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How to Choose the Best Sports Bra For Every Type of Activity_Banner Image

How to Choose the Best Sports Bra for Every Type of Activity

Hi there, it’s Amy from Sports Bras Direct. A question I get asked a lot is what sports bra is the best for running, or cycling, or for yoga? As you can imagine there isn’t a simple answer. A miracle sports bra that best suits all activities and types of exercise.

We are all different, as too are our energy levels, the activities we do and the sports bras we wear. Add these three factors together and it is easy to see why there is no simple answer!

Fear not though, as today I will break down the important factors. Helping you to perfectly match the sports bra to your desired activity.

Read on to discover how to find the best sports bra for your activity.

Think About Support

I have said it time and time again. The primary purpose of a sports bra is to support you. Activities like aerobic exercise, creates breast bounce, and we want our sports bra to arrest our chests so we can focus on our workout. Regular exercise is good (a few times a week) and provides several health benefits, but an ill-fitting sports bra can keep you from enjoying these exercise programs.

So, how do we ensure we are getting the support we need for our chosen activity? The answer is surprisingly simple.

You may have heard of the term ‘impact level’ when describing a sports bra. If not or you would like a refresher, check out ‘Sports Bra Impact Levels – What Do They Mean?’ to find out more or to have a refresher.

Quite simply sports bras impact levels measure the bounce control they provide. And are measured as low impact, medium impact, high impact, and more recently extreme impact has been added (think 6-star hotel!).

Low impact = low bounce control. High impact = high bounce control. You get the picture. The first question that comes to mind is why not just use the term ‘Bounce Control’ to measure bounce control?

I don’t know the answer but suspect it has to do with marketing. ‘High Impact’ is shorter and is more marketable than ‘High Bounce Control’. Interestingly, some brands have started to use the latter when advertising the support level of their sports bras.

Maybe we are becoming a little more progressive with our sports bras. Anyway, I digress. Back on topic.

We now understand impact levels. The next step is to match the impact level with our chosen activity. This is as simple as thinking of how much breast bounce your activity creates for you.

This is important as we are all different and the breast bounce a sport creates for your B cup friend may be different to FF cup you!

Let’s take a further look.

Low Impact

As the name suggests these sports bras suit sports that create a ‘low’ amount of breast bounce. Think Yoga, Pilates, Barre or going for a slow walk.

All these activities are quite mild and do not create much movement in your chest. As such any sports bra marked ‘low impact’ should do the trick and nope, crop tops won’t work (neither are they workout clothes). As long as it satisfies the comfort, size and style requirements below.

Medium Impact

The next impact level up is medium impact. And you guessed it, medium impact sports bras are perfect for activities that create a moderate amount of breast bounce.

Activities such as Golf, Cycling and Gym, or brisk walk fall into this category. All, as a rule, create moderate breast bounce so medium support is generally enough.

High Impact

This is the most crowded level in the impact space. Check any search engine and ‘high impact sports bras’ is by far the most searched. As such, brands have worked to accommodate this demand by designing and creating ever more high impact styles.

This is both a blessing and a curse as not all high impact sports bras are created equal. As a rule, this is the domain of structured sports bras. Be wary of any sports crop claiming to be high impact.

That said, if you run, play AFL or love a game of badminton then a high impact sports bra could be for you.

Extreme Impact

A recent addition to the impact family is extreme impact. As with just about anything, brands want to get the one up on the competitor. Enter the extreme impact sports bra!

Personally, I think it is a great addition as the high impact space is cluttered with sports bras that claim to be high impact. But often that claim is dubious.

If you go hard at your chosen regular physical activity, be it tennis, netball or sprinting, or you have a bit more up top and would like the best support possible. Then extreme impact could be for you.


Even though I have attempted to categorise activities by impact level it is important to match the impact level with YOUR level of breast bounce. If ever you are unsure that the sports bra impact level suits the activity, then err on the side of caution and go up an impact level. Your breasts will thank you!

Then About Comfort

All the support in the world equals nought if your sports bra is too uncomfortable to wear. Sure, your breasts might not bounce but if your sports bra rubs then it is guaranteed to stay in the wardrobe.

So, how do you ensure a comfortable fit? My blog ‘10 Common Fitting Problems & How to Solve Them’ will guide you in your quest for fit perfection. If your sports bra solves these 10 points, then it is the perfect fit for you.

You often find there is a trade off between support and comfort. The higher the support level, the lower the comfort level.

To an extent this is true. A low impact crop top generally feels a lot more comfortable than an extreme impact sports bra.

That said, modern sports bras are made of soft, technical fabrics that are designed to withstand harsh treatment with comfort.

Look for soft, seam free styles that minimise the chance of the dreaded rub. If you are experiencing rub, then my article ‘5 Ways to Prevent Sports Bra Chafing’ will help you find a solution.

At the end of the day comfort often means getting out there and trying your new sports bra and then making the necessary adjustments to ensure your comfort level is increased next time.

There are several online shops where you can get the best sports bras in Australia, but not one with specialists to assist you. We’re Australia’s only sports bra specialist, so I encourage you to take a look at my store for options.

Finally, Size & Style

Size First

All too often I see women trying to squeeze themselves into the wrong size sports bra. This is often an ego thing. Size 12 sounds better than a 14. Or can simply be a misunderstanding, a small, tight sports bra will offer better support.

I can tell you now, that is not true. Squashing the girls in doesn’t ensure better support. In fact, it is quite the opposite. A 12D sports bra is built to support a, you guessed it, 12D bust. Not a 14DD!

The solution is as simple as one, two, three. One, measure your band size. Two, measure your bust size. Three, plug the two measurements into my Bra Size Calculator. And hey presto you have your size!

Unfortunately, this is only half of the answer. Each brand has its own size anomalies. So, don’t get tripped up at this final hurdle. Luckily for you, my ‘Determine Your Size’ page has brand specific size guides to reference.

The best test is the try test. Once you have the sports bra that you think will fit. Try it on. Once again my blog ‘10 Signs You Are Wearing the Wrong Bra Size’ will help you ensure things are the right fit for you.

Style Second

The final piece of the puzzle is style. Quite simply, does the style match your chosen activity.

If you run, you might want a racerback style to free up your shoulders. If you love yoga and have more up top, a full coverage style will stop you popping out when performing the downward dog.

You get the picture. Make a list of your sports bra style wants. Wants that suit your chosen activity. And try to tick them off the list when you go sports bra shopping.

You may not be able to tick all of them. List them in priority and go from there. There are plenty of sports bras online you can choose from, so you shouldn’t have a hard time looking.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. Choosing the best sports bra for any weight loss activity or your regular exercise routine isn’t that hard.

First, ensure the impact level matches the level of breast bounce your activity creates for you. Second, make sure the sports bra you choose is comfortable. Finally, ensure the size and style suits your body type.

Get these three things in sync and you have found the perfect sports bra for your activity. What I like to call ‘sports bra nirvana!’

Yours in support.

Amy x

Amy Jaffers

Amy is the face behind Sports Bras Direct, Australia’s largest sports bra website. She's a mother of two, outdoors lover and sports bra expert. Her life mission is to help active women get the support they need as well as assisting women in need through her charitable donations.

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