5mm vs 7mm Knee Sleeves: Which Pair Should You Get?

5mm vs 7mm Knee Sleeves: Which Pair Should You Get?

by Evelyn Valdez

Choosing the right fitness gear can be difficult, especially when there are so many options out there. Whether it’s size, thickness, or level of resistance, making sure you’re buying the best equipment for you is no easy feat – and this is particularly common when it comes to knee sleeves!

If you’re not familiar with knee sleeves yet, they’re a piece of equipment that wraps your knees for extra support and protection. The thinner presentation at 3mm is perfect for those who practice CrossFit and other high-mobility activities, but the 5mm and 7mm versions are better suited for weightlifting. But… which one is better of the two?

To help you choose which compression knee sleeve to buy for your weightlifting sessions, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about 5mm vs. 7mm knee sleeves along with their pros and cons so you can compare them yourself!

Differences between 5mm and 7mm knee sleeves

In the fitness world, lifting knee sleeves are categorized by the level of thickness. If you place them on a scale, 5mm knee sleeves are located right in the middle as the intermediate option between 3mm (not designed for weightlifting) and 7mm (heavy-duty design).

This means that the 5mm knee sleeve is compressive enough to offer great protection and support during your lifting exercises, but it’s still lightweight and flexible enough to be comfortable and allows for a greater range of motion.

On the far end of the scale, you can find the 7mm knee sleeves, considered high-performance due to their superior thickness. These compression sleeves are specifically designed for heavy lifting, meaning they’re not suited for light training or high-mobility exercises because they’re too restrictive.

The 7mm presentation offers greater compression and warmth for better knee support during heavy weightlifting exercises in which your knee joints and muscles undergo significant tension. This thickness was originally used for powerlifting and made its way into regular weightlifting due to its effectiveness.

Besides their thickness, 5mm and 7mm generally also differ in material. This is because, even though both are made of Neoprene, 7mm knee sleeves are typically made from a heavier Neoprene material which helps to add an extra layer of protection.

Pros and cons

Even though 5mm and 7mm knee sleeves might look very similar at first sight, they offer different fitness benefits depending on what your usual workout routine looks like, what your fitness level is, and how heavy you lift – and making the right choice will help you get closer to your goals!

To help you better visualize the differences between 5mm and 7mm knee sleeves and see in which instances one might be better than the other, here are the main pros and cons of each:

Pros of 5mm knee sleeves

  • They are very lightweight and flexible, allowing you to move around freely while still being protected and perform a wider range of movements
  • It’s a beginner-friendly option since it’s not as restrictive as its 7mm counterpart, which makes adapting to it a lot easier
  • They’re highly versatile, making them great for general strength training purposes other than just strictly weightlifting
  • The intermediate thickness is great for those recovering from knee injuries, as it’s protective enough without being too restrictive on the knee

Cons of 5mm knee sleeves

  • They offer a weaker compression in comparison to the 7mm thick presentation since they’re thinner and typically made from a less dense material
  • This thickness isn’t suited for the heaviest lifts since they don’t offer the level of protection that you might need, particularly in powerlifting
  • Because they’re not as thick, your confidence when dealing with heavy weights might be affected

Pros of 7mm knee sleeves

  • They offer the strongest support out of all knee sleeve options because of how they’re designed, making them perfect for those maxing out and in competitions
  • Due to their thickness, these warmer sleeves increase blood flow and reduce pain around your knee, adding a level of protection and support during heavy lifts
  • Your confidence improves when lifting heavier weights since you get the best protection
  • Because of the thickness of the material, 7mm knee sleeves are more durable and will last you longer than thinner presentations

Cons of 7mm knee sleeves

  • These weightlifting knee sleeves are very restrictive and can even be uncomfortable when you’re not used to wearing them
  • Because of their thickness and level of compression, 7mm knee sleeves offer no versatility, meaning that you can’t really use them for lighter exercises
  • Greater thickness means a lot less flexibility, requiring some strength to put on, making them very size-specific as they don’t offer much room for adjusting

Which one is better?

Well, the answer depends on what you want to do with your knee sleeves! Both are great for different fitness purposes, so make sure you consider your current workout routine and your goals before you buy the first one you see.

At UPPPER, we've chosen to go with 7mm Knee Sleeves because of their superior thickness and optimal compression which is ideal for maxing out on squats and other important compound exercises. And in case you didn't know, we're all about making lifting gear that will help take your training to the next level, and our Knee Sleeves are designed to do just that! The thick neoprene material help protect your knees during heavy squats, leg presses, and more while adding a comfortable compression.

However, that doesn't mean 5mm knee sleeves are all bad! If you’re someone who only lifts weights occasionally, or you lift frequently but keep to the lighter side of weights, then 5mm knee sleeves will be the best option for you.

As you can see, it all depends on your goals and lifting needs and regardless of the choice you end up making, getting a pair of knee sleeves for lifting will be a great addition to your workouts. They’ll allow you to feel more comfortable during your lifting sessions and offer you enough protection around your knees to help you finish those last few reps every time for better gains!


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