Fitness Articles

Are You Wearing the Right Sports Bra?

A Guide for Women of All Shapes and Sizes

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Below are the steps to take your own measurements.
  1. Use a tailor’s tape or cloth measuring tape when taking your measurements.
     
  2. Stand up straight, preferably in front of a mirror.
     
  3. Wear a normal (non-padded) bra, not a sports bra, when taking your measurements.
     
  4. Find your bust measurement. Wearing a non-padded bra, measure the fullest part of your chest by loosely wrapping the tape measure around your chest, making sure the tape is straight in the back and front. Once you get a number, round to the nearest whole number to get your bust measurement. 
     
  5. Find your band measurement. Measure your ribcage just under your breasts, making sure the tape is snug (not tight) and not lower in the back than in the front. 

    Your Measurement (in inches) 27" 28-30" 31-33" 34-36" 37-38"
    Band Size 30 32 34 36 38

    Past a meaurement of 38 inches, the band size will be the closest even number to your measurement.
     
  6. Find your cup size. Subtract your band measurement (step 5) from your bust measurement (step 4). Use the chart below to determine which letter is your cup size. (However, the chart becomes less accurate once you get past a 4-inch difference.)

     
    Bust – Band difference Cup Size
    1/2" AA
    1" A
    2" B
    3" C
    4" D
    5" DD or E
    6" F
    7" G

     
  7. Put your band size with your cup size and you have your bra size. (But remember, this is just a starting point to help you narrow down which options to actually try on.) Continued ›
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About The Author

Nancy Howard Nancy Howard
Nancy is an avid runner and health enthusiast. A retired pediatric nurse, she received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Texas Woman's University and is also a certified running coach and ACE-certified personal trainer.

Member Comments

  • HEIDIE1981
    So I'm a 28K and can't find a decent sports bra. I've found they do exist, however the small choices available just aren't any good. I would love to go for a run to get fit, but unless I opt for an expensive surgery, it's just not happening. - 6/23/2016 11:44:42 PM
  • Champion is the only brand I have found with a "sports" bra that works for actually playing sports (I play softball). Not many options/colors, but provides the necessary support for 44D/DD size, separation, padded straps and back closure. - 6/10/2016 1:16:40 PM
  • I just wanted to add that you should never use fabric softener on sports bras, or really any sports clothing. Fabric softener can ruin the sweat-wicking properties. - 6/9/2016 5:54:01 PM
  • ISTHATME13
    I live in Florida, so sweating is a constant issue with any bra. My doctor recommended i try a sports bra to decrease the under breast moistness and itching, That is why I read this article. I'm sure this is good information for people like the writer, who is a runner and probably not overweight and is in good physical shape. Spark People is for overweight folks - so we need something written by someone like ourselves who understands our issues and what we are going through now on our road to better physical fitness. I can't afford these luxury bras that are 70 and more dollars. I don't even pay full price for my regular everyday bras, but wait until they are on sale. Apparently in the America of today comfortable bras are only for the rich. - 6/8/2016 8:53:44 AM
  • Not a fan of sports bras, yet I sure appreciate the need to wear one when working out. The "girls" need the support...and I have finally come to understand the work a sports bra does during high impact! Fit is key, I am a fan of Old Navy's high impact line...I purchased one a few months ago. It has quickly become my favorite! - 6/8/2016 6:55:40 AM
  • My sports bra is a 34F. Why does the article refer to DD as if that is the largest size. What type of bra should large booked women get? Why should small, bosomed women be the only ones who need that information? - 6/8/2016 6:32:48 AM
  • I'm with MRSFERGU, I can't stand all bras in general... Yet, I usually wear them when I go out. As one person told me in an extremely AC office, she stated that my ASSETS were showing through my shirt (blush) - 6/8/2016 5:50:11 AM
  • MRSFERGU
    Sorry..I just don't like sports bra's. - 5/30/2016 7:06:58 PM
  • I've measured by this method as well as others and every department store has their own way. Once they get the size "they" think I fit, and pull out different brands with those size numbers, what they claim is the right size, the bras do not fit and are uncomfortable. Farther more I've discovered that I will have GERD as soon as I have on a bra, even if I haven't eaten. I take the bra off, no GERD, can eat a huge meal, and still no GERD or similar heart burn effects.

    So my best bet these past few years is to either wear like a snug ribknit tank top under my blouses or a cami top in like a 2x or 3x (again, depends on brand - some brands I have to size up, some I have to size down. ).

    I've looked at the website for Decent Exposures where they will make them for you and adjust whatever you want. I have also figured out that my trunk must be a "petite" in terms of the distance from the front of the breast over my shoulder to the back band. Every bra I've purchased the straps are always too long. The adjustable ones always slide out from their buckle. And I don't want to stop and sew up all my straps. So I have no incentive to buy a bra just to go back and stitch it to fit. I might as well be making my own from scratch. I had the same probably with strap proportions years ago when I lost 30 pounds and had to get smaller bras around the band - straps were too long. So that's my guess is that my boobs are closer to my armpits then most women my height? (My hip to waist ratio in pants is also different for the "Misses" sizing and is more in line with Junior Misses sizing - but junior misses plus usually stops at size 17 or 19, and I'd probably need a 23 or 25.)....

    I guess we all have different sizes!!

    I've also been told by bridal shops that women's breasts tend to enlarge once they go on the Pill and never go back. I never went on the pill, partly for that reason and partly for other reasons. So that might be a factor in some who need a smaller band but much larger cup sizes? Just a thought.

    So for now, I'm generally braless and... - 5/29/2016 5:55:21 PM
  • I'd say to all those ladies who are finding the sizing hard/doesn't work out right, even if you go to a store & get measured, I had a revalation some years ago that has completely changed my understanding of bra fit & sizing.

    I *thought* I was a 36D, till I realised I needed a DD. Went to that, it was 'ok' but not great. Then the boobs expanded again, and I needed an E. And the back was riding up at the back, and the support wasn't great. I assumed it was because, well, an E is huge, right?

    Nope.

    My back size was too big.

    But I can't get a 34E done up, I wailed (I tried).

    Well. I abandoned all ideas of what size I thought I was. I went and got several band sizes up AND down from what I had been wearing. Yep, I got 34, 32, 30's. And I got different cup sizes up and down too (mostly up, since I was tending to spill out of the bra I'd been wearing).

    Ladies, I discovered that if you get the cup size bigger than you think you need, the bands appear looser around your torso. And this means you size down in the band size.

    I am now wearing the right bra size for me (I've a small ribcage but plenty of padding right now) - it is a 32H.

    Yes, you hear that right, A 32 H.

    The band is snug, it doesn't ride up. The H cup contains the boobs perfectly, no overspill, no loose wrinkled fabric.

    I can wear a 34 GG, but the band rides up. I can wear a 36 G or F, but the band rides up loads.

    As soon as that band starts riding up, it's a sign the band is too big for you. ALWAYS go up a cup size - at least one - if you are dropping a band size down.

    Fit the band first and err on the side of cups being too big, THEN size the cups down till you fit perfectly.

    Chances are, you'll be in a smaller band and a much larger cup size than you expect, and while it will likely feel weird after wearing a too large band size with too small cup size for so long, it is amazing once you've tried it for a couple of days. Support is so much better. The girls point forwards, and they're not squashed flat, or trying to escape aro... - 5/29/2016 5:07:02 AM
  • I went to a bra store to be fit. Yes, it is pricey and I know some can't afford the expense, but for me it was what really needed. I take 48DDD ! I HOPE as I lose that'll go down. Even in the bra store it was HARD to find my size, but they did in a 42DDD and I bought an extention. Fits GREAT !!!! For a regular bra the above does help. One should never have anything falling out on the sides the cup should never have any extra space. if you are in between (I am currently) I'd go with the smaller cup. Especially if losing. Now if ONLY i could find some PRETTY Bra's in my size ! - 5/29/2016 1:31:42 AM
  • I am a double d therefore the only fabric I can feel as supportive enough is cotton. As for having to get new ones that frequently, would bust my budget to pieces.; I did learn other god things from this article. Thank You. - 2/19/2016 9:57:53 PM
  • Once again, SparkPeople article has missed the mark . . . . if they would consider how many women here are over 38 inches bust size . . . . most of us are way over that. - 1/28/2016 8:59:04 PM
  • Fruit of the Loom Microfiber Stretch bra, 3 for $12 at the Walsmart, and I wear two at once. Can't go wrong.
    I tried on some $70 contraption at Victoria's Secret, but all they carry are the racer back style. I wear a 36DD, and racer back bras put pressure on my upper spine and cause back pain. I tried explaining this to the A-cup salegirl when I handed the bra back to her, telling her I didn't want it, and she looked at me like I was nuts. - 1/28/2016 8:05:45 PM
  • I'm not sure this article was all that much help...I always have a hard time finding clothes that fit me, but bras are by far the worst, usually I just get a compression one in the largest size a store has. Most the stores I go to don't carry my size, or charge a ridiculous amount for one that is my "measured" size but still uncomfortable. Every place I go I'm measured a different size. I don't know if I just have a very thick body shape or if I'm just going to the wrong places. I can't afford to spend $70+ on a bra, assuming I even find my size. According to the guide in this article, I need a 42 DDD/F. I have a strapless/convert
    ible one I got for a wedding from Lane Bryant that is uncomfortable but best I could find, it's a 44B. www.herroom.com only found 3 bras it could recommend for me that are available in my size and they are All $70 or more. Ok, rant over. - 1/28/2016 12:51:14 PM

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