What even IS steel bending?

Glad you asked. This one is a fan favorite. It’s the act of bending a steel bar into a V-shape with your bare hands. No using a vise. 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 than 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!

What is the difference between braced and unbraced bending?

Un-braced bending refers to the bending of steel bars or bolts that are usually less than 8″ in length. It is essentially: “bend this bar without the use of your legs, torso, etc”. It’s more wrist and arm tendon strength, with a healthy dash of upper body backup muscles included. Braced bending, on the other hand, is the act of bending a steel bar or bolt (usually more than 8″ long) while being able to use any part of your body to complete the bend. It’s reserved for longer cold-rolled bars and tougher long bolts. Here at TSSBCI, we sell cold-rolled steel and bolts for the purpose of bending in a strictly un-braced style. The horseshoes we sell are to bent in the braced style. And lastly, the flat bars and spikes are to bent in the braced style as well!

Why would I want to bend steel with my bare hands?

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.

Is there as way to protect my hands from injury?

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. 

This seems weird but kind of cool…how do I get started?

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.

I bought your damn wraps, now what?

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.

I bought some bars from your company and now I am ready to bend…how do I wrap these bars?

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. 

Ok…I am ready to bend this thing, how do I go about doing this?

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.

I bent it! I’m pretty excited. Can you break down the motions I went through?

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.

That was fun as hell and addicting. Are there any caveats?

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.

Do you have any more tips before introducing steel bending into my workout regime?

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.

What are the other ways to bend steel bars?

We already covered Double Overhand. Some of the others are: Double Underhand, Reverse Style, Arms-Held-Out-Front, Etc. There are more out there…

This seems expensive…Will I go broke trying to bend all this steel?

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.

Why is everything the same price? The smaller stock is priced the exact same as the heavy stock. What gives?

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!

Do you have the Ironmind Nail poundages so I can use them as a reference?

White Nail = 120 pounds

Green Nail = 160 pounds

Yellow Nail = 230 pounds

Blue Nail = 260 pounds

Red Nail = 450 pounds

Gold Nail = 610 pounds

Do the yield strengths match up perfectly with what is stated?

They are pretty damn close. But, if you do not trust the poundage progression and are more technically oriented, you can follow the lengths and diameters we have provided as well. You can ignore the poundages but still “climb up” the ladder in the same way we have laid out. That is a perfectly acceptable substitute.

What are the bars made out of? Are they hot or cold-finished?

All of the bars are cold-finished 1018 steel.

What are the different lengths, diameters, and shapes of the steel bars?

The steel bars come in diameters of 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16″, and 3/8″. The lengths vary from 5″ all the way to 8″ long. The bars come in three different shapes: round (CRS), square (CRS-SQ), and hex (CRS-HEX).

I have another question that is not listed on this page…where can I ask it?

Contact the owner with any questions:

Matt Armiger