Best Knee Sleeves

Best Knee Sleeves for Squatting, July 2021

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Knee sleeves are becoming a staple accessory in the gym bag of many lifters. Primarily used for squats, lunges and sometimes deadlifts, a good pair of knee sleeves could enhance your training and take your performance to new levels.

Finding the best knee sleeves for squatting and lifting is a task not to be taken lightly.

Lucky for you, I've done the hard work and found the best knee sleeves for squatting that will allow you to improve your lifting capabilities.

Don't have time to read? Here's my top pick!



Mark bell Strong Sleeves

Created by legendary weightlifter Mark Bell, the Strong Sleeves offer maximum support for even the heaviest lifts.

7mm thickness, level 3 compression, and side seam stitching make this the choice for best knee sleeves.

mark bell strong sleeves

Best knee sleeves for squatting

All of the sleeves I am picking here, with the exception of one brand, have been made by manufacturers that specialize in powerlifting equipment.

These are the guys that you want to be buying knee sleeves from, they will have researched and worked with the strongest squatters around to come up with these products.

All of the brands I have picked are also worn by some of the strongest guys in the world so that should tell you all you need to know.

Here are my picks for the best knee sleeves for squatting:

1. Mark Bell Strong Sleeves

Mark Bell is a powerlifting icon, and so are his Strong Sleeves.

The Strong Sleeves are produced by Mark Bell of Slingshot and

This guy obviously knows his powerlifting and hangs around a huge circle of other guys that know more than a thing or two about it as well. Now, Rehband has a pair of knee sleeves that were made for the purpose of heavier, single or low rep lifts in mind. The RX 7mm sleeves.

  • Seams on the side of the knee
  • 7mm thick neoprene
  • Available in a range of colors and designs
  • Level 3 compression to support max effort

The fact that mark has so many knowledgeable influences to call upon when it comes to designing and testing products, makes it no surprise that he keeps producing such quality gear.

The seams being along the sides of the knee on these sleeves is really the main difference that I can tell. They are said to be there in order to reduce irritation around the knee during your workouts. I can definitely see this to be a good point.

The wider choice of colors will be a huge plus to many. I know a lot of lifters that like to show a bit of personality or “flare” in the gym and on the platform so this will go down a treat with those guys.

One con is that the price is higher than some choices, but Mark Bell is a weightlifting legend, and I have utmost faith in him.

In terms of performance, I don’t think there is going to be too much to separate these and the 2nd place SBD sleeves.

2. SBD knee sleeves

One of the most popular brand of knee sleeves among lifters today are SBD Knee Sleeves.

They have been around for a few years now and still remain the cream of the crop, in my opinion.

These sleeves will definitely give your squat a boost.

A big plus for the SBDs is their length, this means greater coverage and support over more of your leg.

SBD Sleeves and Strong Sleeves are made from the same material too.

  • 7mm Thick
  • High-grade neoprene
  • 30cm in Length
  • Very Durable

They should also last a very long time. Mine have done thousands of reps, worn for competitions, washed numerous times (an absolute necessity that you will soon understand once you have worn knee sleeves for a few workouts) and they still look and perform like new.

The only downsides I could think of would be that they only come in a single color variation and they tend to cause some itchiness due to the seam placement.

Ultimately, this isn't a big issue for most, but keep it in mind.

I really don’t think you can go wrong with the SBD knee sleeves, to be honest.

3. Rogue 7mm Knee Sleeve

As per usual, Rogue has made some pretty top notch gym accessories when it comes to the Rogue 7mm Knee Sleeve.

You can get these sleeves in a variety of thickness which is nice for a variety of needs.

With options in 3mm and 5mm as well, you have the flexibility for your lifestyle or lifting choices.

3mm is a good choice for lighter activity all the way up to 7mm for heavy lifting.

  • 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm Thick
  • High-Grade SBR/Neoprene Material
  • IPF and IWF Legal
  • Sold in Pairs

Regardless of which thickness option you choose, they're well-made.

Rogue used an SBR/Neoprene composite mix which makes them durable for competition use. In fact, they're IPF and IWF legal for both raw and open-competition.

Best yet is that they're sold in pairs for generous price, with the 3mm pair being cheapest if you need a decent general purpose knee sleeve. They also come in sizes XS - XL, and in 5 different colorways.

All-in-all, Rogue did a good job making a versatile, affordable, and durable knee sleeve for all kinds of lifting and fitness needs.

4. Gymreapers Knee Sleeves

You'd be surprised at the level of quality of gym gear you can find on Amazon.

We have the Gymreapers Knee Sleeves and they've gotten some pretty good reviews to back them up.

In fact, the folks at BarBend list this as one of their best knee sleeves for squatting, and if they think it's good, you can be sure it passes the test.

As an added bonus, they even threw in a free drawstring gym bag to carry them in.

  • Synthetic Rubber & Neoprene Material
  • 7mm Thickness
  • Reinforced Stitching
  • Free Drawstring Gym Bag

Aside from the bag, these sleeves are still high-quality using a synthetic rubber and neoprene mix for ample support of the knee muscles and joints.

With 7mm thickness, they can withstand the rigors of heavy squatting and deadlifting too.

Thankfully they use reinforced stitching in case you're really going to be putting them to the test, where they also have a 1-year warranty to back you up.

It doesn't surprise me that even the gym junkies at BarBend think this is a steal for a pair of knee sleeves, especially for only $49.99.

5. Rehband Rx 5mm knee sleeves

The only company on the list that doesn’t just specialize in powerlifting gear, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are doing when it comes to knee sleeves.

The wild popularity of their original knee sleeves, the Rehband 7051, is succeeded by the Rehband Rx 7mm Knee Sleeves

The original sleeves were the go-to squat sleeves for many before the powerlifting brands came along with their purpose-built knee sleeves.

  • 5mm - 7mm thick
  • Anatomically shaped for the knee
  • 27mm Coverage
  • Color options available

Now, Rehband has created a 5mm and 7mm knee sleeve for power and weightlifting purposes. 

Rehband has been specializing in knee equipment for over 60 years, they probably know the knee better than any manufacturer on this list.

The anatomically shaped design has been introduced to provide a more natural and comfortable joint motion while wearing the sleeves. One of the disadvantages of most heavy-duty knee sleeves is that they can be uncomfortable and a bit restrictive so this could be a huge benefit to some lifters.

One downside/annoyance of the Rehbands is the fact that they are sold in singles so be careful for that and make sure to order two. Similarly, the Rehband Rx 5mm Knee Sleeves are cheaper, if budgets a concern.

But, if you have tried and liked the original Rehband sleeves but are looking for something a bit heavier and geared towards increasing squat numbers, I have no doubt that you will like these sleeves.

6. Stoic 7mm Knee Sleeves 

Not surprisingly, another Amazon find has made its way onto the best knee sleeves list.

The Stoic 7mm Powerlifting Knee Sleeves should be on your radar.

Admittedly, I've never heard of this brand before, but the reviews are telling.

They come in 7mm thickness, so they provide the necessary support for serious lifting.

Likewise, they have full 30cm coverage and a non-slip interior.

  • 7mm thick neoprene
  • 30cm Coverage
  • Triple-Reinforced Seam Protection
  • 7 Sizing Options

These are made of the same material as the others and are the same 7mm thickness, which is the thickest allowable by the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation.)

Like  the SBDs, the company claims that their seam pattern adds support to your knee joint. This is done through their triple-reinforced seam protection intended to stop rips and tears.

First thing I noticed about the design of the sleeves is, ironically, how seamless they were. They're very smooth and clean looking so if you're going for a minimalistic look, these are right up your alley.

The Stoic Powerlifting Knee Sleeves only come in one color, black, but like I said, they have a really clean and timeless design so who cares about the lack of color variety?

7. Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves

The Vikings probably didn't wear knee sleeves while conquesting, but if they did, they'd probably wear Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves.

After a while, most knee sleeves start looking, sounding, and feeling like the same thing so I can understand some fatigue if you're reading.

On the onset, the Nordic Lifting Sleeves don't appear to be all that unique, but that's not totally true, and not always a bad thing.

  • Reinforced Rear Cross-Stitching
  • 7mm Thickness
  • Neoprene Material
  • Unisex Sleeves

You can notice the cross-stitching design on the back which is intended for extra support which is crucial for longevity of the sleeves if you're going to be pounding them with heavy squat sessions.

The front design also looks very pleasing too so if you don't want a plain looking knee sleeve, then these should be on your, "to-buy" list. 

Another added benefit is that the sleeves are unisex design so you and your partner can both get use out of them... although I'd recommend making sure you aren't sharing sweat!

A bit of a let down is that they're sold individually, and they can be a bit pricy, so keep that in mind.

8. Hookgrip Knee Sleeves 2.0

If you even have an inkling of interest in competition lifting and the Olympics, then you've heard of Hookgrip.

Not only do they talk about lifting news, they also make the Hookgrip Knee Sleeves 2.0.

As you can guess, the 2.0 are an upgrade over the original knee sleeves, wherein Hookgrip reduced the length of the sleeve for a tighter fit.

Like many knee sleeves before them, the Hookgrip Knee Sleeves 2.0 are made with 100% neoprene material.

  • 100% Neoprene
  • Upgrade Over Previous Sleeves
  • Lightweight Design
  • Very Budget Friendly

All this sounds great, but I'm going to have to give you some bad news - these aren't meant as purely supportive knee sleeves.

Even though they can certainly be used for running, lifting, and any other activity, they don't offer the same support that the other knee sleeves on this list do.

I know it sounds confusing, but you can use them, and plenty of people use them because they are high-quality, but don't expect the same performance you'd get from Strong Sleeves or SBD Sleeves.

That being said, they're lightweight, comfortable, and incredibly budget friendly so they're still a solid choice for the part-time lifters.

9. Schiek Tommy Kono Knee Sleeves

It seemed only right to start and end with weightlifting legends.

Last, we have the Schiek Tommy Kono Knee Sleeves, which are based on the original T.K. Knee Bands that legendary weightlifter Tommy Kono introduced in the 60's.

We've obviously come a long way since the early days of weightlifting and bodybuilding, and the change shows in the new T.K. Bands.

Made from neoprene and sporting a slick design with the Tommy Kono branding on the knee, it provides the support you'll need.

  • Sleek Design
  • 1/4in Thickness (6.35mm)
  • Usable as Elbow Sleeves
  • Lower Stitching for Anti-Slip

One of the best aspects of the Tommy Kono Knee Sleeves are the fact that they can be repurposed as elbow sleeves for upper body exercises and deadlifts.

They're just a hair under 7mm thickness, being 6.35mm, but they're durable as can be for the support you need doing heavy squats.

As mentioned too, they have a very sleek design that features a stitch seam at the base, so you won't feel any tugging or itching across the upper parts of your knee so you can lift in comfort.

We're far removed from the early days of weightlifting innovations, the newest iteration of the classic T.K. Bands should stand the test of time for you.

Do knee sleeves prevent injury?

Knee pain from squats graphic

Knee sleeves are an elasticated material used to compress the knee joint during physical activity. For this article, I am focusing mainly on squatting in knee sleeves so I will primarily be using squats as a measure for my recommendations.

The idea for compressing the knee joint comes mainly down to injury prevention. The knee sleeves are designed to keep the knee “in place” and keep the joint warmer through the compression.

What has been looked at and seems to favor the use of knee sleeves is the effects they have on reducing pain in already injured knees. This study showed a decrease in pain in subjects diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

The study stated that the reduced pain probably came as a result of the increased warmth around the joint provided by the knee sleeve. Increased warmth around a joint usually causes people to feel more comfortable and less pain.

Can you squat heavier with knee sleeves?

So far, I have spoken about the medical reasons for knee sleeves. I’m sure what you’re really interested in is how they'll help you squat heavier.

You really can’t argue the fact that knee sleeves can improve your squat performance by a decent amount. More or less every competitor at the IPF world championships last year was wearing them.

Heck, you would struggle to find many local-level competitors not wearing them if their federation allows them to be worn.

Don't rely on knee sleeves to do all the work. Perfecting your form always comes first. You can make sure you're technique is on point by viewing my squat form guide.

The increase in squat weight comes as a result of the elasticated sleeves being stretched over the quad then bunched up and compressed behind the knee at the bottom of a squat. These factors create a slingshot effect out of the bottom position, which is the most difficult part of the squat.

Some lifters report an increase of up to 25lbs/11.3kgs from their knee sleeves. It does depend on sizing - tighter knee sleeves have a bigger effect but are going to be less comfortable and may restrict mobility.

A note on sleeve tightness for competitive lifters: you have to be able to pull on your sleeves by yourself if you wear them in certain competitions.

You won’t be able to do that if they are super tight.

No more of this technique, despite it's genius:

Who should wear knee sleeves?

Nobody should need knee sleeves, but I'd recommend them 7 days a week. They should be used as another training tool just like wrist wraps, weightlifting straps, belts and lifting shoes.

If you are able to lift heavier when wearing a pair of knee sleeves, then wearing them at certain times during your training can really help you push past your current limits and progress in your squat.

As mentioned earlier, if you are already suffering from a slight injury then knee sleeves could help provide necessary support to the muscles and joints.

However, you need to make sure that you are recovering and rehabbing the injury as well. If squatting in the sleeves impedes recovery, don’t use them.

If you are a competitive lifter and your federation allows the use of knee sleeves, use them. Be sure to use them in your training leading up to the competition as well.

Similar to using a belt, you have to get a feel for them first. It isn’t wise to just throw a pair of sleeves on and expect an immediate increase in your strength.

I think the bottom line for the use of knee sleeves is very similar to most other training aids and equipment. They can be an excellent tool and will improve your squat numbers.

Use them to supplement your training, but don’t rely on them.

Final thoughts

I love the SBD sleeves, you will find them in any list of the best knee sleeves for squatting and I cannot recommend them enough... but I have to go with the Mark Bell Strong Sleeves as my #1 choice.

So, picking between one of those two will leave you more than satisfied with the support and comfort you'll get when squatting, but the rest of this list isn't full of slouches either.

Rogue Knee Sleeves, Gymreapers Knee Sleeves, Rehband Knee Sleeves, etc. are all going to offer you that little extra ability to help reach PRs safe and comfortably which is the whole goal of me sharing my list with you!

Denver Matheson

I spend a lot of time at the gym and even more time in the kitchen giving my body what it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. The third most important place for any athlete is their research zone. That's exactly why this site exists, to help me share all of the information I've learned throughout the years just like people did for me in the first place!

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