Knee wraps help stabilize your knees and lift heavier during exercises like the squat.
They are most popular in the powerlifting community, though they easily can find their place in a CrossFitter’s gym bag.
Whether you’re an older athlete, have pre-existing injuries in your knees, or just want to up your squat numbers this year, the right knee wraps can help.
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Best Knee Wraps:
The key with knee wraps is to know how often and during which types of exercises you should use them to maximize their effect.
Let’s break down how they help, when to use them during training, the difference between knee wraps and knee sleeves, and the three best knee wraps out there.
What Are Knee Wraps?
Knee wraps are designed to provide stability, warmth, and even a mechanical advantage for the knee joint.
Some lifters use them to prevent injuries, while a powerlifting might use knee wraps to hit a heavier 1RM squat PR.
It’s more and more common to see the average CrossFit athlete wearing either knee wraps or sleeves at a box.
Benefits of Knee Wraps
Knee wraps can help keep your knees warm and provide stability during heavy lifts like the squat.
Powerlifters might use them in training or competition, while a CrossFit athlete might use them during heavy lifts or even while doing high rep squatting exercises like wallballs.
One popular area of study in the sport science world is how (or if) knee wraps help athletes get stronger.
This study shows that while they may help you move more weight, always wearing knee wraps can compromise the integrity of the knee joint.
This implies it’s probably best to use knee wraps sometimes (during a PR lift, for example), instead of all the time.
How Do You Put on Knee Wraps?
To put on knee wraps, start below the knee joint (on the high part of the shin) and work your way up to the edge of the thigh.
The idea is to wrap tightly on either side of the actual knee joint, to provide stability in the bottom of a squat when the joint is at 90 degrees.
You want them to be tight enough to provide stability, but not so tight that they cut off circulation. As your knee wraps wear in, you’ll find they feel more comfortable during heavy squats.
One of Mark Bell’s (who created the Slingshot knee wraps) athletes shows you how to put knee wraps on in this video.
Considerations Before Buying
Here are some things to consider before ordering your pair of knee wraps.
You’ll find knee wraps mostly come as elastics. It might be a bit of an ego check, but how strong you are should factor into the material you choose.
Good knee wraps will be stiff and will feel tight against your knee. You want a pair that rates well and lasts a long time.
72 inch is probably the standard, but you’ll find varying lengths. Keep this in mind. They are sold in both inches and centimeters, so you may need to do some conversions.
Same idea applies here as the material section. If you can squat 400 to 500 lbs, you’ll want a thicker pair. If you can’t back squat your bodyweight, a thick pair will probably be uncomfortable or prevent you from squatting at all.
At the end of the day, you’re using knee wraps to move bigger weights. If they aren’t comfortable without a heavy bar on your back, think what it will be like when you’re lifting.
Keep in mind that some come with velcro straps. Others need to be tucked in.
Do Knee Wraps Make You Stronger?
Yes they do. Knee wraps constrict the joint, providing more stability when you are driving through the floor coming back up from a squat.
That external support allows you to move heavier weights.
Keep in mind, though, that your body will adapt to always wearing knee wraps if you always wear them.
If you all of a sudden stop wearing them for heavy squats after years of using them, you might injure yourself.
It’s probably best to use knee wraps sometimes—like during your heaviest sets—and still do some sets without them.
Knee Sleeves vs. Knee Wraps
We’ve reviewed knee sleeves on here before. The difference between knee sleeves and knee wraps is that knee wraps are more of a “one trick” solution.
Wraps are great for things like heavy squats, but may leave you feeling less mobile or comfortable during a WOD or high-rep set.
Knee sleeves, on the other hand, have more applications.
They fit better into the CrossFit athlete mold because they are designed to do a lot of things.
Both knee sleeves and wraps provide stability, warmth, and support for the knee joint. Both can help with pre-existing knee injuries, too.
Top Knee Wraps Reviewed
Mava Sports Knee Wraps
If you’re looking for a good pair of knee wraps for cheap, the Mava Sports ones might be your best bet.
Besides being comfortable and durable, they come with velcro so they’re easy to put on without having to tuck them in.
For this reason, this pair is probably the best option for your average gym-goer. They’re also affordable.
Harbinger 46300 Red Line 78-Inch Knee Wraps for Weightlifting
Lifters love these for their lightweight, breathable material and low cost.
The one downside of reviews on the Harbinger is that some people find them uncomfortable to wear.
These don’t come with velcro and need to be tucked in.
Sling Shot Knee Wraps
The renowned powerlifter Mark Bell makes these knee wraps, along with several other Slingshot strength training products.
And, they’re aptly named. Slingshot products are known for being stiff, durable and designed to give you a real bounce out of the bottom of your squats.
Whether you need a little more stability in your knee joint or want to hit a heavy 1RM back squat, knee wraps are great to have in your gym bag.
Consider material and comfort above all before buying. You don’t want a knee wraps that help you get stronger but hurt when you wear them.
And perhaps for some activities, a good pair of knee sleeves will work just as well.
Here’s where you can check out more product and CrossFit gear reviews. Set yourself up for PRs in 2019!