T Nation

Belt and Knee Sleeves


I’m going to turn 30 this year and I’ve never used a belt or knee sleeves before. My lifts aren’t huge (best squat 340, deadlift 405), but I’m just curious to know when to start using stuff like this. As I get older, I’d like to take preventative measures before I get too beat up.

Thanks for any input.


I’m 30. Been using a belt since I was 21, and no idea when I started using sleeves.

There is no set time to use those things. Use them whenever you want.


I guess I have never felt like I’ve needed them because I don’t know what signs to look for. I understand it helps with stability but I was just wondering if there are any signs that point to belt or sleeve usage helping in order to continue moving forward.


I would say the sign is the wanting to use it. That’s all it is. You can spend your entire lifting career not using sleeves or a belt and be fine, or you could use sleeves and a belt from day 1 and be fine. It’s up to you.

In the old days, it wasn’t really anything that was worth thinking of. You just used it when you wanted to. This whole idea that there is some sort of level you have to ascend to before you’ve earned the right to wear a belt/knee sleeves/weightlifting shoes is purely an invention of the internet, and it’s typically weak people that propagate it. Strong people don’t really seem to care one way or the other.

Were I in your position, I’d use them, mainly because I don’t see a reason NOT to.


Well, I don’t own them. I lift in chucks and basketball shorts. The only thing holding me back is the fact that I would have to purchase them.
Just curious is all. Thanks for your input.

As you were.


No problem dude. If you decide to pick some up let me know. I’ve used a handful of belts and sleeves and have some opinions on them.


Right on, man. I really appreciate it.

If I were to look into buying, I was considering the knee sleeves that Mark Bell offers. As far as belts, I wouldn’t know where to start.

Spill your opinions if you’re willing. Might convince me to get some.


I’m 43 and never use knee sleeves. I’ve never felt the need for them and I don’t have any knee pain. I started using a belt once my squat got up to around 300. I squat in oly shoes and deadlift in vibram soled Merrills (not the creepy toe vibrams.

If you are going belt, invest in a good one.


Thanks for the response, man. Any suggestions?


This might be the best/finest response I’ve ever read. Just reeks of common sense. Goddamn, this gives me a bit of hope.


I have a Cardillo powerlifting belt and I’m very happy with it.

I also have a crappy harbinger Velcro belt that I use before I invest in the good one and I still use from time to time if I’m doing conditioning circuits


I appreciate the responses. Obviously, common sense says use it if I want to use it.

Like I said, I’ve made it this far without and don’t feel like it has mattered at all. All I was asking is for seasoned lifters to weigh in and share their experiences with the use, or lack there of, and what persuaded them to start using them. Also, I feel like the idea that they MAY help in injury prevention just made me curious.

Pretty much everyone I ever see lifting heavy wears them. There must be a reason other than “do it if you feel like it” otherwise none of you would do it, except maybe for fashion purposes.


Jim: That means a lot coming from you man. Thanks for that.

brady_bogenreif: Regarding belt preference, my absolute favorite belt has been a 13mm Inzer Forever lever belt. Got it in 2011, and been using it every since. It’ll make you feel bulletproof. Very stiff and supportive. Only drawback is that I’ve had to replace the lever twice because I would drape the belt on my GHR and then it would fall prong first and break on something. I’ve since learned to store it on the floor.

As for sleeves, I’ve got both the elitefts HD and SHD knee sleeves. The HD are great for everyday wear, but I’d only use the SHD in competition/1 set of very heavy work. There is no way you can wear them all workout, because they will compress the crap out of your legs. Still, you get a slight performance boost out of them without having to use wraps.

As for WHY I use a belt or sleeves: I can lift more weight with them than without them. It’s not a safety thing at all. In fact, I’d argue it’s actually LESS safe to use these things, because it means lifting even more weight. When I blew out my ACL and lateral meniscus/fractured my patella on a 775lb yoke walk, I was wearing my 13mm belt and SHD knee sleeves. The first thing I asked for was someone to get the sleeves off me, because it was compressing my knee while it was rapidly filling with blood. Had I not been wearing those things, I most likely would’ve been safer, as I wouldn’t have been able to move the weight in the first place.


Thank you. This is the type of response I was looking for. I was starting to think that the sense of community wasn’t on these forums, and that conversational/advice posts were frowned upon. This post is very helpful.

Sorry to hear of your previous injury. Keep lifting heavy, man.


I wear SHD’s (or nothing) and they’re not too bad for me in terms of wearing for 60-90 minutes, I can’t remember if I got exactly my size or one size up. I also have Rehband which are a much nicer feel IMO but don’t provide as much support and they started sliding down my leg after about 6 months.


I feel you may have been misinterpreted the fact that the answer was so easy as an indication that discussion was not wanted/desired or that the responders were unfriendly. It’s more the case that there isn’t a whole lot of room to discussion WHEN to use belts/sleeves since it’s just a personal preference, whereas discussion on what sleeves/belts people like opens up quite a bit more.

Appreciate the kind words regarding the injury. I’ve become the seated good morning king in my recovery, and was cleared to start lightly deadlifting today, so I’m excited about that.

Tsantos: That’s pretty interesting. I got mine ordered exactly to size, and it’s quite an ordeal to get them on/off, haha. I got a real bad calf cramp after a yoke walk in a show one time, and my wife tried pulling the sleeves off, and only managed to roll it down the calf. I think they’re pretty much just 2 pairs of HD sleeves sewn into each other, so it can make things pretty intense.

I’ve heard that the new Rehband sleeves don’t live up to the old blue ones, but I don’t have any experience with either one to be able to say. I love the Rehband warm-up pants though. Excellent product.


It may be that I have no issues because I have no calves :frowning:


I started using sleeves a few years ago. My knees would get pretty sore on heavier sets and sleeves were an easy way to help keep them warm. I have the elitefts HD sleeves and love them, but I’ve never used anything else. I only wear them for my top sets and then any supplemental work. Easy to get on, comfortable enough to wear for multiple sets.

I started using a belt around the same time. I trained for years without a belt and never had any issues, but after watching a video by Rhodes discussing how to use a belt I wanted to give it a shot. It was not for safety purposes, it was to lift more weight. I have a 13mm one prong elitefts belt. It took some time to break in and provides great support. I’ve never owned another belt.


Second the Inzer Forever 13mm. I would rather own it, than not. I try to only use at 90%+ and heavy bent over rows. It definitely helps you feel more braced in compromising situations and lift heavier in my case.


All great responses. I’m digging it.

Thanks for your input everyone!