How Knee Sleeves Can Enhance These 5 Leg Building Exercises

Kang squat

The best exercises for you to use those knee sleeves.

Our knees help support virtually all movements and with help from knee sleeves, we can work to better protect ourselves throughout those heavy leg movements so we don’t suffer from any unwanted pain or even injury. For those bodybuilding, powerlifting, and weightlifting needs in general, working with only the top accessories can be a game changer when it comes to seeing great gains.

Knee sleeves work to add good compression to your knees to reduce pain and decrease swelling, increase blood flow for better circulation and the prevention of lactic acid build-up, and support your muscles to limit the number of muscular vibrations and squash muscle fatigue. With the right knee sleeves, you can better tackle workouts, so you only see the best gains.

We’ve put together the top leg building exercises for you to use a knee sleeves so you can stay supported and stable while you grow those massive legs.

knee sleeves

5 Leg Building Exercises To Use Knee Sleeves

  • Back Squat
  • Hack Squat
  • Lunges
  • Step-Ups
  • Power Clean

Back Squat

The squat is one the more popular exercises for many since it will enhance lower body growth and improve overall power. This is certainly one of those exercises that you will see promote muscle while also working to boost explosiveness for sport specific and functional movements.

Knee sleeves help tremendously with squats because of the sheer load put on your knees and the movement of bending and extending. The extra support is wanted and needed by your knees, especially when you are in that squat rack all alone, with a fully loaded barbell.

Back Squat Benefits

The barbell back squat helps to:

  1. Increase lower body strength: Working your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, this is a great lower body exercise to boost strength and stability while also increasing certain sport specific and functional movements.
  2. Improve power output: The nature of this movement requires the best for power and explosivity and will promote both as you look to optimize performance and improve those powerful movements.

How To Do The Back Squat

Place the barbell on your traps and shoulders with your feet shoulder width apart. With a tight core, bend your knees while keeping your spine neutral, squatting down to your optimal range of motion. Once you reach the bottom, drive through your feet to return back to your starting standing position.

Hack Squat

As an effective lower body strength and mass builder, the hack squat is great for overall lower half development. Since the weight is distributed evenly, the stress on the spine is severely reduced making this a great exercise for building muscle without excess stress.

Knee sleeves will help with this lift very similar to the squat, in that given the load and movement of the squatting motion, you can better support your knees with nice compression and overall tightness.

Hack Squat Benefits

The hack squat helps to:

  1. Build lower body muscles: This will put an emphasis on your quads while also building those hamstrings, so your start to enhance those lower body gains.
  2. Improve regular squat: With this being a slightly different movement, while still working the same muscles, you start to improve all areas of your gains when it comes to the traditional squat.

How To Do Hack Squats

Place your feet on the plate of the hack squat machine and set yourself comfortably into it. When ready, push up against the shoulder pads to release the weight from its stoppers and continue in a squatting motion. Once at the bottom, squeeze your glutes and drive the weight back up to the starting position. Repeat for your desired number of sets and reps.

Related: The Best 6 Exercises To Use Elbow Sleeves For Pain-Free Support


Lunges are a great exercise perfect for building leg strength and fixing any muscle imbalances. You can use your own bodyweight, or dumbbells, or kettlebells to complete the lunge. Since each leg is performed separately, you can isolate each side to handle their respective needs. Plus, this movement helps build power with the driving motion performed.

Giving your knees the support they want and need, knee sleeves will help with lunges as you look to put a priority over each side separately while also giving each knee support as the lone worker.

Benefits of Lunges

Lunges help to:

  1. Fix muscle imbalances: Working with each side separately, you can fix any muscle imbalances for that more full and well-rounded physique.
  2. Great for runners: With a similar movement, and a lot less stress, lunges are a great exercise for runners to continue to see gains.

How To Do Lunges

Stand with your feet around hip-width apart and when ready, step forward with one leg. Your knee will be bent at a 90-degree angle and you will lower yourself down to the ground. Drive that leg back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.


A great exercise for that lower body, step-ups require you to focus on balance and stability while also driving power, thus building overall strength. A versatile and convenient exercise, this is a great one to slide into your workout routine.

Similar to lunges, knee sleeves will offer the working knee support since it is the only one driving through the movement. By allowing your knee support from the load of your own bodyweight, you can better tackle those gains and allow yourself to stay supported.

Benefits of Step-Ups

Step-ups help with things such as:

  1. Even strength imbalances: These target both sides of the body equally and can fix any imbalances, just like lunges.
  2. Boost stability: Using your core and requiring certain lower body muscles, you build stability so you perform this exercise safely and efficiently.

How To Do Step-Ups

You can do these either with your bodyweight or some weight (dumbbell or kettlebell). Stand in front of a box or something you can step on and when ready, step one foot onto the box. Driving through your hips while keeping your core tight and your body neutral, stand up onto the box with one leg. Lower back to the ground and repeat for the other leg.

Related: The 7 Best Weightlifting Belt Exercises For Strength & Support

Power Clean

knee sleeves

An advanced movement for serious lifters, the power clean is one that recruits many muscles and must be performed with the proper mechanics. Able to improve strength, power, explosiveness, speed, and stability, this exercise is one to take advantage of.

Knee sleeves will promote support especially since form is so key. By giving yourself the benefit of knee support, you don’t have to worry about unwanted pain or vulnerability and can only focus on this movement.

Power Clean Benefits

The power clean brings tons of benefits such as:

  1. Develop strength and power: Build overall strength and power with this explosive movement to aid in all sorts of other movements and big lifts.
  2. Build better posture: By strengthening lower body muscles and providing for better support, you start to build a stronger posture for not just exercise, but also everyday movements.

How To Do The Power Clean

Stand with your feet hip width apart and lower into a squat position, grabbing the bar slightly wider than shoulder width apart. With an engaged core, lift the bar so it stays close to your body and keep going until its at your thighs. From here, you will be quick and explosive as you thrust your hips forward and pull your body under the bar. The bar should catch at the front your shoulders. Lower the weight to the ground and repeat for your desired number of reps.

Benefits Of Knee Sleeves

Best Knee Sleeves
Dylan Wolfinger Testing Best Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves and the benefits associated with them can greatly influence your lifts and give you confidence as you protect this often times vulnerable joint.

Benefits of knee sleeves include:

  • Add compression: Work to reduce pain and decrease swelling by offering good compression and support to those knees.
  • Increase blood flow: Boost circulation for better movements and less pain by working to also prevent lactic acid build up (1).
  • Efficient recovery: More healthy blood and oxygen flow, along with less lactic acid build up, leads to better recovery for faster bounce back and more gains (2).
  • Support muscles: Support those muscles and decrease the number of muscular vibrations to assist in muscle fatigue and improve overall athletic performance (3).
  • Prevent future injury: By protecting those vulnerable spots, you preemptively work to prevent future injuries.

What To Look For In Knee Sleeves

When choosing your knee sleeve, it is important to look for the right fit overall. You don’t want your sleeve to be too tight so it restricts you, but you also don’t want it to be too loose so it ultimately does nothing. The material and padding play into this, along with size, because these are all factors that can affect fit.

The material should be comfortable because you’d rather work out with something that feels good as opposed to an itchy or scratchy sleeve. Padding offers comfort but may be bulky, so looking to the right amount of padding will affect your overall mobility.

Knee sleeves come in various sizes, typically 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm so doing some research into your own size will give you the best option. Typically, 3mm is for more endurance athletes and 7mm will offer more support for heavy lifters. Of course, 5mm is right in the middle.

The Best Knee Sleeves

Premium 7mm knee sleeves, meticulously crafted for the discerning athlete who demands only the finest in support and quality.

Our favorite knee sleeves are Iron Bull knee sleeves, which are known for their thick neoprene material, which provides extra support and compression to the knee joint, so you do not have to worry about not being supported. They also come with a contoured design, which ensures a snug fit, preventing them from slipping or sliding during heavy lifts, such as squats. The material is extremely durable, making them suitable for heavy use. They are versatile and can be used for powerlifting, weightlifting, CrossFit, and other heavy lifts. Iron Bull knee sleeves are available in various sizes, providing options for lifters of all body types.

Check out the full review for the Iron Bull Strength Knee Sleeves here!

Check out our list of the Best Knee Sleeves for amazing support, compression, and stability!

Wrap Up

Knee sleeves have the ability to help when it comes to boosting all of those lifting wants and needs and when it comes to these 5 leg building exercises, the right knee sleeve can go a long way. Look into a quality knee sleeve and see what this can do for you. By working to better protect yourself, you won’t be disappointed with your lifting results and how you feel doing it.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Vaile, Joanna; Stefanovic, Brad; Askew, Christopher D. (2016). “Effect of lower limb compression on blood flow and performance in elite wheelchair rugby athletes”. (source)
  2. Husmann, Florian; Mittlmeier, Thomas; Bruhn, Sven; Zschorlich, Volker; Behrens, Martin (2018). “Impact of Blood Flow Restriction Exercise on Muscle Fatigue Development and Recovery”. (source)
  3. 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)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.