Weight-training clothing and accessories are relatively inexpensive, unless you want to dress like a fashion model. In most cases, spending more than $300 to $400 is difficult, even if you buy weight-lifting shoes, a bench-press shirt, a lifting belt, gloves, and wraps. In most cases, all you need are workout shoes, shorts, a shirt, and – if you’re a woman – a sports bra.

Although breast support is not as important in weight training as in running or volleyball, it is wise for women to wear a good sports bra when exercising with weights. The breasts can be injured if barbells press too firmly against them or if they aren’t properly supported when you run. If weight training is combined with aerobics, a good sports bra is essential.

Therefore, in this article you’ll find out the role that sports bras have in injury protection and prevention, and how to pick the right sport bra for your type of activity.


Bras are important protective equipment for female athletes participating in any sport and are as important to the recreational athlete as to competitive elite athletes. An appropriately designed sports bra should be aesthetic, comfortable, and functional for injury protection.

compression & encapsulating sports bra
compression & encapsulating sports bra

Sports Bras In Injury Protection and Prevention

Although not frequently reported by athletes, breast injuries do occur. Protection from impact injuries can be accomplished with padding, although cotton and other materials commonly used for this purpose often retain moisture and can lead to irritation, chafing, and infection. If padding is used, it should be lined on both sides with a “wick-away” material.

Protection is particularly important in contact sports such as martial arts and boxing, fencing in which there is use of a sharp instrument, and sports in which objects are hurled at high speeds such as ice hockey, softball, lacrosse, and cricket.

Use of polyurethane plastic nipple cups, breast cups, or full chest shields is recommended. Nipple and breast cups can be placed between two sports bras, a sports bra and a lactation bra, or placed in specially designed bras for that purpose. Full polyurethane chest shields can also be worn over a sports bra. If used, the shields should be custom fitted for each athlete.

Full chest shields are expensive protective gear and can cost upwards of several hundred dollars, whereas nipple and breast cups are relatively inexpensive. Which form of protection an athlete chooses is an individual decision based on protective needs, comfort, and aesthetics.

Sports Bra Design and Fit

The ideal sports bra should be made of a material that is nonabrasive; hypoallergenic; has secure straps; and is without seams, ridges, or hooks, particularly over the breast itself .

Whether the material is all synthetic or a synthetic-cotton blend depends on personal preference and exercise intensity. Weather conditions may also influence choice, because cotton will retain moisture and heat better.

In choosing any particular type of material, moisture control away from the skin and protection from wind and cold are imperative to prevention of skin and nipple irritation, chafing, and subsequent infection.

A properly fitted sports bra is essential for both comfort and injury protection. The bra should fit firmly enough around the chest and breasts to control motion but not too tight to cut off breathing. When properly fitted, the entire upper body should move as one unit.

The bra should have enough horizontal stretch to allow it to be placed over the shoulders but have minimal vertical stretch to keep the shoulder straps from slipping and breast motion to a minimum. A “Y” or modified Y design of the shoulder and back provides the most security.

Sports Bra Types

Sports bras come in two basic designs, compression and encompassing (encapsulating).

As the name suggests, a compression sports bra compresses your breasts towards your chest, holding them in place. The compression type fits best for women with A and B cup size or bust sizes less than 38 inches. These bras are sold in almost any sporting goods store and are usually sized as S, M, L and XL rather than by bust and cup size. Not all compression style bras that are marketed as “sports bras” are actually designed for use in sporting activities. A compression sports bras are most suitable for low-impact or medium-impact sports, like jogging or weight lifting.

types of sports bras
types of sports bras

Unlike compression bras, encapsulation sports bras have separated cups. Some encapsulation sports bras also feature underwire, and most have an adjustable band and straps. As they support each breast individually, it’s no surprise that these are often preferred by full-busted women over compression bras. This aspect also helps them to reduce movement in every direction, thus better protecting the Cooper’s ligaments in the breasts (which are responsible for keeping them looking perky while preventing sagging). They’re particularly helpful for high-impact workouts, such as dancing, running, and plyometric training (think: jump squats and jumping lunges — anything that causes a lot of bouncing for your boobs). Additionally, many women like the shaping benefits of having separated cups to avoid the dreaded aforementioned uniboob.

sports bra strap types
sports bra strap types

Closing Thoughts:  You need a sports bra for weightlifting

When you’re lifting weights, there’s not a lot of jumping around or hard impact movements you need to account for. However, you still need a bra that holds everything in place. The best sports bra is about finding the perfect balance and what you need will vary from woman to woman.

Sports bras are designed to restrict excessive movement of the breasts during exercise, which can cause bruising and stretching of the suspensory ligaments. The bra should support the breasts in all directions, should have wide elastic straps to prevent friction or binding, and all metal should be covered.

Seams, hooks, and catches should not be irritating. There should be no seams in the cup area. Sports bras should be constructed of a firm, nonabrasive, and compressive material and should allow for absorption of perspiration. Consider buying a bra with an underwire for added support and a pocket in which to insert padding if you do exercises that could cause injury.

About Author

Hey! My name is Kruno, and I'm the owner and author of Bodybuilding Wizard. I started this website back in late 2014, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

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