I’ve always been busty, but thanks to some recent weight gain, my boobs have nearly tripled in size. This means all the bras I own have been rendered useless, which, in turn, means “not owning an adequate bra” has recently shot to the top of my list of excuses to avoid working out. Let’s be honest: Exercise can be no fun, and it’s even less fun when you can’t find a sports bra to exercise in because you have tig ol’ bitties.
But I’ve decided to embark on a wellness journey that will require low- to high-impact activity, and that means I need a sports bra that fits. It’s no secret the fitness industry isn’t exactly inclusive of bustier babes—let alone fat bodies—so despite some companies making an effort to accommodate bigger breasts, finding a sports bra that can effectively minimize bounce is more stressful than it should be for women with bigger boobs.
So I set out in search of the perfect activewear. There were times I wanted to give up the hunt and justify staying firmly secured to my couch—it would be easier than the task at hand, after all. But in the end, I found several brands that actually work and knew I had to share.
The first, and perhaps most obvious, answer to the question, “Where do I find a bra that fits my gigantic bosom?!” is Target. The answer is nearly always Target. But sizing at Target is weird.
The store has some flimsier sports bras that include built-in cup sizes, and these suck because the cups aren’t made to fit everyone. The label indicated the bra was in my size, but the pseudo cups made for an awkward fit (when I tried one on, I ended up spilling out the sides).
Online shoppers, beware: These bras are medium-impact with an elastic underboob band, and while they look sturdy on the site, they’re made from thin fabric and have very little support.
On the other hand, this bra is the truth. It’s extremely sturdy and ranges from sizes 1x to 3x (for women who may not know their exact cup size and just rely on measurements for online ordering). It also runs true to size, which is a godsend for a curvy girl, since most bras I looked at ran small. Relying on measurements and sizing charts is a major key.
The second stop came from an unlikely source. I asked around in a message board for plus-size women who work out, and the answer was unanimous: Torrid. The online shop sells plus-size clothing, but its cup sizes also go up to triple DDD.
Its selection is unique because some of the sports bras not only have a built-in underwire but also have additional fabric on the top to provide coverage, preventing any kind of nip slip. As an aspiring yogi, inversions can be super uncomfortable when I’m being smothered by my own boobs.
Inversions can be super uncomfortable when I’m being smothered by my own boobs.
Torrid does offer more stylish bras in line with the let’s-see-each-other’s-underwear workout fashion trend, but those bras tend to function more as fashion statements than bras to work out in. There’s a super adorable galaxy-print sports bra with a mesh upper neckline and cute print, but it doesn’t do much for support and my boobs wouldn’t stay in place. I wouldn’t say these suck; they’re just more for aesthetics than actual exercise.
The bra that fit best was full price, but it’s totally worth every single penny not to have to worry about distracting jiggling while I jog. It comes in an array of different colors with a price point of $55, which feels kind of steep for a sports bra, but it’s a great investment and made of quality fabric that won’t fall apart after one wash.
I also came across the Glamorise brand. This bra goes all the way up to cup size H, and although it’s without an underwire, it has soft straps and a thick band under the breast to offer much-needed support. I can attest that Glamorise makes a sturdy piece of activewear.
However, the brand is also very hit or miss. You need to know your bra size and go up one or two sizes from that. I learned this the hard way when I used the size chart and my exact measurements to purchase the brand from Amazon. When the bra arrived, it barely covered my areola. It was super tiny and very sad.
The second time, however, I was much more successful. This one is made of a thick material, provides full coverage, and has an underwire and sturdier straps, earning it the name “no-bounce cami sports bra.”
Lastly, I tried the Genie bra, which was all about comfort and ease. It’s kind of low budget but perfect for low-impact workouts such as light yoga or other low-impact workouts—or for when the restriction of a sports bra feels too heavy. A friend of mine with double-D implants recommended this one, and although I was very skeptical because this brand has an “As Seen on TV” label, I was pleasantly surprised. Although it’s not built for too much bounce, it also provides enough coverage in case there is any movement. The fabric is also super soft.
In the end, the search for the perfect bra was pretty imperfect, but I was extremely determined to not get discouraged about wanting to perform physical activity as a bigger body. It feels like the assumption is fat people have very little interest in exercise or wellness, so we are forgotten about when it come to sports bra design. Getting involved with fitness shouldn’t be such a struggle. I hope this guide helps those who want to work out but don’t feel supported (pun intended).
Jagger Blaec is a freelance professional journalist located in Portland, Oregon. You can keep up with her on Twitter @basicblaecgirl.