Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Want to take your workouts up a notch? Throw in a bit of short steel bending. Love it.

What to get

If you’re ready to give nail bending a bit of a run, you’ll be pleased to know there are only three things you need. You’ll be bending within hours.


Diesel Crew Bending Manual

The Bending Manual. Highly recommended.

I ventured in to the world of short-steel bending fairly recently (2007), following a shoulder injury that ruled out my usual lifts for a while. This is the book (review) that got me started; detailing everything from wrapping techniques to the many types of bending available.

A couple of years later, I still refer to it regularly.

When it comes to unbraced short-steel bending, this is the perfect place to start. Brilliant.


Cow hide wraps

Cow hide wraps.

At first I tried using a couple of chamois car cloths from a local auto accessories place. Once I got my hands on the real thing, however, my bending abilities seemed to shoot up instantly.

It’s worth getting a decent pair of wraps. Here are a few of my favourite online sources :

In the US, grab a pair of Cordura pads from Ironmind.
In the UK, David Horne has suede wraps ready to go.

Alternatively (or while you’re waiting for your online purchases to arrive), try one of these :

  • hand towels
  • tea towels
  • cordura
  • denim

Although a set of good leather wraps will instantly make a huge difference, these alternatives will still protect your hands during the bend.


Beginner's Bag

Beginner’s Bag from FBBC.

Finally, nails. There are essentially two sources of nails, bolts, screws and other fun things to bend – hardware stores and online suppliers.

The local hardware store is usually fine for those just starting out; it’s pretty easy to get your hands on a few 60D nails or similar (Imperial -> Metric conversion).

When it comes to more challenging supplies, online suppliers such as IronMind are the first port of call. Here are a few others to check out :

What to do

The Bending eBook above details a number of techniques for short-steel bending. In my case, I found the best strategy was to learn a particular technique, try it out for myself (usually starting out with a 60D), and then return to the book for a spot of fine-tuning. Rinse and repeat.

It also helped to watch a lot of bending in action, using the various techniques available. Here’s just one of the many clips that came in handy at various stages :

  • Jason Steeves describes and demonstrates the Reverse Bending technique. Superb.

Where to find out more

There’s actually quite a bit of info (both online and offline) available on short steel bending, including :

  • Scott Styles maintains The Gripfaq, a superb resource for all manner of things relating to hand strength – including bending. A great read.
  • In addition to the clip above, ‘Unbreakable‘ Adam Glass demonstrates a number of incredible bending feats on his youtube page. Definitely one to see.

Final thought on Bending

Bending is one of the few strength-related activities that I perform at least once a day (and usually several). Once you try it, you’ll understand why.