Tommy Kono Weightlifting Knee Band Review

We explore everything you need to know to be confident in your purchase
Tommy Kono Knee Sleeves
  • Value for money
  • Comfort
  • Warmth
  • Compression
  • Durability
  • Flexibility


These sleeves are without a doubt best for lifting and squats since this is what they were originally made for. However, they are surprisingly well balanced and can be used for running and sprinting as well.

They have a low price point at under $40 of two sleeves making them a great first choice. They have everything you would expect for a pair of sleeves in terms of warmth, Flexibility and comfort, but there are a few negatives that need pointing out.

First is that they are a pain to get on and off. This is because they have a rubbery inside which has a dislike of leg hair! As a result of rubber like inside, they tend to break easily, ripping apart at the seams reducing the lifespan and durability.

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Read My Full Review of these Sleeves Below

In this review, I am going to go through all of the pros and cons to the Tommy Kono Knee Sleeves (aka knee bands). I have reviewed the hell out of them and have a lot of useful information to share with you about them. It is my hope that this review will help you to make your decision to pick a knee sleeve all the more easier. Let’s get into it!

Material and Thickness

Neoprene loyalists will love the 6.35mm knee sleeve, which just falls short of the maximum 7mm limit for competition lifting. The thickness will keep your knees warm and lubricated enough during workouts. We will discuss the compression effects of Tommy Kono (T.K.) bands later on. Let’s focus on the material itself first.

Neoprene absorbs odor quite rapidly. This is one of the many complaints of neoprene users who badly need its compression abilities but cannot stand the icky feeling of wearing neoprene sleeves drenched in sweat. Luckily, the T.K. sleeves are washable. You can wash the sleeves with tepid/warm water everyday, but soap it lightly only once a month. That way, you don’t have to deal with funky odor inside your gym bag.

Read Also: How to wash your knee sleeves, the RIGHT way

The inside is coated with a sticky rubber which makes getting this sleeve on and off quite tricky (see video below about how to get around this issue). Because of this if you have hairy legs, you can expect to lose a few using these.

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Tommy Kono Sleeves have a Different Sizing Method

Compared to its other competitors, their sizing is limited. There are only three sizes for TK Knee Bands – Small, Medium, and Large. This is not many in comparison to a lot of other sleeves out there on the market. For example, Titan Sleeves have 11 sizes! Their general guidelines are as follows:

  • Small – if you weight under 130 lbs.
  • Medium – if you weigh between 130 lbs. and 250 lbs.
  • Large – if you weigh over 250 lbs.

There have been many users get the wrong size based on their guidelines, so be careful if you decide to buy online. My best advise would be to follow my guide for measuring your knees for sleeves before you buy online. Bare in mind, Amazon will happily refund and send another pair for you if needed. The other option is to go into the shop, but good luck trying to find a retailer that sells them!

Also Read: Comprehensive Rehband 7051 Knee Review – Are these the best sleeves on the market?

Some users have also encountered a bit of difficulty putting them on, compared to other sleeves. You can slide it up to your mid-calf area upside down, and then pull the bottom part up to the knees to bring out the right side. Adjust accordingly.

So many get this wrong, I thought it would help if I attach a video of how to do this correctly.

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Compression and Support

Now, let’s talk about the compression and support. The T.K. bands will squeeze every drop of sweat from your leg area. This means it does a wonderful job in lubricating your joints leading to a smoother lift. It’s certainly a good companion during days when warmups are difficult because of the cold. It also provides the ideal warmth needed when recovering from an injury.

Also Read: Benefits and Disadvantages to wearing knee sleeves

At 6.35mm, the compression deserves two thumbs up. Because of this, they really are a great all rounder. You can do everything from running and sprints to squats and clean-and-jerks with no problem at all. Having said that, they are definitely more built for lifting and squats over running.

A Little Piece of History About Who Tommy Kono Is

Tommy Kono back in 1955

Tommy Kono after he won the world title in the light heavyweight class in 1955 in Germany

I know this has little to do with the review of the sleeve itself, but I thought it is worth mentioning how these sleeves came into being and how they grew in popularity.

Tommy Kono was one of America’s most prolific weightlifters before he got around to creating his own line of knee bands. He emerged victorious in the 1952 Olympics, his first time to participate in the Games, and did not stop racking the Olympic gold until 1960.

1960 was the first year he didn’t take home a gold, but he still brought home a silver medal. Kono’s list of achievements is long. He has 26 world records behind him in 4 different weight classes. He was also inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the International Weightlifting Hall of Fame.

Kono started making his own knee support in 1964 to aid his weakening knees in the 1960 during the Olympic Games in Rome. His DIY knee bands worked so well for him that he gave it to some of his friends to use, who also found the bands effective.

More than 50 years later, the Tommy Kono Knee Bands, or T.K. Bands, still sell like hotcakes. Apart from the fact that T.K. Bands are made by a well-decorated veteran weightlifter, these sleeves are also approved by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). You got an instant winner right here.

User Reviews and Some Videos

Looking at amazon, these products have received varied reviews. Most of which are good, but with more than a few negative ones. As an average (at the time of writing this review November 2015) they get an average of 3.7 out of 5, which is less than what I scored them in this instance.

Amazon Reviews Screenshot

This first video is super helpful as it shows all aspects of the sleeves. The best part is that he also discusses the comparison between using these sleeves and using knee wraps.

This next video is more of a comparison between these Tommy Kono bands and the SBD knee sleeves. The first half give you a good little insight on what you can expect from them, including the annoying rubber on the inside pulling your leg hairs!

The Verdict

Is Tommy Kono worth the purchase at $39.99 per pair (yes, that is for 2 of them, $20 each)? That’s already half the price of other brands, like Rehband for example. A lot of brands out there will charge you the same price for only one sleeve.

T.K. sleeves provide unquestionable support to the knees during workouts. You could wear it outside the box, but maybe its thickness can make your knees sweat too much and uncomfortably. However, the excessive sweating is good for lubricating joints inside the box. So in this department, Tommy Kono excels.

However, questions have been raised on the durability of the T.K. bands. They are prone to wear and tear less than a year after purchase. Obviously experiences vary among different users, but it’s not uncommon to hear reports of stitches coming loose after 6 months of regular use. Putting them on properly, as mentioned above, will hopefully lengthen the life of your T.K. bands.

So there you have it. Tommy Kono knee bands deliver in terms of compression, warmth and support. They fulfil the very core function of knee sleeves. However, durability has posed a problem to some users.

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Matt Rollans

Matt Rollans

Matt has been doing Crossfit since 2015and is the founder of He has competed in multiple competitions throughout his community. He has made it his mission to provide the best, high quality and honest reviews of crossfit products out there on the market.
Matts PRs can be found on the about page
Matt Rollans