Lifting requires a lot of sudden and powerful movements. You can try going slow, but ultimately the best way to lift is with a speedy application of force. Unsurprisingly, this puts strain on the joints. Especially the knees. And it’s not something that ever truly goes away.
As you improve you want to push yourself, fighting to lift more. What once caused joint ache is now a breeze, and you’ve moved onto something bigger and better - but still a strain.
Without proper care, a knee problem can soon become prohibitive. The legs are a vital part of any lift, and when a knee can’t be used without pain, it’s not possible to lift. Olympic weightlifting is rough on the body, there’s no way around this.
The best way to avoid injury is by not pushing yourself too far, and giving the body support. To gain strength every part of the body needs to work together. By using knee sleeves, you can stop an injury before it stops you. Knee sleeves provide support and compression, so you have a stable base for lifting.
Our guide can help you choose the right knee sleeve for you, so you can achieve your goals in no time at all.
OUR TOP PICK
The patented support build of these Rehband knee sleeves is what really sets them apart from the crowd.
The three-piece v-shaped construction offers support around the knee area, while providing a fit that is open to movement. The design has all the benefits of traditional knee sleeves - compression, support, and warmth. On top of that, it’s flexible.
These knee sleeves are slightly looser than some premium knee supports. In Olympic weightlifting, this is actually an advantage. The looser shape gives room for greater mobility, meaning your movement isn’t hampered by an overly compressed knee.
When moving in and out of squats, this is massively useful. Rehbands don’t bunch up or fall down either, so you can enjoy the range of movement without having to deal with a sleeve that keeps slipping.
They’re also on the shorter size for a sleeve, which is again a mobility advantage.
The Rehbands are a very popular knee sleeve for Olympic weightlifters, and it’s easy to see why. There has been real care taken with the design to ensure it works at a high standard. These are ideal for those who have previously suffered an injury and want that extra protection.
Even if your main concern is injury prevention, these sleeves offer the support needed by providing increased muscle control to avoid wasted energy.
These are the best out there for Olympic weightlifters. They offer the dual benefits of durability and mobility.
- Three-piece construction - Weightlifters and athletes were consulted when building this patented supportive design.
- Shorter length - For an Olympic weightlifter, this provides a great deal of flexibility.
- Neoprene with a pique top layer - Made from a durable material for a long-lasting product.
- Competition approved.
- 1 per pack - The sleeves are sold in single units, so they are a more expensive and less convenient purchase.
Short and compact, the Nordic Lifting knee sleeves have mobility and flexibility for Olympic weightlifters.
While still using 7 mm neoprene for support, the shorter size allows them to move more easily as you lift. Ideal for Olympic Weightlifting.
With a smaller surface area, they’re also more likely to stay in place. Shorter sleeves don’t suffer the same slipping problems as the longer varieties, and for an Olympic weightlifter they’re better for movement.
The Nordic Lifting sleeves aren’t quite of the quality of Rehband, but they are still durable. These are perfect for a beginner, as the lower price makes them a more accessible option.
If you’re unsure about whether you need a knee sleeve, these are a good option for giving them a go. They still provide the supportive benefits, but without the price tag of a premium model.
The compression and warmth of knee sleeves can prevent injury, aid recovery, and even improve technique. You may not be a convert yet, but the Nordic Lifting sleeves give you a chance to see what the hype is about.
- Budget - These are a cheaper option than many of the others sleeves, but still provide quality.
- Length - The shorter length is ideal for Olympic weightlifters, as it accommodates movement.
- 1 year guarantee- Nordic Lifting offers a one-year guarantee, so you can try them out risk-free.
- Durability - They aren’t quite as long-lasting as the premium brands, especially over intense regular use.
Stoic claim that their knee sleeves are invincible, and they certainly seem to live up to durability tests.
Made from high-quality neoprene, the unique stitching on the back seam is designed to last throughout heavy usage. The materials themselves are almost secondary to the construction.
At 30 cm in length, these knee sleeves are designed for extra support across a range of activities. The length is surprisingly versatile, as it can be rolled up should you require extra support around the knee.
The tight compression keeps the sleeves anchored as you move, and provides incredible support to the knee joint. For people who’ve struggled with long knee sleeves falling down before, you’ll be happy to know that Stoic have sewn non-slip panels across the inside of the sleeve.
Stoic have designed their knee sleeves for intense workouts. If you’re looking for something with light support then it’s better to go elsewhere. The rigidity also means they aren’t ideal for other types of training.
For example, if you want a support that can work for both lifting and cross-training, then Stoic might be too stiff. But if you like to go hard in the gym and need something that keeps up with you, then Stoic could be the perfect choice.
- Durable design - The construction of these sleeves is designed to last.
- Non-slip panels - A flaw of longer knee sleeves is the slipping problems. Stoic have circumnavigated this.
- Competition approved.
- Removal - Because they’re both tight and long, it can be difficult to get these knee sleeves off.
The Sling Shot Strong knee sleeve is fast growing in popularity for powerlifting, and Olympic weightlifters are starting to enjoy them as well. Created by Mark Bell, these sleeves are inspired by the performance-enhancing abilities of knee wraps, but adapted for use as a sleeve.
The clue for why these sleeves are popular is in the name - the ‘slingshot’ qualities, and the strength. Designed to withstand rigorous training, they can last no matter how much squatting you put them through. But these aren’t just long-lasting.
The durability is only one bonus to the many features of the Sling Shot. The sleeves mimic the style of knee wraps, to provide a better bounce back, allowing you to stack more weights.
The tight compression of these knee sleeves provide stability, so you can lift better and safer. With 7 mm neoprene, they keep the joint warm. This increases blood flow, reducing injury and lowering pain levels.
Despite the rigidity, these knee sleeves are designed to be worn throughout the entire workout. Sling Shot have had their knee sleeves tested by a team of athletes to ensure that they can offer you the best.
They are almost 30 cm long, but with a slightly tapered design to keep them in place all along the leg.
- Compression slingshot - Designed to offer similar rebound benefits as knee wrapping.
- Strength - Made with 7 mm thick neoprene for a durable sleeve.
- Competition approved.
- Length - They’re on the longer side, and can be prone to bunching. For Olympic weightlifters, they don’t accommodate movement like the smaller sleeves.
What a good sleeve does is provide you with stability and support. Iron Bull has both of these things in spades. Made with 7 mm SCR neoprene, wearing these sleeves during a workout will give you a strong base for hard lifts.
Iron Bull have put a lot of thought into the 3D design of their knee sleeve. This gives a contoured fit so that compression is provided in the right places for optimum performance. It keeps your knees warm for blood circulation, while remaining breathable and comfortable.
Thanks to the contoured design, the length of these sleeves is more of a benefit than a problem. At almost 30 cm, they can provide support across more of the leg, including the calf. Anti-slip double silicone gel is used within the sleeves so that they stay in place no matter how much you move.
For an Olympic weightlifter, they will adapt to your movement. There is perhaps some sacrifice in flexibility, but it’s minimized by the flex neoprene. These are perfect if you’re looking for a bit more support across the leg without the slipping found in so many sleeves.
- Contoured design - The 3D sleeve provides compression, support, and breathability.
- Anti-slip double silicone gel - To keep the sleeve in place as you move, with no bunching.
- Double stitching compression - For increased durability even after rigorous workouts.
- Competition approved.
- Contoured design won’t work for everyone. An issue with these designs is they can’t accurately accommodate every shape.
Best Knee Sleeves for Olympic Weightlifting Buying Guide
One of the problems with trying to buy knee sleeves is that from the outside many of them look exactly the same.
It’s hard to know exactly what sets one black tube apart from another. Our buyer’s guide is here to help you with what to look for when distinguishing what knee sleeve is right for you.
The material of a knee sleeve needs to be strong enough to offer support and compression, while flexible enough to move with the squat.
The best knee sleeves are made out of neoprene, and all the ones listed above are neoprene. This is a synthetic material that is popular for lifting due to its durability and flexibility. Neoprene can also be mixed with other materials to create a more rigid support.
Other knee sleeves made from materials such as nylon and spandex are also available. These have a better contoured fit, but are a much thinner material. These don’t offer enough support for Olympic weightlifting. You’ll generally see these worn by runners and hikers.
Knee sleeves come in a variety of thicknesses, between 3 mm and 7 mm. For Olympic weightlifting and other forms of lifting, you are most likely to want to choose 7 mm. 7 mm provides the greatest level of support, and can allow you to lift the heavier weights.
However, Olympic weightlifting does require movement, so some people prefer 5 mm. With 5 mm knee sleeves there is still a high level of support offered, and flexibility is much increased. 5 mm is also good for beginners.
You want to avoid anything higher than 7 mm or lower than 3 mm. Too thin, and it doesn’t provide enough support for lifting. Too thick, and movement becomes hampered.
One other thing to consider when deciding on a thickness is how much warmth you want. A primary function of a knee sleeve is keeping the joint warm, as this improves blood circulation. A warm joint is less prone to injury, less painful, and is able to recover quicker.
The length of a knee sleeve may be anywhere between 20 cm and 30 cm. At 30 cm, a knee sleeve provides the greatest level of support.
Longer knee sleeves have the best compression, and cover more of the leg. However, they’re also prone to slipping and bunching. This is especially frustrating over a long training session. They also have a lower mobility.
Smaller knee sleeves may not provide the same amount of support, but they’re still better for Olympic weightlifters. The mobility of the shorter length is ideal for Olympic lifts, which have an emphasis on movement.
Something to be aware of is scaling. Some brands will scale the length down depending on the width. So, if you’re buying a size small, you might not be getting the full 30 cm.
For such a simple shape, there are a surprising number of ways to construct a knee support. Many are tapered, some are straight, and some are designed to contour to the knee.
How you choose will depend on the type of support you’re looking for. Contoured offers greater movement, tapered is a good fit, and straight are generally rigid for better support.
The next thing to consider is the stitching. Stitching on a knee sleeve needs to be strong and durable. Look for any fraying, especially on the hems where stitching can get worn out.
Finally, when considering construction you also want to consider ease of use. Knee sleeves are designed to be tight, so they can be difficult to get on and off. This is particularly the case with straight designs.
Even if you’re a beginner, you may still be looking to compete at some point. In order to do so, you need to have a knee sleeve that is approved for competition use.
To be approved for competition, there are certain standards a knee sleeve has to reach, and regulations it has to abide by. Most brands are upfront about what boards they’re approved for competition by.
If you do compete you may choose to have two pairs of knee sleeves: those for competition, and those for training. In this case, you only need to be sure the competition use sleeves are appropriate. Then you can buy a budget pair for training.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of knee sleeves?
For weightlifters, knee sleeves offer the benefits of support and stability. A good pair of knee sleeves give you a firm base, allowing you to lift more and lift better.
They also keep the joint warm, improving circulation and reducing the risk of injury. Knee sleeves can even improve technique, as they provide the body with alignment.
What are the differences between knee sleeves and knee wraps?
Knee wraps offer a much greater support than knee sleeves, allowing you to lift more. A knee wrap is worn much tighter, so offers better compression and alignment.
However, the restrictive qualities of knee wraps means they can only be worn for a short period of time and for heavy lifts. You can’t use a knee wrap across a workout.
They also reduce mobility, due to the tightness. For this reason, they generally aren’t as suitable for Olympic weightlifting.
What are the best knee sleeves for Olympic weightlifting?
The best knee sleeves for Olympic weightlifting are the Rehband 7051 7 mm knee sleeves. The shorter size aids mobility, while the three-panel design offers support and compression.
These are a durable choice, with the flexibility necessary for Olympic lifts. For a budget choice, the Nordic Lifting knee sleeves have similar benefits at a lower price.