Wrap it up and shoot for the stars! – Best knee wraps 2017
Smashing though training plateaus while avoiding injuries is the number one goal for any serious lifter, but without the right training gear this can prove to be a difficult and treacherous task to achieve. So how does an avid lifter reach new heights AND take care of crucial body parts such as the temperamental knee?
Well, knee wraps are nothing new in the powerlifting and CrossFit circles, however the technology as well as the research and development aspect of this vital piece of training gear has reached exciting new levels in recent time times.
Basically, if you squat you should at least consider using wraps and learning why they are still considered the game-changer for powerlifters looking to increase their numbers in the rack.
How do I choose my wraps though?
As with any piece of training equipment, there are a myriad of factors to consider before purchasing knee wraps. Frequency of training, experience level, injury history, training goals, body shape and budget all play a key role in selecting the right knee wraps for your training goals. There are standout performers in this category and the following product analysis will identify the best knee wraps to suit your knee-ds… see what I did there?
All dad jokes aside, as a former editor of mine used to say – let’s drown this puppy!! By that I mean, it’s time to explore the wonderful world of knee wraps and get you crushing the steel in the squat rack!
Best knee wrap on the market is…
In Greek mythology, a Titan was a god of incredible size and strength who lived by his own rules. This behemoth of masculinity was someone to be revered and looked upon with respect and adoration.
Well, in lifting circles the Titan brand knee wraps (and pretty much all the training products they produce to be honest) are held in the same high regard as its namesake. It is for this reason that I give the Titan range of knee wraps the moniker of “Best on shelf!”
Given the catchy name and the mythological character product branding, Titan could easily sell millions of units based on this clever marketing strategy alone.
Is it just a gimmick?
But lucky for you, their gear is also high quality, reliable and worn by some of the real-life gods of lifting! I won’t name drop here, but check out some training videos of your favourite lifters and have a gander at what gear they are using for their top-end lifts. You may see this brand littered in their gyms. If not, it will be the bridesmaid we will discuss later in this article.
Titan has become an iconic, global heavyweight supplier for the sport simply because of its commitment to quality. Before you ask, no I don’t receive any kickbacks from them for mentioning their gear or saying how great it is!
I wish I did because I’d be insanely rich by now given the sheer number of boastful testimonials I’ve given their products over the years. As we will explore in unparalleled detail, there are several reasons why an individual will want, use, or not use knee wraps.
The podium-topping Titan has several types of knee wraps and sleeves which all have their pros and cons, as do all the brands we will run the microscope over. The important thing is to understand why I am beating the drum for certain products, and I can tell you it has nothing to do with financial gain.
I am a powerlifter at heart, it’s in my genes and I am a passionate soldier of steel just like you! The fact is, Titan is king, and there are several reasons why. But first a little about me and why you should take my word for it…
Who do you think you are?
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”
– Ernest Hemingway.
Look, I understand some words from a legendary writer such as Hemingway are not going to give me street cred here and get you to trust what I am saying to you. Life is full of snake oil salesmen and charlatans selling gear they swear will have you benching, squatting and deadlifting the house down if you just follow their advice.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a true powerlifter. I hate cardio, I don’t understand CrossFit and nor do I care to, and I am forever chasing that finish line that keeps moving every time I beat a Personal Record (PR). The adrenalin rush, the central nervous system overload – it’s like Christmas Day to me son!
By day I am a personal trainer who runs his own gym. I cater to all fitness levels/goals and am qualified in just about every aspect of training to satisfy my clientele.
But as the shadows grow long and the sun tucks itself in for the night, the inner beast becomes hungry and then the real fun begins. I train with a bunch of driven humans who have the same affliction as me – powerlifting.
The chalk, the goals, the achievements, the failures, the inevitable injuries, the comebacks… I love it all. I compete in national competitions regularly and for this reason I take the equipment side of things very seriously.
Do you actually use this stuff?
My addiction to testing out gym gear to achieve my peak performance has yielded some invaluable intel on powerlifting products which I am happy to share with you all.
And it is just that, personal experience not just a re-written product description lifted from a company website. This information is anecdotal and hopefully it helps lifters make informed, conscientious decisions regarding what they spend their hard-earned coin on when it comes to training gear.
What are knee wraps exactly?
The name “knee wraps” pretty much describes the product and its application – they are wraps for your knees that yep, you guessed it – you wrap your knees up with much like when bandaging a limb.
Ironically, this analogy is quite apt unfortunately, as one of the most common reasons a lifter uses wraps is because they have a pre-existing injury or are trying to prevent one from occurring while pushing their lifting limits. But more about that aspect later, for now let’s drill down and see just what knee wraps are.
Well, essentially they are a stretchy type of strapping made from a combination of elastic, cotton and other engineered fibers and rolled up like a bandage.
In lay terms, wrapping this material correctly around your knees gives unbelievable support and the “slingshot effect” while squatting. If you have never experienced this feeling then you are in for a real treat the first time you do.
Is this a special type of weightlifting?
Equipped lifting (lifting with suits and wraps) allows lifters to surpass their previous PRs and continue to progress their training despite plateauing.
Everyone reaches a point at some stage in there training where the body seems to have hit its physical limits and there is no more weight they can move. That’s when equipment like the knee wrap comes to the rescue.
There are entry-level wraps available to ease you into equipped lifting if you are new to it, but for now we will showcase the top performers as you will eventually be unable to resist transitioning to the premier products.
Being really knee-dy
I know I promised to spare you the bad dad jokes, but there are so many decent puns available here. Anyway, let’s turn our focus to just who needs to use knee wraps. In a word, everyone. But are they for everyone? No, not really. Primarily this gear is for those hoping to improve their squat numbers. While knee wraps can benefit all lifters at some point, one must examine why they are considering using them.
Lifters should be very clear in their motives for purchasing knee wraps before adding to their arsenal of training gear. Are you looking to post new personal best lifts? Do you have a troublesome knee or are you recovering from an injury? Do you simply want to guard against potential future injury?
If it’s the last one, you’re probably better off acquiring knee sleeves as opposed to wraps which are a lot less restrictive and do not put anywhere near as much load on the anatomical components of the knee. The difference between knee wraps and knee sleeves is explained later in this piece.
Let’s consider a very common reason people purchase knee wraps – to avoid injury when lifting frequently or when testing their PR boundaries. We all know that as the weights go up into new territory that form tends to suffer during the lift, and while this is perfectly normal when overloading or exerting yourself more than you have previously done – it is also the golden time for injuries to occur.
During heavier squats you will notice that a lifter’s knees tend to creep in and the knees tend to “buckle” for lack of a better word. You may also hear it referred to as “caving”. There are a lot of reasons for this but generally it is simply that you are either at the top end of your lifting capacity or your form is slightly off.
You could also be lacking functional mobility and flexibility, or you may need to do more work to build certain muscles up and increase the load they can share during a compound lift such as the squat.
To correct slight knee creep, lifters often use wraps to restrict errant movement of the knees or legs during the squat. It is recommended to get some advice or coaching from someone qualified or very experienced to alter your squatting form to alleviate these defective body mechanics, but the wraps can aid you significantly here.
But let’s now examine the real reason most people use knee wraps, and so eloquently described by one of my best powerlifting mentors recently; “Because I can lift a sh*tload more weight by using them. It’s that simple.”
How much will this help me when I squat?
The increase in weight lifted while using knee wraps for one repetition (1RM) is usually about 66 lbs (30 kg) or more. It is a phenomenal boost to your squat game numbers and also allows the body to withstand being loaded with a weight you weren’t previously able to lift.
The overload training method has proven very successful for size and strength gain, and knee wraps allow lifters to venture to the PR zone more safely and effectively. And the longer the wrap, the more spring you can create when it’s wrapped around the knee given there is more stretchy, propulsive material at your disposal. Most lifters opt for a 2.0 meter wrap as this is the preferred, approved length for equipped lifting in most powerlifting federations (IPF for example).
There is another vitally important reason that you should investigate knee wraps. I’ve seen the hook of powerlifting take hold of many people over the years and eventually lifters want to challenge themselves, work towards a goal, achieve that goal and compete against their peers.
For that reason alone, if you plan to compete in competitions that have equipped categories then you should become accustomed (not comfortable as that is impossible) to wearing them regularly and what to expect from them.
When a knee wrap is tightened to its limit, the lifter should no longer be able to walk properly. Instead, a humorous waddle to the squat bar indicates that the knee wraps are on rather tight. There is no need to go to this length every time you apply them unless you’re competing or chasing PRs.
A hulking colleague of mine says that to get the best results out of a knee wrap it should be “cast-like” instead of “sock-like”. He coins some hilarious phrases while training and this one is spot on.
See the tighter a knee wrap is, the more compression it is going to have. Lifters refer to the “rebound” or “slingshot effect” which is when the wrap is compressed to the point that it expands powerfully to assist in the extension phase of the squat.
Imagine that you are a plane and the knee wrap is the tailwind. It is simply a nice little helping hand to get you to where you need to be faster and easier. That place for you is PR land my friend!
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!
The best knee wrap deconstructed
After trying the Titan range of knee wraps, this will be you every time you look to add to your training gear armoury. The best knee wrap available in my opinion is the Titan Signature Gold series knee wraps.
Aesthetically, they are bad ass. Performance-wise, they are the cream of the crop. Hand-crafted from a place better known for its wealthy oil men, this wrap is a product of Texas USA and has won world acclaim.
The precision, engineering and research that goes into these products is second-to-none. Titan set the benchmark for training gear and has become synonymous with powerlifting success.
The Signature Gold series is durable, reliable, of good quality and an all-round standout performer. You will find cheaper knee wraps will stretch well past their original size and lose tension in the fibers.
As the old proverb goes; “You get what you pay for”. Well, price doesn’t always equate better as we all know, but in this particular circumstance the statement holds true. It is worth spending a little extra coin on quality knee wraps that will outlast and outperform most competitors on the market.
Really though, knee wraps are not expensive in terms of training equipment so even buying the most expensive set you can find isn’t going to break the bank. The Titan wrap we’re discussing can be picked up online for about $33 which is a steal for a quality wrap.
What else is good?
The second best knee wrap on the market…
The Mark Bell Slingshot range of lifting products is quite impressive and his knee wraps could arguably be the real top dog in the wrap war. For those of you who don’t know of Mark Bell, he is just some guy that casually squatted over 1000 lbs once upon a time…
Yep. You read that right. This guy is a straight-up baller and has forever etched his name into the powerlifting scrolls of success. So yeah, it is possible he knows a thing or two about powerlifting and reaching new goals.
Many industry insiders would argue that champion powerlifter Mark Bell’s Slingshot knee wraps are equally as good as the Titan range and it’s mighty hard to argue. Call it each to their own, or circumstance, but I was introduced to Titan first and I loved their stuff from day one – so it’s difficult for me to make any other choice.
But if ever there was a knee wrap that deserved to share the title as the best in the business, then the Slingshot is most definitely that. Developed by lifters for lifters, this wrap is made from high-quality materials, performs extremely well during top-end lifts, and has outstanding durability unlike many of the cheaper products which stretch very quickly.
The Bell offering performs at a very high standard under immense strain and is a tried-and-tested knee wrap that lifters can depend on.
Our lifters use both Titan and Slingshot and there are never any complaints. I dare say you could blindfold a person and put both wraps on them and get you to tell which is which and only the expert-level athletes may have a chance of giving you the correct answer.
The Slingshot is made from high-quality material and outlasts many cheaper competitor wraps. It has excellent “spring” at the bottom of your squat range and some lifters believe it is the most reactionary wrap they’ve encountered. If you are wanting the reliable, high-grade wrap then by choosing the Mark Bell gem is a sensible choice.
While it does retail a fair bit higher than the Titan Signature Gold series, this is probably more to do with his public profile and his celebrity-like popularity in lifting circles.
No criticism here, he is a legend and his name doubles as a brand that is valuable. He channels his decades of knowledge about the sport into the research and development of his products so hats off to him for commanding such industry respect.
Mark Bell is very marketable and his name on gear means it comes with some serious lifting creed. A set of these will run you about $40-$45 if you snoop around online.
Knee vs Sleeve: Knee know-how
As I said before, the increase in weight lifted while using knee wraps for one repetition (1RM) is usually about 66 lbs (30 kg) or even a tad more. By comparison, with most knee sleeves you are lucky to get 11 – 22 lbs (5 – 10 kg) of carryover (which is another way to describe rebound).
Knee sleeves don’t promise the benefits that knee wraps do so there is no criticism on that front. They have a few positives going for them though which I will elaborate on in this section.
A knee sleeve can be comfortably worn while training without any need to peel it off and when you do decide to do just that – you can. Putting on knee wraps is tedious and time-consuming, and they aren’t exactly comfy to wear.
How long should I wear these for?
They do restrict a portion of blood flow so it is not wise to keep them on any longer than you need to. Oh, and you can walk normally and not like a penguin when wearing knee sleeves, but you get very limited payoff in terms of rebound so it’s a compromise of sorts. Of heaps really, hence why I just prefer the wraps.
The funniest thing I ever heard about knee sleeves came from a cheeky powerlifter who liked to get into the heads of opponents before a big competition. He would ask anyone who was starting off with knee sleeves how warm their knee caps were.
Confused, the person being quizzed would usually say they didn’t understand the question to which this guy would say rather deadpan: “Oh, shit sorry, I thought you were wearing knee warmers”.
Hence the knee warmth joke was born and many a lifter has been jibed by his mates about keeping their knees warm with the sleeves and not graduating to knee wraps.
Why are these two the best??
So when looking at our two top performers, what are the key features we can single out for both of them which leads to our ranking? For starters they both have industry respect from throwing themselves in the trenches and product testing and researching the hell out of equipment.
The elite-level lifters across the globe are obviously skilled at their craft, so if they are enjoying benefits from certain equipment you can bet your ass I want to try out the products myself. Both brands have the top lifters in the world using, testing, snapping and achieving in the companies’ latest powerlifting equipment.
For anyone who ever thought powerlifting was for meatheads probably never met the guys who recognised, studied and manipulated the physics at play during weightlifting and designing equipment to bend these laws of nature.
By understanding how force travels and moves through objects and how to tip the scales of gravity in your unlikely favour, these pioneers have paved the way for lifters to continually strive for the heavens (much like a Titan you may say) and never have to settle for a final PR until they’re old and grey!
The great thing about a quality set of knee wraps is that thanks to the durability of them, they will last for some time if looked after. Much like the sands of time, some things are inevitable and something that stretches will eventually well, stretch out! But there is an upside…slapping on a brand new set of wraps is always fun and exciting as you know this is the crispest they will ever be. spacing formatting in formatting
I choo choo choose you
Trial and error plays a large, fun part in shaping your training ethos and methods. If I recommend a product it is because I personally use it or one of my twitching balls of muscle in the gym vouches for it. If it gets results, we rate it highly. It is a candidly simple system and one that a lot of lifters could adopt.
When addressing just how I came up with my top pick in this category, it comes down to personal choice to be brutally honest. The quality, the feel, the durability and the longevity of the Titan Signature Gold series knee wraps is why I award it the top nomination.
I find that the Titan range of knee wraps collectively are great to use however I am simply hooked on the Signature Gold series these days. They always deliver and I have never had any blowouts or wardrobe malfunction with these bad boys. With the level of quality held so high, there is no reason for me to look anywhere else while these are available.
Good performer, lacking wow factor
Knee wraps that are forging an identity
Inzer knee wraps have gained popularity in lifting circles on the back of steady performance and reliability. This is a solid knee wrap choice using the Gripper or Iron Knee version, however it doesn’t compete with Titan on price or with the Slingshot by reputation.
For about $60-$78 you can track these down, but there would have to be a global-wide shortage of the Titan and Slingshot for me to actually type in my credit card details to purchase these. No disrespect meant, I am just a one-knee-wrap-kinda guy folks!
Several of my lifters report solid support and “hop” out of these wraps but again it is hard to go past the two behemoths we’ve already discussed. The Inver wraps may just suffer from a lack of star power right now (barring a few notable lifters) and their price tag.
Some users reported that the Titan and Slingshot material felt stiffer and more “locked in” than when using the Invers, but again it comes down to personal choice and price range.
Low on coin, high on courage
The best budget knee wrap out there
I felt like cutting and pasting the Titan review here purely to make my point about spending a little extra for quality. However, I realize we all get a bit short now and again and respect goes to those who don’t lose the hunger and passion for training when times are tough. I salute you.
So, I’m going to point you in the right direction for a budget knee wrap to ensure you keep pushing and your day will come, in powerlifting and in life my bar brothers and sisters!
ISH Powerlifting knee wraps on eBay are $13.99 all day every day. There is one excellent reason to get a set of these knee wraps if you are tight for coin. They’re $13.99. So, with that as its main selling point lets discuss what to expect from a product in this price range.
The ISH knee wrap is made from far less superior materials and undergone much less product durability testing than its competitors. What does this mean for you? Nothing good I’m afraid. I would recommend only asking average results from these and I certainly wouldn’t be trying to hit my new PRs in them.
Is this dangerous? Yes, yes it is.
Safety is always a concern when one buys a cheaper product and it should be in the front of your mind when using lower quality lifting apparel. You wouldn’t want complete equipment failure with a weight on your back that you’ve never wrestled with before.
While this will save you some dough, it may cost you in other ways down the track. Perhaps even use this cheaper option as a transition set until you can afford the top-tier products.
Props to those who made it this far in the review, you are troopers and probably put this kind of effort and focus into your powerlifting pursuits. Knee wraps will definitely take your squatting to a whole new level but remember you get what you pay for.
If you train regularly and push your limits, then there really is only a couple of reliable options for you in the field of knee wraps. Stick with the two brutes in the sport, Titan and Slingshot and you won’t regret it.
If you are going to use equipment to aid or protect you, then it is worth spending a little extra to get quality items. But don’t simply rely on the straps to do the work for you.
Remember to lift safely at all times and mix up your assistance workouts to bolster complimentary muscle groups, not to mention your ligaments, tendons and joints. So stack those bars, crush those plateaus and spread havoc in your new knee wraps. Bent bars to you all.