Like many things in life, weightlifting is very simple to learn, but takes years to master. Dedicated lifters are always looking for ways to improve and give themselves a boost. It could be a tweak to their routine or a piece of equipment.
Today we’re looking at the latter option, a training aid called an elbow sleeve, and helping you decide which to choose.
What is an Elbow Sleeve?
An elbow sleeve is a piece of equipment usually made from an elasticated material, such as silicone or Lycra, designed to create pressure around the elbow joint.
People use sleeves while recovering from injuries as compression increases blood flow to the area, which is essential for repairing the damaged fibers. They also stabilize the joint, speeding up recovery by allowing the muscles to relax, which is the perfect situation for repair to occur.
These qualities are especially useful when applied to weightlifting. Stabilization of the joint means it’s supported throughout the lift, dramatically decreasing the risk of injury. Meanwhile, greater blood flow allows muscles to recover faster, leading to reduced rest times which increase muscle gain.
Can too much choice be a bad thing?
As with all successful inventions, once something becomes popular demand increases, and the market is flooded with competing products.
Without knowing the ins and outs of each it can be daunting deciding who to give your hard earned money. However, fear not, as today we’re going to help you decide.
We looked at the 10 best elbow sleeves for lifting and broke down the pros and cons. Each is evaluated on the same criteria:
All of this was taken into consideration when determining which to crown the best elbow sleeve for weightlifting.
Adidas Performance Climacool Elbow Support
First up we have a well known brand, Adidas. Name recognition combined with reasonable price and appearance get you off to a flying start. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end.
There are two main complaints with this product. Firstly, it’s overly tight. This not only makes it uncomfortable, but also means certain exercises are difficult to perform as you have limited range of motion.
Secondly, is it’s durability. How quickly it loses elasticity comes up time and again. When under the stress of a weightlifting routine it’s simply not up to task, becoming loose before long.
All in all, a good option if you’re looking for help with injuries while playing sports but far from ideal when looking for an elbow sleeve for lifting.back to menu ↑
Nordic Lifting Elbow Sleeves
A product designed specifically for weightlifting and, as such, scores highly in both functionality and comfort. It’s sleek appearance further adds to its appeal.
Unfortunately there are two big sticking points.
Firstly, at $39.95 it’s the second most expensive sleeve we looked at. This could be overlooked if it was such high quality it still provided value but that idea is negated by the second issue.
The number one complaint with this item is durability. Numerous users reported the stitching coming apart and the seams fraying, some within a few uses. That’s a bad sign for any product but particularly for one designed for strenuous activity.
While very good at what it’s designed for, be prepared to spend big and often if you chose this one.back to menu ↑
SB Sox Compression Elbow Brace
Lets get the elephant in the room out of the way. At $8.95 this sleeve was the cheapest option we looked at. Unfortunately, that’s its only real highlight.
The saying “a jack of all trades, a master of none” perfectly describes this sleeve.
All of the complaints are smaller irritations as opposed to glaring flaws. It doesn’t bend quite like you’d want. It’s good for exercise but not lifting heavy. It loses compression over time. It has a tendency to slip down.
If you’re unsure about elbow sleeves for lifting and wanting to try one out this is a cheap, viable option. If you’ve already decided and want a quality product you should look elsewhere.back to menu ↑
Copper Compression Recovery Elbow SleeveB07L7LCZH1
One of the top selling sleeves on the market, it’s easy to see why. With its stylish appearance and low price tag it stands out in the crowd for first time buyers. A cool, comfortable product, combined with being so thin, means it can be worn anywhere.
It doesn’t rank higher on this list as while it’s exceptionally good at what it’s designed for, this list is about the best sleeves for lifting and that’s clearly not its purpose.
There’s nowhere near enough compression to aid with lifting and being so thin makes it prone to tearing when under too much stress.
One of the best options if you’re looking to rehab but a waste of money if your goal is improving your workouts.back to menu ↑
Mava Sports Bamboo Elbow Compression Sleeves
The second cheapest sleeve we looked at, this economical option is also lauded for its durability. Unfortunately, the thickness it derives its strength from also makes it hot and uncomfortable if used for long periods, as well as looking quite clunky and unattractive.
Its compression makes it useful for weightlifting but it has its limitations and begins losing effectiveness at higher weights.
About even in pros and cons, 6th spot is perfect for this middle of the pack lifting sleeve.back to menu ↑
Nike Pro Adult Dri-FIT 3.0 Arm Sleeves
Landing in fifth spot is fitting for a product that scored middling marks on all but one category. With average price and appearance they’ll draw interest without blowing you away.
They have a decent amount of compression and hold up well under moderate pressure but both aspects start to struggle as the weight increases.
The area they truly shine in is comfort. A smooth, cool material and ample mobility, they’re routinely rated as one of the most comfortable elbow sleeves available and rightly so.
These represent a good purchase for most people looking for elbow sleeves for weightlifting but will start to struggle for those in the more elite level of lifters.back to menu ↑
Venom Strapped Elbow Brace Compression Sleeve
This sleeve is slightly different to the rest of the list as there is a strap to provide extra pressure if required.
While not specifically for weightlifting it’s certainly suitable as the strap makes sure there’s ample pressure as well as prevents it from slipping.
It’s a comfortable and good looking item which combined with its modest price tag makes it a good purchase.
The only knock is it’s durability, particularly on the strapping. It has a tendency to fray and lose grip on the Velcro.
Other than that it’s one of the best elbow sleeves for weightlifting we’ve seen.back to menu ↑
Kunto Fitness Elbow Brace Compression Support Sleeve
One of the cooler looking elbow sleeves we looked at, it will immediately catch your eye along with its very affordable price tag.
A durable item, its made of thick, strong material designed to hold up with the rigours of an active lifestyle.
This thickness also provides one of the two main knocks on the product unfortunately, as it makes it quite hot and uncomfortable.
The other issue is limited compression. While it’s certainly got enough to help with rehab and even prevent injuries it’s unlikely to provide enough pressure for anyone using it to improve their lifts.
A quality item, it may not have as much compression as a few other sleeves lower down the list but its strength and style just edge it ahead.back to menu ↑
POWERLIX Elbow Brace Compression Support
Made from a strong and durable material, this sleeve holds up well to the rigours of weightlifting.
Reasonably priced for the quality of the product and stylish looking so it can be worn with confidence.
While not providing as much compression as some of the specialist weightlifting sleeves it has enough to aid your rehab and help you through workouts.
It’s unfortunate the only knock on it is a big one. Made from an itchy material and not being shaped as well as it could be can cause pinching in the crease of the elbow and a less than snug fit on the back. As such it receives many complaints about comfort.
Despite it’s shortcomings, unless you are planning to wear the product for long periods, it is one of the best elbow sleeves for lifting available.back to menu ↑
Gymreapers Elbow Sleeves (W/Wrist Wraps)
Of all the sleeves we looked at this one came up tops and it wasn’t even close.
Designed for weightlifting it provides plenty of compression to both assist your workouts and aid recovery.
Incredibly strong and durable these are built to last whatever you put them through.
Made from a cool, smooth materially and ergonomically designed to make them comfortable to wear, even for extended periods.
Available in multiple colors with a cool design, they almost double as a gym fashion accessory.
The only thing that could raise an eyebrow is the price tag but considering the quality, plus the fact they come with wrist wraps and a 1 year warranty, it is more than justified.
A fantastic product that I would highly recommend on all fronts.
To Wrap Up
So there you have it, our 10 best elbow sleeves for lifting. An important, yet often overlooked, product that provides multiple benefits for lifters at any point in their journey. This list should help you decide which one is right for you, whatever your budget, experience or injury history.
That folks, is a wrap.
For more information on properly wearing arm sleeves and elbow wraps for lifting check out this great video by Larry Wheels on YouTube:
And finally a sorted list of all the elbow sleeves by price and availability: