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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

54 Models Considered
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60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best lifting knee sleeves

No matter how fit you are, you may still feel occasional aches and pains. Our joints are particularly susceptible to trouble, and in fact, many weightlifters and other exercise buffs struggle with knee pain. Investing in a pair of lifting knee sleeves can help contribute to the success of your workouts.

A lifting knee sleeve is a supportive piece that slides over your knee to protect your joints and provide stability when you squat. The extra support takes pressure off your knees and allows you to generate more force during your workouts. Sleeves also help keep the knees warm so the joints stay loose and are less likely to stiffen between sets. Knee sleeves come in handy for weightlifters, powerlifters, and CrossFit devotees, but you can use them for any activity that puts a lot of stress on your knees, such as running or biking.

Finding the right size, choosing the best material, and determining the proper thickness are three issues you may encounter when shopping for knee sleeves. This buying guide has you covered with facts and product recommendations that’ll set you up for success.

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By improving circulation and increasing blood flow to the knees, lifting knee sleeves can help prevent swelling and pain after a workout.

Key considerations

Size

To be effective and comfortable, your knee sleeves must be the right size. Each brand typically uses different measurements, so it’s important to pay attention to sizing charts.

Knee sleeves should be snug. A loose sleeve is essentially useless because it cannot offer the support and warmth you need. Knee sleeves typically stretch out over time, so you’re better off starting with something a little too small rather than a little too big.

Material

Neoprene: Lifting knee sleeves are made from stretchy materials that conform to the knee to provide support and warmth. Most are made of neoprene, a synthetic rubber material commonly used for wetsuits. Neoprene sleeves are incredibly durable and hold up well to repeated use. It’s not the lightest material, but it is breathable and comfortable enough to wear through an entire workout. Neoprene lifting knee sleeves aren’t likely to chafe or irritate your skin, either, and they are easy to wash and keep clean.

Nylon and spandex: You can also find knee sleeves made with nylon, spandex, or a combination of the two. These options are usually thin and lightweight, so they don’t offer as much support as neoprene. They generally don’t last as long, either. On the plus side, you’ll pay less for knee sleeves made of these materials.

Thickness

Lifting knee sleeves come in various thicknesses that affect stability. Here’s a look at the most common thickness options.

3mm knee sleeves offer light support. These sleeves work well for first-time users, runners, and those who engage in cardio workouts. Some people wear 3mm sleeves daily for support.

5mm knee sleeves provide excellent support and enough flexibility to allow for a good range of motion. People who lift weights, perform cardio, and engage in CrossFit often appreciate 5mm knee sleeves. 

7mm knee sleeves offer extreme support, generate warmth, and help improve blood flow. This greater thickness doesn’t allow for much flexibility, though, so it’s best used for heavyweight lifting rather than running or other cardio exercises.

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Did You Know?
Lifting knee sleeves typically don’t provide enough support if you’re trying to immobilize a knee after an injury. In that case, you may need a knee brace instead. 
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Features

Length

Lifting knee sleeves vary in length, and the length affects how the sleeves feel on your legs. In most cases, longer sleeves offer more compression and support. They also increase blood flow to the knees, allowing you to power through workouts with heavier weights.

If you’re lifting lighter weights or doing a CrossFit workout, you may prefer shorter sleeves that allow for a fuller range of motion.

Contoured edges

For the most comfortable feel, look for knee sleeves with contoured edges. Contoured edges fit around the quads and calves more snugly, which keeps the sleeves in place and prevents you from having to tug at them during workouts.

Copper-infused

Many support garments are infused with copper, which reportedly may aid in healing joints and muscle tissue. Some lifting knee sleeves are copper-infused to help keep the joints healthy and assist with pain relief. Copper is antimicrobial, too, so copper-infused sleeves are less likely to develop odors.

Washability

A good lifting workout generates plenty of sweat, so you want to be sure your knee sleeves are easy to wash. Most sleeves are made of materials that can be cleaned in the washer after a workout without losing their compression or shape.

Color

Lifting knee sleeves are available in a wide range of colors, making it easy to match them to your other workout gear. If you’re not sure what color to get, black and gray are safe options that will match nearly any other workout clothes. Other colors for knee sleeves include red, blue, green, and pink. You can also find sleeves in nude shades as well as prints like camo.

You can wear knee sleeves on bare skin, but many people have an easier time sliding them on over leggings.

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Accessories

Weight Set: Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbell Set
If you want to lift at home, you need a good weight set. This set from Bowflex is an excellent option because it doesn’t require you to unscrew collars or remove plates to adjust the weight, which allows you to move through your workout faster.

Squat rack: Fitness Reality 810XLT Super Max Power Cage
For heavier lifting, you need a durable squat rack to help you power through all those lunges and squats. We love this rack from Fitness Reality because it holds up to 800 pounds and offers 19 height levels.

Lifting knee sleeve prices

Lifting knee sleeves vary in price based on material, thickness, and other features. Most sets cost between $14 and $80.

Inexpensive: The most affordable lifting knee sleeves are usually made of nylon, spandex, or a combination of the two materials. They’re fairly thin, measuring 3mm or less in thickness, and don’t provide tremendous support. These sleeves typically cost between $14 and $29 per pair.

Mid-range: Mid-range lifting knee sleeves are usually made of neoprene for greater durability. They’re typically 5mm thick with a moderate amount of support that makes them useful for weightlifting and most cardio activities. They generally cost between $25 and $60.

Expensive: The priciest lifting knee sleeves are also made of neoprene, but they stabilize the knees to a greater degree. Most provide significant support at 7mm thick, making them ideal for heavy weightlifting. These sleeves cost between $55 and $80.

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Did You Know?
Don’t leave your sweaty knee sleeves in your gym bag after a tough workout. In the enclosed area, they can quickly develop mildew, bacteria growth, and odor.
Staff
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Tips

  • Injury can still occur when wearing knee sleeves. It’s true that knee sleeves provide support and warmth, but you must still practice proper weightlifting technique and form. Wearing sleeves isn’t a guarantee against injury.
  • Knee sleeves should be laundered after each training session. This helps keep odor at bay. You may want to invest in two pairs of sleeves so you always have one ready.
  • Knee sleeves can speed up recovery a bit, but that doesn’t mean you should skip rest days. Give your body time to recover after a tough weightlifting workout so you aren’t as likely to experience injury.
  • Don’t use knee sleeves as a reason to overdo it. You may be able to push yourself a little harder when wearing knee sleeves, but don’t increase the weight you’re lifting too much at once. To prevent injury, work up to a heavier set of weights gradually.
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While lifting knee sleeves should fit snugly, they shouldn’t be so tight that they’re uncomfortable. If it feels like they’re cutting off your circulation, go up a size.

FAQ

Q. Why should I wear lifting knee sleeves?

A. The compression provided by the sleeves gives your knees support and keeps them stable, thereby reducing your chance of injury when you’re lifting. If you’re looking to take your workout to the next level, knee sleeves can also help you generate a little more power when you bend and lift.

Q. How should I wash my lifting knee sleeves?

A. Nearly all are machine washable, but some manufacturers recommend hand washing for better longevity. To hand wash the sleeves, fill a sink or basin with water and some laundry detergent, and allow them to soak. Rinse the sleeves thoroughly, and set them out to air dry.

Q. For which weightlifting exercises should I wear knee sleeves?

A. You don’t need to wear knee sleeves for all weightlifting workouts, but it’s a good idea to use them for exercises that draw on your knees as the main power source. That includes squats, lunges, jerks, and snatches.

 

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