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What is a Training Bra?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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A training bra is designed for young girls who have begun to develop breasts but who don’t yet fit into women’s bra sizes. Normal sizes for this type of bra usually range from AAA to A cups. Once a girl can wear a B cup, she can usually find a bra in sizes. It should be noted in all sizes besides the A cup, double letters means that it is a larger cup size. For instance, DD is bigger than D, but AAA or AA bra cups are smaller than A cups.

When to wear or purchase a first training bra is highly variable. Some girls may develop breasts as early as eight, and others may be well into their teens. Many girls don’t feel it necessary to ever wear a bra, but others look forward to getting their first one as a rite of passage and a sign of maturity.

Although when a girl first begins to develop she may not need a great deal of support, a training bra may still be helpful during exercise to prevent chafing. It also provides an extra layer of fabric between clothing and the breasts, which is a bit more modest. Many girls are are perfectly happy wearing undershirts or camisoles.

Most types of training bra are quite simple in design and many of them are made in stretch cotton fabrics. The bra does not usually feature an underwire, since minimal support is needed and is usually accomplished merely by wearing stretchy fabric. The bra style may feature a little bit of trim or be made in satin, but cotton seems the more popular choice. White or beige colors are most common, though you can find a few in dark colors.

Training bra sizes are not always uniform. Some bras fit smaller or larger than other brands, so skillful measurement is important. In order to find the appropriate fit, you need to take two measurements. The first is a measurement directly under the breasts at the rib cage, and around the body. The second measurement is of the breasts themselves, at their largest point, around the body. Usually, there is a number differential between the breasts and the rib cage.

If this number is between 0-.5 inches (1.27 cm), then an AAA training bra cup may be appropriate. An inch (2.54 cm) difference suggests an AA cup, and a 2 inch (5.08 cm) difference suggests an A cup. Some bra styles don’t feature cup sizes, but instead are only measured by circumference of the rib cage and back below the breasts. The cups of these bras are normally flat but have a little bit of give so that a slightly larger breast receives a small amount of support. You may have to try on several styles before finding the one most comfortable.

To confuse matters, every now and again you may see athletic bras marketed as training bras. These are normally called sports bras instead. Generally the training bra is found in the girls department of retail stores, though occasionally one needs to look in the lingerie section of the store instead.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon996294 — On Aug 07, 2016

It's a long time ago now, but I remember being embarrassed and annoyed when mum presented me with my first training bras (I was a bit of a tomboy). I also found them uncomfortable, so I refused to wear them at first.

However, within a few months, it was more embarrassing and uncomfortable running around without one!

By anon316458 — On Jan 28, 2013

My daughter got her first bra today, but she seems scared. Weeks ago she told me all her friends were wearing bras, so I got her first bra(s) which was exciting. After she tried it on, she said it hurts. Why? Help me. --an overwhelmed mother

By anon283002 — On Aug 01, 2012

I remember when I was a tween and just developing breasts and was about a AA - A size. All the bras I got were really uncomfortable because basically I had no boobs. But I got the under wired and padded bras and I hated wearing them because they were just so uncomfortable!

By amypollick — On Jul 24, 2012

@erin445566: Until you get used to them, bras will feel hot in the summer.

I suggest you try one in all cotton, or see if you can find a small size sports bra that will give you some support, but will be more comfortable to wear, until you get used to wearing one. Cotton is the best choice, though.

By erin445566 — On Jul 24, 2012

I have been wearing my training bra for two weeks now, and it is very hot. Is there a fabric that is cooler?

By babymunchie8 — On Feb 25, 2012

For teens, I think it's more appropriate if they wear a training bra instead padded wire, push up etc. Sadly, some companies do not sell not appropriate tween age bras. That's why my friend ended up making them herself because she couldn't get any nice ones.

By lightning88 — On Aug 18, 2010

A good tip for moms to ease that first training bra experience is to tell your daughter to remember that she shouldn't compare herself with her friends.

I remember being really embarrassed because I had to wear an AAA size bra, and felt that I was a freak because I had to wear such a small bra.

So remember, try to remind your daughters not to feel bad if they have to wear a smaller or bigger bra than their friends.

By closerfan12 — On Aug 18, 2010

My daughter was so excited when she got her first training bra.

She always wanted to be a grown up as soon as possible, so she was all about the makeup and bras as soon as I would let her use them.

By TunaLine — On Aug 18, 2010

I remember being so hideously embarrassed when my mom wanted to take me to the store for my first training bra.

It wasn't the wearing of the bra that I had a problem with, it was having to go to the store to get it with my mom.

If I remember correctly, she wanted to get a whole array of them, even a strapless training bra. I have no idea what I would have used it for, but she and my aunt wanted to make sure I was prepared for any occasion, I guess.

Luckily, in the end I talked her down to just a few normal girls training bras and managed to survive the embarrassment of picking out that first bra.

By desertdunes — On Jan 10, 2010

When asked how a training bra "trains" her breasts by my 12 year old, the only thing that came to mind was that "they don't train your breasts to do anything, they train YOU to tolerate having to wear a bra."

Not the most informative or educational bit of maternal wisdom, but true nonetheless!!

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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