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Sports Crop or Sports Bra. Which is Better?

I apologise in advance if this post turns into a rant. But it is an issue that makes my blood boil (maybe a bit of a harsh description!). It is the debate of sports bra or sports crop, which one should you wear. The quick answer is ‘it depends’.

The trigger for this article was a phone call from a well-known running magazine (who shall remain nameless) trying to sell me advertising space. They are running their annual ‘Best sports bras for running’ article. Sounds good right? Wrong!

Why you ask? Simply because their list was not the best sports bras for running. Again why? The problem is brand sponsorship. Brands pay to have their sports bras on the list. As such, the list is bias towards deep pockets rather than what is best for the consumer.

It brought a tear to my eye going through the list. So many sports crops that were better suited to the yoga studio than the running track. Needless to say, I declined their invitation to advertise. If you want an unbiased ‘best sports bras for running’ go here.

The problem here is transparency and education. Unfortunately, not many media outlets are transparent. Disguising advertising in the form of education. My mission is to change this through my various media. It will take time, but my hope is that all women will one day become informed on what is the best sports bra or sports crop for them.

Sports Crops

Firstly, what is a sports crop? Quite simply, a sports crop is a bra that doesn’t have a noted cup size. They are sized according to band only. Small, medium, large, etc. Or 10, 12, 14 etc.

They are most commonly designed to fit A-D cup breasts. And therein lies the problem when it comes to high impact sports like running. The difference between an A and D cup is some 10cm! As such a bra that is designed to fit this range is not going to hold your breasts completely securely.

This may not be a problem for A or B cups as their smaller breasts do not bounce as much as a C or D cup. Bigger breasts are heavier and bounce more. Physics 101, what goes up must come down and the purpose of your sports crop is to stop that bounce.

So, if you see a sports crop advertised as a high impact running bra. Stop and ask yourself the following question: Will this support my ‘insert cup size here’ boobs. I would only be answering yes as an A or B cup and with caveats. How far will you be running? How fast will you be running? Further and faster = more bounce!

Sports crops do have their place. Gym – yes. Yoga class – yes. Bike riding – yes. At the end of the day, it is all about the intensity of the activity. Sports crop tops are perfect for less intense activities and the support they offer depends on your cup size.

Sports Bras

Next up sports bras. So, what is a sports bra? Unlike sports crop a sports bra is sized with both a back and a cup size. You may be familiar with 12D, 16FF or even 28E. All have a back and cup size designed to accurately fit that size.

The key here is ‘accurately fit’. Sports bras are designed to snugly fit their nominated size. No cup ‘range’. As such, they are more supportive as the breasts are held more securely.

As a rule of thumb high impact sports bras are perfect for high intensity sports like running. Once again with caveats. It must fit you well and be comfortable. No point wearing a high impact sports bra if it is the wrong size and is uncomfortable. Luck for you I have a blog for that! Sports Bra Fitting Essentials – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Hey what can I say I am comprehensive!

Sports bras also fill a much greater size range. You would be lucky to find a sports crop bigger than an 18 back and a select few fit a DD or E cup but they are rare. Sports bras rock the size range. 6 to 28 back and A to K cup and a huge number of combinations in between.

So, if you are outside the so called ‘normal’ size range or simply want the best in breast support then a sports bra is the perfect answer for you.

Final Thoughts

You should now be able to make an educated choice between a sports crop or sports bra. If you fall outside the so called ‘normal’ size range it is sports bras all the way. Otherwise, it comes down to exercise intent. Lower impact exercise + smaller cup size and a crop may be fine. Higher impact exercise + larger cup size and a sports bra may be best for you.

At the end of the day, it is what you feel most comfortable and supported in. If you are a 10C and love the gym, then a sports crop may be perfect for you. If you are a 14D and love running, then I would seriously consider a sports bra.

 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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