One essential piece of equipment that every powerlifter needs in their gym bag is a pair of knee sleeves. These will keep your joints warm and protected while you lift, and they’ll help to keep you stabilized as you start progressing towards the heavier weights in the rack.
This also makes them a great addition to your training gear if you’re new to weight lifting, as they’ll offer you more support while you work on your form and technique.
However, a quick search online for a pair of knee sleeves will pull up hundreds of results, and this can make finding the perfect pair for your needs a little more difficult. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you!
Below, you’ll find our pick of the 5 best knee sleeves for powerlifting. Each of these will provide you with the joint protection and added stability you need while you’re under the barbell.
We’ve also included a super useful buying guide that’s packed with information on what to look out for when you’re making your decision.
In a hurry? Let’s kick things off by taking a look at our top pick.
OUR TOP PICK
Available in six sizes, the NEENCA Professional Knee Brace has been ergonomically designed to perfectly fit the contours of your knee. This ensures that it is able to stabilize and support the knee joint and surrounding leg muscles at all times during your training session.
It features patented spring knee support technology. This consists of an anatomically contoured patella gel pad that surrounds the kneecap to add further support and comfort. This gel pad is held in place by a double-sided metal spring which also helps to ensure the pressure of the weight you’re lifting is evenly distributed across the kneecap.
The air knit fabric construction keeps this knee brace lightweight and comfortable. It’s also highly breathable and capable of absorbing and evaporating sweat, adding to the comfort levels while you train. And, despite being so lightweight, it’s thicker than most other knee braces, which adds extra stability.
Inside this knee brace, you’ll find silicone strips which, along with the high-elastic air knit fabric, prevent the brace from slipping out of place while you lift.
This is also a great, medical-grade knee brace for anybody recovering from an injury but still wanting to take on some light weightlifting.
- Ergonomically designed to brace the kneecap and surrounding leg muscles from all angles
- Features patented spring knee support technology that uses a gel cap to provide ultimate support and comfort
- Also features a double-sided metal spring that helps to distribute weight evenly across the kneecap
- Constructed from high-elastic, air knit fabric which is lightweight, breathable, and capable of absorbing and evaporating sweat
- Available in six sizes from Small to XXXL
- Some people who previously purchased this knee brace noted that the size they chose was a little tighter than they expected. With this in mind, it would be worth checking the measurement guide before ordering.
These Knee Compression Sleeves from Modvel have been ergonomically designed to ensure your knee joint and surrounding leg muscles are supported at all times during your training session while remaining super comfortable.
They also feature non-slip silicone strips that prevent them from sliding out of place while you lift.
The advanced knitted technology and Neoprene fabric used in the construction of these knee sleeves also ensures that they fit perfectly every time you put them on.
This fabric technology also allows them to be highly breathable and absorb sweat, so there’s no need to worry about them feeling uncomfortable, even when you’re taking on the heavier weights.
Available in a range of sizes to suit any body shape, these knee sleeves are ideal for anybody looking for some added support and comfort during a powerlifting session. They are also 100% machine washable, so they can be thrown straight in the washing machine with the rest of your gym gear.
These knee sleeves are available in a range of colors, too! While this doesn’t have much of an effect on their performance, it does give you the opportunity to inject some personality into your workout. Complete with a 3-year warranty, these are a set of knee sleeves that are designed to last.
- The ergonomic design provides support and stability for all angles of the knee while remaining super comfortable
- Features non-slip silicone strips that prevent the knee sleeve from slipping while you train
- A combination of Neoprene fabric and advanced knitted technology ensures these knee sleeves are highly breathable and sweat-absorptive
- Machine washable and available in a range of sizes and colors
- Comes complete with a 3-year warranty
- Although able to provide stability and comfort, these knee sleeves don’t feature any patented support technology
Specifically designed to provide maximum support, stability, and comfort while you train, these High-Performance Knee Sleeves from Iron Bull Strength are the ideal choice for any serious powerlifter.
They also meet the requirements of both the USPA & IPF, so they are suitable for use in competitions.
The 3D design ensures a contoured fit at all times so that the knee joint and surrounding muscles are kept stabilized and supported, even under heavier weights.
They also feature anti-slip technology in the form of silicone strips, and these help to lock the knee sleeve in place and stop it from sliding while you train.
Constructed from highly-breathable Neoprene fabric, these knee sleeves will absorb and evaporate sweat. This means that you’ll be able to lift in comfort as well as reducing the risk of skin irritations from forming.
They also feature double-stitching, and this helps to prevent tearing or fraying over time.
Available in sizes from Small to XXL, there is an option for everybody. All sizes measure 11.5-inches long for optimal coverage across the thigh, knee cap, and down towards the shin.
And, if you find you need a different size pair or have any quality issues with these knee sleeves, Iron Bull Strength offers a no-hassle, money-back guarantee.
- The 3D design provides support, stability, and comfort to all angles of the kneecap and surrounding leg muscles while you train
- Features anti-slip silicone strips that keep the knee sleeve firmly in place at all times
- Constructed from highly-breathable, sweat-absorptive Neoprene
- Measures 11.5-inches long and available in sizes from Small to XXL
- Can be used in competitions as they are fully compliant with USP & IPF regulations
- These knee sleeves sit at the higher end of the pricing range, so they aren’t the best choice for anybody with a limited budget
These Knee Sleeves from Nordic Lifting are crafted from premium-quality Neoprene fabric for ultimate comfort while you train.
They are highly breathable and will absorb sweat before evaporating it away so that you can concentrate on your lift, rather than having to try and ignore any discomfort. This also helps to reduce the risk of skin rashes and irritation from forming.
The 7mm thickness of these knee sleeves also provides extra stability and protection to your knees while you’re lifting.
Meanwhile, the 3D, ergonomic design ensures that all angles of your kneecap and surrounding leg muscles are well-supported while remaining comfortable.
These Iron Bull Strength Knee Sleeves also feature anti-slip technology that helps to keep them firmly locked in place at all times. This consists of two double-silicone gel strips running the entire length of each knee sleeve.
Available in sizes from Extra Small to XXL, these knee sleeves come complete with a 1-year, no-hassle replacement guarantee.
So, while they are a little more expensive than some other options, this offers you a little extra value for money as well as giving you peace of mind over the quality of their construction.
- Constructed from premium-quality Neoprene fabric that provides support, stability, and comfort while you train
- Highly breathable and will absorb sweat before evaporating it away
- The 3D ergonomic design ensures your knees and leg muscles are supported throughout your lifting session
- Features double-silicone gel strips that keep each knee sleeve firmly in place during intense workouts
- Available in sizes from Extra Small to XXL, and comes complete with a 1-year replacement guarantee
- These knee sleeves have a distinct, Neoprene smell to them which can take a few uses to get rid of
Featuring reinforced stitching and constructed from 7mm thick Neoprene, these Knee Sleeves from Gymreapers will provide you with support, warmth, and stability throughout your weightlifting session.
They are also a great choice for anybody looking for compression-based pain relief.
Thie 7mm thickness of these knee sleeves provides a couple of extra benefits, as well as keeping your knees supported.
First of all, it means that the sleeves are tight enough to stay in place without having to rely on reinforcement from non-slip silicone grips. Secondly, it helps your muscles retain warmth while you train which, in turn, reduces muscle stiffness and speeds up recovery time.
Their Neoprene construction means that they are highly breathable, and they will absorb sweat without retaining it.
These knee sleeves also included a reinforced gym bag, which you can use to store and transport them in along with any other gym equipment you need for your training session.
Available in sizes from Small to XXL, these knee sleeves come complete with a 1-year warranty and 60-day money-back guarantee. You can also choose between three different colors, all of which feature the iconic Gymreapers skull design.
- Constructed from 7mm thick Neoprene to provide stability and comfort
- The 7mm thickness keeps these knee-sleeves in place without needing any silicone reinforcement
- Their thickness also keeps the muscles warm, reduces stiffness, and speeds up recovery time
- Highly breathable and will absorb sweat without retaining moisture
- Available in sizes from Small to XXL, and comes with a free gym bag, 60-day money-back guarantee, and 1-year warranty
- These knee sleeves don’t feature any non-slip technology. However, they are generally tight enough to stay firmly in place without needing any.
Best Knee Sleeves for Powerlifting Buying Guide
You might think that purchasing a pair of knee sleeves for powerlifting is a fairly straightforward task. After all, they’re all designed to do the same thing, which is to provide support, stability, and comfort to your knees and surrounding leg muscles while you’re training.
However, there is a little more to it than meets the eye. No two people are the same, and what works for somebody else may not necessarily work for you.
So, to help you find the best knee sleeves for your personal needs, we’ve highlighted some key points to pay attention to while you’re shopping around.
Does wearing knee sleeves improve your lifts?
Before we start breaking down the elements of a knee sleeve piece by piece, you might want to know whether wearing a knee sleeve will improve your lifts?
There is some debate around this subject but, generally speaking, wearing a knee sleeve will help improve your lifts in the following ways:
- Knee sleeves help you generate more initial speed: Since wearing a knee sleeve decreases knee flexion at the bottom of a squat, you’re able to reach a greater speed from the bottom of the lift.
- Knee sleeves keep the knee joint at a better angle: It’s much easier to replicate a specific joint angle when you’re wearing a knee sleeve than it is when you aren’t. This means you’ll have better knee tracking which, in turn, leads to a better overall squat technique. And, as your technique improves, the amount of weight you can safely lift increases.
- Knee sleeves increase warmth in the knee joint: Two things happen when you increase the warmth in your knee joint. The first thing that happens is the surrounding muscles are kept warm while you train, which leads to a reduced recovery time and a reduced risk of developing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The second thing that happens is reduced risk of inflammation. This is because the knee joints are kept supported and stabilized while you lift. And, the better condition your knee joints are in, the longer you’ll be able to lift weights comfortably.
- Knee sleeves can increase your confidence under a heavy load: Much like having a friend or spotting partner cheering you on while you lift, wearing knee sleeves can give you a confidence boost when you’re lifting a heavy load. This is because you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your knee joints are being stabilized and protected, so you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on your lift instead of worrying about your knees getting damaged.
The first thing you’ll need to think about is what material your potential new knee sleeves are made from. You’ll have a few choices here, but the most common material used for making knee sleeves Neoprene.
This material is highly durable, which is ideal when you consider that you’ll be putting your knees sleeves under a lot of pressure. It’s thick too, which means that it is better at providing support to your knees without needing any additional help.
Neoprene is also super breathable, so you’ll be able to lift weights without a pool of sweat collecting inside them.
The breathability of Neoprene also means that any sweat that does accumulate is absorbed and evaporated away, which doesn’t only ensure comfort, but also means there’s a reduced risk of developing a sweat rash or other skin irritation.
Other materials such as synthetic rubber, spandex, nylon, and polyester are also used in the construction of knee sleeves. However, none of these are as good as Neoprene, and they are also geared more towards non-lifting activities such as running or hiking as they don’t offer the same support.
With this in mind, we would always recommend going for knee sleeves that are constructed entirely of Neoprene for powerlifting. You could also choose a pair of knee sleeves that are a mixture of Neoprene and another material.
Knee sleeves come in various thicknesses, which generally tend to range from 3mm to 7mm thick. But which thickness is best? It really depends on where you are with your powerlifting progress.
Serious powerlifters who are able to lift the heaviest weights should go for a knee sleeve that is 7mm thick. This is because it will provide the greatest level of support and allow you to lift more weight, due to the compression of the kneecap.
If you’re new to powerlifting and are still finding your form and technique before moving onto the super heavy weights, a knee sleeve that is 5mm thick will provide you with ample support. 5mm sleeves are also a good choice for deadlifting as they’ll feel less awkward when you’re using a sumo stance.
3mm thick knee sleeves won’t really offer any support when you’re under a heavy weight and are most suited for non-lifting exercises.
It is worth noting, however, that any knee sleeves that are thicker than 7mm cannot be worn in powerlifting competitions. This is because the rules set out by the IPF and USPA state that knee sleeves cannot exceed a 7mm thickness.
As with thickness, the length of a knee sleeve can vary from around 20cm to 30cm, depending on the brand. However, unlike thickness, working out the length you need is a fairly easy task.
Put simply, the longer the knee sleeve is, the more support and compression it will be able to offer. This is because it will provide stability to the thigh and shin, as well as the kneecap. In turn, you’re given more power to take on stronger lifts.
However, as with thickness, there are some competition rules surrounding the length of a knee sleeve. The IPF and USPA state that knee sleeves cannot exceed 30cm in length if you’re a competitive powerlifter.
As well as working out how thick and how long you need your knee sleeves to be, you also need to make sure that you’ve chosen the correct size.
This might seem as simple as selecting your usual size from the drop down menu, however, remember that not all brands use the same measurements to dictate the size.
The easiest way to make sure you get the right size is to check the measurement guide that most brands will provide on their listings.
To help make the size-selection process easier, we’ve included two methods that can be used to accurately measure for a knee sleeve below:
- Measure around the knee cap: Take your tape measure and wrap it horizontally around the middle of your knee cap. You can then use this measurement to reference the knee sleeve’s measuring chart and find the correct size.
- Measure around the top of the calf: Again, take your tape measure and run it 10cm downwards from the center of your kneecap towards your shin. From this point, wrap the tape measure horizontally around your calf, then refer to the measurement guide for the correct size.
Remember, however, that knee sleeves are supposed to feel a little tight when you put them on as they are designed to compress the knee joint. However, if you’re struggling to get it past your shins, you’ll need to go a size bigger.
The shape and construction of your knee sleeves is another important thing to consider when you begin your search.
Some knee sleeves feature a larger opening at the top, which makes it easier to slide them on and off. Others keep the top opening a little smaller and have a more tapered look, which is designed to stop the sleeve from slipping or moving out of place while you’re lifting.
A knee sleeve with a tapered design will also provide more compression without having to rely on extra inserts (such as gel pads or metal springs), so they are a good choice if you’re looking for a no-fuss, easy-to-use option.
Some knee sleeves also feature an ergonomic design, consisting of contours that support the knee and leg muscles from a 360-degree angle.
These are a really good choice for powerlifting as you’ll feel a lot more comfortable and you’re given that extra bit of support and protection if something were to go wrong with your lift.
Ergonomically designed knee sleeves are also a good choice for non-lifting activities. So, if you’re looking for something that you can use for cardio work as well as powerlifting, we’d recommend going for a knee sleeve with an ergonomic design.
Color choice is another thing to think about when looking at the design of your potential knee sleeves.
We know that the color you choose won’t have any impact on how well the knee sleeves can support and stabilize your knees, but you will be able to match them to the rest of your gym gear if you’d like to.
We’ve mentioned in the design section how a tapered knee sleeve will be better at holding firmly on your leg while you’re training. However, some knee sleeves have extra features that ensure they stay in place even under the heaviest weights.
This usually comes in the form of non-slip grips, which will line the entire length of the knee sleeve. These grips don’t add any extra weight or thickness to the sleeves but will stop them from sliding down your legs or shifting around while you train.
This means that you’ll be able to focus your mind on your technique and the weight you’re lifting, rather than being distracted by a knee sleeve that is slowly making its way to the floor!
Another important thing to keep an eye out for when you’re shopping for a knee sleeve is reinforced stitching. This will provide the knee sleeve with the strength and durability it needs to withstand the pressure of heavy lifting.
You’ll also want to make sure that the stitching isn’t in a place where it could easily come into contact with the barbell. This could snag it as you pull the weight upwards and result in either damaging the knee sleeve or ruining your lift.
Additionally, you should also check to see if the edges of the knee sleeve have been hemmed. This will add further durability and prevent it from fraying over time.
Ease of Use
Is it really that difficult to use a pair of knee sleeves? While the concept is fairly simple, there are a few surprising issues that could make your knee sleeves harder to wear.
Thickness is the biggest factor here. The thicker the material, the harder it is to pull your knee sleeves on and off. This is especially true if you’re trying to remove them after a particularly sweating weight training session.
This is why Neoprene is the best material to go for. Not only is it durable, but it has that magic touch of being super tight when in place, but not difficult to take on or off.
And, of course, paying attention to the measurement guides and choosing the right size will make it significantly easier to use your knee sleeves.
Price & Warranty
Finally, it’s always a good idea to set yourself a budget when shopping for knee sleeves and trying to stick to it as much as possible.
Depending on the brand, there can be quite a difference in price between two knee sleeves that seem to be pretty much identical in features. This is why it’s so important to look at all of the points we’ve listed above.
By doing so, and comparing different knee sleeves, you may be surprised by how much money you can save by choosing a lesser-known brand rather than simply paying for the label.
A pair of knee sleeves that comes with a warranty is also a good way to get that extra bit of value for money. Warranties can vary from 1-3 years depending on the knee sleeves you’ve chosen, but, generally speaking, the longer the warranty lasts the more faith you can have in their quality.
As you can see, there is a little more to bear in mind when it comes to finding the best knee sleeves for powerlifting than you might have originally thought! Material, thickness, size, length, design, and stitching all need to be considered.
However, paying attention to these key points will help you find the right pair the first time around.
From our list of the best knee sleeves for powerlifting above, it’s the NEENCA Professional Knee Brace that comes out as our top pick. Not only is it capable of supporting, stabilizing, and providing warmth to your knees but it’s also highly durable and will last for a really long time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are knee sleeves?
Knee sleeves are a piece of gym apparel that are worn around the knee, extending from the bottom of the thigh to the top of the shins.
They are designed to keep the knee joints warm, stable, and supported while taking on squats and deadlifts.
They also have another use, which is to add compression to the knee joint, This is an effective form of pain relief for anybody suffering from a knee injury.
Knee sleeves also improve blood circulation, which is another reason why they are so good for injury recovery.
What are the benefits of wearing knee sleeves when powerlifting?
Similar to what knee sleeves do for squats, the main benefit of wearing these when powerlifting is that they will keep the knee joint warm and protected as you lift heavy weights. This improves blood flow and helps to increase your recovery time.
Knee sleeves also increase the stability of the kneecap, and this allows you to take on heavier weights than you usually would.
What is the best material for knee sleeves to be made from?
Neoprene is the best material to look for in a knee sleeve for powerlifting as it is highly durable, and will keep the knee well supported through its thickness and stability.
There are loads of different materials to choose from when you’re looking for knee sleeves including synthetic rubber, spandex, nylon, and polyester, but these are better for non-lifting activities such as running and hiking.
There are also knee sleeves that combine Neoprene with different types of materials, and these are good for a variety of exercises and well as powerlifting.
Are knee sleeves worth it?
If you’re looking for a way to increase the amount of weight you can safely lift, knee sleeves are absolutely worth it.
They are also a good addition to your gym gear if you’re new to weight training, as they’ll offer support and stability to your knee joints and surrounding leg muscles while you develop your form and technique.
Knee sleeves can also be used as an aid for anybody recovering from a knee injury.
When should you wear knee sleeves?
Knee sleeves are most commonly used for squat workouts as they’ll stabilize your knee and allow you to increase the amount of weight you can lift.
Some powerlifters also like using knee sleeves for deadlifts and deadlift accessories. However, if you’re lifting less than 60% of your 1 rep max, you probably won’t need to wear knee sleeves.
How tight should knee sleeves fit?
A knee sleeve should be tight enough to stay in place and keep your kneecap supported once you’ve placed it on your leg. It shouldn’t need to be adjusted and it certainly shouldn’t slip down while you’re training.
If it does, then you need to go for a size smaller. Many knee sleeves feature non-slip silicone grips that will prevent this from happening.
Why is it important to keep your knee joints warm when powerlifting?
There are two benefits to keeping your knee joints warm when you’re powerlifting. The first of these benefits is that you’ll have a reduced recovery time.
Secondly, the chance of inflammation is dramatically reduced. Wearing knee sleeves when powerlifting will keep your knee joints warm and allow you to achieve both of these benefits.