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The Girlfriend's Guide To The Perfect Sports Bra

A well-fitting one can make or break a workout.

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gif of 6 different sports bras
Meiko Takechi Arquillos
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Raise your hand if you still wear a sports bra purchased during the aughties, before  kids, or before J. Lo wore that plunging Versace dress to the Grammys. (*Raises hand for all three.) It’s time to upgrade. A well-fitting sports bra can make or break a workout, says Nicole Rendone, design director for Nike Bras and Innovation. She knows: She remembers running through New York City at age 18 wearing two sports bras … plus one regular bra underneath … in an effort to keep her breasts on lockdown. “I also saw other women jogging by, and their bras were clearly not working for them, either.”

A crappy sports bra can ruin more than just a workout. Research conducted by LaJean Lawson, sports bra science and marketing consultant to Champion Athleticwear, shows that C- and D-cup nipples can accelerate from zero to 45 mph in a single second — faster than a Ferrari, bouncing in a figure-eight movement. “Our breasts are loosely attached to the chest with fairly wimpy, easily stretched ligaments,” Lawson says. “Continual stress and stretching, which happens when you don’t have a supportive sports bra, can contribute to permanent sagginess, just like wearing heavy earrings can stretch your earlobes.”

Unfortunately, many of us have a tendency to hold on to old sports bras, even after pregnancy, weight fluctuations and countless launderings have rendered them ill-fitting and unsupportive. Make it up to your chest with one of the following:

Small-chested (A-B) plus medium-to-high impact

Try: Nike Indy Women's JDI Light Support Sports Bra (straps across cleavage and in back provide extra support and compression for yoga, barre, Pilates; Dri-FIT sweat-wicking technology; removable slip-in cups), $40

Also, try the UA Armour® Crossback Clutch Sports Bra ($50).


Large-chested (C-D and up) plus low impact

Try: Handful Y-Back Bra (wicking lining; no hardware; removable pads to prevent nipple show-through; reflective logo on back), $56

Also, try the Sweaty Betty Ultra Run Bra ($65).


Large-chested (C-D and up) plus medium-to-high impact

Try: Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Women's Sports Bra (30 percent lighter than other high-support bras; same Flyknit technology used in Nike footwear for minimum bounce; underwire-free; nearly seamless), $80

Try: Champion’s The Absolute Zip Sports Bra (zipper front with lock for easy on-off; lightly molded cups; chafe-resistant bottom band; loop adjuster in back), $30