Knee sleeves – a must for any gym bag and one of my favorite accessories.
Also, one of my most popular topics and one that I get the most questions about.
I still get a lot of questions regarding the tried and true, Rehband 7051. They’re the OG’s of the game after all. However, as of late, many great alternatives have been coming through to challenge the kind of knee sleeves. They all offer their pro’s and con’s, but for the most part, they fail to do anything extraordinarily better (or worse) than the 7051’s. Last year, I stumbled upon a growing company that made knee sleeves right here in the United States: Workt. I praised their knee sleeves for being a competent and cost effective solution to what was out at the time. Workt today, has grown to be one of the most worn sleeves by top functional fitness competitors. Their 5mm sleeve still seems to be the more popular choice, but since then they’ve released a new 7mm sleeve; probably to contend with the 7051’s and RockTape’s 7mm offering. The new 7mm sleeve carries on the tradition of being a fine alternative to what’s out there.
If you’re familiar with the look of the original 5mm sleeves, the 7mm variants will be a far cry from what you’re used to. Gone are the grey gusset areas on the sides of the sleeve. It seems like Workt opted for a more solid, three piece construction. A welcome sight that offers more of the same look of the 7051. You’re probably wondering why I said welcome; the original 5mm sleeves had issues with the stitching coming off where the grey met the black areas. This was corrected, but the least amount of pieces, probably the better for compression purposes. Height wise they’re about the same as the 7051’s, but taller than the original 5mm sleeves, and much taller than the 7751’s or Exosleeve’s.
Colors for the 7mm sleeves vary from pink to all black; the Chris Spealler versions. Granted the color only applies to the stitching and the piping on the tops and bottoms; all the variants give off a no nonsense look, even pink. The other 7051’s still only come in blue and the RockTape knee caps have cool designs, but I just can’t recommend based off their previous construction woes. The neoprene material takes wear a lot better than the fabric outer of the 7051. Anyone that’s owned the latter knows that after a few washes, the covers start pilling up and look pretty bad. Another thing about that outer is that if you don’t leave your sleeves out to dry, they get stinky real quick. I haven’t had an issue with this on the Workt knee sleeves, though they don’t advertise anti-microbial properties, I wouldn’t doubt that they’re there. Oh, and they’re made in the U.S.A, another big reason to buy them.
As far as sizing the sleeves go, I’ll do my best to try to help you with what I wear comfortably.
- Workt 5mm & 7mm – Medium (My 5mm’s were size small. I could get them on but they were really tight. 7mm’s are medium and are perfect for heavy squats but a little tight to WOD in.)
- Rehband 7051 – Small (A little tight, but perfect for heavy squats.)
- Rehband 7751 – Medium (Comfortable, perfect for WOD’s but not the best for heavy squats.)
- ExoSleeve – Medium (A little tight, but okay to WOD in.)
- RockTape Knee Caps – Small (Tight)
My Workt sleeves in 7mm fit well, if anything, a little bit on the tight side. I’ve WOD’ed in them just fine, but I prefer to WOD in 5mm sleeves just so I retain circulation to my feet. They stay put, great, a bit better than even my 7051’s; despite not being contoured. I know most people aren’t going to buy a bunch of knee sleeves, so just go with whatever you’re buying the sleeves for. 7mm if you need a lot of support and you go heavy often, or 5mm if you’re just looking for a bit of support and you want something you can WOD in more comfortably. Once again, this doesn’t mean you can’t WOD or go heavy in either of the knee sleeves, there’s just two sizes for preferential reasons. Also, don’t get two different thicknesses for your knees, it’s as bad as just wearing a single knee sleeve; you could develop muscular imbalances that way.
The Workt sleeves are a great alternative, but once again they don’t do anything better or worse than the 7051’s. Support and fit wise, they’re both equals with the nod to the Workt sleeves for not bunching up. Price wise, they run for $38 per sleeve (sold individually), which is a buck less than what 7051’s go for. Customer service is second to none with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. I’ve talked to the owner, Jason, on many occasions and the way he stands behind his product is confidence inspiring. For that reason alone, I could justify the purchase of the 7mm Workt sleeves. Add in the fact that they’re made in the U.S.A, they come in different colors, they don’t stink, and you’ve got yourself a winner.