The Best Elbow Sleeves for Weightlifting & Bodybuilding

If you’ve ever watched professional or even amateur weightlifters doing heavy squats then you’ve probably noticed that many sport knee sleeves. While there’s no denying the benefits of knee sleeves when squatting heavy there’s another type of sleeve that’s just as important and beneficial, yet they aren’t nearly as common. We’re talking about elbow sleeves, of course. 

Whether you’re a regular weightlifter or powerlifter and you’ve been at it for a while or you’re just getting started and you plan on making heavy bench pressing part of your routine, keep on reading to find out why you should definitely invest in and use a set of elbow sleeves.  

compression sleeve benefits

What are Elbow Sleeves & Benefits of Compression Sleeves

First, you might be wondering what the heck elbow sleeves are. As the name suggests, they are sleeves that are worn on the elbows, but what’s their purpose? Well, they are meant to keep your elbows warm while you’re lifting weights, and which can help you avoid developing injuries. They can also help to relieve any aches and pains that you might experience. 

Most elbow sleeves are so tight they provide assistance at the top range of motion in locking out. Like kneed sleeves they can help people with elbow injuries feel more secure when lifting heavy weight as well.

How do elbow sleeves work? They apply pressure to the knees and compress them, which helps to boost oxygenation in the tissues of the muscles. This increased oxygenation will help to improve your performance when you’re doing quick sets of lifts.

Compression elbow sleeves also keep your joints warm, which helps the connective tissues warm up more effectively. While this is important for lifters of all ages, it’s particularly important for older lifters or for lifters with nagging elbow injuries. 

Elbow sleeves were first utilized as a way to ease issues that were connected to disorders of the blood vessels. In fact, they’ve been used for decades! These sleeves also help to lower levels of blood lactate, as well as pooling of the blood, which helps to reduce pain and swelling. 

With the exception of bench presses, elbow sleeves are legal to use during weightlifting competitions. 

elbow sleeves for bench pressing

How Elbow Sleeves Differ from Compression Cuffs and Elbow Wraps

Because they compress the muscles in the elbows, you might be thinking that they’re just like compression cuffs. While they’re similar, as both support the muscles, can help to prevent injuries, can relieve aches and pains, and can help to speed up the rate of recovery from muscle injuries, there are some differences between the elbow cuffs and compression cuffs. 

The most notable difference between the two is that elbow cuffs are a lot smaller than compression sleeves. As such, compression cuffs are mostly used to provide localized compression to provide pain relief. Because they’re smaller, you might be a bit more mobile when you’re wearing elbow cuffs; however, you won’t have as much support when you’re engaging in strenuous exercises. Furthermore, your elbow joints won’t retain as much warmth. 

In regard to elbow wraps, they aren’t as easy to wear as elbow sleeves, and they’re more intrusive. With that said, if you don’t have elbow sleeves or compression cuffs available and you’re recovering from an injury, elbow wraps would be better than lifting with nothing at all. 

Should You Use Elbow Sleeves? 

In a word, yes, you should use elbow sleeves. Why? Well, simply put, because any kind of safety gear is better than nothing at all. Elbow sleeves provide much-needed support, which can help to prevent unneeded stretching of the muscles, which is super important when you’re engaging in strenuous exercises. 

In addition to the support that they provide, elbow sleeves will help you learn and enhance proper lifting techniques. This is really important, as it helps to improve your gains, and will help to prevent strain and injuries. 

While we recommend wearing elbow sleeves whenever you’re lifting (except for when you’re engaging in competitions where they aren’t permitted), it’s particularly important to wear them if you are recovering from an injury. They provide much-needed support, which will help to prevent further damage, provides pain relief, and can help to speed up the rate of recovery

The following are the benefits of using elbow wraps while weightlifting: 

  • They can help you lift more weight. 
  • They ease existing pain
  • They prevent pain 
  • They improve your gains
  • They’re easy to use
  • They look pretty cool!

The 3 Best Elbow Wraps for Weightlifting & Bodybuilding

Okay, so now that you know what elbow wraps are, the benefits they provide, and why you should wear them, let’s take a look at some of the best options. There are lots and lots of elbow sleeves on the market, but after extensive research and careful consideration, our editorial team has determined that the following are the best elbow wraps for weightlifting currently on the market. 

Gymreapers Elbow Sleeves with Wrist Wraps

Elbow Sleeves (1 Pair) W/Wrist Wraps - Elbow Brace For Support & Compression for Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Bench & Tendonitis - 5mm Neoprene - For Men & Women
  • NEXT LEVEL PERFORMANCE - Elbow sleeves that improve performance and take your workouts and to the next level - by Premium Fitness Equipment Brand Gymreapers

These thick padded elbow compression sleeves are for serious athletes. They were designed and tested to ensure that they deliver exceptional compression and support, yet won’t limit mobility and functionality. The addition of the wrist wraps is an added bonus, as you’ll have support for both your elbows and your wrists. These elbow wraps provide the optimal level of compression and support so you can take your performance to the next level. Backed by a 60 day warranty and outstanding customer reviews, available in three color options, and five sizes – small to XX large – Gymreapers elbow sleeves really are outstanding. 

Iron Bull Strength Elbow Sleeves 5 MM

Elbow Sleeves 5mm (1 Pair) - High Performance Elbow Sleeve Support for Weightlifting, Weight Training & Powerlifting - Best Compression Straps - for Men and Women (X-Small, Black/Black)
  • ✅ PREMIUM 5MM ELBOW SLEEVES (1 Pair): Featuring 5mm Neoprene Flex-Material designed for maximum support, compression and stability for weight lifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, bodybuilding and more!

Made of 5 mm neoprene flex material, these Iron Bull elbow sleeves deliver maximum support, compression, and stability so that you will be able to take your bodybuilding to the next level. The 3-D design offers a contoured fit for ideal joint compression and warmth, while allowing for ideal breathability and comfort. Made for both men and women, available in 8 colors, and 7 sizes, from X-small to 3X-large, the Iron Bull Elbow Sleeves are fantastic. 

Nordic Elbow Compression Sleeves

Nordic Lifting Elbow Compression Sleeves (1 Pair) - Support for Tendonitis Prevention & Recovery (Small)
  • ELBOW COMPRESSION - Sleeves help support & brace the elbow joints for recovery and injury prevention

Made by Nordic, one of the most trusted names in the exercise equipment world, these elbow sleeves are designed to provide the ideal level of compression, support, and warmth. They prevent injury, help to speed up injury recovery, and keep aches and pains at bay, all while allowing you to maximize your gains.

The versatile design is ideal for both men and women, and the material is super comfortable and breathable, so your mobility won’t be restricted and you won’t feel weighed down. Available in sizes small to 2XL, and very affordably priced, these elbow sleeves are a great choice for a backup set of sleeves, for those who are trying sleeves for the first time, or for experienced sleeve users and weightlifters. 

Skinny Yoked Summary

Do you NEED elbow sleeves? Well that depends, how serious are you about your lifting, how along are you in your fitness journey, how heavy are you lifting, and do you have any injury history? These are all questions that come into play when deciding on whether sleeves are right for you.

At the end of the day, if you’re going heavy having your own sleeves to keep in your gym bag isn’t a bad idea, just like it isn’t a bad idea to have dedicated lifting shoes, wrist straps, massage gun, barbell collars, lifting chalk, or ammonia poppers. None of it is “necessary” per-say to make progress but they each make the process a little more bearable and that’s a win in our book.

Last update on 2024-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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