If you do weightlifting, CrossFit or powerlifting, having a pair of the best knee sleeves is an important weightlifting accessory in your gym bag. As your training becomes more intense and your lifts get heavier, you’ll need to invest in the right accessories to get the most out of your training and support your body.
The best knee sleeves at a glance:
• Best knee sleeves for powerlifting and size variation: SBD Knee Sleeves - View on SBD
• Best value knee sleeves: Strength Shop 7mm Inferno Neoprene Knee Sleeves - View on Amazon
• Best knee sleeves for weightlifting: Rehband RX Knee Sleeve 7mm - View on Amazon
• Best budget knee sleeves: Gymshark 5mm Knee Sleeves - View on Gymshark
Knee sleeves can enhance your performance, but, most importantly, they provide support and stability to the knee joint — similar to wrist wraps and lifting straps. “They provide compression, which increases blood flow to help keep the knee area warm,” says CrossFit athlete and Fittest Man in the UK, Reggie Fasa. “They also support your knees by preventing your patella from tracking incorrectly, which can lead to injury.”
However, before you jump in and make your purchase, it’s key to know what you need to look for in a decent pair. For Reggie, it’s all about the material. “As I’m a CrossFit athlete, and tend to wear knee sleeves in workouts where I get very hot and sweaty, I like a product that is made from a breathable material such as nylon or polyester," he says. "If you’re just weightlifting, you may prefer to use one made out of neoprene, which traps more heat in as you’ll have longer rests between sets and exercises, where your aim is to keep your knees warm.”
Make sure to also check out our FAQs at the bottom of this page where Reggie also shares what width sleeve to choose and the best exercises to wear them for.
Best knee sleeves to buy now
Best knee sleeves for powerlifting and size variation
If you’ve never heard of SBD when it comes to weightlifting, where have you been? The brand has
- IPF-approved and IWF compliant
- Crafted alongside athletes and coaches
- Ideal for all types of weightlifting
- Durable with reinforced seams for longevity
- Available in additional colours
- Slightly more pricey than competitor products, but get your money's worth
Strength Shop is a great all-rounder for good quality, affordable products and their knee sleeves
- Approved by the IPF
- Large size variety and true to size
- Available in various colours/patterns
- Bunched up a tad during use
Best for weightlifting
If you’re doing weightlifting, whether it be Olympic lifting, CrossFit or powerlifting, then these
- Strong compression, ideal for heavy weightlifting
- Available in a range of colours and different thicknesses
- Approved by IPF and IWF
- Sleeves are sold individually, not as a pair
New to knee sleeves and looking for a little extra support? These ones from Gymshark will do and
- Available in two colours
- Very affordable
- Adequate compression for a little support during leg day
- Won’t significantly help increase lifts
Recommended by Fittest Man in the UK, Reggie Fasa, these best knee sleeves are ideal for CrossFit
- Reinforced stitching for extra durability and longevity
- Ideal for CrossFit and general exercising
- Not the best for really heavy weightlifting
They may come with a hefty price tag, but these sleeves from Inzer have been dubbed 'the most
- Ergonomically designed to fit your knees for comfort and stability
- Approved for all powerlifting federations worldwide
- Premium construction with double stitching on welded seams
- Comes with draw-string carry bag
- Very large size range
- Expensive in comparison
How much should I spend on knee sleeves?
This entirely depends on your needs, budget and the brand you buy from. We don’t believe you have to spend a fortune on knee sleeves. However, it’s worth noting that the more reputable the brand that you’re buying from, generally the more expensive the sleeves will be.
If you are completely new to knee sleeves and you just want to give them a go, then there’s no need to part with too much cash. However, if you are someone who is serious about their fitness, or at an advanced to intermediate level, we definitely recommend spending a little more and going with one of the brands we’ve listed above.
It’s so important to take care of your knees if you’re constantly putting a lot of pressure on them and a pair of knee sleeves will help.
Why do knee sleeves come in different widths?
“The thicker the knee sleeve, the more support and stability they provide,” says Reggie. “Weightlifters often, therefore, prefer the thicker option (7mm). The middle option is 5mm which is good for the likes of CrossFit workouts, where you’ll have a mix of cardio and weightlifting.
"Whereas if you were to use the thickest option here they may get in the way of certain movements, but you can also roll them down to your ankles for movements you don’t need. The smaller option is 3mm which will provide the least amount of support and are best for more cardio/endurance-based activities.”
What style of training and exercises are they best for?
Knee sleeves are best used for heavy weightlifting movements, such as squats, clean and jerks, snatches and lunging. “CrossFit athletes will also sometimes wear them in workouts that contain a weightlifting element,” says Reggie. “Particularly lunges, as it also provides comfort when the back knee touches the floor. They also sometimes use them unconventionally around their ankles for rope climbs to protect against rope burn.”
However, despite their benefits at reducing pain, Reggie advises knee sleeves shouldn’t be relied on if you are suffering from an injury, because while it may mask the pain it does not resolve the problem. “Instead, you should go and see a medical professional, such as a physio, to find out what is causing you pain or discomfort in the first place.”
How do I clean my knee sleeves?
Unfortunately, a lot of them are hand wash only, so you do need to keep on top of keeping them clean, otherwise they can seriously stink. Check out the video below on how to do this. Also, we know it’s hard, but try and keep your gym bag as clean as possible. So, when you’ve finished your workout, take your dirty kit out immediately. Don’t leave it in there for hours (or days) to fester. This will also contribute towards keeping your knee sleeves smelling fresher for longer.
Bryony Firth-Bernard is a Health and Fitness Product Writer for What's The Best. She specialises in strength training.