Glad you asked. This one is a fan favorite. It’s the act of bending a steel bar (usually less than 8″ long) into a V-shape with your bare hands. No bracing against your thigh. No pliers. No cheating, mister. The bars all vary in diameter, shape, and length. These factors determine how difficult the bend will be. For instance, a bar with a very thin diameter and relatively long length will be easier to bend then one with a thicker diameter and shorter length. That’s just a broad example. Always exceptions to that rule…as you may find out later on your steel bending journey!
Well…why not? You have been doing wrist curls and frolicking on that silly treadmill for the past 5 years and have gotten nowhere. Might as well shock your system and try something new. Bending steel is a whole body workout masquerading as a grip strength exercise. While it might look like some new-age forearm workout, you can be rest assured this exercise is as medieval as it gets. It starts in your core. You brace everything, grip the ends of that bar, raise it up to your chin, pull the elbows up and forward, then EXPLODE down into the bar with every ounce of your being. If the bar is a good enough challenge for you, it should take 30 seconds to a minute to get it bent. That is at most, a full 60 seconds of pouring your heart and soul in to destroying a perfectly good steel bar. It is a brutal workout. The huge rush you get after seeing it bend into a tight V-shape is better than anything you can find in the gym.
You don’t technically bend these bars with your bare hands. You do but you don’t. In order to not rip your hands to shreds and have metal pierce the skin of you palm, you have to wrap the ends in some kind of fabric. People have used towels, t-shirts, canvas, rags, leather, and cordura. A myriad of options at you disposal. Here at TSSBCI, we sell cordura and leather wraps. Cordura is a textured nylon material that is nearly indestructible. It has been the gold standard of bending wraps for a long time. It’s our favorite and the one that you MUST learn on. The other we sell is leather. Definitely the most comfortable, but reserved for big bends in the 300+ pound range. It gives you that extra padding to really crank down on that sucker.
Well, first, you go purchase some cordura wraps. They are dirt cheap and last a million years. No excuse for you not to. Go do that and report back.
Now you need to decide which “poundage” is right for you. What that means is, you need to find out where your current strength limits are. This needs to be done safely…as you need to practice with lower poundages in order to get the technique down. This is VERY important. As with many things, brute force only lasts for so long…until superior technique comes to save the day. Be smart about this, please! For example, an average 30 year old man who considers himself strong in the weight room, will be severely humbled by a steel bar in the 160 pound range. There is a good chance he will barely kink it. He will most likely need to start a bit lower and move up from there in order to prevent major injury. Another example would be a 40 year old woman. She might be aerobically fit and able to jog 5 miles without any problem, but hand her a 100 pound bar and she will be in awe at how difficult it is to bend. She will, like the 30 year old man, need to start with a lower poundage as well. This is a trial-and-error type of thing. TSSBCI sells bars in small amounts so you can go through this process without wasting a great deal of money.
You wrap them tightly…with rubber bands of course! Everyone has a different way of doing it. The way we recommend is to lay half of the bar on top of the wrap, and then tightly roll the wrap up and fasten it with two rubber bands. Repeat with the other side until both separate halves of the bar are covered in your wraps. Congrats! Hope that description was adequate.
Believe it or not, there are a few different ways to bend these short steel bars. Each variation tests your strength in another, unique way. We will just focus on one for now. It is called Double Overhand. Grab the bars on both ends, raise it high under your chin (almost touching your throat) and point your elbows out in front of your body. You should not look like you are angry-texting your ex with your elbows hanging down looking like chicken wings. You’ll look like an idiot and everyone will laugh at you. Bring those elbows up and out in front of the steel. Create some tension in your core area, move that tension up your body and into your arms and hands, grip the ends of the bars hard, and explode into the bar.
Yes, of course. The initial explosion of energy into the bar produced the kink. No, not one of your odd fetishes, but the first part of the bend. It is the point at which the bar began to bend…ever so slightly. After this, you re-positioned your hands and got a better grip. For the next 20 seconds you kept pouring energy into getting that kink to turn into something more. After some courageous attempts, you finally felt the bar yield under your efforts and turn itself into something resembling a wide V-shape. That was called the sweep. The last action you took is everyone’s favorite, the crush. You re-positioned your hands one final time and squeezed like you were gripping a baseball bat as hard as you can. You destroyed that bar. It will never look normal again. Put it on your fridge and smile. Don’t forget: kink, sweep, crush.
Just like any other maximum-effort lift, short steel bending is to be respected as one. Besides maintenance bending (i.e. bending lighter stock to practice form or engage in endurance sessions), you should only be performing major bends 1-2 times a week maximum. It is very taxing on the body…and without adequate rest and cross-training, you could be in for a world of hurt. You have been warned.
Take it SLOW. Technique is EVERYTHING. Wrap your bars TIGHT. Go learn from people smarter than you. Even though this is a niche exercise, there is a community out there that focuses exclusively on bending. Search for them on the internet.
We already covered Double Overhand. Some of the others are: Double Underhand, Reverse Style, Arms-Held-Out-Front, Etc. There are more out there…
Absolutely not. In the beginning, you will have to spend a bit of money and time trying to figure out your current strength level. Then comes the technique. Spend a few weeks doing that and you are off to the races. The bends become MUCH harder and less frequent. Instead of bending easy stock 5 days a week in order to get technique down, you will have heavy bending sessions twice (maybe once!) a week where you go all-out and challenge yourself mightily. Maybe, at the worst, you will spend ~$30 a month if you begin to take this seriously. Way cheaper than a gym membership. You can also always buy in bulk to cut costs…and we can help you with that. Email the owner Matt and he will work with you.
We determine a fair price for all of the bars and make that universal. Just because someone is stronger and needs some thicker steel does not mean they should be forced to pay more. That is our stance and will continue to be. This hopefully gives you some incentive to work hard so you can progress quickly through the lighter poundages!
White Nail = 120 pounds
Green Nail = 160 pounds
Yellow Nail = 210 pounds
Blue Nail = 260 pounds
Red Nail = 380 pounds
Contact the owner with any questions: