T Nation

Knee Sleeves and Training

Hi all,

Am curious as to how others use or don’t use their knee sleeves in training and their perspectives on my use.

I’ve found sleeves add about 25-30kg/55-66lbs to my squat. I attribute this to the assistance they give in generating torque at the knee joint. Squatting relatively upright and allowing my knees to track forward and out over my toes both increases torque requirements on the quadriceps and stretches and bends knee sleeves to a greater degree allow for greater potential elastic energy stored up.

Am I taking the right approach in limiting the use of knee sleeves while I’m in a hypertrophy/accumulation block to build my quads? Or is a train how you play kind of principle more appropriate where getting stronger in sleeves will still strengthen the quads while loading up the torso more?

How do you use your knee sleeves in training? Everything? Heavy sets? Depending on training phase? Leading up to comp?

I wear sleeves from set 1. If you are getting 50+ lbs, do you mean wraps?

I start every workout in sleeves. They add maybe 2lbs to the squat.

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I use my sleeves from the get go, can’t say its added anything to my squat though… Unless you count warm knees.

If you aren’t greasing and using grocery bags to get your sleeves on, they probably aren’t giving you anywhere near 50 lbs.

My assumption is the mental difference. Your knees not hurting due to them being warm from sleeves = more confidence.

they are sleeves and not that tight either.

Probably big mental component to it but the Sleeves vs Sleeveless Maxes don’t lie. Would pay $50 for placebo effect or extra confidence any day.

I put mine on as soon as I walk in the gym and about 5-10 minutes later start squatting. But only use them for squats I see a lot of people use them for other leg stuff but I prefer them for squats only

I don’t think anyone is telling you not to, but rather to not worry about differences in hypertrophy in sleeves vs. not wearing sleeves. If the sleeves make your knees feel better, wear them.

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Even then, 50lbs. doesn’t sound realistic. I asked Amit Sapir a few months back and he said he gets 10-15lbs. out of them if they are tight enough. I saw a video of him having his knee sleeves put on by another person using suit slippers and he is also sponsored by SBD, so I don’t think he would minimize their effect.

It’s all in the OP’s head.


If you have extremely tight knee sleeves that add a noticeable amount to your squat then it would be a good idea to only use them in the last month or two before a meet, otherwise use them every time you squat if you like. You could also get a looser pair for non-peaking training.

It sounds like you are squatting with a different technique when you use knee sleeves. Is this the case?

What I started using the sleeves I never went back to naked knees. They keep the knees warm, and add confidence coming out of the hole. I use elite FTS extra heavy duty. I do think they add a bit of weight as I feel like I get a little bit of spring coming out of the hole. But nothing like wraps, which add 40 to 50 pounds in my experience.

If you like them, like a lot of people do, stick with them.

If you haven’t yet, wait till you try proper wraps. They feel amazing. But I only use them for meet prep and in competition .

Now I want to buy a size smaller lol because right now at this size it’s i easy to get them on with the inside out method

Hmm. Not exactly different technique but cleaner, tighter, more controlled and less prone to deviation or breakdown. It’s just that mentally or otherwise it feels like I’m getting an “It’s all you bro” spot into and out of the hole and through the sticking point of the squat. Probably not significant forces at play but we all know how helpful just a light touch from a spotter can be, especially through a sticking point, to keep the bar moving

If you found that sleeves give you a couple of pounds or nothing at all how have you determined this? Have you squatted or tested maxes sleeveless and found no difference or have you competed in sleeves and without, finding the difference minimal?

That’s a different technique.

At first I thought that my SBD sleeves didn’t add anything to my squat, but not wanting to wear them out I only used them for meet prep and the meet itself and did most of my training with a pair of Rehbands that definitely don’t add anything. They are stretched out a bit and can slide down my knee on their own until I start sweating. Anyway, at some point I was training for a particular meet but didn’t go because it was out of town and I had other things to deal with at that time. I spent a month or two training in my SBDs and when I switched back to the Rehbands I was slightly weaker. A weight that I could get 5 reps with previously I could now only get 4 reps. The next week I put the sleeves back on and was able to match or surpass my previous rep PRs.

I attribute the carryover from the sleeves (which I didn’t seem to get at first) to changing my squat technique, I now use a more quad-dominant style with more knee flexion. Obviously bending your knees more is going to put more tension on the knee sleeves. But still, I’m probably getting about 10 lbs. out of them, if they were ridiculously tight then maybe 25lbs. but definitely not the kind of weight you are talking about.

If you are interested in getting carryover from “raw gear”, look into the Titan Triumph singlet. It has a double layered crotch and can supposedly add a decent amount to your squat, especially if you get a real tight size. Also, Titan makes Yellow Jacket knee sleeves which are similar to the SBDs except that they aren’t tapered, which will make it easier to put on if you have big calves. I haven’t tried either of them, I just thought it would be worth sharing considering the topic we have here.

What knee sleeves do you wear anyway?

I wear them for squatting only to keep the knees warm. I don’t find any poundage increase frm wearing them. I compete with knee wraps (I don’t use the until the platform), so I don’t really care if the knee sleeves add any poundage.

Sleeves are the Iron Tanks 7mm (IPF approval pending). Got the XL, sized off my calves, on sale. As far as I can tell nothing special just your standard neoprene sleeve. Have only felt my friend’s SBDs in hand so can’t compare.