Are Knee Sleeves Cheating?

Are knee sleeves cheating when it comes to weightlifting? This is a question that many lifters ask themselves when they consider using knee sleeves to help them lift more weight.

As you get deeper into lifting more weight, you begin to use more equipment like knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and belts to aid in lifting more weight and doing it with a greater degree of safety.

Knee sleeves are no different; they add pounds to what you can safely lift and can help prevent injury. But are they cheating? In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of knee sleeves, how they work, and whether they’re cheating or not.

Are Knee Sleeves Cheating?

Anyone I’ve ever met that lifts weights wants to lift more weight. In fact, most weight lifters are always honing their technique, wondering how to change their lifestyle, and spending a lot of time trying to lift more and more. And the deeper you get into lifting more weight, the more equipment you find yourself using, right? Especially knee sleeves and wraps, wrist wraps, and belts, which definitely aid in lifting more weight.

Is using knee sleeves cheating
is using knee sleeves cheating?

In fact, you might just as well admit it! Any equipment you use is going to enable you to lift more weight and do it with a greater degree of safety. Are you cheating when you wear a belt? No!

But, Are Knee Sleeves Cheating?

The ever-increasing number of bodybuilding and fitness rooms throughout the country is bringing more and more people into the powerlifting scene.

Face it, any piece of equipment you can add to the mix will help you add more weight to the bar.

Now, there are different reasons for that. Some of it lets you know you’re safe to lift more without injuring yourself, some can actually increase the amount you can lift.

Knee Sleeves are no different at all — they are going to add pounds to what you can safely lift, and they are going to help prevent injury. To tell you the truth, sometimes you’re going to find that people using sleeves and wraps are in a different division than those who choose not to use them.

Is That Cheating?

Well, not necessarily? The USPA has two different divisions that address the question. They have the Raw and the Classic Raw. The Classic allows knee sleeves in the competitions.

The majority of powerlifters wear wraps vs knee sleeves because they feel like they can wrap them tighter and get more spring, or lift, from them. However, there are plenty of lifters wearing knee sleeves, and they know they are not cheating.

Read more about knee sleeves and Raw PowerLifting in this post.

How Do Knee Sleeves Boost My Lift?

Most everybody agrees that they lift more with knee sleeves, but why is that?

knee sleeves are not cheating

Knee Sleeves Are Not Cheating

Here’s what happens: 

When the sleeve is tight it is exerting a lot of compression on the knee to keep it in the straightened position. As you go down into the squatting position, bending the joint, the sleeve builds and stores elastic energy.  

As the squat gets deeper, more energy is created in the neoprene sleeve or knee wrap. Now, when you straighten your knee, the energy releases as a force.

The tighter the binding, and better sleeve, the more elastic energy is stored and then released.

The faster the decent into squatting, the more energy is stored.  

So if you want more lift from knee sleeves you can either use them tighter, locate sleeves that store more energy, or descend faster.

Is That Cheating?

Cheating is the receiving of a reward for ability or finding an easy way out of an unpleasant situation by dishonest means.

I am afraid there’s no real answer to the question: “Are Knee Sleeves Cheating?”

If you are wondering if you’re cheating your workout partners in the gym, the question is definitely going to be a consensus of opinions, isn’t it.

If everyone is wearing sleeves or wraps, then everyone is getting the same advantage from the equipment used, right?

Maybe not?

To begin with, what if everybody’s not using the preferred Rehband Sleeve for lifting? What if everyone is using the same brand, but some are using a 3mm, some 5mm, and you’re using the 7mm sleeve?

Now who’s cheating when it comes to using knee sleeves?

In fact the use of knee sleeves to increase your lifting power gets even more involved when you consider that if you aren’t using them properly, there’s no advantage at all, and perhaps a disadvantage?

Whether you’re using wraps or sleeves to lift more weight, how tight they are is key to success.

You want them to be as tight as possible! The tighter you can get them, the more elastic energy can be stored and then released.

The more knee bend you can get when squatting, the more stretch for upward propulsion. Experimenting with different brands is going to be the best method to finding the best results.

As you develop skill and confidence in your squat you will become more aggressive into descending into the squat. Generally the faster you can go down, the more energy explodes from the sleeve pushing you upward.


Whether you decide knee sleeves are cheating or not, they should add a little overall performance to your squats and lifts.

Unless they are worn super tight, you probably won’t even notice a difference. So if you want to cheat up a few extra pounds, get some good knee sleeves, wear them extremely tight, and as an added feature, you will probably avoid quite a bit of pain and soreness in your knees.

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