I’ve found that with wrapping bars there is a right and a wrong way to do it. First, understand that this 9steel bending0 will be painful to a degree. However after bending for some time, your pain tolerance will improve. Whichever you choose (single or double wrapping your steel), just know that any style with still build massive forearms. Let’s start with the single wrap – it’s up to you to decide on what you’d like to use (leather, suede or even old clothing). Take a single layer roughly 12″ × 8″ (if not pre-cut from TSSBCI) and fold over to double layer it.
I would recommend dusting it with some gym chalk, then roll the bar tightly around one end. I would only cover about half of each end. This will allow some of the material to overhang at the end of the bar, thus giving you more leverage. Use rubber bands around the material to keep together. Do this to another piece of the wrapping material and put it on the other side of steel. Make sure the material is wrapped tightly around bar, as this could mean power lost when attempting the bend. If you are a complete newbie (we all were at one point) try covering the entire bar (doing this could help you transfer power to a single point) with the wrapping material. This will help you initially because you only have a single wrap to deal with. The use of a single wrap also makes “snapping” of the bar much easier. Once you master this technique, try it with a hand wrap on both ends.
If you love you hands, you should put chalk on them before attempting to bend. Position the wraps (ends of the bar) in each hand in whatever style you prefer. I would suggest trying all styles of bending at very light weight. I have found overhand and underhand to be my “go to” for bending. In the picture below is where you want the ends of the bar to sit in both hands. This location will provide the most support when driving the ends of bar inward.
When double wrapping these bars, I would recommend first wrapping one each end of the bar in suede or leather (like you would in single wrap) then wrapping each end in nylon material. Both should be wrapped TIGHTLY. Remember, the looser the material, the less “grip” it will have on the bar. This combination of nylon/suede will not only grab nicely onto the steel, but it will give your hands a nice (as good as it gets) cushion during the kink and crush. The more even you can make each end of both materials get flush with each other, the less chance of you have of slipping and, thus, the more force you can deliver to your kink. Make sure you have plenty of rubber bands! You will find, like I have, the cheapest rubber bands will break quicker from the chalk and force used. When using double wraps you might find that when going for the crush the wraps may hinder movement. Simply slide the wraps down and complete the crush.
Bending Routine for Noobs (Breck Roberts)
Once you have purchased your beginner bag from shortsteelbending.com, you can officially start your journey into this fantastic new obsession. Before you go crazy bending everything, let’s go over a few things. Understand that most people don’t, or won’t, have what it takes to climb the ranks. Look at technique videos posted on this site, start out with light bars until you know how you like to bend, and then progress slowly. When starting out, bend no more than 2-3 times a week, allowing your hands proper recovery time. DON’T over do it. In this case, more is not necessarily the way to go, as there is a chance for nerve damage. Learn to listen to your body and know your own limits. If your hands start to hurt (more than just the pressure of the bar), please STOP.
That being said, if you take it slow and steady, you will gain massive forearms and a tendon strength that is out-of-this-world. Start with 2-3 times a week, bending 4-5 bars each session. This means, that if your max is a 230lb bar, do something like 160, 190, 220, then your max of 230. Stay with this until you can comfortably bend 2-3 bars (of your current max) at a time. Then, move up to the next bar. I personally would stay around 230 until I could snap the bar in half. This is caused by bending the bar back and forth in the same spot until it breaks. On a side note, enjoy “snapping” while you can because once you get into thicker bars this feat becomes almost impossible. After each session make sure to take care or your hands, let them heal and use lotion. This hobby WILL take a toll on your nervous system and rip your hands apart.
I would recommend working your forearms an extra 1-2 times a week, with a day in-between steel bending. For these workouts, it’s really up to you to do what you want or like to do. I personally like rock crushers, do these until failure, changing the weight with each set. I also use a small bar with a weight on the end (I use the Ironmind Wrist Reinforcer). With this tool you can lever the weight up or down, forward and backwards, to hit all angles for your forearm. Again, with this you will want to start and stay at a low weight – it won’t take much, I promise. Another tool you can look into using is called a Power Twister, this is literally steel bending (but on a much larger object).
I also like the Ironmind Pinch Hub. You load the weight on a loading pin, attach the hub with a carabiner, and then pinch the hell out of it with your fingers and lift up. When using any of these other tools on non-bending days, you will start to see your bending abilities and bending pain tolerance skyrocket. In order to keep your hands healthy, I would not go for a max bend more than twice a month. The benefits from this exercise will be amazing and will transfer over to just about every other lift you do in the gym. Make sure you take care of your hands too, as this can cause damage to the nerves in your hands. Remember: wrap your wraps tight, use chalk, and most importantly, enjoy the ride fellow benders.
Why I Love TSSBCI & Bending (Brian Stines)
I started out in steel bending from a cold call on Instagram from TSSBCI. I was new to social media so I wasn’t sure what to think. So, I told a stranger (Matt, the owner) “I will send you a 150 bucks and you can hook me up (figuring I was going to get ripped off).” But, much to my surprise, I received a complete set up in what seemed like a few hours. This dude has fast shipping! I was hooked immediately, so I jumped in with both feet to try to learn everything I could.
The most prominent figures in this small steel bending community (who are coined the “elites”) spoke in terms like brotherhood and community. Plus, they used other terms I didn’t fully understand, such as: good batch, bad batch, this wrap, that wrap, etc. This strange community quickly felt more like a club of hyper-talented benders; certain language had to be used and you were only allowed to buy steel from certain suppliers that toed the party line (TSSBCI was not one of them for some reason). If you didn’t use steel from that unwritten and approved list, it seemed you were then ostracized. So, after lengthy conversations with Matt, I figured out he and his company was more for the average bender – the average guy who just wants to bend steel and block out all the nonsense. He enjoyed hearing my thoughts and routines and encouraged even my smaller diameter bends.
As far as the good batch/bad batch aspect of steel bar properties, we concluded that steel is regulated with certain tolerances (or buildings would fall down) and those are universal. Steel is steel. As far as hand wraps, he didn’t care if you used your grandmas bloomers – just bend it! Anyway, since then, bending has become a very personal hobby of mine. I rarely talk about it with anyone. It has become a “my time” activity. I plan it and look forward to it (it’s a very methodical activity for me). The hand wraps are always in the same place, the bends happen in the same place, and I must have my mind right or the steel will completely embarrass me! I also take time to re-wrap the steel between the bigger bends especially. It’s all a process that demands focus and shutting out the world. At the end of a good bending day, the reward is something similar to a runners high.
I found it’s definitely the best workout for forearm growth and strength. After taking time off, I watch my forearms shrivel. I’ve been at it off-and-on for a few years and have no plans on ever giving it completely up. To sum it up: due to a random cold call, I found a hobby I never knew I wanted.
How Steel Bending Benefits Power-Lifting (Breck Roberts)
Most people who discover this killer workout will start to notice some very specific benefits from bending steel. I have personally been into power-lifting for about 3 years now. At first, like you, I was skeptical about steel bending and the real contribution it could give me. So, let’s go ahead and take a look at the benefits you can reap from this exercise from a power-lifting stand point. As most of you know (or don’t know) power-lifting, as a discipline, is focused on moving the most amount of weight as humanly possible with three major lifts (added up). These major lifts are the bench press, squat, and the dead-lift.
There are not too many benefits of bending that transfer over to squatting, but for me steel bending has helped me be able to summon all my upper body power through my back and all the way down my legs. Trust me – try and actually SIT down and bend ANY-sized bar (you are going to need your entire body for this exercise).
My bench has gone up at least 50 pounds thanks to steel bending. This exercise turns your wrists into steel and forces all of the ligaments in your lower arm to grow, which is what most people’s weakest parts of the bench is. Benching is said to be “breaking the bar,” which is literally what steel bending is. After bending several bars you will start to notice that the muscles used in bending are the same in benching. Once your ligaments (and forearms) get stronger, this will make benching easier as you will notice you will be able to handle and brace heavier weight. Remember, “breaking the bar” away from your chest is the same as bending.
If you have ever really looked at dead-lifting and what is truly involved you should know that it’s more than just a leg and back workout. Your forearms must be able to dig deep into the bar, lock in a tight grip (like how tight you should be wrapping your steel) and pull the bar up, all while not letting your grip (hands) open from the weight of the bar. When your hands are able to take the pressure (and pain) from steel bending, those same ligaments will be even stronger when lifting that weight off the ground. Steel bending has helped me in the fact that once I get the bar off of the ground, I am able to keep a very tight grip on the bar, which allows me to focus more on driving the bar upwards rather than not losing the grip of the bar.
These above benefits have helped my overall power-lifting numbers grow faster because steel bending trains the lower arm muscles in ways that traditional weight lifting can not do. Steel bending has also helped my overall grip, and it has made training with rock crushers easier (my finger ligaments get stronger with pinch grippers). Steel bending has given me the confidence of knowing that my ligaments and overall lower arm muscles are stronger and get trained more then most of your average gym goers.
How I Started Bending Steel (Perry Griffith, M.D.)
I am 63 years old and have been training for and playing sports ever since I could remember. Growing up in a small town, being a multi sport athlete was common and expected; always looking for an advantage on the fields, courts, or wherever I found competition, was just so natural. So, training became an everyday experience. I also tried to fit it in to my professional life as a physician, and later my life as a dad and husband.
Along the way, I was always impressed by the true strong men of the world and tried to emulate them. Power-lifting became a way of life in my 30s to mid 40s, then my life changed, and so I had to embrace the need to do aerobics. Somewhere along that path, I was able to bench press 360 pounds, and dead-lift/squat 500 pounds. But, I was still truly impressed by men who could bend nails, mangle horseshoes, lift whiskey barrels or kegs, and flip giant tires. After retiring from medicine and starting BJJ, I needed my usual competitive advantage, and so then returned to memories of my grandfather winning county fair strongman shows with his horseshoe bends and milk-can lifts. Because I remember and wanted to honor my grandfather and his strength (plus help my BJJ), I bend steel. Any steel I can find, I will try to bend it.
To get started you have to…just start. Thinking and planning are great, but you have to put the steel in your hand and try to bend it. I failed miserably at the 120 LBS bar on my first try. I came into the kitchen from the garage and my wife told me to get back out of the house until I accomplished my task! I went back outside and used some horrible technique, but ultimately bent the steel. Remember – the trip of a 1000 miles starts with first step.
I initially wasted money using a different company, but quickly evolved to TSSBCI. They have it figured out and get you what you need, not some ridiculously thick steel bars to start with (for example). Then, they ship it to you ULTRA FAST. You get what you ordered and then now it’s up to you to put in the work. Put the steel in your hands, watch the videos of how to do it, and bend.
For me, bending steel is very personal. I love the feel, the pain, and the movement of the metal in my hands. I wish I had started this decades ago, but here I am at 63 years old bending a steel bar rated at 230 pounds of force to bend it (sometimes more on a good day!). This is a very achievable athletic event, as I am only 185 pounds in weight. I have loved combat sports forever, and am now a bad 2-stripe blue belt BJJ player. As people are aware, grip fighting is an integral part of combat sports. Bending steel helps me tremendously with breaking grips and latching onto gi collars.
I Choose TSSBCI for a Reason (Breck Roberts)
Let’s be honest, there is a lot of “gimmicky” workout tools out there that say they do this, that, or the other, and they all do the same thing…which is nothing but waste your time and money, and ultimately leaves you the same skinny, no forearmed-muscled guy. I have tried most of the other “upper body” workout stuff and they either did not work or were super boring. Steel bending however, is such an old school, REAL, workout for your body that will require the use of you ENTIRE body. TSSBCI realizes this and wants to help you become an absolute animal that no-one will want to arm wrestle. Buy yourself a beginner bag and see what this can do for you, then go buy heavier steel because you are going to need it. They sell real, quality stock that won’t snap on you (in this case not a good thing) so quit going to your local hardware store.
This not only builds pop-eye-sized forearms but gets the attention of what you really want (if you know what I mean). Their prices are better than anyone else I’ve tried. The owner of the company, Matt, is hands down the best person to deal with. I’ve visited those other places (trust me there isn’t a lot) for steel bending supplies and they don’t communicate or care as much as he does. This guy will go out of his way to make sure your completely satisfied and answer any questions you may have. If there ever is a problem (things do happen, we are human), be rest assured it will be resolved immediately (just text the guy). Shortsteelbending.com is the ONLY place I would ever go for my steel bending needs. From bar stock to hand wraps, they have it all. I would suggest it be your “go to” too, unless you like being weak. In this case, maybe go buy your girl a beginner bag.
Short steel bending has so many benefits other than it being just plain bad ass. If you perform other lifts (who doesn’t) like the bench press and dead-lift, then these will benefit greatly from bending. Imagine your hands not breaking open on a dead-lift, or, imagine being able to “break the bar” on bench. This company will help you reach your goals and have you feeling and looking more confident. They have very competitive progression ladders ranging from 100 lbs of force to bend (3/16″ × 7″), all the way up to 1,100 lbs of force to bend (3/8″ × 5″). For those of you that are competitive, there are leader-boards as well. These boards take all of its customers and puts them in order.
All you have to do to get on the boards is text the owner (I would suggest a picture so he knows you really did it)! No other company does that, and I’m sure that process is in place to save peoples’ feelings. Plus, you will get way more attention from you significant other (that is a win for you both).
The Art of Steel Bending (Zachary Gleason)
What is steel bending?
What is steel bending you might ask? It’s an art form the requires a lot of strength to perform. You take a piece of steel (that is used for constructing buildings) and you bend it into a beautiful U-shape. For it to count, it should be 2 inches or less from one side of the end of the bar to the other. It’s something that only machines should be able to do! Where did bending steel come from? It came from old time strongman from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. Before we had gyms and fancy exercise machines, you had to bend heavy pieces of steel to get stronger and build muscle. Some names might come to mind like the Mighty Atom! He bent horse shoes and huge steel bars, bit nails in half, and prevented airplanes from taking off – with his hair! That’s an insane level of super human strength.
Why would you even want to start bending steel?
Why would you want to be able to bend steel? BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE CANT! Prove that you are stronger than steel! That feeling you get when the steel melts in your hands is the best feeling In the world. There is only a couple of other things that can compare to that: a new heavy dead-lift PR, a successful hunt where you killed a large hog or a nice 8-point buck…yeah, it’s that good! A little story I have to share: one time at a strongman competition I was competing in, there was an event that involved dead-lifting a car for the most amount of reps. The emcee of the show is a follower of mine on Instagram, and he was hyping me up the whole time about my steel bending prowess and card tearing feats. So, I dead-lifted an SUV for 16 reps came, but came in 2nd place…But, everybody the whole time was talking about my “supposed” steel bending strength (asking me if it’s really true, etc.). I went to my car and grabbed a deck of Bicycle brand cards (I didn’t have any steel bars with me). When I went to the podium to receive my medal, I opened the deck of cards in front of everybody and shredded them in half so fast that everybody lost their minds. Truthfully, everybody was way more impressed with me tearing a deck of cards in half than they were about dead-lifting an SUV! I was literally the star of the show. I came in 2nd place, but in reality I was in 1st – nobody cared about the guy that actually came in 1st. He couldn’t tear a deck of cards in half! Even though that obviously isn’t steel bending, it’s still in the same old time strongman realm. If you can bend heavy steel in front of someone you will blow their minds. Way more so than any heavy bench press!
Wrapping the steel bars – nylon.
OK, so let’s get started with the basics. When it comes to bending steel, you are going to want to wrap the ends of the bars for protecting your hands – unless you are a real psycho! I’ve seen it done before (barehanded steel bending) but I wouldn’t recommend it for new comers…you will bleed all over the place. I did it myself one time while trying to bend a 1/4″ x 7″ square bar with sharp edges! I knew it was an idiotic thing to do, but if I was super smart I probably wouldn’t be bending steel in the first place – I would be doing some lame nerd shit. So anyways, there are two main ways of wrapping your steel, the old school way with single layer nylon wraps. They are durable but don’t grip the bar very well. Using them gives you an extra challenge, as it is painful. You will feel every inch of that bar. It’s not too bad until you get into the 5/16″ diameters, then it feels like you are gonna break your fingers in half. Bending this way (with single nylon wraps) will make your hands extremely tough.
Wrapping the steel bars – suede.
Now, let’s get bending with suede leather. You can go with a single or double layer with these bad boys. They grip the steel fantastically tight and usually won’t spin around the bar. They are more comfortable and make it feel less painful than bending with the nylon wraps. The suedes really allow you to smash some big bends that you couldn’t in a single layer nylon. It’s like when you perform a wagon wheel dead-lift vs a standard dead-lift – they are both really hard, but one is leagues harder than the other. It’s the same thing with bending…whatever you can bend with a singly nylon wrap, you can smash easy in suedes. You can keep hitting the really tough bends in suedes. This will make you stronger and will improve your single layer bending, so it’s good to use both!
Steel bar diameters, lengths, and shapes.
Now we are going to get into a discussion about diameters and lengths. The bigger the diameter (or the shorter the length) will make the bend harder, thus requiring more force to bend. For example, take a 1/4″ x 7″ bar vs a 5/16″ x 7″ bar. A 5/16″ bar will be hard to bend than 1/4″ bar of the same lengths. But a 5/16″ x 6″ bar (which should rate around 520 pounds of force to bend) can feel MUCH harder than a 11/32″ x 7″ bar (which rates around 600 pounds of force to bend). How is this true? Well, if you are like me and have big, wide hands, then anything under 7″ becomes really rough due to fact the leverage is going to suck. On a 6″ bar, my hands will take up more than half of the bar, so I have to move my index fingers out of the way to make enough room. If you have average or small hands you might not have this problem. A good way of progressing, when you are not ready for the next diameter, is by going shorter on the diameter you CAN bend. On any bar you can progress in these lengths 7″, 6″, and 5″. One inch of bar length makes a huge difference in difficulty! Here’s the TSSBCI progression: 3/16″, 7/32″, 1/4″, 9/32″, 5/16″, 11/32″, and 3/8″. Most people won’t make it to 3/8″ (that is where the legends of the sport live). You can also get into bars of others shapes, such as square and hex-shaped. Squares and hexes are much harder than rounds of the same diameter.
Weight lifting exercises to help short steel bending.
What weight lifting movements can help build your steel bending? Most any kind of pressing (like the bench press, or my favorite, the overhead press) or dead-lifting. Bending steel is almost like pressing in a weird way. You are pressing down on a bar. So, a strong chest and shoulders will help you get “behind” your forearms and hands. My chest and shoulders usually get sore after a tough bend session! How does dead-lifting come into play? Well, a strong back is always required for strong pressing, so you’ll you need strong lats to support your chest and shoulders. Strong lats will help with getting bigger bends. Not only that, but if you can pull a lot of weight, and are into braced bending (bending long bars and using various body parts to help get it bent), you can melt that long bar over you knee super easily.
Gleason super-sets – what is it?
Let’s get into the last thing. It’s something I came up with and coined the GLEASON SUPER-SET! That is where you do a heavy dead-lift, press, or compound lift, then bend steel right after. No, not 5 minutes after – RIGHT AFTER. Do you think you’re man enough to dead-lift 600 pounds for a double and then bend a 11/32″ x 7″ bar (which require about 600 pounds of force to bend)? This turns into a grueling set that will drain your CNS faster than you can imagine. It’s badass and it’s a great way to bend and lift at the same time. It will test two different kinds of strength at the same time! I also like to do this with overhead pressing and bending or tearing cards. Or, Zercher squats and bending. It works with Zerchers because you’re also working your upper body with that particular exercise. I have done it with back squats before, but figured out quickly I was not a huge fan of that. You can also do Gleason Sets with other exercises (whatever you sick brain can conjure up!). Gleason Super-Sets are a great way to shake up your training. We all know your daily routines can get boring sometimes. Go get fired up!
If you enjoy lifting weights then you should take up steel bending. Bending steel has built up my forearms and wrists, and developed my grip strength more than any other exercise before. My lifts have gone up just for this same reason! Increasing your hand/forearm size and strength will benefit any pressing or pulling movement (i.e. dead-lift, squat, arm lift, row, pull-up, etc.) as well. Even when performing a back squat, you have to be able to support several hundred pounds on your back and in your hands as well. Almost every lift will start with your hands! Short steel bending will also make you a strong arm-wrestler or grappler. If you can wrestle against steel, then you can wrestle against people. You’ll be able to handle more weight in your hands, squeeze anything much harder, deliver more force output, and ultimately be able to crush your enemies; skulls with your bare hands.