What are Knee Wraps for?
Knee wraps are primarily used by powerlifters, weightlifters and bodybuilders when squatting heavy. The canvas or neoprene material constricts the joint and provides extra stability around the knee.
But that’s not all…
By wrapping the sleeves tightly around your knee, you gain a mechanical advantage when squatting. Essentially the wraps allow you to store elastic energy in the eccentric (lowering) phase of the squat, to be used in the concentric (raising) phase.
Are Knee Wraps worth it?
If your goal is to squat more then, then yes knee wraps are worth it. But if your goal is to increase in size or compete in raw powerlifting competitions, then no.
They’re illegal in raw powerlifting and provide too much assistance to drive positive adaptations from higher repetition hypertrophy training.
Pros and Cons of Knee Wraps
✔ Increased elastic energy storage
✔ Improved 1RM
✔ Greater mechanical advantage in the squat
✔ Reduced stress on quadricep tendon
✖ Strength doesn’t translate to raw lifting
✖ Increased friction between patella and kneecap cartilage
✖ This can cause injury and / or arthitis
The 5 Best Knee Wraps for Powerlifting
|Knee Wrap||Cost||Support||Comfort||Average Rating||Shop|
|Urban Lifters Knee Wraps||££|
|RDX Knee Wraps||££|
|Iron Bull Strength Knee Wraps||£££|
|RIM Sports Knee Wraps||££|
|Cerberus Strength Knee Wraps||££££|
A premium set of double ply knee sleeves, the Urban Lifters Knee Wraps are a quality piece of equipment at a fantastic price.
Incredibly sturdy compression and made with material that will last, the high grade cotton feels sturdy yet supple.
Aesthetically they’re not too shabby either.
RDX Knee Wraps are another cost effective wrap from a reputable brand.
A quality range of colourways aside, they’re a reliable, effective piece of kit. My one concern lies in the long-term durability the cotton, elastic and polyester blend provides.
But if you’re looking for decent quality, cheap knee wraps, then these are fantastic for the price.
Iron Bull Strength provides premium quality strength equipment. It’s one of those brands you can trust for any bit of strength training kit and these are no different.
Unlike other knee wraps, they’ve integrated a heavy duty velcro system, which totally prevents your wraps slipping down. Whilst velcro is usually a surefire way to get bullied, it works on knee wraps.
You can really feel the elasticity in these. You feel confident and secure. The only issue I have with them is if the velcro strap was to tear you’re largely buggered.
RIM Sports Knee Wraps are another great quality knee wrap at a very reasonable price.
Stretching out to 6 feet in length and also have the velcro strap. Such is the strength of the velcro, that for any 1RM test of strength, you’ll feel totally secure.
Cracking set of colourways to, so easy to combine with your gym kit of choice.
Cerberus Strength Knee Wraps Editor’s Choice
Cerberus Strength Knee Wraps are the best all-round wrap on the market.
The strength and support you get is second to none and they’re available in 2, 2.5 and 3m. So no danger of them not fitting.
Ideal for intermediate lifters and fully blown pros, they’re even approved by the IWF and USPA. The 30 day money back guarantee and numerous testimonials should assuage any fears you may have about spending a little extra.
They’re worth every penny.
Are Knee Wraps better than Knee Sleeves?
Knee wraps are better if you’re looking to instantly improve your squat 1RM. Knee sleeves are better if you’re looking to mitigate the risk of injury and improve recovery.
If you’re looking to compete in geared powerlifting or just want a bigger squat (who doesn’t?) then you should definitely invest in a pair of knee wraps.
If you suffer from knee niggles, soreness or struggle to recovery then you should invest in knee sleeves. Your knee capsule loves compression and heat and sleeves offer that in abundance.
The synovial fluid in your knee circulates around the patella, femur and tibia, helping lubricate and transport nutrients. The warmth offered by knee sleeves literally promotes lubrication and the transport of nutrients.
What sleeves don’t do is increase your squat much, if at all.
Do Knee Wraps Increase your Squat?
Powerlifters have used knee wraps for decades when it comes to squatting heavy. And with good reason. Knee wraps can increase your squat 1RM by around 5 – 10%.
In this particular study, 10 intermediate lifters performed a variety of heavy back squats, half with knee wraps and half without.
Those that wore knee wraps saw a 39% reduction in horizontal barbell displacement and were able to lower the bar 45% faster due to the storage of elastic energy. Overall those wearing knee wraps saw a 10% increase in peak power when squatting.
But this doesn’t translate to raw lifting as the increased elastic energy storage cannot be applied to raw lifting.
Are Knee Wraps bad for your knees?
Wearing knee wraps can cause fundamental issues for lifters and should be used with caution. Whilst they increase stability and reduce horizontal barbell displacement, they cause alterations in your squatting technique.
Any change in technique causes different stressors and utilise new muscle groups and stress tendons. If you’re performing heavy lifts with an unfamiliar technique, this can place undue stress and tension on a joint or tendon that isn’t ready for that stimulus.
So whilst they increase power production, they can also increase the risk of injury.
How Tight should Knee Wraps be?
Tight, but not too tight. Essentially if you can bend your knee more than 90 degrees without much additional tension, it needs to be tighter. If you can’t bend your knee through 90 degrees or you start to lose feeling in your lower leg, then it should be loosened.
You should be able to comfortably bend at the knee without restricting blood flow, whilst being ultra-supportive. You should feel an elastic-type bounce in your knee when striding out.