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    3mm, 5mm vs 7mm Knee Sleeves: A Comprehensive Comparison

    3mm, 5mm vs 7mm Knee Sleeves: A Comprehensive Comparison

    When choosing knee sleeves, understanding the differences between 5mm and 7mm options is crucial for finding the right level of support and compression during workouts. Read more!

    JUL 26,2023   |    3 Mins Read


    Navigating the world of workout gear can feel like walking through a maze, especially when it comes to choosing knee sleeves. With a myriad of brands, materials, and thicknesses available, making the right choice can seem daunting. For all you weightlifters out there, two contenders often rise to the top - the 5mm and 7mm powerlifting knee sleeves.

    Now, you might be wondering, "What's the real difference between these two?" Well, you're in luck! In this post, we're going to dive deep into the world of 5mm and 7mm knee sleeves, shedding light on their unique characteristics. Our goal? To equip you with all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about which knee sleeve will best serve your fitness journey.

    Is 5mm or 7mm knee sleeves better?

    If you're lifting heavy and aiming for those Olympic PRs (personal records), you might want to opt for the 7mm knee sleeves. They're thicker, offering top-notch joint support to handle those hefty weights.

    Conversely, if your workouts are more about dynamic movements or metcons, like in CrossFit, then the 5mm knee sleeves could be your best ally. They're thinner and more flexible, perfect for providing stability during those high-intensity workouts without compromising your range of motion.

    Overview of 5mm Knee Sleeves

    "Aren't 7mm knee sleeves the go-to for powerlifters?" You're absolutely correct. However, don't underestimate the rising star of the fitness world - the 5mm knee sleeves.

    While they may not boast the same level of support and rigidity as their 7mm brethren, these 5mm sleeves bring their own set of game-changing benefits to the table. They have proven to be a versatile asset for a wide range of individuals and activities.

    Benefits of 5mm Knee Sleeves

    The advantages of 5mm knee sleeves can be summed up in two words - flexibility and comfort. They offer a snug fit that helps keep your joints warm, while still allowing enough mobility to perform all kinds of activities from running to lifting weights. Below are some of the specific benefits of 5mm knee sleeves:

    1. Versatility: One of the standout features of 5mm knee sleeves is their adaptability. They can seamlessly fit into a wide gamut of activities, making them a versatile choice for fitness enthusiasts.
    2. Comfort: Ever had to adjust your gear mid-workout? Say goodbye to that with these 5mm knee sleeves. Crafted with comfort in mind, they're designed to feel like a second skin during those grueling sessions.
    3. Freedom of movement: These sleeves aren't just about support; they're about flexibility too. Being less restrictive than their 7mm counterparts, they give you the liberty to perform dynamic moves with ease.
    4. Stability and Support: While they may not match the support levels of a 7mm sleeve, don't underestimate them. Even at 5mm, these sleeves offer a noticeable improvement in knee stability and support over going sleeveless.

    Expert tip:

    Gradually Increase Wearing Time: If you're new to compression socks, start by wearing them for a few hours each day and gradually increase the duration. This can help your legs adjust to the compression.

    3mm vs 5mm knee sleeves

    The 3mm knee sleeves are the lightest option. They're great if you're into more dynamic activities, where flexibility and movement are key. Think about high agility sports like soccer, basketball, or long-distance running. These sleeves offer a little bit of support and warmth, but they don't restrict your movements at all. So, if you're bouncing around a lot and don't want to feel weighed down, but still want a smidge of protection for your knees, 3mm sleeves are your go-to.

    Now, stepping up to the 5mm knee sleeves, these are a bit more substantial. You're looking at these if you're into fitness activities that demand a bit more from your knees. Maybe you're a CrossFit enthusiast, or you're hitting the weights in the gym. These sleeves give a nice balance of support, compression, and flexibility. They're also perfect if you've got a mild knee condition or you're in recovery from a minor knee injury. They offer that little extra 'hug' for your knees without getting too restrictive. 

    Who Should Wear 5mm Knee Sleeves?

    Whether you’re looking for something to help with recovery or training, 5mm knee sleeves can be a great option. They have multiple benefits that make them suitable for athletes from all disciplines and levels of experience. Here are the types of people who should consider using 5mm knee sleeves:

    CrossFitters and Weightlifters

    For you, dynamic athletes out there who love to mix it up with CrossFit or weightlifting, the 5mm knee sleeves are designed with your needs in mind. They offer a perfect balance of flexibility and support, enabling you to power through varied workouts - from heavy lifting to high-intensity cardio sessions. The 5mm thickness provides just enough compression to support your knees without hindering your explosive movements.

    Long-Distance Runners

    Runners can benefit from 5mm knee sleeves for running because they provide enough support to the knee while also being lightweight and not overly restrictive. They can help reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

    General Resistance Trainers

    If your exercise routine involves general resistance training, 5mm knee sleeves could be the boost you need. The moderate thickness offers a great balance between mobility and stability. This means you can comfortably perform your squats, deadlifts, and lunges with added knee support, reducing the risk of strain or injury, while still enjoying a full range of motion.

    Smaller Individuals

    As a smaller individual, finding fitness gear that fits perfectly can be challenging. That's where the 5mm knee sleeves come in. Their slightly thinner profile provides a more snug fit for individuals with smaller legs. You'll get the support and stability you need during your workouts, without dealing with the excess material that can come with thicker sleeves.


    While many powerlifters might default to the 7mm sleeves for maximum support, the 5mm option is worth considering if you value a bit more flexibility. The 5mm thickness allows for a greater range of motion, which can be beneficial when performing exercises that require more knee movement. Plus, you'll still benefit from the knee support and stability that these sleeves provide during those heavy lifts.

    Overview of 7mm Knee Sleeves

    Alright, all you fitness enthusiasts out there, let's talk about the big guns - the 7mm knee sleeves. These are the go-to choice for powerlifters around the globe. If you see a powerlifter rocking knee sleeves, you can bet your last protein shake that they're 7mm thick. It's the gold standard in the powerlifting world and for good reason.

    Benefits of 7mm Knee Sleeves

    So, why are these 7mm knee sleeves so popular? Well, let's break it down.

    Sure, let's delve deeper into the benefits of 7mm knee sleeves:

    1. More Joint Support: The 7mm knee sleeves are designed to offer superior joint support. When you're lifting heavy weights, your knees bear a significant part of the load. These sleeves provide enhanced compression, which increases blood flow and reduces pressure on the knees. This can help prevent injuries and speed up recovery time.
    2. Maximizing Strength: If you're all about pushing your limits and maximizing your strength, these sleeves are your perfect gym partner. They work by providing warmth to your knee joints, which aids in lubrication and makes your movements smoother. As a result, you're able to lift heavier weights more efficiently.
    3. Rigidity: Compared to thinner options, 7mm knee sleeves are more rigid. This rigidity offers greater stability during heavy lifts. The added stiffness ensures that your knees remain in a safe and optimal lifting position, reducing the risk of strain or injury.
    4. Compliance with Powerlifting Rules: For competitive powerlifters, it's important to note that these sleeves meet the maximum thickness allowed within powerlifting rules. This means you can wear them in official competitions without worrying about disqualification.
    5. Longevity: And lastly, when it comes to durability, 7mm knee sleeves outlast their thinner counterparts. Made from tougher materials, they can withstand the demands of heavy lifting for longer periods, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run.

    Who Should Wear 7mm Knee Sleeves?

    When it comes to knee support, 7mm sleeves go a step beyond their 5mm counterparts. With superior joint support and maximum strength gains, they offer an unbeatable combination of performance and stability. These sleeves are great for powerlifters and athletes alike who are looking for the ultimate knee protection. Here’s who can benefit from wearing 7mm knee sleeves:

    Absolutely, let's dive deeper into each category:

    Competitive Powerlifters

    For those of you who regularly compete in powerlifting events, 7mm knee sleeves should be a staple in your gym bag. Why? They're designed to withstand the heavy loads that come with competitive lifting. Not only do they offer unparalleled joint support, but they also adhere to competition rules regarding thickness. They can help improve your performance, while also protecting your knees from strain or injury.

    Larger Individuals

    If you're on the larger side, finding the right fit for knee sleeves can be a challenge. However, due to their size and rigidity, 7mm knee sleeves are an excellent choice. They provide a secure fit that doesn't compromise on comfort, ensuring that your knees are adequately supported during your workouts. Plus, their rigid structure offers enhanced stability, which is crucial when performing heavy lifts.

    First Time Purchases

    Starting with the 7mm option can be a wise choice. They're considered the standard in the industry, especially for heavy lifting. As a first-time buyer, you'll appreciate the superb support and stability they offer. Plus, their durability means you won't have to worry about replacing them frequently, providing great value for your money.

    Those Looking to Add Weight To Their Lifts

    If you're looking to step up your game and add more weight to your lifts, 7mm knee sleeves can be your secret weapon. They provide the confidence and support you need to push your limits. By enhancing joint stability and reducing the risk of injury, these sleeves can help you safely reach those new personal bests.

    Do 7mm knee sleeves increase squat?

    Indirectly, yes.

    While it's been commonly suggested that knee sleeves increase blood flow and keep the joints warm, Greg Nuckols from "Stronger by Science" presents an intriguing perspective on how 7mm knee sleeves might actually help when squatting. And you're right, the squat itself gets the blood flowing and warms up the joints, so perhaps that explanation is a bit overplayed.

    Nuckols proposes a more convincing theory - that knee sleeves could help reduce patellofemoral contact forces. In simpler terms, this means the forces between your kneecap and the rest of your knee could be lessened. How? Well, when you squat deep, your knee sleeves tend to bunch up at the back of your knees. This adds to the natural contact that happens between your hamstrings and calves. Interestingly, some research shows that this hamstring-calf contact can actually reduce the forces on your knees when squatting.

    This could explain why some people find that their knees don't click, pop, or generally feel as achy when they squat with knee sleeves. By wearing them, you're giving your knees a little bit of extra help to manage the stresses of a heavy squat, allowing you to add extra poundage to your squats! 

    If you have been squatting for a while, you must've known that both knee sleeves and knee wraps have their distinct differences and similarities. 


    It really comes down to the type of activity that you are doing and the needs of your body in order to make an informed decision about which knee sleeve is right for you. However, with all that said, we recommend our Knee Compression Sleeve to provide comfort and support regardless of your activity level or goals.

    Our sleeve utilizes advanced breathable material fabric and neoprene technology to ensure your protective gear stays lightweight and keeps your knees comfortable while helping them heal from exercise-related injury as quickly as possible. So why wait? Visit us today and start moving toward a comfortable triumphant victory with Koprez!


    • Acton, Q. A. (Ed.). (2012). Issues in circulatory and lymphatic research: 2011 edition. ScholarlyEditions.
    • Hoshi, Y. (Ed.). (2020). New horizons in time-domain diffuse optical spectroscopy and imaging. Mdpi AG.


    Claire Evans worked as the content marketing manager at Koprez. Claire combined a background of writing and editing, marketing, and patient education to best serve consumers, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and anyone who relies on the Koprez brand for helpful information.

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