When it comes to bras, anyone whose cups runneth over will tell you that it’s all fun and games until you set off for a swift 5k or 7am HIIT class with inadequate support. Workouts can be tough enough without adding avoidable pain and discomfort to the list – and that’s why it’s essential to invest in a supportive sports bra.
For the uninitiated: exercise in an ill-fitting bra is an absolute non-starter at the best of times, and straightforwardly masochistic for those of us with bigger busts. It’s painful, distracting and is enough to make one consider giving up on exercise altogether. What’s more, it can cause bruising, rubbing and even lasting damage to posture.
If you want to perform at your best, then a top quality sports bra is an essential investment.
There is a wealth of sports bras on the market – but how many of these truly cater for women with large breasts? Here we’ll explain what to look out for, and reveal some of our very favourite options.
The best sports bras for large breasts: At a glance
How to choose the best sports bra for a bigger bust
What kind of sports bra is suitable?
Sports bra come in three main types: low-impact, medium-impact and high-impact. Low-impact sports bras are, as the name suggests, suitable for less strenuous activities or for smaller busts. Medium-impact bras are more of an all-round choice, as these often have enough compression and support to allow larger bosoms to tackle everything from low-impact to high-impact activities. High-impact sports bras provide the most compression and support possible – if you need a bra that keep you comfortable during the most hectic of workouts, or the most punishing of runs, then this is the type of bra to go for.
How can I tell if my sports bra fits?
A sports bra should fit more tightly than a regular bra but shouldn’t make you feel suffocated or as if you can’t breathe deeply. The straps shouldn’t be stretched taut over your shoulders – you should be able to get a couple of fingers under the strap without too much trouble – and you should be able to get a finger under the lower band or around the edge of the cup. Any sagging, bagging, wrinkling or gaps between the skin and bra is a sign the bra is too big.
Is it comfortable when you’re standing?
Does it dig in anywhere? Do you feel like you are too constricted? Any feelings of discomfort will only be exacerbated midway through an intense Bikram yoga or weights session.
But by the same token, does it feel tight enough? Anything that feels loose is going to be a waste of time – you need the bra to support and hold your bust in place.
Is it secure when you’re moving?
We recommend jumping up and down or running on the spot when you first try a sports bra – this will give you a good indication as to what your bra is capable of. You should experience little to no movement in the chest area but still be able to move your arms easily without restriction.
What does it look like?
We can’t say that sports bras, especially those that are designed for larger busts, are the height of elegance but that’s not to say that there are no great-looking options on the market. The straps are almost certainly going to be thick, there is going to be full coverage at the front with plenty of reinforcement material at the back. Most of the bras in this round up include a cross-back feature which contributes extra support.
How do I look after my sports bra?
Most bras can be machine washed but the best way of caring for any bra is to hand wash and air dry if possible. This is to help maintain any elasticity in the structure and prevent material fraying or sagging.
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The best sports bras for large breasts 2021
1. Maaree Solidarity High Impact Sports Bra: Best all-round high-impact sports bra
Price: £64 | Buy now from Maaree
Designed by a professional sportswear tester, it’s little surprise that this bra has won a whole heap of awards. It was so popular when it first launched that it sold out and garnered a waiting list of some 4,000 people.
If you are expecting big things you won’t be disappointed. This is a blooming brilliant bra for women with big breasts: it manages to hold you in securely without feeling like your chest has been wrapped. The USP is the Overband® – a curved panel that runs over the top of the breasts, to provide extra support and reduce upward motion when exercising. The reduction of upward motion ‘stabilises’ the movement of the chest.
This was certainly the case during our test – a 10k run up and down hills and over rough terrain provided plenty of opportunity for bumps, but it was comfortable throughout.
This is also pretty chic for a sports bra – the fabric is shiny and the straps are as fine as they can be while still providing optimal support. They can of course be adjusted, made into a cross back and the main back fastening is three hooks wide.
Key features – Largest size: 38G; Material: 85% Polyamide, 15% Elastane; Colours available: 2 (black, coral)
Buy now from Maaree
2. Sweaty Betty High Intensity Sports Bra: Best lightweight high-impact bra
Price: £55 | Buy now from Sweaty Betty
This is super lightweight and sleek – and before you put it on you might be forgiven for thinking it’s a little flimsy. But you’d be wrong. Thanks to a ingenious ‘compression’ design and high neckline, this bra offers support for even the highest impact sports including running, HIIT and tennis.
We loved the quick drying fabric, too. It makes the handwashing process a doddle and means you can wear it on consecutive days without worrying about laundry cycles.
There are mesh panels that let sweat out and air in, helping to keep you cool throughout your workout: there is nothing worse than feeling insufferably hot. We can confirm that on an eight-mile run in 22 degrees, we felt refreshed.
In terms of looks, this is a chic, understated beauty – as you’d expect from Sweaty Betty – not at all bulky or cumbersome. We wore it as a racer back for running but disconnected the link to create a U-back for low-impact exercise including Pilates and yoga.
Key features – Largest size: 38F; Material: 76% Polyamide, 14% Elastane, 10% Polyester; Colours available: 1 (black)
Buy now from Sweaty Betty