A few years ago at a powerlifting competition, I was wrapping my knees for a squat attempt and another athlete turned to me and said the way I was doing it was completely wrong. This is the last thing you want to hear when you’re just about to attempt a heavy squat. So I did some research to avoid any future mistakes.
What is the best knee wrapping technique for powerlifting? Start with the wraps about 2-3 inches below your kneecap. Keep your leg straight with your quad flexed. Pull the knee wrap up your leg. Every time you pull, make sure to get all of the tension out of the wrap so that it’s as stiff as possible. Once you get to 2-3 inches above your knee, you’ll want to pull the wrap down over your kneecap again, but this time in an ‘X’ or ‘cross’ pattern. To finish wrapping, you’ll securely tuck the end of the wrap underneath the last wrap you completed.
Take a look at the 9 steps below to master the proper wrapping technique. If you get it right, the knee wraps will provide support to extend the knee stronger. Ultimately, this means you’ll be able to lift more weight than you would without them.
In a hurry and want to know my favorite knee wraps for squatting? Click HERE to check out the 2m Titan Signature Gold Knee Wraps on Amazon.
9 Steps to Wrapping Your Knees Effectively for Powerlifting
One of the best wrapping techniques explained to me was by Adam Ramzy, one of Canada’s most decorated equipped powerlifters.
His process for wrapping knees is as follows:
- Find the ‘big bony bump’ at the bottom of the kneecap. This is called the tibial tuberosity.
- Start with the end of the wrap just covering this bone.
- Flex your quad, keep your knee straight, and pull your toes up. This will make sure your leg is straight and your calf is tight.
- Keep pulling and stretching the wrap as hard as possible. You want to take all of the tension out of the wrap as it goes around your leg.
- Wrap 3-5 times up the knee (depending on how tight you want the wrap).
- The top wrap should start to cover the outside of the quad (vastus lateralis). Any higher up the quad and the wrap will be ineffective.
- Perform an ‘X’ or ‘cross’ pattern over the knee. When compared with other styles of knee wrapping, this ‘X’ pattern has shown to produce the highest peak torque (i.e. you lift more weight like this)(1).
- The last wrap should be at the top of the knee again.
- Tuck the end of the wrap underneath to lock the wrap in place.
Read my complete guide on the Best Knee Sleeves For Squats. I reviewed 8 of the top knee sleeves on the market.
How Do Knee Wraps Help Squat?
Knee wraps store elastic energy, which propels the lifter out of the bottom of the squat stronger than they would without. As a result, knee wraps allow you to lift more weight. So if you are primarily concerned with lifting more weight in the squat, then knee wraps will be a solid tool in accomplishing that. To get the most benefit from the knee wraps, you’ll want to work on getting them as tight as possible.
How Tight Should Your Knee Wraps Be?
How tight your knee wraps should be is going to depend on your experience level.
The first time you wear knee wraps it’s going to feel fairly unnatural. It might even hurt slightly because you’re not used to the extra compression. During this learning curve, you should have a looser wrap. You can achieve this by not pulling as much slack out of them as you wrap up your kneecap. Even with a ‘loose wrap’ you’ll still find yourself lifting more weight than you would without wearing them.
I would recommend squatting with loose knee wraps for about 8 workouts before considering going tighter. As you become more comfortable with the extra compression around your knees, you can experiment with pulling more slack out of the wrap. Keep in mind, the tighter the knee wrap, the more weight you’ll be lifting.
With a loose wrap, it might take you 2-3 rotations from the bottom of the kneecap to the top. With a tight wrap, you’ll have more material going over your knee, so the number of rotation might increase to 4-5. The more rotations you’re getting over the knees, the more elastic energy is stored in the wrap, and the more weight you’ll be able to potentially lift.
Related Article: Knee Wraps vs Knee Sleeves
Risks of Knee Wrapping
There are two main risks that I’ve found squatting with knee wraps:
- Your kneecap shifts as your wrapping your knee
Remember that I said you need to keep your quad flexed and your knee straight? This is to make sure that your kneecap stays in place as you wrap your knee. If you flex your quad right now, and try to move your knee cap laterally (side to side), you’ll have a hard time doing so. If the kneecap shifts laterally as you wrap over your knee, you’ll feel a lot of pain as you begin to squat down. This is because your kneecap is not in its natural position. If you do feel pain in your knees, it might be because you relaxed your quad while wrapping and you didn’t keep your knee straight. If this happens, take off the wrap and try again with the proper technique.
- You haven’t taken the time to get used to lifting heavier weights
One of the fun parts about putting on knee wraps is that you’ll be able to lift more weight. However, a lot of people rush too quickly in putting more weight on the bar, without getting used to the extra compression from the knee wraps or properly mastering squatting technique generally. If you have specific technical deficiencies with your squat without wraps, they only become more evident as the weight becomes heavier. The risk becomes that you start to fail reps, and you put yourself at a high risk of injury. My advice is to keep the bar weight lighter for the first 8 squat workouts with your wraps. Build up the intensity when you feel more comfortable in the wraps, and never lift maximal loads with less than optimal technique.
What Are The Best Knee Wraps To Use?
Titan Signature Gold Knee Wraps
These are great starter knee wraps. They aren’t ‘too stiff’, so they’ll fit comfortably over the knee.
They’ll give you an adequate amount of support, which will allow you to lift more weight than normal. They are also approved for powerlifting, so you can wear them in equipped powerlifting competitions.
Click HERE to check the price on Amazon.
If you master the proper knee wrapping technique, you’ll be able to safely lift more weight than you normally would. Just like me, it might take you some practice to get used to the extra compression, but after about 8 workouts you should be finding success.
If you’re interested in learning more about knee sleeves (rather than knee wraps), check out our full review on the Best Knee Sleeves for Powerlifting.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use knee wraps in raw powerlifting?
No, you can’t wear knee wraps in raw powerlifting. In most powerlifting federations, you can wear knee sleeves, but not knee wraps. If you choose to wear knee wraps, you’ll be competing in the equipped division, regardless if you wear a squat suit or not.