Should you use knee wraps when squatting?

Over time, test after test, the squat has earned itself the prefix king of the lower body movements. Due to this, there is a long list of products used to help the lifter squat more weight or more efficient. Today I will be talking about knee sleeves and the truth behind them.

If you use knee sleeves or thinking about getting knee sleeves to lift more weight then you should read this!

Do you know what most weightlifters use wraps for? Safety, strength, and/or stability? Knee sleeves are worn to give a structural and mechanical advantage vs not using knee sleeves. There has been a study to test the effects of knee sleeves for the purpose of having knowledge on the actual benefits or disadvantages they can cause the lifter while squatting heavy weight.

10 male athletes with previous experience of weight training were tested during this experiment. The main objective of the study was to investigate whether Knee wraps were an effective way of increasing weight lifted during squatting.

They started with 80% of their back squat for 6 single reps. Three wore wraps and three were without wraps. Using only one high-speed digital camera they recorded the ground reaction force. The results showed that wearing knee wraps led to a 39% decreased displacement in the position of the barbell, which continued throughout the whole movement. The lowering phase movement remained the same within 1% of both tests with or without wraps. However the interesting part is in the lowering phase of the lift was 45% faster with wraps than without (1.13 compared with 1.57 seconds).

This demonstrated that vertical force applied to the to the lifter (weight on the bar) during the lowering phase was considerably larger and was likely a consequence of the generation and storage of elastic energy within the knee wrap. Following this “bounce” the vertical push or thrust was 10% greater than the lifter with no knee wraps. Taking all this in, do you think this is a game changer don’t you? Well, it could also do some changes to your joints and structural integrity as well.

The elastic ability in the knee wraps caused a slight increase in the amount of potential weight lifted. The downside is that overall form and technique of the back squat is compromised, altering the group of muscles targeted by the exercise and potentially causing harm to the overall health of the knee joint.


My conclusion is probably self-evident, Knee sleeves are not beneficial to strength training. They may have temporary effects, but the long-term effects cause harm to your future health. If you have a weakness then choose alternative options when training, knee wraps ae not the answer.

Originally published at on January 10, 2016

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