Wrapping knees is almost a “dark art” or “witchcraft” for powerlifting, it is a learned skill that takes years of practice and being around other coaches and athletes that will share with you how they do it and how they learned, but we can give you a head start with this article and video. You don’t know what you don’t know, so the old saying goes, and if you don’t have anyone around to show you how to do this, then you just don’t know. There are some solid videos and articles from EliteFTS and Westside and you can even dig into old videos from Mark Bell and some of the other old school lifters that came up during the golden era of single and multiply lifters from 20 years ago when there were very few raw lifters and almost every lifter was equipped. So let’s get into it! We are going to show you three different methods of wrapping knees and some tips on setting up for a big squat session or a meet.
Method One: Straight Stovepipe
In this method we start below the knee, and do a 60% to 80% overlap and finish above the knee. Simple and straight forward and the most commonly used knee wrap method. This method give a very tight casting effect and is Lindsay’s favorite style.
Method Two: Up & Down Stovepipe
The up and down method is similar to the straight stovepipe, starting at the bottom of the knee and going up above the knee and then coming back down to end right about where we started. In this method, we use less overlap, around 40% to 50%, to cover more of the leg with less revolutions. This method will give us a double layer of wraps. This is Doug’s favorite wrap style for himself.
Method Three: Crossover “X Method
This method starts and looks just like the up and down method, but once we get to the top of the knee we come back down at a 45 degree angle over the knee and then come back up with an opposite angle to up above the knee, finishing with one wrap above the knee to hold the X in place.
Basically you want multiple sets of wraps. When we first started out nobody told us this and it literally never dawned on us that if you had six or seven or eight sets with wraps that you may want that many sets of wraps so you don’t have to re-wrap in between each set. Duh. This is especially important when you go to a meet! You do not want to be running to the wrap roller in between each attempt. If you get to a meet and someone drops out and doesn’t show up and you’re in a small flight, now you’ve just cut two minutes out of your time between attempts, factor in wrapping your lifter’s knees and you may not have time to go re-roll a set of wraps. At minimum you want three sets going into a meet, one set for each attempt, and it’s a good idea to have four because if you drop one while wrapping you want to be able to just grab another one and go. Learn from our mistakes because we have made all of them and been stuck in some rough timeframe situations! And obviously if you’re rolling multiple sets of wraps, don’t count on there being a wrap roller at the meet, bring your own. The roller from Texas Power Systems is great because you can step on it, but it is not fun to carry around and travel with. We got one you can attach to a rack, from liftinglarg.com, it is the proloc roller… https://www.liftinglarge.com/proloc-wrap-roller-system. Titan just released one, the speed demon, but it is not cheap. Either way you want a roller to pre-stretch your wraps.
Pre-stretching wraps is another skill that takes practice. This technique allows you to get every ounce of stretch possible out of your wraps so they are as tight as possible. We usually setup our pre-stretch according to our attempts, so we put more and more stretch into each set of wraps as we get closer to our last attempt, and then when we sit in line for the platform we line up our wraps under our chair. Just be careful as some wraps like the Inzer Grippers have grippy material on the back that makes it hard as hell to get off the wrap roller!
Tie Off or Pull Through?
We have always used a strap for pulling through the tail, it just makes getting wraps off quick and somewhat easy. Lindsay’s coach James just pulls the tail through by hand but I have seen them struggle getting wraps off, but it also allows you a little more wrap so you may be able to get an extra revolution if you pull it right through. Some people keep the starting end out so they can tie it off with the other end, but this method only works with the double overlap stovepipe (up and down) method and the X crossover method, you can’t do this with the straight stovepipe method. And some people use a rope and some people use an old lifting strap which is what we use. Whatever method you use, I will tell you that in general for most lifters you do not want the area you pull through to be directly over the middle and bottom of the knee cap as it usually puts extra pressure pushing the knee cap upwards, we try to make our pull through right over the top of the knee cap or on the side of the knee. Some lifters can experience discomfort if your tie off or pull through point if on the side of the knee over the MCL or LCL area. These are all issues you will encounter wrapping knees and each lifter is different and you will need to find what works on you or your lifter.