Category Archives: All about the women

How Women Build Muscle

There are more myths and misconceptions about strength training than any other area of fitness. While research continues to uncover more and more reasons why working out with weights is good for you, many women continue to avoid resistance training for fear of developing muscles of Herculean proportions.

Other women have tried it and been less than thrilled with the results. “Don’t worry,” people say. “Women can’t build muscle like men. They don’t have enough testosterone.” This is, in fact, only partly true.

Many women, believing they wouldn’t build muscle, hit the gym with a vengeance and then wondered why, after several weeks of resistance training, their clothes didn’t fit and they had gained muscle weight.

The truth is, not everyone responds to training in quite the same way. While testosterone plays an important role in muscle development, the answer to why some men and women increase in muscle size and others don’t lies within our DNA.

We are predisposed to respond to exercise in a particular way, in large part because of our genetics. Our genetic makeup determines what types of muscle fibers we have and where they are distributed. It determines our ratio of testosterone to estrogen and where we store body fat. And it also determines our body type.

A Question of Body Type

All women fall under one of three body classifications, or are a combination of types. Mesomorphs tend to be muscular, endomorphs are more rounded and voluptuous and ectomorphs are slim or linear in shape. Mesomorphs respond to strength training by building muscle mass much faster than their ectomorphic counterparts, even though they may be following identical training regimens.

Endomorphs generally need to lose body fat in order to see a change in size or shape as a result of strength training. Ectomorphs are less likely to build muscle mass but will become stronger as a result of resistance training.

Building Just Your Heart Muscle

One of the fundamental principles of strength training is that if you overload a muscle, you will increase its size. With aerobic training, the overload is typically your body weight. Activities such as step training or stair climbing result in changes in the size and shape of the muscles of the lower body. Increasing the height of the step or adding power movements increases the overload.

For those concerned about building muscle, it would be better to reduce the step height or lower the impact of the movements. While this may reduce the aerobic value of the workout, it also will decrease the amount of overload on the muscles, making it less likely that you will build more muscle.

Training by the Rules

When it comes to strength training, the old rule still applies: To get stronger, work with heavier weights and perform fewer repetitions. To promote endurance, use lighter weights and complete more repetitions.

It’s encouraging to note that just like men, most women will experience a 20 to 40% increase in muscular strength after several months of resistance training.

Understanding your body type and how you might respond to exercise can help you set realistic goals and expectations. Avoid comparisons to others you see, at the gym or elsewhere, and remember that no two people are alike.

Focus on how good exercise makes you feel rather than how you would like to look. Accepting our bodies for what they are is a great way to get rid of the guilt or pressure we often feel to look a certain way.

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A Woman’s Guide to Breast Cancer Prevention

Tips to Reduce Your Risk

 
Almost one out of nine women is expected to develop breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women.

So far, researchers haven’t found any fool-proof way to prevent breast cancer except voluntary mastectomy (surgical removal of the breasts) for women at extremely high risk. Short of taking this drastic step, the best way a woman can protect herself against breast cancer is by practicing early detection methods and by reducing known risk factors. If breast cancer is found and treated early—before it has spread beyond the breast—the five-year survival rate is greater than 95 percent.

Are You at Risk?
Over 200,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Here are the common risk factors associated with the disease:

  • Being female. Breast cancer is most prevalent in women, although men can develop the disease as well. While Caucasian women are more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American females, the death rates are 30 percent higher for African-Americans.
     
  • Getting your period young. Starting your period before the age of 12 increases your chances of developing breast cancer, possibly due to greater exposure to hormones over the course of a lifetime.
     
  • Family history. If anyone in your immediate family (mother, sister, or daughter) has had breast cancer, you are also at greater risk. Breast cancer can run in families, but this does not mean you will automatically develop the disease. Genetic testing and counseling is available for women concerned about their risk.
     
  • Late childbearing or no childbearing. Becoming pregnant for the first time at age 26 or older—or never getting pregnant at all—puts you at risk. In contrast, having multiple children reduces your risk of developing breast cancer, possibly because of protective hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.
     
  • Heavy drinking. While the occasional alcoholic drink is okay, consuming more than two drinks per day increases your chances of developing breast cancer. Women who consume two to five drinks each day are about 1-1/2 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who don’t drink.
     
  • Smoking, especially at a young age. Studies have suggested that smoking at an early age can increase your risk of breast cancer. A study by the Dankook University College of Medicine in Korea found that the breast cancer-promoting effects of smoking were strongest in young women who had not yet had children. The risk may be lower after childbearing because, by then, breast cells have finished developing and are less vulnerable to carcinogens.
     
  • Being overweight. General obesity has been associated with increased breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women. But the amount of weight gained in adult life is a greater predictor of breast cancer risk than weight alone, according to a study from Morehead State University in Kentucky. Their researchers found that women who gained more than 60 pounds between age 20 and menopause had a roughly 70 percent higher risk of breast cancer, compared with women who gained fewer than 20 pounds. There was a 4 percent increase in risk for each 11 pounds gained as an adult.
     
  • Eating a high-fat diet. In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the National Cancer Institute found that women who consumed the most fat—regardless of what type—were 15% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who ate the least fat.
     
  • Hormone replacement therapy. Studies have shown a strong link between post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer. If you need HRT, talk to your doctor to determine your personal risk level.

Protecting Your Pair
These 8 tips may help you cut your breast cancer risk.

  1. Check out your breasts. Performing breast self exams (BSE) regularly—once a month—can help with early detection. When breast cancer is detected early, less aggressive treatment is needed and the chance of survival is higher. Ask your doctor to show you how to examine your breasts properly or watch SparkPeople’s Breast Self Exam video.
     
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. And if you’re overweight, lose it. Keeping your weight in a healthy BMI range can have a protective effect. Why? Because being overweight increases your body’s levels of estrogen, a hormone that plays a key role in the development of breast cancer.
     
  3. Get a mammogram. If you’re 40 or older, regular mammograms will help detect breast cancer—especially lumps that are too small to detect during a self-exam.
     
  4. Breastfeed your babies. Nursing isn’t just good for babies—it benefits mom too! One study by the University of Southern California found that breastfeeding seems to lower the risk of breast cancer, even in women who have their children later in life. As more women choose to delay childbearing until after age 25, breastfeeding should be encouraged to provide protection against the hormones that can contribute to the development of breast cancer.
     
  5. Eat your vegetables (and fruits)! Eating at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day will supply your body with cancer-fighting phytochemicals. You’ll get the most protection from cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower), dark leafy greens (collards, kale and spinach), citrus fruits, berries, cherries and pomegranates.
     
  6. Choose the right fats. Today, our diets contain a lot of unhealthy fats—omega-6’s (found in sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed oils), saturated fats and trans fats—and too few healthy fats (omega-3’s from fish and monounsaturated fats in nuts). Reverse the trend! Decrease your consumption of the bad stuff and start eating more heart-healthy fats to protect your breasts.
     
  7. Keep moving! You know exercise is good for you, but did you know it can also reduce your risk of breast cancer? Studies by the Women’s Health Initiative found that women who walked briskly for just 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours each week reduced their risk for breast cancer by 18 percent. University of Southern California researchers found that women who exercised more than five hours a week cut their risk of invasive breast cancer by 20 percent and their risk of early stage breast cancer by 31 percent, compared to women who exercised less than 30 minutes a week. When it comes to cancer prevention, experts agree that duration (length of your workouts) and consistency are more important than intensity.
     
  8. Know when to see your doctor. Besides your annual gynecological checkups, visit your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms in your breasts: a lump, hard knot or thickening tissue; swelling, warmth, redness or darkening; dimpling or puckering of the skin; an itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple; a pulling in of your nipple or other area of the breast; sudden nipple discharge; or new pain in one spot that doesn’t go away.

Plan the Perfect Girls Day Out

Think Outside the Box to Make Lifelong Memories

 
Friendships seem to be front and center throughout childhood and early adulthood, but once careers get into full swing and families start to grow, female friendships often take a back seat to other priorities. Nurturing good friendships is hugely important throughout your life. Friendships are said to increase your sense of belonging, boost your happiness and improve your self-worth. Experts say they’re also great for reducing stress—and can be important for support when you cope with tough life situations such as illness or divorce.
 
We all know the classic girls night out (think dinner, drinks and dancing). But sometimes that night out at a loud bar doesn’t make for the best conversation or bonding experience. Instead of burning the midnight oil, swap night for a full day of friendly fun. Friends can spur you to change or avoid unhealthy habits, experts say, and many of these ideas for a girls day out incorporate a health boost! Mix and match these ideas to plan a day of bonding and adventure with a girlfriend or your whole group of pals. What could be more fun than a day of fun, fashion, food, friendship, and fitness?
 

Fun
 

Host a moviethon. Whether it’s a Gossip Girl marathon session or watching all of the Twilight movies, pick a group favorite, whip up some popcorn and enjoy relaxation and chatting. With just the cost of a few rentals and snacks, this fun-filled day is super affordable at less than $30!
 
Throw a theme party. Whether you love Wild, Wild West, Star Wars or Sex and the City, invite your friends over for a theme party. Get creative with dressing for the part and provide healthy foods that fit the theme. Depending on how elaborate you are with food, drinks, decorations, and costumes, you can throw a themed party for as little as $50.
 
Take a bartending class. Learn to whip up cocktails with your friends! With hands-on expertise from a real bartender ($25 and up per person), you can ask specifically about how to make low-cal drink options.
 
Plan a fit movie day. Watch classic movies that incorporate fitness for inspiration. Love dance? Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Footloose and Flashdance are all great options! Are you all team players? A League of Their Own and Bend It Like Beckham fit the bill. 
 
Have a game day. Whether you play Charades, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit or Cranium, games have a way of opening up the conversation and creating lasting memories. And it’s free if you have the game on hand!
 
Go out to the ball game. Head to a ball game with the gals, be it a hockey game, minor league baseball game or a pro basketball game. Whether you’re actually interested in the sport or the team doesn’t matter—it’s a fun change of pace from the mall! And with prices all over the map, it can be an affordable day out with the girls.
 
 

Fashion
 

Shop the thrift stores. Hit up thrift stores and consignment shops for great clothing deals and one-of-a-kind items. Browsing and playing dress up is fun at any age! Plus, it’s free to look.
 
Get fitted. Need a new pair of running shoes? Head to a running store to get fitted for shoes with your fit friends. Never been measured for a bra? Make sure you’re wearing the right size, available free in the intimates departments of most department stores!

Splurge on a new workout outfit. If your workout wardrobe is getting stale, go shopping with your healthy pals for new fitness wear that flatters and motivates you to move.
 
Get a mall makeover. Never stopped in that department store for a professional makeup application? Do it in the morning and you’ll look fab all day! It’s free, although you’ll likely purchase a product or two.
 
Book a personal shopper. Make an appointment with a personal shopper who can give you and your friends tips on the latest trends and classics to add to your wardrobe. It’s typically free, although, like the makeup department, you’ll likely buy!
 
 

Food

Hit a wine tasting. Whether you make a day of going to a winery or simply head to an upscale liquor store for a wine tasting, trying various wines is a great way for you and your friends to find new favorites. Wine tastings can range from about $5 to $20 per person, but oftentimes a tasting fee is waived if you make a purchase.
 
Host a healthy potluck and recipe swap. Have your girlfriends over for a potluck lunch, with everyone bringing their favorite healthy dish. Make recipe cards a requirement and everyone will leave with healthy meal ideas!
 
Cook a new recipe. If you’re not brave in the kitchen, there is safety in numbers! You and your girlfriends can pitch in to whip up a new healthy dish you’re too scared to make on your own.
 
Attend a cooking class. Take a group cooking class to learn new skills in the kitchen. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $50 and up per person for a private class.
 
Dine at a healthy restaurant. Know of a restaurant that uses only locally-sourced foods? Has a vegan restaurant opened up in your neighborhood? Hold the typical bar food and have a nourishing dining experience with your friends.
 
Peruse the farmers market. Head to a local farmers market to check out the fruits, vegetables and other local vendors. Then use your purchases to whip up a healthy lunch!
 
Have a smoothie-making party. Like your fruit in liquid form? Assign your friends smoothie ingredients to bring over—yogurt, juice, bananas, frozen fruits, spinach—and get creative with a smoothie-tasting party. Award the best-tasting smoothie maker with a fun prize!
 
Visit a local farm. Head out of town and visit a local farm. You’ll find fresh produce and maybe even be inspired to eat more local foods.
 

Friendship
 

Go for manis and pedis. Ah, the classic girlie endeavor: head to a salon and get your fingernails and toenails shaped up and painted by the pros! From a simple fingernail polish change on the cheap to a full out spa pedicure, prices for services can range from $10 to $50.
 
Get massages. Tack on a massage to your spa day for the ultimate in relaxation ($70 and up for an hour-long massage).
 
See a chick flick. Nothing says girls’ day more than hitting the movies to watch the latest romantic comedy. A good laugh, a good cry—it’s all worth the price of admission ($8 to $15 for movie tickets).
 
Check out your local art museum. If you and your friends are artsy types, soak up some culture and bond over your love of aesthetics at the latest exhibit in your town. It’s a great way to relax and get a fresh perspective! Some art museums have free admission, but others, especially those with specialty exhibits, can vary in price.
 
Take a road trip. Oftentimes, a road trip with your girlfriends is all you need for a boost of mental health. Make a fun playlist with songs that you and your friends love and go for a drive—whether it be across town or across the country! The price you pay is up to you, depending on how far you go and whether you choose to stop and see the sights along the way, but you should budget for at least a full tank of gas ($30-$50).
 
Make your own scrapbooks. For an instant happiness boost, get your friends together to make scrapbooks of all the good times you’ve had together. Have everyone bring in pictures, stickers, magazines, and glue and share your favorite memories and inside jokes while you work. Depending on how crafty you want to get, this project can be virtually free. But if you want to make your scrapbooks look a little more professional, you can drop a few extra bucks on supplies from the craft store ($10 or more).
 
 

Fitness
 

Attend a yoga class. Take a yoga class (up to $20/person although your first class is usually free). Stretch, destress and bond while downward-dogging with your gal pals. Whether you’re brand new to yoga or a self-proclaimed yogini, this ancient practice turned fitness trend is something that women of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels can enjoy.
 
Take a hike. Whether you head to a local walking path or tackle a trail you’ve had your eye on, this is a free and fun endeavor for you and your friends.
 
Hit the driving range. Head to the driving range, get a bucket of balls and see who can hit a golf ball the farthest! For $10 and up for a bucket of balls, you and your girlfriends can practice your skills at a low cost without committing to eight or more hours on the course.
 
Go horseback riding. It may seem like the horse is doing the work, but horseback riding is an active endeavor for you, too! Prices and rides can vary widely, ranging from an hour to all-day adventures ($30 and up to over $100 for longer trips).
 
Run a 5K. Sign up for, train and compete in a 5K. Whether you run with your friends or walk, it’s always a great time to get up at the crack of dawn and exercise with friends! Entrance fees typically run $20-$35 per person.
 
Go bowling. It may be old school, but you’re guaranteed a laugh watching your girlfriends throw their balls right in the gutter—and get the occasional strike. It’s a low-intensity active endeavor that will easily kill a couple of hours and give you great memories! It’s also fairly affordable— $5 to $10 per game, plus the cost of shoe rental ($3 to $5).
 
Try a new fitness class. Whether it’s a Zumba class you’ve always wanted to try, salsa dancing, or pole dancing, get your groove on! With prices ranging from $10 per class to $50, pick your price and your poison!
 
 
Think outside the box when it comes to getting your girlfriends together. There’s no need to do the standard coffee date when there are so many options out there for good food, fitness, and fun!

Top-Five Training Tips for Every Body Part

There are so many exercises out there for each body part that it can be hard to figure out which ones will give you the best results. So, we asked IFBB figure pro Felicia Romero for the best excercises to help you get stronger, leaner, and fitter.

June 8, 2012
Top-Five Training Tips for Every Body Part

1. Arms

“Curls are one of the most popular arm exercises out there, yet they are also one of the least utilized by women. To get the best definition in your arms, do curls with 20–25 pounds. Then, immediately go into triceps extensions, making sure to keep your elbows close to your head. Do three sets of 15 reps.”

 

2. Back

“Close-grip lat pulldowns are one of the most common back exercises but they’re frequently performed incorrectly. Using an underhand grip, slowly pull the bar down to your chest, making sure to keep your body and back straight with every rep.”

 

3. Legs

“Try plié squats. Make sure to keep your legs wide and your toes pointed outward. Lower into the squat until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor, and as you press up, squeeze your glutes and inner and outer thighs. To make them harder, try holding a weight between your legs. Do three sets of 20.”

 

4. Abs

“When it comes to working your core, definitely go with a three-exercise circuit. Exercise 1: Ball Crunch; hold a Bosu ball as you crunch for 25 reps. Exercise 2: Hanging Leg Raise (15 reps), and Exercise 3: Bicycles on the ground. Perform this circuit three times, resting only between each circuit.”

 

5. Shoulders

“Nice shoulders make you look more toned. I like the single-arm cable side lateral. Start with light weights and stand with your right side facing the machine as you grip the cable with your left hand. Good form is key. Make sure your arm stays straight— raise the cable to your left side to about shoulder height.”

Are You Wearing the Right Sports Bra?

Every active woman, regardless of her breast size, should have a sports bra as a part of her fitness wardrobe. Not only do these specially designed bras offer better support and more comfort than a regular bra, they also help minimize movement during your workout. Exercising in the wrong bra can lead to more than discomfort. A number of issues, including tension in the arms and shoulders and restricted breathing, can occur if the band is too tight.
A woman’s breasts are composed primarily of adipose (fatty) tissue, mammary glands, connective tissue, and the Cooper’s ligament, which keeps the breast firm and prevents sagging. Because the underlying chest muscles do not support breast tissue, exercising in anything other than a well-fitted sports bra can stretch the Cooper’s ligament, leading to greater sagging and even pain during exercise.
Finding the right sports bra for you can be a daunting task when there are hundreds of styles from which to choose! Don’t worry—we’ve done the homework for you.
Believe it or not, just any old sports bra won’t supply the support you need to prevent sagging, stretching or pain related to exercise. One size certainly doesn’t fit all.
Studies have shown that between 70% and 80% of women are wearing the wrong size sports bra, and therefore, they may not be getting the benefits of support and comfort from their fitness wardrobe. Many department stores, including Nordstrom or Macy’s, offer free fitting services for customers. But if modesty is a concern, you can take your own measurements before leaving home. Measuring can save you lots of time and aggravation when choosing the right bra.
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. 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. (For example, if your bust measured 38.5 inches, round that up to 39 inches.)
  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. To get obtain your band measurement, take the actual number of your ribcage measurement and add 3 inches. If this number is odd, you need to add 1 inch to make it an even number. (For example, if your band measured 32 inches, you’d add 3 to get 35 inches; because it’s an odd number, you’d add a 1 to get 36 inches.)
  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. (Using the same example above, you’d subtract 39-36 to get 3 inches, which is a C cup, according to the chart.)
    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. (In this example, the bra size is 36C.)

Now that you have your size, there are a few points to consider when choosing the right sports bra for you:

  • For what types of activity are you going to wear this sports bra? High-impact exercises, such as running, step aerobics or hiking require a different style and support construction than you’d need for low-impact workouts like cycling, yoga or Pilates.
  • Will you wear your sports bra for outdoor or indoor exercise? While this may be a strange detail to consider, some women prefer to wear a sports bra without a shirt when exercising indoors. In doing so, look for a bra made of wicking, breathable materials as well as nice detailing.
  • Does this sports bra fit your individual body structure? Choose a bra that fits your body size and shape. Wearing a bra that doesn’t fit for your breast size and/or ribcage measurements may lead to discomfort and chafing.

Next comes style. There are three basic sports bra construction styles:

  1. Compression Sports Bras (the one piece style that you pull on over your head) are by far the most popular sports bra construction. This bra compresses both breasts against your chest allowing for minimal or no-bounce movement. These bras are generally a pullover style without fasteners. This style is most suited for women with small to medium sized breasts (A-B cups). These tend to come in general sizes, such as small, medium and large vs. band/cup sizes. Most major manufacturers, including Champion, Moving Comfort, Under Armour, Reebok and Nike, carry a wide variety of compression sports bras from which to choose.
  2. Encapsulated or Natural-Shaping Sports Bras are best suited for larger breasted women, usually a C-cup or larger. These bras look more like a normal bra with fasteners in the front or back, and may come with or without the underwire. This style encapsulates each breast in an individual cup instead of compressing both breasts together as in the previous example. The encapsulated sports bra is the best choice for larger-breasted women (C-cup and up) or plus sized women. One of the most popular manufacturers of this style is Enell. Their bras have received rave reviews from women who require greater support and control. But other manufacturers, including Moving Comfort and CW-X, also provide a nice selection in these sizes.
  3. Compression/Encapsulation Sports Bras are a combination of the previous two bras. They encapsulate each breast and compress the breast tissue against the chest. They can be pulled over the head or closed with fasteners. This style is ideal for women with medium to large breasts, usually C through DD cups.

Now you probably have a good idea about the construction style that is best for you. Now comes the fun part—considering the individual features (including colors, styles and design details) of your sports bra. While fit should always trump style, here are some construction details to look for:

  • Moisture-wicking fabrics, such as Dri-FIT and CoolMax, pull sweat away from your skin to help keep you cool and dry (and minimize chafing). Avoid all-cotton bras—especially if you sweat heavily or exercise in hot, humid conditions—because this fabric tends to remain wet and saturated even after your workout is over.
  • Minimal seams or covered seams, especially in the cups, to prevent chafing and irritation. Every seam on a sports bra could rub against your skin, so the fewer seams the better.
  • Wide straps that do not dig into your shoulders. Many women, especially runners, prefer the popular razorback style since this design allows for greater arm movement and provides greater support. However, a traditional scoop style is a readily available alternative for women who find the razorback style uncomfortable.
  • A snug fit around the rib cage allows for minimal movement, but the band should not be so snug as to keep you from getting good lung expansion during your activity. Your sports bra should feel snug—not tight.
  • Deep armholes to minimize chafing yet allow for good range of motion.

Finding the Right FitIt is very important to try on a sports bra before you buy it. Most experts recommend that you take a minimum of three sports bras with you when heading to the fitting room. You should bring the size you measured, along with the next size up and the next size down. Because sizes can vary between manufacturers, it is important to try on many different brands and styles in order to find the optimal fit. You know you’ve got the right size, style and fit when:

  • The straps fit snug against the skin, but aren’t so tight that they dig in to your shoulders. You should be able to slide two fingers underneath the straps—from the front to the back of the straps with ease.
  • The band lies snug and flat against around the front, sides, and back of your ribcage. It should not ride up. You should be able to slide one finger easily under the band.
  • Your breasts fit within the cups. In other words, any bulging from the top or sides is an indication that the cup size is too small.
  • The fabric does not “gather” in the cup, especially on top. Excess fabric bunches are usually an indication that the cup is too big and will not provide adequate support and comfort. This can also cause chafing during activity.

Once you’ve tried on a bra that fits your requirements, test it out in the fitting room! Do some movement drills such as jumping jacks, running in place, and raising your arms overhead to make certain the bra provides the control, support, and comfort you are looking for without rubbing you the wrong way. But remember, a good sports bra will fit more snugly than a regular bra—just not so snug that you cannot get one finger under the band and slide it easily.
While most experts suggest trying a sports bra on for the first time, some women may have a difficult time finding their true size on the store rack. Luckily, there are a few Websites to guide you along. Many of the sites provide instructions for how to find the right bra for you as well as customer service phone numbers you can call for assistance. The following sites provide a wide variety of sport bra apparel for women of all shapes and sizes:

Taking Care of Your Investment A high-quality sports bra can easily set you back between $25 and $70, but for most women, it’s a well-made investment. Depending on the frequency of wear and the care you give to your garments, a single sports bra can last between 6 and 12 months—maybe longer. Therefore, you will want to use extreme care when it comes to laundering your undergarments. Most experts recommend hand washing a sports bra with a mild detergent after every wear. New sports detergents, such as Penguin Sport-Wash or Win High Performance Sport Detergent are good options, too. Not only do these specially designed detergents help to eliminate embedded odors, but they also help retain the wicking properties of your sports apparel. And while it may be tempting, never place your sports bras in the dryer since the heat can break down the elastic, thereby shortening the useful life of your bra.
So how do you know when it is time to say good-bye to your sports bra? While the useful, supportive life of your sports bra depends on many factors, you know it’s time to upgrade when:

  • The fabric is losing its shape
  • The bra is no longer offering the support it once did
  • The fabric is pilling, especially under the arms
  • The elastic is stretched out
  • You have lost or gained a significant amount of weight

We’ve come a very long way since the first sports bras, created by three women who each sewed together two jock straps to give them the support they needed, made its debut in 1977! Today, the sports bra is an integral part of every woman’s workout wardrobe. While finding the right sports bra can take time, once you find one that is perfect for you, you will be amazed how much better you will feel while exercising!

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