feel tighter than your normal bra, without being too uncomfortable. You’re exposing the girls to a lot more movement than usual so you need to strap those puppies down a bit more than usual. Don’t be shy about jumping around the changing room when you try yours on (or to your heart’s content if you order online…).

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One Reply to “Choosing a Sports Bra and Why They’re Essential”

  1. To date, I have gotten all my sports bras from Sweaty Betty in Canary Wharf. I find their sports bras to be very comfy and of an extremely high quality. Yes, they are a bit costlier than your run of the mill sports bras but they are certainly worth it. I may try out a compression sports bra as I do a lot of jogging. Thanks for a very informative article as to the different sports bra type- very good to know!

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