The best bodybuilding knee sleeves and best knee sleeves for lifting can greatly enhance compression and support for all those big lifts.
Our knees may be tough joints. They do support our large frames all day after all. But even the strongest things start to wear down and that loss of stamina could lead to imbalances and poor support ultimately leading to injury. Knee sleeves are incredibly useful tools when it comes to weightlifting, powerlifting, and Strongman, where so much load is compressed onto your poor knee joints.
We’ve put together a list of the Best Knee Sleeves for 2021 to help with your powerlifting, bodybuilding, and other lifting needs. The right knee sleeves can help you feel less vulnerable and stronger to tackle all of those big lifts.
Best Knee Sleeves For 2021
- Best Overall Knee Sleeve: SBD 5mm Weightlifting Knee Sleeve
- Best Bodybuilding Knee Sleeve: Mava Sports 7mm Knee Sleeve
- Best Knee Sleeve For Squats: Rehband Rx 5mm Knee Sleeve
- Best Knee Sleeve For Powerlifting: SBD 7mm Knee Sleeve
- Best Knee Sleeve For Warmth & Compression: Sling Shot 7mm Knee Sleeves By Mark Bell
Best Overall Knee Sleeve
The best overall knee sleeve will work to offer great compression and support and allow for functional movements and more endurance based workouts, while still being useful for heavy lifts.
SBD 5mm Weightlifting Knee Sleeve
SBD brings this amazing weightlifting knee sleeve designed to minimize the risk of injury while working to maximize performance. Sold as a pair, this 5mm high grade neoprene and four-way stretch fabric has a reinforced seam constructed to last a long time with continuous use. An anti-microbial inner lining is matched by an abrasion resistant exterior lining for optimal protection against wear and tear. Registered and developed with help from elite athletes, coaches and other health professionals, this sleeve is approved for all competitive use including USPL, IPF, IWF, and was approved for the USPA in 2021.
- Top quality knee sleeve designed from elite athletes and other professionals
- Very durable and built to last, the high-grade neoprene is reinforced to tackle wear and tear
- Approved for all competition is a huge plus
- It is on the expensive side for knee sleeves
- You can only buy directly from their website
Check out our individual review for SBD Knee Sleeves here!
Best Bodybuilding Knee Sleeve
The best bodybuilding knee sleeves will work to provide support for those movements essential to sculpting and toning without the fear of injury or unwanted knee pain.
Mava Sports 7mm Knee Sleeve
This knee sleeve from Mava offers a 7mm compression sleeve to work on full support to ensure injury prevention, promote muscle and joint health, and offer optimal stability. Anatomically shaped for performance, they provide the right amount of support and compression to offer maximum comfort and relieve stiffness and soreness after any big lift. These strong neoprene knee sleeves will allow you to achieve more from all of your sessions. USPA approved, Mava also prides themselves on great customer service.
- Offers great support and maximum comfort so your lifts are more mobile and aren’t stunted by a bulky sleeve
- Being USPA approved is a bonus for competitors
- The sizing tends to be slightly off
- Being thick may provide comfort but it also doesn’t wick moisture away as well as it could
Best Knee Sleeve For Squats
Squatting can cause real discomfort at times, especially with your knees responsible for holding and moving so much weight. The best knee sleeves for squats will help with pain and swelling so you never have to halt those PRs.
Rehband Rx 5mm Knee Sleeve
Rehband Rx knee sleeve allows you to feel more confident and secure with any activity with this classic 5mm design to provide knee support, comfort, flexibility, and compression. The 3-D contoured design is based on the contour of the leg so it is an anatomical fit instead of an angled tube. Providing reinforcement all around the knee, it allows for optimal range of motion for whatever your sport. As a dependable creator of knee sleeves since 1955, Rehband always keeps the customer in mind and these are the best knee sleeves for squats.
- The 3-D design allows for a more comfortable fit
- The range of motion is great for all lifts
- Made from a trusted and reputable company
- Sizing tends to be off which can cause discomfort
- Tend to be a slightly thicker than others so circulation may become a problem
Best Knee Sleeve For Powerlifting
Powerlifters are always putting their bodies under immense amount of stress with massive weight and the same movements. The best knee sleeves for powerlifting will provide comfort, support, and durability for all of those massive lifts.
SBD 7mm Knee Sleeve
SBD offers another great compression sleeve with their 7mm knee sleeve. Sold as a pair, these are the market leading knee joint support products for strength sports and strength training by top athletes in powerlifting and Strongman. Designed to minimize the risk of injury while also aiding in performance, this registered and patented design is developed by elite athletes and other health and fitness professionals. The 7mm high grade neoprene knee sleeve is approved by USAPL, IPF, and USPA, and is compliant with IWF.
- Top-tier product in terms of quality and longevity
- Very effective design from elite athletes and other professionals
- Fully approved for competitive use is a huge plus
- This sleeve is on the expensive side
- Only available through their website
Check out our individual review for SBD Knee Sleeves here!
Best Knee Sleeve For Warmth & Compression
The right knee sleeve for warmth and compression will be comfortable and make you feel as though you are getting everything you want and more out of a great knee sleeve to aid in all things exercise related for better support, blood flow, and protection.
Sling Shot 7mm Knee Sleeves By Mark Bell
Mark Bell brings Sling Shot 7mm knee sleeves to the table with years of experience as a professional powerlifter, coach, and fitness expert. This strong 7mm thick level 3 neoprene provides for compression with solid rebound to really maximize weightlifting loads. The patented design allows for comfort and convenience and is great for providing warmth to keep you lose and limber yet stable. The benefit of promoting body awareness is great as it works to assist neighboring parts of your body as well. Overall, the added stability will promote confidence with lifting more weight.
- They are lighter than others but offer the same support
- Level 3 neoprene is high quality and ensures durability
- They are top of the list for warmth
- Expensive product and are of average quality overall when compared to others in the similar price range
Benefits Of Knee Sleeves
Knee sleeves have the potential to greatly influence your lifts and give you confidence in knowing you are protecting those vulnerable joints. Benefits of knee sleeves include:
- Add nice compression: By adding compression, you work to reduce pain and decrease swelling.
- Increase blood flow: This will boost circulation for better movements and less pain in those vulnerable joints by preventing lactic acid build up (1).
- Ensure efficient recovery: More healthy blood and oxygen flow, with less lactic acid build up, leads to better recovery for faster bounce back (2).
- Support muscles: Knee sleeves support the muscles and decrease the number of muscular vibrations to assist in muscle fatigue and improve athletic performance (3).
- Prevents future injury: By protecting those vulnerable spots, you preemptively work to prevent future injuries.
Choosing The Right Knee Sleeve
When looking at the right knee sleeve, you want to look at a number of factors including:
Your knee sleeve should fit just right and be snug. You don’t want it to be too tight so that it restricts movement and blood flow, but you also don’t want it to be too loose so it doesn’t give you the most in terms of intended use. The right fit will be snug and comfortable while also feeling supportive.
Looking for comfortable material is vital because you are moving and working out in this sleeve constantly. You don’t want to suffer through some uncomfortable and hard to use material. Finding the best option may require trial and error for comfort but the right one is out there.
Depending on the knee sleeve, the right amount of padding can ensure comfort and fit, and while some may be bulky, there are those more sleek looks that still provide great padding and support. This can affect your mobility and overall movement.
Knee sleeves typically come in 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm and knowing which one will work for you is important when looking to choose. A 3mm sleeve is great for those endurance athletes since it is lighter and helps with the necessary movements. For those all around fitness folks, a 5mm sleeve works great for it is thick but still allows for proper movements with physical activity. Finally, the 7mm sleeve offers additional support and is used by heavy lifters who rely on their knees to hold a lot of weight.
How We Choose
When looking at the best knee sleeves, we first made sure the overall quality of the sleeve was there. You deserve to have the best quality knee sleeve possible and the material and durability are what matter most, especially with the wear and tear brought on by exercise. We then look at the additional features like padding, overall fit and feel, and any other additional bonuses that come with the respective knee sleeve. We finally look at price. We know fitness equipment can get expensive but it is important to find the right knee sleeve at an affordable price.
What is the best knee sleeve?
SBD 5mm Weightlifting Knee Sleeve. This amazing weightlifting knee sleeve is designed to minimize the risk of injury while working to maximize performance. Sold as a pair, this 5mm high grade neoprene and four-way stretch fabric has a reinforced seam constructed to last a long time with continuous use.
Is a knee sleeve the same as a brace?
Knee sleeves are not knee braces as sleeves work to provide compression and support to the knee and surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments during exercise or everyday activities to protect this vulnerable joint.
How tight should my knee sleeve be?
You want your knee sleeve to be a firm fit while not totally limiting and restricting blood flow. Too tight can be uncomfortable and too loose just won’t do what it is supposed to.
The best knee sleeves will work wonders on your knee pain by offering support and stabilization all while boosting confidence and promoting more weight in your lifts. Don’t let vulnerable joints or imbalanced muscles take away from what could be a quality lift. Check out these best knee sleeves for maximum comfort and support and keep yourself as safe as possible while still seeing big gains.
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- Vaile, Joanna; Stefanovic, Brad; Askew, Christopher D. (2016). “Effect of lower limb compression on blood flow and performance in elite wheelchair rugby athletes”. (source)
- Husmann, Florian; Mittlmeier, Thomas; Bruhn, Sven; Zschorlich, Volker; Behrens, Martin (2018). “Impact of Blood Flow Restriction Exercise on Muscle Fatigue Development and Recovery”. (source)
- Raabe, Margaret E.; McNally, Michael P.; Chaudhari, Ajit M. W. (2017). “The Effect Of Compression Tights On Muscle Vibration And Fatigue From A High-Intensity Run”. (source)