Best Overall: SBD Knee Sleeves [Check Price]
The best overall knee sleeves are the SBD sleeves. This should go without saying.
Even if you’re not necessarily looking to spend a ton of money, there aren’t any sleeves in the market that can provide you with the quality of product and performance of the SBD sleeves.
They’re used by world-class competitors in both weightlifting and powerlifting, as a testament to their quality. They are not cheap, as far as knee sleeves, go — but all things considered, they’re simply the best.
Best Runner Up: STrong by Mark Bell [Check Price]
As a runner-up to the SBD sleeves, we have the STrong sleeves by Mark Bell. These sleeves were designed to have some level of elasticity and “slingshot” effect at the bottom of the Squat. They’re also a great, high quality product designed by a recognized brand leader in powerlifting equipment.
They’re not a bad alternative to the SBD, but don’t still have that same level of quality and performance. In all, I’d rate them highly.
Best Budget: Iron Bull Sleeves [Check Price]
As a budget option, I’d have to go with the Iron Bull knee sleeves. These were my first pair of knee sleeves, and they lasted me for a very long time.
I only stopped using them because I upgraded, however, they served me faithfully for more than a few thousands reps of Squats with heavy weights.
They were comfortable and barely felt “there” right from the get-go. I have no complaints about these and would recommend them to anyone looking for a good pair of knee sleeves. At just $40.
Alternative 1: Rehband
If you’re not interested in anyone of these and would like to know another alternative: the Rehband knee sleeves have been used by weightlifters and powerlifters alike faithfully for decades.
They’re a little less tight than the SBD knee sleeves, for example, but execute their job and function beautifully.
Rehband sleeves also have the option to be bought in singles, which means that if you lose or damage one of them, you don’t need to spend the money for a full set.
That’s a nice little bonus.
Asides from that, they’re well-made and perfectly good knee sleeves for anyone looking for a battle-tested and time-tested piece of equipment that will support their training for some time to come.
Knee Sleeves for Squats: Which Brand Is Best?
When you’re in the midst of a squat-focused lifting session, you want a good pair of knee sleeves that will stay with you through a heavy set.
The right pair of knee sleeves feel snug and secure around your knee. These products support and protect your knee through its full range of movement so that you reduce your risk of injury. And even better, they add a subtle “rebound” effect at the bottom of your lift, which may add more oomph to your bounce and increase your maximum lifting potential.
Knee sleeves offer unparalleled support during high-impact activities like running, jumping, and lifting, and they increase blood flow both during and after exertion. This leads to less pain and swelling in the moment for better results in the long run.
Deciding to wear knee sleeves for squats is an easy choice—committing to the right brand is the challenge. The wrong product could compromise the safety of your knee, so how can you decide which to purchase?
Below, we’ll review the key selling features of five brands of knee sleeves for squats so you can make an informed decision.
Stoic Knee Sleeves
Stoic offers a budget-friendly brand of knee sleeves that is durable and approved for competition, but some might find its triple-reinforced stitching aggravating.
Listed Price: $59.99 per pair
- Best value for knee sleeves
- 30cm length, 7mm thick neoprene
- IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) approved
- Tough, durable material that should withstand lots of use
- Less well-known than other brands
- Only recently became IPF-approved
Stoic knee sleeves offer both comfort and value for their relatively low cost. These sleeves are made from a “gummy” neoprene material that provides support without being overly challenging to take on and off your sweaty calves.
The brand boasts patent-pending triple-reinforced seams that should withstand most regular wear and tear. The drawback is that you might feel this stitching on the back of your knees while working out.
For the price, Stoic Knee Sleeves are hard to beat. However, some lifters might shy away because they are a relatively new brand and only recently became IPF-approved, so you aren’t as likely to see them at competitions.
SBD Knee Sleeves
SBD Knee Sleeves are the industry standard and the preferred brand for world champion weightlifters, though amateurs might get annoyed by the ultra-tight fit.
Listed Price: $82.50 per pair
- 30 cm length, 7mm neoprene
- The go-to brand for world champion weightlifters
- A tighter fit might boost the “bounce” effect while you lift
- The tight fit makes the sleeves tough to take off
- More expensive than other brands (might be more than amateurs need)
For those who want to maximize compression, SBD Knee Sleeves offer a tighter fit and extra support compared to competitors. This may give you additional “bounce” at the bottom of your squats in the moment, but it means they are a pain to take on and off.
This hasn’t deterred professional powerlifters though, as SBD remains the go-to brand for world champions. They offer a solid option for serious lifters.
STrong Knee Sleeves
Designed by Mark Bell, STrong Knee Sleeves offer extra support for your heaviest lifts. However, they may be more than most powerlifters need.
Listed Price: $83 per pair
- Designed by a powerlifter for powerlifters
- Well suited for heavy squatting
- 7mm neoprene
- Can provide a “slingshot effect” so you can stack more weight and rebound harder
- Only 29-cm length (most brands are 30)
- More expensive than most competitors
- Might not offer extra value for the higher price
American strongman and social media star Mark Bell designed STrong Knee Sleeves to give serious powerlifters extra support through every squat. Though a centimeter shorter than most other options, the sleeves claim to offer more support for heavier lifting.
The simplistic vertical stitching makes the sleeves easy to put on and may lead to less irritation if you have sensitive skin. Just keep in mind you might not be getting much more value for their relatively higher price point.
Rehband Knee Sleeves
Popular since 1955, Rebhand Knee Sleeves offer a looser, more versatile fit and can be purchased individually rather than as a set.
Listed Price: $39-$44.99 each
- Established brand that’s been used by thousands of weightlifters since 1955
- Highly versatile, offers less “tightness” compared to other powerlifting sleeves
- 7mm thick neoprene
- More expensive than the competition
- Tends to show wear quickly
- Better suited for weightlifting than powerlifting
Rehband Knee Sleeves are a time-tested favorite for thousands of weightlifters. It’s one of the few brands that lets you pay per sleeve, rather than purchasing them as a set. This makes the brand one of the most cost-effective available if you only want support for one knee.
However, a looser fit might mean you get less support, and Rehband sleeves are notorious for starting to look worn after a few washes. You might find yourself replacing them more frequently than other brands, which doesn’t lend itself to cost savings in the long run.
ROGUE Knee Sleeves Review
Rogue Knee Sleeves offer a stellar mid-range option for weight lifters that come in multiple thicknesses so you can choose your level of support.
Listed Price: $49.50-$62.50 per pair
- American-made products
- Trusted, reputable company
- Offers 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm options
- Relatively new brand, not as time-tested
As a relative newcomer to the knee sleeves industry, Rogue sells American-made products in a range of thickness styles. This offers unparalleled versatility compared to other brands for choosing the level of support that makes sense for you.
Pricing varies based on the thickness level and is relatively consistent with the rest of the industry (and an excellent value for American-made products!). Just keep in mind that the thinner neoprene options might wear out faster than the thicker options from other brands.
Choosing the Best Knee Sleeves for Squats
Deciding on the best knee sleeve for your squat-focused workouts comes down to personal preferences. For instance, only you can determine if you want the extra support that comes with a tighter fit, or whether interior stitching on some models is likely to bother you enough to be a deal-breaker.
In any case, keep in mind that these products are designed to support your knees and keep the joint warmed up, but they aren’t a foolproof way to avoid hurting yourself. If you’re coming off an injury or feel like you need support beyond the capabilities of compression, consider a lifting knee brace instead.
Q1: Are These IPF-Approved?
Yes, all of the knee sleeves reviewed in this post are in the current IPF Approved List.
Q2: How Do Knee Sleeves Work?
Knee sleeves principally add compression to your knees allowing for greater blood flow to the area.
This means that
Q3: What Are Knee Sleeves Used For?
Knee sleeves are used as a training aid for most powerlifters, weightlifters, and crossfitters.
They’re almost universally present in any one of these disciplines.
I would say they are used for primarily two reasons — one as a placebo effect, and two as a stylistic element.
When people wear knee sleeves, due to the fact that they’ve been told that they improve your lifts and are “healthier”, it can result in a placebo effect.
Meaning: because you believe that you can lift more weight with knee sleeves, you tend to lift a little more than you could. I would attribute this as a positive net effect of wearing knee sleeves — even if it’s only placebo.
There’s a paucity of data that might suggest an actual increase in weight lifted due to the physical interactions from the knee sleeves. They’re simply not as effective as knee wraps in any way imaginable.
Although, anecdotally, some people say that if you get mega-super-tight knee sleeves, you might actually be able to see even a small effect comparable to wraps.
The downside being the effort required to put them on.
Knee sleeves are also used as a stylistic element. It gives you an athletic look, and depending on your mindset, it can get you ready for “Squat Day” or just lifting in general.
I tend to wear knee sleeves when I go for PR’s. Not because I believe they add to the max weight I can lift, but because it’s just something that I do regularly. It’s a bit of mental conditioning. In other words, the second I put my knee sleeves on, my body knows it’s time to hit a max set.
Q4: What Should You Look For in Knee Sleeves?
All of these knee sleeves are made with neoprene. Usually, that’s what you’ll find.
Asides from that, the length of the sleeve will be something of preference — whether you want longer or shorter sleeves.
The tightness of the sleeve will also play a role. The SBD sleeves are much tighter than the Rehband sleeves, for example. There’s some people that say that the tighter sleeves give them an added bounce at the bottom of the Squat.
Whether that’s true is entirely anecdotal. Tightness might also impact how easy it is to get the sleeve on and off.
Most knee sleeves used in competition are 7mm in thickness and 30cm in length. There are also 3mm and 5mm ones. In general, whether you go with 7mm or the other options will again depend on preference and feel.
Regardless of what other people will tell you: they will not meaningfully affect performance. In fact, you’ll find that your numbers with or without sleeves will not change. Let alone – 3mm, 5mm, or 7mm sleeves.
Q5: Will Knee Sleeves Improve My Squat
There’s discussion about whether knee sleeves improve or affect your Squat, at all.
On a physical level, it doesn’t seem like knee sleeves provide any significant level of boost or improvement in performance.
With that said, there’s the potential for knee sleeves to promote a kind of positive feedback loop in that you believe that knee sleeves improve your performance and in doing so, there might actually be an improvement in performance.
Even if entirely placebo.
And as I mentioned before, putting on your knee sleeves before a Squat session can put you in the right mindset to begin a heavy training set.