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9 tips for choosing the perfect sports bra for your workout


Photo: Instagram/Karlie Kloss
Photo: Instagram/Karlie Kloss

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Finding the perfect sports bra is like searching for your soulmate: You know it’s out there waiting for you but you’ll probably go through some serious underachievers before you find the right one. Some won’t give you enough breathing room and others won’t hold up under pressure. (Been there, done that!) And then there are the ones that just don’t fit no matter how much we like them. That’s when it’s time to call in the reinforcements.

Meet Linda “The Bra Lady” Becker, owner of Linda’s Bra Salon in New York City, the premier bra-fitting destination on the East Coast—in other words, your new best friend.

She’s outlined nine red flags that will help you decide if you and your sports bra are really meant to be. Read on, and never experience bad bounce again.

1. Pullover bras

“All bras, including sports bras, should have an adjustable back band because they wear out and your body weight changes. You’ll need to tighten the back band to maintain support. You should start out on the loosest hook when you buy the bra and work your way in as it stretches. We don’t carry any pullover sports bras at my store. We call them the fake bras. They do nothing.”

2. Bras that regularly go in the dryer

“You should wash your sports bra by hand with a lingerie wash and hang it up to dry. If it doesn’t have an underwire, you can place it in a washer-safe garment bag and put it in the machine on cold. The dryer will kill the elastic!”

3. Low-impact bras for high-impact sports

“Sports bras come in all different compressions. If you’re running, you’ll want a high-impact sports bra. If you’re doing yoga or Pilates, you’ll need a low-impact sports bra. You need to match the right bra to the right exercise.”

4. Bras that give you the “double boob”

“Ten years ago, if you were a large-chested woman, you were in big trouble. There were no sports bras to choose from so you inevitably wore bras that were too small. Now, there are great options that go all the way up to a J cup. Don’t compromise!”

5. Bras you wear too often

“If you’re working out three or four times a week, you should have about three or four sports bras. If you’re working out seven days a week, you should have more. You need to rotate your bras because there’s a lot of elastic in them and it gets stretched out faster if you don’t.”

6. Bras labeled small, medium, or large

“Sports bras shouldn’t be generic sizes (small, medium, large), unless you’re a girl with a smaller chest, like a 30 or 32A. For everyone else, shop for cup-sized sports bras that will keep your breasts stationary while you work out. Too much movement is bad for your breasts and can be extremely uncomfortable. You should feel very contained in your sports bra. If you don’t, I guarantee you have on the wrong size. So, if you’ve never been fitted by a professional, now’s the time to book an appointment.”

7. Bras that are “expired”

“Sports bras are made to be durable so they should last longer than your everyday bras if you take care of them. Three sports bras worn once per week can last you one year to one and a half years, depending on your cup size. Bras for larger breasts will wear out faster. If your bra is riding up your back, if your breasts are sagging or bouncing in your bra, or if your bra is starting to look beaten up, it’s time for a new one.”

8. Bras that make you break out

“If you’re wearing a sports bra that makes you break out, stop wearing it. You might be allergic to the elastic, the hooks or the fabric. Or it could just be an effect of sweating a lot. If that’s the case, try a more breathable fabric. Often, larger-chested women will put a thin layer of perfume-free powder between their breasts to prevent irritation. It works!”

9. Bras with no panels

“The more panels you have on a sports bra, the more support you have. So, look at your bra before you buy it. If the bra is smooth and all one piece, then there are no panels. Some of the best sports bras have up to 10 to 12 panels! Choose wisely.”

Now that you’ve nailed down the best sports bra for your spin class, here’s how to choose the rest of your outfit. If yoga is more your speed, these tips are for you. And no matter how you like to sweat, make sure you steer clear of packing these items in your gym bag. 

By Maria Denardo for Teen Vogue