Knee sleeves are a common piece of equipment for most power, strength, and functional fitness athletes. They provide the knee with additional support during loaded movements, general warmth around the knee and joint capsule, and offer athletes the benefits of compression for enhanced blood flow and recovery from training.
[Check out our best knee sleeves round-up for our top knee sleeve picks]
ExoSleeve has emerged on the supportive gear scene offering neoprene knee sleeves (of varying thicknesses and designs), wraps (knees and wrists), weightlifting belts, and tape; all of which are intended for use by weightlifting, strength, and functional fitness athletes. I was excited to give their knee sleeves — arguably their signature product — a try.
In this article, we are reviewing the ExoSleeve 7mm Knee Sleeves.
The ExoSleeve 7mm knee sleeves is a standard 7mm sleeve thickness for most power, strength, and fitness sports. The 7mm sleeve is supposed to provide support for daily use during squats, snatches, heavy cleans, with the flexibility needed for light-load high intensity WODs.
The ExoSleeve 7mm knee sleeves offered a good range of support for most lifters, however when compared with other stiffer 7mm on the market, to me they did not feel as rigid and as supportive. While this may not be a large issue for most athletes, some athletes may need and/or want more rigidity and stiffness in the sleeve due to injury prone knees and/or during heavy squat and clean training.
Personally, I found these sleeves to provide me with a good amount of support during regular snatch training, front squats at and above 80% for reps, and even heavy (80-90% of 1rm for doubles) clean & jerks. But again, not quite as supportive and firm as some other 7mm sleeves I’ve tried.
[Buy ExoSleeve’s 7mm Knee Sleeve for the best price on Rogue Fitness (note: 5mm model may be only available on their site.]
Comfort and Fit
The sleeves come in a wide array of designs, colors, and patterns, and are constructed of a 7mm compressible neoprene material.
The ExoSleeve 7mm knee sleeves sizing is comparable to other leading 7mm knee sleeves I’ve tried. (Check out my video above to see how they fit on me.) Additionally, the sleeves have a tapered cut and fit, with a flexible seam to allow for fuller range of motion movements (squats, cleans, jerks, snatches) without added rigidity often seen in stiffer, more tube-like sleeves. These sleeves are also fairly easy to take on and off, which is generally more difficult with firmer knee sleeves.
Personally, I found these sleeves to be flexible and comfortable during both high-intensity WODS (burpees, box jumps, cleans), as well as more formal Olympic weightlifting and squat training (snatches, pause cleans, and hypertrophy back squats). The tapered and compressed fit of the sleeves allows for smooth flexion of the knee while minimizing sliding of the knee sleeve up or down the leg, often an issue with other 7mm knee sleeves.
The ExoSleeve knee sleeves have held up well to my training sessions. The material was constructed to resist odors and bacteria caused by sweat and hard training sessions, and so far I’ve found that to largely be the case.
Personally, having sleeves that are comfortable, washable, and odor resistant are key factors for me. While knee sleeves will always have a particular smell the more they ripen, these sleeves have held up to some sweaty and brutal training sessions. I do recommend throwing them (all knee sleeves, not just these in specific) into the wash every other week or so (or at least run them through the water/shower and leave to dry) on a regular basis to minimize the odor over the long-term.
From my experiences with the sleeves, they have withstood heavy squat sessions, sweaty metabolic circuits, and two-a-days. The compression properties of the sleeves are constant throughout stationary movements (squats, deadlifts, etc) as well as more dynamic and explosive activities (weightlifting, WODs, biking). There are no visible signs of breakdown of the sleeves, especially since there are no seams, making it a very durable piece of equipment.
ExoSleeve sells the sleeves in a pair, which is nearly the same price as one might pay for a single sleeve from some of their competitors, making this a solid option for athletes looking for support, compression, and comfort at a reasonable price. Both 3mm and 5mm sleeve options are available, at a lower price point.
While this model of ExoSleeve knee sleeves are 7mm in thickness, I did feel a little less support compared to other 7mm knee sleeves, so if you are looking for a very rigid and stiff supportive sleeve, this may not be the best option. Powerlifters, weightlifters, or more injury-prone athletes may want a more rigid 7mm sleeve for training, as these did feel slightly less rigid in exchange for fuller movement and comfort. That said, if you are looking for everyday support during varied training in an evolving environment, this may be a good option.
Most of my training is formal weightlifting, often having me snatch 110-120kgs, performing heavy doubles and triple clean and jerks with 125kg+, and regularly then jumping into metabolic conditioning workouts with sleds, lighter movements, and bodyweight exercises.
I personally found these knee sleeves to provide me with a good amount of support and flexibility to match the needs of my formal weightlifting training and competition prep, while still allowing for more varied and movement based WODs.