I do Crossfit (wow, what an opener—I promise not to mention it 800 more times in this article), so finding a sports bra that is going to contain my boobs is of utmost importance. Because as any well-endowed woman likely knows, doing high-impact activities in a sports bra that doesn’t keep your chest in check is downright painful… and certain movements can sometimes jiggle your boobs straight out of your bra. Case in point: one time I was doing deadlifts and my boob full-on popped out—Thank goodness my tank top covered everything and I was able to safely tuck things back in place without anyone seeing nipple. At least, that’s what I tell myself. Someone may have seen. Moving on. Being paranoid about my boob flying out is not the energy I need when I’m working out.
Naturally, it’s stressful to take a new sports bra out for a spin during high impact activities. I have no idea going in how it’s going to hold up to burpees and running and box jumps. Luckily there are a few tests you can do when shopping for a bra that will let you know if it’s safe to wear during HIIT. I asked Jennifer Bandier, founder of Bandier, and Lauren Vickers, F45 Athletics team manager to share their tips on how to pick a supportive sports bra.
“In looking for a bra with the ultimate support, I would first look for wide straps. This gives a good anchor point for the bra,” Bandier advises. Wide straps are also on Vickers’ list: “They’re not always the prettiest, but they give a wide base of support on the shoulders and don’t dig in as much as skinny straps,” she says.
Vickers recommends looking for a sports bra that is sized by bra size, versus sizing like small/medium/large, especially if you have big boobs and a smaller ribcage. “Choosing a sports bra that is specific to a bra cup size and easily adjusted in the back makes sure that the fit is secure and the girls aren’t going anywhere, no matter what exercise you’re performing,” she says.
Adjustability is another component to consider. “Think hook and eye tape at the bottom band, o-rings and sliders on the straps… anything that can make it perfectly adjusted for you,” Bandier says. “If you are bigger busted, I would also look for some sort of internal structure, like molded cups. Extra points for strategic mesh insets for breathability.”
When you try on your sports bra, look for a fit that is firm but not too snug: The bra shouldn’t gape at the sides, and it should lift and support your breasts. “Also, a handy tip is to avoid buying a sports bra that is too tight,” Vickers says. “When you pop it on, take a few deep hard breaths. Does it pinch? Is it restrictive? We want to be comfortable enough to forget about our workout clothes as soon as we step onto the gym floor and focus on getting it done.”
Once your sports bra is on, put it through a short series of movements to see if it will hold up to your high intensity activities. “In the fitting room, some jumping jacks are key to see how much you are moving around. Throw in a quick downward dog to check that you won’t fall out or give anyone an unintended free show,” Bandier says. Vickers also recommends doing some high knees. If your boobs seems secure, then it’s a winner and you can go do your box jumps without fear of flashing anyone. Praise be.
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