Wraps are essential for squatting heavy, and powerlifting competitions where the federation will allow it. In this article we’ll help you pick out the best knee wraps for squats and powerlifting to keep you safe and strong at all times.
Are you at the point where you’ve started to wear a belt while squatting? Have special shoes just to squat in? And are wearing knee sleeves? If you’re a regular strength trainer, powerlifting competitor, or all of the above then it may be time to invest in a pair of knee sleeves. Knee wraps perform a similar to function to knee sleeves, however they are much more powerful and for that reason are restricted to certain divisions of powerlifting competition – sometimes called equipped divisions.
Best Knee Wraps for Squats & Powerlifting Reviews
In this section we’ll individually review some of the best options out there when it comes to knee wraps for squatting.
Contraband Pink Label Knee Wraps [usr 4]
SlingShot is a name you can trust when it comes to compression and powerlifting gear. You want to know how? Because these guys lift heavy ass weights and they use their own gear, every single day, in every single video they post. These are long lasting knee wraps with solid compression coming in 2 and 2.5m lengths depending on your size. They come in at a really reasonable price of around $40 for a two pack which is hard to beat for in my opinion one of the best knee wraps available right now.
- High quality, high compression knee wraps
- Available in 2 and 2.5m lengths for small-medium and larger-larger users
- In my opinion the best knee wraps for squats and powerlifting at a great price too
- SlingShot gear is produced and backed by one of the most active powerlifting gyms in North America – hard to argue with
- For a step up in compression/quality they have their 2.5m World Record knee wraps
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Inzer Iron Z Powerlifting Knee Wraps [usr 4]
Here we have Inzer’s wraps – a very reputable powerlifting equipment company and these wraps are going to rival and be very similar to the SlingShot products at the end of the day. They advertise a super grippy material, and high compression that both lead to high performance.
- Available in 2 and 2.5m lengths
- Doesn’t slip around on the skin, super tight wraps
- High quality wraps in our opinion
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Contraband Black Label Knee Wraps [usr 3.5]
Contraband makes solid compression gear, and this is my pick for the best ‘budget’ or ‘affordable’ knee wraps for squatting and powerlifting – WITH a few advantages and unique aspects that make them an all around great wrap. First they’re available in 2 and 3m lengths which you could theoretically get the 3m length tighter than both the Slingshot and Inzer wraps due to torque. Next they offer 4 different compression/stretch levels for each length in Extreme, Heavy, Medium, and Light to add another level of compression.
I think this is a really great feature and that ranks these knee wraps way up there for me due to the amount of customization available. Take for two people who need the 2m wraps could be 130lbs and the other 175lbs – these two have very different bodies and would likely make best use of two different compression wraps. This is where Contraband products swoop in and provide you those extra 4 levels of customization.
- Solid quality, affordable wraps coming in at about half the price of the other two wraps on the list
- Available in 4 compressions for each of the two lengths (2m and 3m)
- Best budget knee wraps, but also the wraps with the most sizes available
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Contraband Pink Label Knee Wraps [usr 4]
Here’s Contraband’s knee wraps for women – and our pick for the best knee wraps for women who squat heavy or powerlift. I won’t rehash everything said above for the women’s wraps, but these are high quality, good price point wraps that you don’t want to pass up.
- Best women’s powerlifting/squatting knee wraps
- Sold in 2m length with two different tension levels
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How to Pick the Right Knee Wraps
With the options presented, you’re basically choosing between 2m and 2.5m/3m wraps. Each manufacturer will have their own guidelines for which you should choose, but by basic theory the longer and tighter the wraps, the better compression and therefore effect you’ll get out of the knee wraps. So sure if you’re a beginner at 185lbs you probably want to start off with 2m wraps because 1. wraps are uncomfortable and you won’t get use out of more wrap and 2. you’re probably not squatting that much weight.
So you see the point here is that an athlete at the same body weight could use several wrap lengths over their career. My advice is for everyone to start with the smallest and lightest compression wraps and work their way up for a few reasons. You want to get used to wearing the wraps, get comfortable in then, and you’re probably not squatting that much weight right now. Next reason, wraps aren’t that expensive and due to the stretchyness wearing out over time, by the time your squat improves enough and you’re making good use of your first set of wraps you’re probably ready for a new longer and tighter pair. Summing it up:
- Start with the shorter length to get used to the wraps
- Get longer and tighter wraps when you’re experienced with wraps, and squat more weight
- Replace your wraps every 6-12 months depending on your lifting frequency due to them wearing out (if you squat a lot) – use your judgement here on the feel of your wraps
Knee Wraps vs Knee Sleeves
What’s the difference?
Knee wraps and knee sleeves perform a similar function but are two quite different devices. Wraps provide a whole lot of bounce and support out of the bottom of a squat and are not allowed in all divisions of powerlifting competition. Knee sleeves on the other hand provide support and compression, but nothing near the level of knee wraps. They’re both useful tools in training but sleeves will never have the effect that wraps do on your squat.
As a rule of thumb wraps are used for equipped lifting, squatting quite heavy weights, and providing a significantly more amount of support to your squat. It’s okay to use sleeves in your warm up, and all your squat sets (while I don’t recommend it all the time) but you wouldn’t use wraps all the time.
How Wrap Your Knees For Squatting With Knee Wraps
This is going to be way easier to explain with a video, so here’s my buddy Mark Bell showing you how to properly use knee wraps (you’ll need a friend.
- Use a wrap tightness according to how much you’re lifting
- Go lighter than you think
- Towards competition wrap your knees as you normally would in competition
- Should be stiff, supportive, and you should have a hard time getting to full depth without weight on your back
- Make sure to re-wrap your wraps properly after taking them off so when you put them on again they stay tight (watch the video for this to make sense)
- Here’s a more detailed text article on how and when to wrap up your knees
Do I Need Knee Wraps?
To answer this question if you want to compete seriously as a powerlifter, or more specifically as an equipped powerlifter then you definitely want to use wraps. For competition and training they can increase your squat amount, rep amount, and overall training capacity.
How Much Will Knee Wraps Add to My Squat?
Note: I can’t predict this – it will be different for everyone
Depending on where you’re at, knee wraps have been known to add 10-50lbs to a lifter’s numbers. This is a wide range because I don’t want to make any guarantees but depending on how much you squat now, how close you are to capacity, and how good/comfortable you are at using the wraps they can help you out quite a lot in competition and training.
Best Knee Wraps for Squats & Powerlifting: Conclusion
Overall if I had to pick one set of wraps for the best knee wraps, I would pick the Slingshot wraps. They’ve made a name for themselves for a reason, and I trust this brand. Their products are quality and they use them themselves – this is enough for me to chuck my money at them for solid powerlifting products. Like I said before, buy the shortest/lightest compression wraps you can find to learn how to use the wraps and get used to them, and then get tighter wraps as you lift more and get more experienced/comfortable using knee wraps.