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Deadlift shin guards are excellent tools to help you pull the cleanest deadlifts while protecting your shin skin from bruising, or worse, bleeding.
The best deadlift shin guards are the Bear Grips Padded Shin Guard Sleeves. They’re comfortable, easy to get on and off (despite having to take your shoes off to do so), and don’t slide. They’re more expensive than other products, but they can be used for more than just deadlifts, which justifies the cost.
Read on, if you’re looking for a more in-depth review of the best options on the market and whether deadlift shin guards are worth it!
Are Deadlift Shin Guards Worth It?
Shin guards have been used extensively in powerlifting because they provide a wide variety of benefits. Let’s have a look at them!
They Protect You from Banging Your Shin
One thing you should know is that deadlifts will cause your shins to bruise due to the constant friction between your shins and the bar over the course of multiple sets and reps.
While discussing the ideal powerlifting techniques to keep the balance of the barbell within your center of gravity, I’ve also mentioned that it will help you reduce the impact of barbells on your shins.
However, I also mentioned that bruising shins are not 100% avoidable just by keeping the barbell in contact with your body unless you wear shin guards.
So, if you’re self-conscious about the aesthetics of your physique, you might be discouraged to deadlift just to avoid these bruises altogether, although deadlift is one of the most complete workouts.
A good solution here is to wear shin guards. They’re almost the only way to avoid shin bruising while deadlifting in the most ideal technique.
Help You Cycle Faster Through Reps
Additionally, if you’re a Crossfitter, you might need to cycle through the reps off the floor a bit quicker, so by wearing shin guards you won’t have to worry about banging your shins in the process.
Ideal for Maintaining The Optimal Start Position
As you set up the deadlift, you should bring your hips down to the start position, while at the same time bringing your shins to meet the barbell.
When you pull the barbell off the floor, you want to make sure you don’t break contact between the barbell and your shins.
If you do, there is a greater risk that you can’t keep your back straight while deadlifting because it will place greater loading demand on your low and mid-back.
Therefore, shin guards help you keep the barbell on your body throughout the whole movement without having to worry about scraping your skin.
Help You Make the Most Out of Your Quads off the Floor
As I said, when you bend over to grip the barbell in the start position, you want your shins to touch the bar. In fact, it’s a critical part of a successful deadlift and helps you avoid building up a weakness off the floor.
By doing that, you’ll do two things.
First, you’ll avoid losing your balance toward the front. It will be extremely hard to recover from a loss of balance if you’ve already begun pulling the weight.
Second, keeping the bar on your shin will help you stay in the ideal position to make the most out of your quads off the floor. This is also a massive pro tip to prevent your hips from shooting up while deadlifting.
Helps in Keeping Your Calves Warm During Workouts
Thanks to the design of most deadlift shin guards, most of them will also double as claves warmers.
This will help in improving your movements for better dynamics while performing various movements, such as box jumps, skipping, or cleans/snatches.
Keeping your muscle warm isn’t just good for better mobility, but it’s also ideal for improved blood flow, which helps in reducing muscle fatigue and improving recovery time in the long run.
Great Solution If You Don’t Want to Shave Your Leg Hair
When I’m instructing new athletes on the ideal deadlift techniques, I always mention the importance of keeping the deadlift cue in mind while executing the movements.
One of these cues is, again, keeping your shin in contact with the barbell. The problem is, scraping your shins up and down for years will have its toll on you. Not just by bruising, but also by plucking hairs off your legs while rolling on your shin.
In some cases, this will force you to shave your leg hair to avoid this quick sharp pain that might mess up with your technique.
Using a shin guard will also help you dodge that bullet, so you’ll be able to pull the bar up and down without working about yanking the hairs in the process.
Top 8 Deadlift Shin Guards Available on the Market
The 8 best shin guards are:
- Bear Grips Padded Shin Guard Sleeves – Best Overall
- TheFitGuy Weightlifting Shin Guards – Best with Straps
- RockTape Rock Guards – Runner Up
- Bear Grips Shin Guards Sleeves 2.0 – Most Variety
- Smart Strength Deadlift Shin Guards – Most Lightweight
- Adidas Performance Classic Shin Guard Sleeves – Budget Option
- Unbroken Shop Cross Fitness Shin Guard – Honorable Mention
- Adidas Utility All Sport Socks – Basic Version
1. Bear Grips Padded Shin Guard Sleeves – Best Overall
The Bear Grips padded shin guard sleeves are my pick for the best deadlift shin guards because they’re comfortable, versatile, and stay in place. They’re slightly more expensive than other deadlift shin guards, but the cost is well worth it.
The front is padded with 5mm neoprene to prevent your shins from scraping when doing deadlifts, rope climbs, box jumps, or obstacle course racing. Aside from deadlifts, the only other exercise I’ve tested them with is box jumps. They’re lightweight so you don’t feel like they’re weighing your legs down, and they’re not so compressive or unwieldy that they limit your movement.
I’ve worn these shin guards over leggings and while wearing shorts, and they’re comfortable both ways. You will likely get warm with them on, but that’s just the nature of the neoprene. The backs of the shin guards are unpadded though, which prevents you from getting uncomfortably hot.
I haven’t yet worn these shin guards on a very hot or humid day, but any sweat that I’ve gotten on them has dried quickly. I just make sure to hang them up and let them air out after I’m done with them, and I haven’t noticed any odor buildup.
These shin guards have a stirrup strap that goes underneath your foot. It helps keep them in place and prevents them from sliding while you’re lifting. It’s secure without being too bulky, and it’s hardly noticeable whether you’re deadlifting barefoot or with shoes on.
I also like that they easily slide off and on, although you do have to take your shoes off to put them on or take them off.
In addition, the shin guards have a silicone band along the top to prevent them from falling down. I thought it was going to be uncomfortable on bare skin when I wore the shin guards with shorts, but I didn’t notice it at all.
One drawback of these shin guards is that the barbell can get caught on them as you lower it if you keep it very close to your body. I also noticed that the barbell can get a bit stuck on the front logo. These things haven’t caused any major issues with my deadlift workouts, but they can be distracting and throw you off when you’re lifting.
- Stirrup strap helps keep them in place
- Comfortable material
- Can also be used for shin protection when doing rope climbs, box jumps, or obstacle course racing
- Dries quickly and won’t smell if you let them air dry after your workout
- Barbell can get caught on the tops or stick to the front logo
- Have to take your shoes off to get them on and off (but putting them on and taking them off is otherwise very easy)
TheFitGuy Weightlifting shin guards are a great choice for anyone looking for a highly functioning shin guard.
For starters, they’re made of 5 mm thick neoprene which is dense enough to protect your shin while pulling the bar up and down.
Additionally, they come with adjustable straps that make them fit most athletes' calves ranging from 13 to 18 inches (33 to 46 cm) calves.
The velcro design helps them stay easy to put on and off without taking off your shoe. They can be worn over pants and socks as well, which makes them very practical!
- Adjustable straps
- Can be worn over pants and socks or take off shoes
- Thick neoprene for protection and warming
- You’ll need to make sure they fit you right
A close runner up is the RockTape RockGuards. This product is also made with premium neoprene of 5 mm thickness, which gives you the ultimate shin protection from barbells.
Thanks to the synthetic 4-way stretch, the shin guards conform really well to your calves. This makes it unrivaled when it comes to sizing and comfort.
Besides adequate fritting and a variety of size options, the RockGuards come with a perforated mesh back, which keeps the shin guard breathable and helps it to dry quickly without piling up a lot of sweat.
The only downside to this shin guard and gives TheFitGuy guards an edge is that these will require you to take off shoes when you take them on and off.
- Protective yet breathable and dries quickly
- Fits really well
- Highly comfortable to wear
- You’ll need to take off shoes when you put them on and off
The Bear Grips Shin Guards 2.0 is an upgrade for the older model that used zippers. The problem with zippers is that they were a bit non-practical and flimsy.
This one eliminated the zipper and replaced them with a sleeve style shin guard that you wear directly to protect shins and skin from robes and barbells.
One thing that remained true about the Bear Grips is the variety they had. This one is available in a wide variety of colors, which helps you match your workout outfits and style.
Additionally, they’re available in various size options, so you’ll always find a suitable fit.
- Available in a wide variety of color and size options
- Relatively lightweight
- Ideal for men and women
- Not ideal for wearing over socks
If you’re looking for the most lightweight shin guard without compromising protection and durability, you should steer away from neoprene shin guards because they need to be thick to be functional.
Instead, you’ll need to give a plastic shin guard a try. This Smart Strength Deadlift Shin Guard is one of the lightest shin guards out there that are still fairly durable.
Since it won’t give you the feeling of being ‘weighed down’, they’re great for athletes who perform a wide variety of active workouts, such as box jumps, along with deadlifts.
However, you should keep in mind that plastic shin guards will fray over time if you use them for deadlifts due to constant friction with the bar.
- Lightweight construction
- Great for jumping activities
- Easy to put on and off without taking off your shoes
- Not as long-lasting as neoprene shin guards
If you’re on a strict budget, you might want to go for a relatively cheaper option. However, you should be careful not to pick an item that’s under par.
Adidas Performance Classic Shin Guard packs a surprising level of quality despite being highly affordable when compared to other options on the market.
It’s made of a combination of polyamide and elastane, which gives a similar level of flexibility and elasticity to be worn as a sleeve.
This material provides an excellent level of compression, so they’re ideal if you’re only looking for a sleeve to keep your muscles warm and reduce post-workout fatigue.
However, it’s not the best option when it comes to deadlift technique improvement, because they’re highly susceptible to fraying when they come in contact with barbells in comparison to neoprene.
- An excellent option for buyers on a budget
- Provides compression and warmth to the muscle
- Easy to be worn
- Will fray with time and contact with barbells
This shin guard from the Unbroken Shop is one of the most underrated shin guards on the market.
It gives you an unmatched level of protection thanks to its 7 mm neoprene layer construction.
However, this might be a bit too bulky while deadlifting, as you need to keep the barbell in contact with your body as much as possible.
Surprisingly, the shin guards dry up pretty quickly due to their breathable design to prevent sweat formation.
- High shin protection
- Comfortable and contours to legs
- Breathable design
- A bit too thick
Lastly, if you’re into competitive powerlifting, you’ll notice that most competitive powerlifters wear knee-high socks instead of shin guards to protect their shins.
Socks have the benefit of giving you a decent level of protection while keeping the barbell as close to your body as possible.
In that case, you should opt for basic but competition approved knee-high socks like the Adidas Utility All Sport Socks.
They’re made of polyester, which is machine washable and easy to wear and take off. However, you should keep in mind that these socks won’t completely eliminate shin bruising.
- Affordable alternative to shin guards
- Used by the most professional athletes
- Competition approved
- Some bruising might still occur
What To Look For When Buying Deadlift Shin Guards?
The interesting part about shin guards is that they have a huge room for variety despite their simplicity. Let’s have a quick look at the aspects you should consider while shopping for them.
Shin guards are made of a wide variety of materials. The most popular one is neoprene, which is ideally 5 mm thick.
Other materials used can be polyamide and elastane combinations, which are also compressive and sleeve-like.
Additionally, there is polyester, which is more popular in socks and plastics that are lightweight, so you have to pick the one that suits you the most.
Design and Comfort
One of the issues of sleeves is that they require you to take off your shoes to wear them. However, some new sleeve designs are designed with velcro tapes to be easily worn without forcing you to take the shoes off.
Design is also responsible for comfort, as it dictates the way these sleeves are contoured to fit your leg nicely.
What Material is Best For Deadlift Shin Guards?
While there are various materials used for shin guards, neoprene is the material of choice if you’re using the shin guard for deadlifts.
Neoprene is thick enough to prevent bruising, keeps your muscles warm, and doesn’t fray with time due to contact with barbells.
How Much of the Shin Should the Shin Guard Cover?
Ideally, you’re using the shin guard for the purpose of protecting your shin area as you pull the barbell off the ground.
For that reason, the shin guard should cover at least all the areas of contact between your body and the barbell.
In other words, it should cover the majority shin or even the entire shin area. This includes the area above your ankles and about 2 inches below the knee cap.
Are Socks Okay to Use for Deadlift Shin Guards?
While a shin guard with an ideal thickness keeps the barbell in contact with your body as much as possible, using socks will probably grant you this type of maximal contact.
In fact, socks might even outperform actual shin guards when it comes to enhancing performance, as it alleviates the anterior weight load and shifts the weight to the back, encouraging you to engage more lats and quads in the lift.
However, while socks are okay to use for deadlifts, you should know that they don’t offer enough protection, so there might still be some bruising.
Do You Need Deadlift Shin Guards?
Needing shin guards depends on what you’re looking for while deadlifting. If you’re suffering from bruising and need to keep the bar as close to your body as possible, you absolutely need a shin guard.
However, if you’re naturally resistant to bruising and or you don’t mind very mild bruises, opting for a deadlifting sock, such as Adidas Utility All Sport Socks should be a nice alternative.
How Long Will Shin Guards Last?
This depends mainly on the type and the material of the shin guards you’re using. For instance, neoprene shin guards are highly durable and resist fraying, so they last for many years, especially with proper care.
As for plastic, and polyamide shins, they typically last anywhere from a few months and up to a year depending on the frequency of using them.
Polyester socks come in the last place in terms of durability, as you’d need to replace them every couple of months for maximum performance and protection due to frequent washing.
As you can see, shin guards aren’t just protective tools that are lightweight and generally easy to put on, but they’re also crucial for any powerlifter to master their technique without compromising.
For that reason, choosing the best shin guard is essential to make the most out of your quads and lats while lifting, protect your shins from bruising, and more!
Personally, I recommend Bear Grips Padded Shin Guard Sleeves as the overall best deadlift shin guards on the market.
They do their job perfectly while being extremely easy to put on and take off with velcro tapes. They spare you the hassle of taking your shoes off to slide them up as well.
However, if you prefer wearing socks to get the job done, then you’ll need a knee-high one that most competitive powerlifters usually use in competition.
In that case, consider the Adidas Utility All Sport Socks. It’s also remarkably inexpensive, so it’s a great option for buyers on a budget along with the Adidas Performance Classic Shin Guard Sleeves.