Product Reviews

Real Talk, What Are The Best Knee Sleeves For Lifting?

February 14th 2020

Whether you are looking to compete in a powerlifting competition, or if you are looking for ways to increase your squat, one tool you can use that fits both categories are knee sleeves.

Knee sleeves, not to be confused with knee wraps, are cylindrical sleeves made of a thick rubbery material that works by hugging your knees, keeping them warm, and allowing you to lift heavier with more confidence.

Knee sleeves are primarily used for the squat.

They are not that commonly used in the deadlift, but they theoretically still be worn if you have knee issues and wish to keep your knee warm throughout your workout session.

They may also be used for a lot of other sports and activities such as running, wrestling, Olympic weightlifting, cross-fit, and many more.

The main benefit of knee sleeves is that they help keep your joints warm and loose to prevent knee clicking and knee injuries in the future.

Today we will discuss some of the best knee sleeves, what demographic would benefit most for each knee sleeve, as well as answering some of the most common misconceptions regarding knee sleeves.

With that being said, here are our picks for the best knee sleeves:


  • Nordic
  • Stoic
  • Bear KompleX
  • Sling shot


Nordic Knee Sleeves

Nordic knee sleeves are hand-crafted knee sleeves designed to give you support and stability during your weightlifting, powerlifting, or cross-training activities.

Nordic knee sleeves are made out of 7mm of Neoprene, a durable synthetic rubber used to maintain flexibility and stability for a long period of time.

Made with reinforced stitching, Nordic knee sleeves are built to last and the company offers a 1-year replacement guarantee if you are not sure about its durability.

Nordic knee sleeves are made in the USA and are perfect for anyone looking to improve their squat or to reduce their risk of injury when performing any high-impact activities.

Who is it for: The Nordic knee sleeves are great for anyone looking for more protection for their joints, extra comfort during their lifts, and for those looking for the perfect fit.

Stoic Knee Sleeves

Stoic knee sleeves are built to withstand activities that require heavy weights, high reps, and greater intensity.

With a patented triple-reinforced seam, Stoic knee sleeves offer greater durability than most knee sleeves. These knee sleeves have been made with the heaviest tear-resistant material designed to withstand many forces.

In addition, Stoic knee sleeves all come in full 30 cm length for maximum coverage and support. Most other knee sleeve companies cheap out and provide less length in order to cut costs.

Who is it for: Stoic knee sleeves are great for powerlifters, bodybuilders, and weightlifters looking to take their training to the next level. They are designed for heavy weights, heavy intensity, and with high durability.

Bear KompleX

Bear KompleX Compression knee sleeves are designed for use for runners, wrestlers, and for generalized weightlifting purposes.

These knee sleeves give you the option of 5mm or 7mm, so if you are looking for thinner knee sleeves that won’t stifle your athletic performance, Bear KompleX may be right for you.

In addition, with over 10+ styles and color schemes, you can choose your favorite color, or one that most closely resembles your athletic team. No other knee sleeve company offers the same amounts of styles.

Who is it for: If you are looking for thinner knee sleeves that are more suited for explosive activities such as running or wrestling, Bear KompleX may be the right choice for you.

Sling shot knee sleeves

The Sling shot knee sleeves are designed by the popular powerlifter, Mark Bell.

They were originally designed to be customized toward Bell and his powerlifting endeavors (600+ lb squat!) and were found to be so good that they were sold for the general public.

Made from a 7mm thick level 3 neoprene, these knee sleeves are designed to allow you to lift the most amount of weight with the high safety.

After all, if Bell has squatted over 600 lbs in these things, they are built for durability and for heavy weights.

In addition, these knee sleeves are IPF approved meaning you can use them for powerlifting competitions.

Who is it for: Powerlifters looking to compete with the best gear, or lifters who wish to lift the heaviest weights in the gym.

Do knee sleeves help you squat more?

Knee sleeves that are fitted properly do not necessarily help you squat more.

However, most lifters feel like they can squat more because knee sleeves help give the lifter a sense of security and confidence in lifting weights.

They do this by increasing your sense of proprioception in your knees.

What is proprioception you may ask?

Proprioception is the awareness of your body position relative to space.

With proprioception, you can tell with your eyes closed when your elbow is bent, the position of your shoulders, etc.

Proprioception at the knee is the similar skill, being able to tell how much the knee travels forward, and how much it bends.

This is what knee sleeves help enhance, your ability to tell the position of your knees throughout the squat.

By constantly signaling your body where your knees are positioned, you can maintain proper form even while squatting heavy weights.

Knee sleeves also have a variety of other functions such as keeping your knees warm which keeps the joint loose.

This is important because it helps prevent injuries, especially for those with weak knees or for those who already have knee issues.

Knee problems are very common for most lifters, so grabbing a pair of knee sleeves in order to prevent them from occurring is a wise investment.

Another function of knee sleeves is the fact that they compress your knees offering more stability.

Similar to wrist wraps that compress the wrist to prevent wrist injuries, knee sleeves do the same for your knees. 

Overall, the main functions of knee sleeves are to increase your sense of proprioception, for improving your stability during exercise, and for keeping your joints warm.

These are all factors that don’t necessarily lead you to lift more weight, but rather to lift heavier weights with more confidence as you feel much safer and secure wearing them.

Is lifting with knee sleeves cheating?

The big question is whether lifting with knee sleeves is considered cheating or not.

Some novice lifters may say it is cheating because they see professional powerlifters using it all the time.

But in actuality, knee sleeves don’t result in much of an increase in weight, especially if they are of the right size.

Knee sleeves are seen as cheating when lifters try and use knee sleeves that are way too tight for them which does offer an unfair advantage.

This is usually seen in professional powerlifting when lifters need 2 or 3 people (and a bunch of tools) in order to get the knee sleeves on.

However, this is has been classified as illegal in most powerlifting federations so you don’t have to worry whether your competition has tighter knee sleeves than you.

Excluding super tight knee sleeves, using appropriately sized knee sleeves is not considered cheating.

The main benefit of knee sleeves is for safety. They allow you to lift more weight with more confidence, they keep your joints nice and loose to allow you to lift more weight, and they help you to feel more stable so that you aren’t wrecking your knees every time you squat heavy.

They have not considered cheating and most of the benefits knee sleeves offer is for the safety of the lifter.

How tight should knee sleeves be?

As I mentioned earlier, knee sleeves should not be so tight that you are unable to put them on by yourself.

They should fit snuggly against your legs. Not squeezing your calf like you are losing circulation, and not too loose that it slides up and down your legs.

For proper sizing and procedures, follow the manufacturer’s guide on how to properly measure your legs to choose the appropriately sized knee sleeves for you.


You cannot go wrong with these knee sleeves.

When the company works hard to create a product that lasts decades, that speaks about the quality and commitment to deliver a great product to its consumers.

You are happy and the company makes money.

With these four selections to choose from, you will not be disappointed.

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