Sports Bra Back Types

11/02/2021

It seems that modern sports bras come in endless combinations of features. Underwired, wirefree, padded, pullover…the list goes on. Unpacking all this can be a nightmare for us women seeking to find the best sports bra for us.

Today I am going to focus on one small aspect of these features: back types. Read on as I take you though the different back types and their advantages and disadvantages.

Regular Back Sports Bra

Regular Back Sports Bra

Featured bra; Triumph Triaction Extreme Lite Sports Bra.

This is the back type we are most familiar with. And as the name suggests, it is the most common or ‘regular’ back type. Many of our everyday bras have this back type and so do most sports bras.

It’s the type where the straps go over the shoulders vertically and down at the back to connect to the band. The big plus of this back type is they are easy to put on. Simply put on the same as your everyday bra and you are away.

They are also easy to adjust allowing you to find your most comfortable fit. These style bras generally fasten at the back with a traditional hook and eye closure.

Regular back sports bras are perfect to wear as an everyday bra. They can be worn under your work clothes with the straps slightly loose. Then simply tighten the straps as you transition from work to the gym. Easy!

Convertible Back Sports Bra

A step up from regular back these sports bras ‘convert’ at the back. Converting them to more of a racerback style (more on this style later!). They can be worn either with ‘regular’ straps or ‘converted’ straps depending on your preference.

The benefit of this back type is you can easily convert your sports bra to up the support level if required. They are also perfect if you plan to train in a tank top.

There are two main types of conversions.

  1. Strap swap conversion.

Convertible Back Sports Bra

Featured bra; Berlei Shift Sports Bra.

This is where you have to manually swap the straps over at the back. Usually at the bottom where they connect to your band.

The advantage of this conversion type is the straps are kept nice and straight allowing a more comfortable fit. And even pressure across the shoulders. The disadvantage is you need to take the bra off to convert it. Not the simplest is you want to quickly transition from work to a run!

2. J-Clip conversion

J-Clip Back Sports Bra

Featured bras; Freya Active Epic Underwired Sports Bra & Sculptresse Non-Padded Sports Bra.

An alternative to swapping the straps is to simply ‘clip’ the straps together at the back to achieve more of a racerback style. This can be done whilst wearing the sports bra. Allowing you to transition from work to play a whole lot easier.

The advantage of this back type is the reduced effort required to convert your bra back. A simple clip of the straps and you are good to go! The disadvantage is quite often the clip position requires you to be a contortionist to do it up. Not good for ladies with reduced mobility in the shoulders.

Some brands like Panache have tried to alleviate this by positioning the clip higher on the back. Easier to access but can put extra pressure on the shoulders due to the extreme strap angles.

Cross Back Sports Bra

Cross Back Sports Bra

Featured bra; Triumph Triaction Seamfree Crop Top.

These sports bras have a similar back type to the convertible back sports bras whereby the straps are swapped. The difference is they are permanently crossed.

They are the first step on the way to being a true racerback sports bra. But with the straps still straight from the shoulders to the band. The offer all the benefits of a convertible back sports bra without the flexibility.

Racerback Sport Bra

Racerback Sports Bra

Featured bra; Anita Active DynamiXstar Racerback Sports Bra.

Ok, on to Racerback sports bras. A favourite of many women due to the extra support they can offer. I’m personally a fan of this back type. It does offer a little more support and looks good under a sports singlet. The other big advantage: the straps don’t slip off! A major sports bra annoyance is no more. Enjoy your run without having to constantly adjust slipping straps.

The disadvantage, and it’s a big one for many women. You need to be a contortionist to put them on or at the very least a master’s degree in sports bras! Some brands have tried to alleviate this issue by incorporating a clip design at the back. But this does not reduce the complexity of putting it on.

That said, if you exercise a lot or love the advantages offers the effort is very much worth the reward.

T-Back Sports Bra

T-Back Sports Bra

Featured bra; Royce Impact Free Flex Fit Sports Bra.

Finally, our last back type, T-back sports bras. These take the racerback idea to the extreme. Kicking the shoulder straps into a single vertical strap that connects to the band. It’s meant to form a ‘T’ but looks more like a ‘Y’ to me. Y-back, can that be a new style?

Their advantages and disadvantages are similar to those of a Racerback style. But are more suitable to wear under tops that also really kick in at the back.

So, there you have it. Sports bra back types all done and dusted. You now know the different types available and their pros and cons. As always back type often comes down to a matter of personal preference and your intended use of the sports bra.

Choose a back style that best suits you and hit your next workout in comfort and style!

Yours in Support.

Amy x


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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