Finding a decent sports bra that's functional and looks good is no easy task, so we've done the research for you. Words: Amy Strode.
Over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder, rack pack, booby trap. Whatever you call your bra, you know the drill – the perfect bra can improve your mood, your outfit, your posture: your life. The same goes for sports bras. As a self-confessed sports bra aficionado, I've been through my ups and downs, and have scoured the shops for the finest fitness bosom buddies available.
There's a lot of science behind sports bras, which I would gladly bore you with but I'm sure you have a VPT session to get to. In a nutshell, you wouldn't run a marathon in 5 inch stilettos for fear of injury, so don't try it in your best lingerie either. Luckily, there's now a huge range of more fashionable sports bras on the market too, so you can still look fit while keeping fit.
The Classic One – Shock Absorber
When you think 'classic', you think elegance, luxury, style. This is far from that. But it's reliable, sturdy and the kind of thing you end up telling strangers about in nightclub toilets because you love it so much. This, my friends, is the Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra. Even its name exudes superhero status. This bra is any cardio-loving girl's best friend.
Pros: It's lightweight, breathable and comes in a few colours other than black and white so it still works nicely under those Gymbox Rave lights. The best part? This not-so sexy little number reduces bounce by 78% during high-impact activities. Try it for yourself and you'll understand- less movement than the foreheads on TOWIE. Yes, it makes you look slightly like a pre-pubescent boy, but I always wear a colourful padded crop over it to detract from this!
Cons: The Houdini-esque straps. But nobody said 78% bounce reduction would be easy. It is less bra more machine but practice makes perfect – and, hey, it's like a warm-up getting it on in the first place.
Sizes: 30A (no excuses, petite ladies) up to 38F. For larger sizes, a good alternative is the Shock Absorber Active D+ Classic Support.
The Sexy and I Know It One – Victoria's Secret
What blog about fitness underwear would be complete without the brand synonymous with buff beach bodies and knickers? Introducing the Victoria's Secret Knockout Front Close Sports Bra. If you didn't think sports bras could be sexy, think again. You may feel like you're beetroot red and stinking after your Bike & Beats class but you're wrong! In this bra, those droplets of sweat shine like diamonds and you've got that perfect private island spa break glow... honest.
Pros: The material feels great, if a little thick, but the straps don't dig in, or leave those lovely indentations you get with some bras. Also, if you feel self-conscious about wearing a regular sports bra this provides a natural boost. You might even feel so great wearing it you want to try out the seductive unzipping pose above from across the free weights area, but I wouldn't recommend this, as people could either mistake you for the actual Candace Swanepoel, or a total creep.
Cons: VS claim this one is "perfect for running, boxing and cardio", but I tried a couple of jumping jacks in the fitting room and it was about as supportive as Katy Hopkins at a Slimming World weigh-in. If you want that "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" effect, go for it! If not, save this one for your weight training, spin or acrobatic/dance classes.
Sizes: 32A up to 40DDD (I didn't know triple D was a thing)
The At One With Nature One – Yoga Bras
Sweaty Betty sell loads of delicate, pretty yoga bras but for now we'll look at Exhibit A, the Brahma Bamboo Padded Yoga Bra. For lower-impact classes, this is a dainty cushion for your bosom so you can really breathe easy through your sun salutations. It isn't everyone's cup of tea and the coverage may leave you feeling more Playboy bunny than yoga bunny, but I've heard people swear by these.
Pros: As well as allowing super flexibility, this bra feels like heaven- it's like a newborn puppy for your puppies. There are polyamide alternatives if you can't bear the thought of perspiring on such great material, but the antibacterial qualities in bamboo make the Brahma a good option for those prone to skin irritation. Who cares if the pandas are hungry when your breasts can be so comfortable?
Cons: As I said, coverage isn't great. The padding does allow for an au naturel shape but I couldn't help feeling a little exposed in this – when I realised my downward-facing dog had become a little X-rated, mine worked just as well for rest days, i.e. nursing a hangover whilst watching non-stop episodes of Planet Earth, so every cloud and all that. If you too are a little self-conscious, or if you're after more support, Sweaty Betty also does a lightweight resistance workout bra.
Sizes: XS (around a 6) up to L (around a 16)- trying on definitely recommended!
The Eat-Sleep-Commute-Work-Gym-Rave-Repeat One – Nike Pro Rival
If you're having one of those days where there aren't enough minutes let alone hours, let this be your new go-to. Like a Filofax, but more stylish. The Nike Pro Rival (here in a snazzy dalmatian print – Cruella eat your heart out) is a great option for those cramming a Gymbox quickie between endless meetings and social gatherings.
Pros: The sleek, modern design makes this a great staple to transition from desk to gym as it can be worn under normal clothes without being too restrictive or flattening your assets. Alternatively, chuck this lightweight number in your kit bag for drinks after your workout, maybe as part of that whole underwear as outerwear trend with some high waisted trousers. Don't ask me if that trend is still going – I'm not Gok Wan, but I do know this is one bad-boy of a bra that you'll want to show off.
Cons: When I say this is suitable for a shorter session at Gymbox, I mean it. It's more suited to lower-impact activities or dance than hardcore cardio, as the feminine shape sacrifices a little support. Save this one for the desk, the weights, Ballet Barre, or the actual bar. And if you end up staying for more than one G&T, it will soak up late night dance floor sweats and early morning alcohol sweats when you wake up in yesterday's clothes.
Sizes: 30A-38DD (sizing may be limited online)
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