Best Knee Sleeves for Powerlifting
Powerlifting is one of the best sports to compete in if you want to challenge your overall strength and fitness.
While much of a powerlifting athlete’s strength comes from dedicated hours at the gym and heavy training cycles, lifting accessories can also help increase your strength.
Whether you are in the gym or on the competition platform, additional equipment like lifting belts, Olympic shoes, and knee sleeves can help to give you that small edge to break your previous personal records.
One of my favourite accessories to keep my joints supported during my back squat are knee sleeves for powerlifting.
I have tried a variety of knee sleeves during my powerlifting training and even during competition, from luxury knee sleeves to budge knee sleeves, in order to discover which brand delivers the best product for serious lifters.
For a lot of beginner powerlifters, the decision to purchase knee sleeves for powerlifting is a sign that you are ready to take your barbell squat to the next level.
And, depending on how frequently you are training, you might be a more advanced lifter looking to update your knee sleeves to ensure the best fit and knee support for you.
Regardless of your experience in powerlifting, knee sleeves can help improve your squat, when used correctly of course.
In today’s article, I am going to share my knowledge and experience about knee sleeves for powerlifting with you all.
My intention is to help you decide if knee sleeves are the best next step for your training, which pair to buy, and how to properly break them in to excel during your squat.
What Exactly Are Knee Sleeves?
During a heavy barbell squat, your body undergoes a lot of stress. You need to maintain a solid core, tension in your glutes and quads, and even weight distribution across your feet in order to execute that powerful ascent that powerlifters need to stand back up under the bar.
Essentially, knee sleeves are woven fabric sleeves that are worn around the athlete’s knees.
Knee sleeves for powerlifting can help your body stay stable and strong during a heavy barbell squat. For powerlifting athletes, knee sleeves are exclusively worn during the squat, and never during the bench or deadlift.
When you are just a beginner lifter, knee sleeves may not be an entirely necessary training accessory, because you are still building your strength and establishing your form.
However, when lifters become more advanced and especially when they are training to compete, knee sleeves for powerlifting are another tool in a lifters toolkit that can really help you add weight to your squat.
How Do Knee Sleeves Help with Squatting?
Knee sleeves for powerlifting can help your knee stability during your barbell squat, particularly by keeping your knee joint warm and protected during the squat motion.
It is common for athletes to look for a tight fit with their knee sleeves for powerlifting, and there are two reasons this snug fit is ideal.
First and foremost, a properly fitting pair of knee sleeves will keep your knees warm during your squat training, and this ensures that your joint is mobile and at reduced risk for becoming inflamed.
Additionally, if the knee sleeves fit properly, they can also give you enhanced knee support at the bottom of your lift (which is ideal if you are moving a barbell that weighs significantly more than your body weight).
I also find that the tight fit of a high quality knee sleeve gives me an added bounce at the bottom of my squat, which helps when I need that little bit of extra torque and power to stand back up and complete my lift.
Keep in mind that while knee sleeves can do great things for your squat, they cannot fix poor squat form.
For example, if your knees are caving in during your ascent, or if you are tipping forward in your squat -two very common form breakdowns in beginner and experienced lifters- knee sleeves will not change those movement patterns.
You will want to address these form concerns without wearing knee sleeves, so that when you do decide to train with knee sleeves on, you are able to focus on strength inside of form corrections.
Finally, if you are experiencing pain in your knees during squatting, knee sleeves are not a solution to that pain.
Pain is a message your body sends you when something is not quite right. I would recommend consulting with a physician or sports physical therapist if knee pain during squatting becomes an ongoing concern; take my word for it, masking the pain with knee sleeves will only make your problem worse.
The Best Knee Sleeves for Powerlifting Athletes
In part due to the rise in powerlifting’s popularity, there are a lot of knee sleeves on the market, so it can be difficult to decide which ones are best for you. Read on to learn more about my top picks for knee sleeves for powerlifting and knee support.
#1. Rogue 5MM Knee Sleeve - Best Overall Knee Sleeve
You trust Rogue for your barbells, your plates, and maybe even your dumbbells and training accessories, so why not leave the design of your knee sleeves up to them too?
The Rogue 5MM Knee Sleeve are one of my top choices for beginner knee sleeve users, and here is why: these knee sleeves use 5MM SBR (styrene-butadiene rubber) with a Neoprene blend to create a contoured sleeve that feels natural and flexible over your knee joints.
The Rogue 5MM Knee Sleeve gives you your full range of motion, while supporting your knee joints during longer squat sessions and leg day training.
Because they are not as thick as other knee sleeves for powerlifting, they are ideal for beginners who are not yet in need of a seriously heavy duty sleeve, and they are much easier to pull on and off as you move between exercises.
The Rogue 5MM Knee Sleeves are American made, sold as a pair, and come in a variety of colours. My personal favourites are the traditional black sleeves and the camouflage pattern. They come in sizes XS to XL.
I purchased my Rogue 5MM Knee Sleeves from the Rouge online store for an affordable $49.50, a low price to pay for a high quality product, which in my mind makes them a no brainer for athletes looking for budget knee sleeves that don’t compromise on design and function.
#2. SBD Knee Sleeve - Best for Powerlifting Competitions
The SBD Knee Sleeves are one of the best known and trusted knee sleeves in the powerlifting community, and there is good reason for that.
A lot of lower quality knee sleeves tend to wear down after continued use, but that is just not the case for these SBD Knee Sleeves.
Manufactured in Great Britain, the SBD Knee Sleeves use flexible and durable 7MM neoprene, giving you a thick, supportive sleeve for the reliable knee support needed by intermediate or advanced athletes during low bar or high bar squat training.
The SBD Knee Sleeves are 30cm long, making them compliant in certified powerlifting meets, including meets hosted by USAPL, IPF, USPA, and IWF.
So, these sleeves can take you from training in the gym to the competition platform without needing to swap out your equipment.
The SBD Knee Sleeves are also available in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 3XS to 5XL. This wide size range makes the SBD Knee Sleeves a logical choice for both female and male powerlifting athletes who are looking for a perfect fit for their knee sleeves.
You can purchase your own set of SBD Knee Sleeves from the SBD Apparel website for $82.50.
While you may not consider these SBD Knee Sleeves a budget knee sleeve, the price is worth it considering just how well made and trusted these SBD Knee Sleeves are.
#3. Rehband RX 5MM Knee Sleeves - Best Multi-Purpose Knee Sleeve
The Rehband RX 5mm Knee Sleeves are a high quality knee sleeve with a very slick design.
It doesn't matter if you simply need some added support for your knees or if you're looking to compete, these sleeves work well in both instances.
In my experience, the Rehband RX 5mm Knee Sleeves are incredibly comfortable and perform admirably for a variety of uses.
Like many knee sleeves, the Rehband RX 5mm Knee Sleeves are also machine washable so you won't need to worry about getting them too sweaty after a hard training session. It's recommended you use them in a machine-safe washing bag to protect them though.
They are supportive enough for any of the major lifting categories (olympic, power, and weight lifting), while also providing ample support if you need to use them for compression purposes too.
The Rehband RX 5mm Knee Sleeves are available on Rogue Fitness' official site for $39.99 per sleeve.
#4. Strong Knee Sleeves by Slingshot - Runner Up for Powerlifting Competitions
Since first appearing on the market, the Strong Knee Sleeves by Slingshot knee sleeves are quickly gaining popularity in the powerlifting community.
It helps that these budget knee sleeves are also approved by the IPF, making them a reliable knee sleeve choice.
You might already be familiar with the Original Sling Shot, a band worn around an athlete's arms and over their chest during bench press training.
The Original Sling Shot uses elastic tension to allow you to move a heavier barbell while bench pressing, without added pressure on your shoulders.
Now, the Strong Knee Sleeves by Slingshot knee sleeves use a similar concept, but this time for squats.
These knee sleeves for powerlifting employ that patented Sling Shot effect to maximize your squat performance during heavy training cycles.
The Strong Knee Sleeves by Slingshot knee sleeves are 7mm thick and use level 3 compression to ensure your optimal warmth and knee support during your leg day training.
These knee sleeves also only include side seams, rather than having seams on the front and back of them, which I find is more comfortable when you are wearing them for longer sessions.
The Strong Knee Sleeves by Slingshot knee sleeves are sold on the Rogue Fitness website for $83.00.
#5. Nike Advantage Knitted Knee Sleeve - Best Budget Knee Sleeves
No matter your experience level or size requirements, you cannot go wrong with a pair of Nike Advantage Knitted Sleeves.
Not only are the Nike Advantage Sleeves my choice for budget lifters, they're good for compression needs too.
These Nike Advantage Knee Sleeves are not the typical power/Olympic lifting knee sleeves, so they may not be for everyone so it's worth mentioning they tend towards the more casual lifter.
When I squat with the Nike Advantage Knitted Sleeves, I'm really impressed by the level of comfort, which is no surprise given the material.
I find them easy to pull on and off, and they contour well to my knee without bulging or slipping which is great for CrossFit and other more eccentric movement workouts.
To me, these knee sleeves are a prime choice for beginner or intermediate athlete that needs something well-rounded but still offers the same knee support as a more traditional powerlifting/Olympic lifting knee sleeve.
It's also good to note that they are the cheapest of the options on my list, and while they aren't IPF approved, they're just fine for training anywhere you choose to lift or workout.
Move on over to the Rogue Fitness website to find these Nike Advantage Knitted Sleeves at a budget price of $30.00.
Knee Sleeves for Powerlifting: The Bottom Line
If you have never lifted with knee sleeves before, I can tell you from my experience that these are a game changing accessory for avid powerlifters.
It does take some time to find the right pair for you, but once you squat with high quality knee sleeves, the benefits of their warming effect, improved performance, and overall confidence in your lift will have you hooked on these simple lifting tools.
Rogue 5MM Knee Sleeve
The Best Knee Sleeves for Powerlifting Athletes