No matter what exercise you do, the most important bit of fitness kit you can own as a woman is a sports bra. It doesn’t matter what cup size you are, all boobs deserve to be supported properly when we work out. Our breasts are literally only supported by two relatively weak structures: ligaments and the skin covering the breast, and so unless we offer some additional support in the form of a sports bra we could end up suffering from breast pain and over time the breasts may start sagging.
But buying a new sports bra is an absolute minefield, as there are so many different types out there, it can be pretty overwhelming. All the different support types, different colours and styles, whether they have fastenings or pull straight over your head, if they have padding, are they machine washable, and then of course you need to make sure you get one that fits correctly. There’s a lot to think about.
In terms of the level of support you will need from a sports bra, and obviously this will to some extent depend on your size (the larger the boobs the more support they’ll need), you need to think about the type of exercise you’ll be doing. Here’s a rough guide to help you:
- Low Impact Bra – yoga, walking, Pilates.
- Medium Impact Bra – weightlifting, cycling, rowing.
- High Impact Bra – running, team sports, HIIT workouts, dancing.
It is advisable to always try on a new sports bra before committing to buying it. If you’re in store you can try it on in the changing rooms and many shops will have assistants who can help with fitting. Or if you’ve ordered online, take a look at the size guides on the websites to help you when ordering, and remember you can send back any items that you’re not happy with.
Here are some key factors you should be thinking about when buying a sports bra:
- Is the band of the bra firm and level around your whole body? Remember you want to feel supported, so if you feel restricted or it digs in at all you will need a bigger size.
- Do the shoulder straps sit comfortably on your shoulders? If they’re digging in or falling off that’s no good.
- Do your breasts fill the whole cup? If you can fit your whole hand in the cup with your boob or if they’re bulging over the top, you haven’t got the right cup size.
- Does it feel tight? That’s good, you want it to. A sports bra is always going to feel tighter than your usual daytime bra.
- Is it comfortable? Probably the most important question of all. You want to be able to feel it, but not so much that it feels like it’s cutting off half your blood circulation! Look for stretchy, soft, moisture wicking fabric for the ultimate in comfort.
So now we know what we’re looking for in a sports bra, let’s take a look at the Yvette sports bra as an example of a high impact sports bra that I’m loving right now.
Yvette High Impact Sports Bra
I’ve been running now for just over six years and throughout that time I’ve had many different sports bras. As a small breasted woman, I have totally been guilty of wearing bras without enough support. When you’ve not got much up top it’s easy to think it doesn’t matter and that wearing any crop top style sports bra will do. But your boobs need support no matter what size they are, and this is something I have learnt along the way.
This bold blue high impact sports bra is ideally suited to high impact activities such as running, as the criss cross straps help to hold everything in place from the back while the soft molded cups at the front have a microfiber lining that reduces the risk of repetitive friction chafing. Now, I want to talk a bit more about these molded cups, because you see I am all for a padded cup. It’s not that I don’t love my small boobs (I do, they totally come with benefits) but equally I’m grateful for a bit of oomph in that department. Plus, it helps even everything out and is so good at hiding perky nipples on a cold day (if you know, you know). What I particularly like about the padding on this bra is that it is non-removeable, hence it being molded. I don’t know about you lot, but when a bra has removeable pads it’s just downright annoying right? They fall out in the wash, it’s a nightmare to cram them back in and get them in the right place again, they bunch up, fold in on themselves, turn upside down and the resulting look is very misshapen, albeit padded, boobs. Not a good look. These wireless, molded cups however, are there to stay. And they make your boobs look incredible!
The one thing about doing high impact exercise is that you are going to sweat, a lot. And while that’s a good thing – sweating is our body’s very own air conditioning system – it can become incredibly uncomfortable if the clothes we’re wearing can’t handle the extra moisture. This particular sports bra has a couple of key features that helps combat this problem:
- Air hole panel – this means air can flow more freely thus preventing sweat build up.
- Sweat-wicking fabric – this allows excess moisture to be pulled away from the body and out through the fabric so that it can then evaporate.
Things I love about this bra – the colour (isn’t the colour pop blue just gorgeous!), the distinctive cut out design (both stylish and practical), the fact that it’s machine washable (the mum in me), the non-jiggle support it gives me when I run, and those non-removeable molded cups (they just do it for me).
Yvette Medium Support Gym Bra
As well as running, I like to do strength training at home and go on long dog walks in the hilly forests near my home. Both of these activities are less impactful than running and so are best suited to a medium support bra, such as the Shift Racerback Mesh Padded Gym Bra pictured above.
Much like the high impact sports bra, this also features non-removable molded cups (hooray) and has a hook and eye closure with three adjustable widths. I am an absolute sucker for a racerback bra, not just for the look, but I also really like the support it offers. It’s the kind of tightness that says, “I’m here, I’ve got your back, don’t worry” but at the same time doesn’t constrict movement and gently moves with your body. And the same also goes for the fact that this bra is wireless, something which in my mind should always be the case with a good sports bra. Underwiring has its place in bras, don’t get me wrong, but in a sports bra… completely unnecessary.
So, if we go back to our tick list at the beginning of this article and remind ourselves of what it is we’re looking for in a bra we can see that this has a wide elasticated band… tick. It has straps that sit comfortably on my shoulders… tick. My boobs fill the cups without bulging over… tick. It’s comfortable… tick. And it doesn’t feel tight… tick.
Throw in the fact that it looks pretty damn hot – those mesh panels are something else, right!?! And that when I’m wearing it, I feel as though I can do my workout safe in the knowledge that my boobs are being held in place, I’d say this is a bra that ticks all the boxes.
In addition to the sports bras, Yvette also sent me this pair of Sculpt Side Pocket Mesh Running Leggings, which are perfect for high impact exercise. As a runner I expect certain things from my leggings:
- I want somewhere to store my phone (these have a handy side pocket large enough for a phone)
- I want the fabric to be stretchy and comfortable but also support and move with me as I run (these have four way stretch and a high-waist design)
- I want them to look good (hello mesh panels!)
- And I want them to not get all sweaty and horrible (they’re made from moisture wicking material and those mesh panels aren’t just for looks, they’re breathable too, result!)
Most importantly, when it comes to choosing what sportswear to wear, I want to feel confident and comfortable. I am at a stage in my life where I am 100% happy with my body and I want to dress it in clothes that show it off, and I feel like the Yvette brand allows me to do this.
With free standard delivery to the UK, a 100% satisfactory return service, and prices that are totally purse friendly (you’re looking at £36 for the leggings and £30-£34 for the bras) Yvette have got your backs, bums and boobs covered.
*This is a collaboration with Yvette, however all words and opinions are my own.