Why Wearing the Right Size Sports Bra Is Important

You’re picky when it comes to the shoes you exercise in—they must be comfortable, flexible, breathable and have extra cushioning to handle impact. But why aren’t you just as selective when it comes to the other apparel you wear while getting your sweat on, like, ahem, the type that supports your breasts?

“It’s important to wear the right size bra in general, but even more so when it comes to a sports bra,” says Nicole Kivitz from The Chantelle Group, a 130-year-old lingerie brand that recently launched a new line of sports bras. “When you’re working out, you need support, lift and separation, and you want to feel good,” she says.

That’s a lot of qualities for an average bra to fulfill, so we sought out her expertise to learn how to shop for the best bra for your workout.

What should you know before shopping for a sports bra?

First and foremost, know what size bra you really are. Victoria’s Secret might have told you you were a 36B back in high school, but chances are, you’re not anymore. “I recommend getting a professional bra fitting once a year, as your body goes through so many changes—not just from weight gain or loss—and your bra size fluctuates with every change,” says Kivitz. Also know which style you feel is most comfortable and which one will give you the most support. The average sports bra is designed with two large shoulder straps that distribute weight evenly (great for bigger cups!), while racerbacks cinch in the back and have secure straps that sit flush against your body. Should you opt for a simple pullover with no bells and whistles, or a bra with a back clasp that lets you loosen or tighten the band? All decisions you should make before you start shopping.

Do you need a different sports bra for each type of exercise?

Not exactly. However, you do need a high-impact sports bra for classes like HIIT, boot camps, boxing, rowing and running. “Too much bounce is not good for breast health, so it’s important to have a highly supportive sports bra for these types of activities,” Kivitz says.

How do you know you’re wearing the right size?

Deciding the appropriate size sports bra isn’t as simple as checking the tag on your favorite white tee. “Your shirt size has nothing to do with your breast size, so always go with your bra size after you’ve had a professional fitting,” says Kivitz. “And steer clear of bras that come only in sizes small, medium or large.”

What qualities should you look for in a sports bra?

Whether you anticipate sweating up a storm during your workout class, you want to find something that’s breathable and comfortable. “Depending on your activity, you might want to loosen or tighten the straps, so opt for a bra that will allow you to do so.” You also want something that’s easy to get on and off—especially when all that sweat you’ve mustered up during class starts sticking by the time you hit the shower.

What qualities should you avoid in a sports bra?

“Compression—when there’s no separation and containment of the breasts (AKA uniboob),” says Kivitz. “This also leads to many women wearing a compression bra over a regular bra, or two compression bras together to get enough support, when all they really need is one high-impact bra in the correct size.”

Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Love cats? Cheese? Mac n' Cheese? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.