If you’re riding and struggling with either a) your heart rate monitor not reading right or being incredibly uncomfortable, or b) you’re struggling to catch your breath on hard parts of your ride, one thing to check is your sports bra. Think about it: Often, we’re wearing a heart rate strap and a sports bra that both hit the same spot on our rib cage. We’re also potentially wearing a baselayer, bib shorts with a front panel, and a tight jersey (possibly a vest too). The compression in your chest is ridiculous.
A few years ago, I switched to wearing almost exclusively very soft sports bras that don’t have much of a strap around the bottom, for just that reason. Sure, you might need some more support for running, if you have a larger chest or find that without some support, you have breast pain. But for riding, a low impact activity, you can get away with much less compression, and doing so will improve your ability to breath on the bike, and make your heart rate strap much more comfortable in the process.
At a camp we coached a couple years ago, I found myself lending out several of my soft, non-banded sports bras to the women at the camp after noticing that on hard efforts, they were struggling to take big deep breaths, but if they unzipped jerseys and vests and took off baselayers or heart rate straps, breathing got easier. I realized that the sports bra was an easy switch to make, and it did really help a lot of them!
If you do need more support and think that a thin bralette won’t be enough, the other option is to look for a longline sports bra, so that the band will hit lower than your heart rate strap. Basically, we’re just trying to spread out the compression if we can’t avoid it. And again, remember that for cycling, you don’t need as much compression as you do for running, so you may want to buy different sports bras for different sports, or even buy a different size for cycling.
Heart rate strap still malfunctioning? Check out this heart rate strap troubleshooting article here.
A couple of inexpensive sports bra suggestions to try:
Learn more about how we choose our gear in our book, Becoming A Consummate Athlete, right here: