Comparing Deadlift Shin Guards
Most powerlifters will end up with scrapes, bumps, or bruises at some point as a result of deadlifting. Many of us have already done damage to our shins, and the war scars certainly won’t lessen as the plates on the bar continue to stack up. Thankfully we have an ally in the leg-saving space in the form of deadlift shin guards.
The search for a functional pair of deadlift shin guards was imperative for me personally, as I bruise easily and even when wearing pants or thick socks would end up with tender shins after any day pulling heavy.
I started by making a couple of purchases to get my hands on different shin guard variations in person, then tested them out. After wearing deadlift shin guards when training for the last two months I can officially say the decision to get them has turned out to be one of my best powerlifting investments.
Now lets get to the options.
A Closer Look At Deadlift Shin Guards
After poking around the web to see what options were available, I found that there were two primary types of shin guards to consider.
The first type is a neoprene sleeve that covers the entire calf, while the second is more like a soccer shin guard that gets secured by two velcro straps. I decided to buy one of each type, choosing the highest-rated options off Amazon for each one–the Bear Grips Shin Guard and the Shinnovate Shin Guard.
While I ended up only keeping one pair, both were functional and good quality. The choice of which works best for you will come down to personal preference.
Bear Grips Deadlifting Shin Guard
The Bear Grips Deadlifting Shin Guards are neoprene sleeves that cover the entire calf. These sleeves are multi-purpose and marketed for crossfit, and include a foot loop to help keep them in place for various activities.
The sleeves are 5 mm on top of the shin, which I’ve found effectively protects my shins. The calf side of the sleeves are made of a thinner material.
These were the deadlift shin guards that I ended up keeping. I like that they cover my entire shin, from the ankle all the way up to just below the knee cap. They also stay put due to the foot loop and a tight (but comfortable) elastic band at the top of the sleeve. I was also surprised by how much I like the feeling of compression around the shin and calf as a byproduct.
There are a couple downsides to this option. One is that you have to take off your shoes to put them on, which is a bit of a tradeoff. Also, because these are made of neoprene, they can get hot quickly. Lastly, though it’s unrelated to the function of the guards, I don’t like how in-your-face the branding is.
- Protect shins effectively
- Made of 5mm thick neoprene
- Stay in place, cover the entire shin
- Comfortable to wear
- Have to remove shoes to put on
- Neoprene can make legs hot quickly
- Branding is in-your-face
Shinnovate Shin Guards
The Shinnovate Shin Guards are a close cousin of the soccer shin guard. In this design the shin is protected by a 3mm thick piece of flexible polyethylene under a fabric outer shell. These shin guards are attached to the leg using two velcro straps.
There are a few advantages these guards have over the sleeve variety. Most obviously, you don’t have to remove your shoes to put these on. They are also a couple millimeters thinner, which some lifters prefer. Some lifters also find the plastic shin insert preferable to neoprene.
There were several features I personally didn’t find ideal, though. I did not like that the shin guard only partially covered my shins; I found that if I adjusted them to where they felt most comfortable to me they sat too high above my ankles. I also found the velcro straps to be a bit uncomfortable on my legs. The velcro straps were also far too long for someone my size and would have to be cut down.
- Shin protected by 3mm plastic
- Can put on without removing shoes
- Thinner profile compared to sleeves
- Less hot than neoprene
- Don’t cover as much of the shin as sleeve
- Velcro isn’t as comfortable on the legs