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Balancing Steel Bending with Other Training

IMPORTANT: My buddy, Iron Tamer Dave Whitley, is doing a benefit to help one of his good friends who was in a car accident: Bending for Burt. He is taking donations. If you would like to help, please check this out.


Chances are if you are going to try out steel bending, you are already doing some other form of training. While you want to bend steel and become a good steel bender, you also want to maintain the gains and results you have worked so hard for already.

That is exactly what Ty Byrum is doing – trying to find a way to work bending into his current program without upsetting it too much. Ty wrote in and wanted to know about the best way to add steel bending and other similar feats of strength training into his current training layout.

Here is what Ty is already doing at this time:

     “I bought your bending ebook and
     horseshoe bending video recently and
     I am wanting to know how frequently
     I can train those things. I’m currently
     doing the RKC ladder program Tues and
     Sat, Thursday I squat heavy and do some
     strongman things (farmers walk, sandbag
     loading/ walk, and rope climbing. I do
     gripper/sledgehammer training on Monday
     Wednesday Friday. I just wanted your idea
     on when bending might be optimal and
     when I might need to back off.
     Any info would be appreciative. Thanks-Ty”

Steel Bending is a rewarding form of training that can compliment and support many other types of training as well, IF IT IS IMPLEMENTED CORRECTLY.

As you can tell, Ty is already a busy man who takes his training seriously, so he wants to get the most out of each aspect (Kettlebells, Strongman, Ropes, Bending).

Let’s take a look at some of the important variables to consider when adding nail bending and other forms of steel bending into your program. Mainly, when I help people place bending in their weekly routine, I look at three variables: (1) The type of bending they will be doing, (2) Current types and styles of training they are already doing, and (3) Their own personal recovery abilities.

The Type of Bending

The type of bending you are doing can make a huge difference in when you will be able to do it, how much, and how long you will take to recover.

For instance, if you are doing nail bending, that does not use nearly the amount of muscle mass and energy as horseshoe bending, for example.

I truly feel that Horseshoe Bending is one of the most athletic forms of bending, because it requires you to produce strength in many more positions than say Reverse Bending a Nail or Double Overhand Bending a steel bar.

Reverse Bending the Red Nail

In general, any type of non-braced bending will be “easier” on your body than braced bending, because you are not pressing steel against a part of your body.

Also, with Non-Braced styles of Bending, for the most part you stay standing up, while with braced bending, you must bend forward much more, in order to kink the bar or shoe against the thigh.

With non-braced bending, you are using your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and torso to create the kink and work through the sweep.

As a result, Braced Bending wipes out your core much more because the lats, abdominals, lower back and glutes are stressed much more heavily.

So, as you can see, the type of bending plays a huge roll in deciding when to properly place it in your training week.

Now, let’s look at the next factor to use for deciding how often you can bend.

What You Are Already Doing in Your Training

This factor is very important in determining how much bending you can add into your training program, as well as how often you can add it in there.

For instance, if you are already training two hours per session and you are training 4 to 5 days per week, then chances are you are already producing a great deal of volume in your training.

It really doesn’t matter what kind of training you do, if you are putting in 6.5 to 8 training hours per week, you are doing a lot of Volume.

In Ty’s case, we know he focuses on body training Tues (RKC Ladder), Thurs (Squats/Strongman/Rope Climbs), and Sat (RKC Ladder again).

We also know that on Mon/Wed/Fri, Ty works on his grippers and sledgehammers.

The thing that jumps out at me, right away, is to stay away from Thursdays. That looks to be the most intense day of training, with Squats, Strongman Training and Rope Climbs. Adding in something strenuous like bending on that day is a recipe for CNS burnout, lack of results, and potential injury.

While there is something to be said about multi-joint training either before or paired with grip work and bending, Ty just has too much going on that day right now.

On Tuesdays & Saturdays, Ty is doing what he calls an RKC Ladder (Kettlebell Work). He doesn’t specify exactly what that it is, but I think it is safe to assume that he is doing presses and maybe even some snatches, along with swings and maybe even Turkish Get-ups. That sounds like a pretty good day for some bending!

The reason I say this is because Kettlebell work is great for getting the shoulders ready to do other work, and bending is one type of training that seems to benefit from Kettlebell work, because it is done overhead.

Bench Pressing, however, which is a horizontal push, wears out the pecs and makes it very hard to produce the force needed to bend steel.

One of his Kettlebell days, maybe Saturday, might be a good day to add in some bending…

However, also notice that Ty is doing three days of pretty much the same work
: Grippers & Sledgehammer Training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


We have just found the best days to add in some bending. Most people do not need 3 days of Grippers
to see progress, and most people do not need 3 days of Sledgehammer work. So my suggestion is to completely wipe out one of those days and make it the primary bending day.

So, looking at the schedule one more time, Ty’s training week looks like this:

     Monday: Grippers / Sledge
     Tuesday: Kettlebells
     Wednesday: Grippers / Sledge
     Thursday: (Squats/Strongman/Rope Climbs),
     Friday: Grippers / Sledge
     Saturday: Kettlebells
     Sunday: Dude finally gets a day off – LOL!

In looking at this schedule, my suggestion is for Ty to place his main Bending day on Wednesdays, and there are many reasons why.

1. Monday stays Gripper day. He can do Grippers hard on Monday and have several days over the course of the week to recover a bit and then hit them hard again on Friday.

2. Tuesday won’t work as a bending day because he is going to start bending on Wednesday.

3. I am willing to bet the Thursday sessions kicks his ass. We already said it would be too much to add bending on that day, and I bet he might feel like toast the next day as well, so both Thursday and Friday are out.

4. Friday remains a day of Grip, a fantastic day to do so because for most people the work week is over and you can relax and enjoy some Grippin’.

5. Saturday is another Kettlebell day. Like I said, overhead training does not affect bending too much, but it does some. I would not make either Kettlebell day the primary day of bending where Ty sets his goals on dominating steel.

So, that pretty much leaves with Wednesday. Wednesday is still very early in the training week, especially considering that at this point he will only have had one body training day and a grip day. He should have plenty left in the tank and not feel too beat up at this point.

Also, after he gets used to bending, he won’t feel too many effects of the bending on his big strongman day either. Maybe the first couple of weeks he will see a drop in his farmer walk hold times, but that will go away soon.

A couple of other things…

  • 1. If he so desired, Ty could also add in a second day of bending that is lighter on either one of his Sledge days (Friday) or on his second Kettlebell days (Saturday).

    This would not be necessary for a couple of weeks. It would mainly be used to work on form and technique, and not as a PR day by any means.

  • 2. Ty might want to re-consider all the extra sledgehammer work now that he is bending. Sledgehammer training is mainly useful as a way to get conditioned for bending – injury prevention, if you will. It doesn’t do much for bringing up your bending. Bending improves bending. So, Ty might want to gradually phase out the Sledgehammer training for the most part.

Recovery Abilities

The next main factor we will discuss is your personal ability to recover from your training.

This is the X-factor that makes it so hard for me to tell people how often to bend – how much time do they need in order to recover enough to hit it hard the next time.

It would be great if you could bend steel every day but most people can’t do that or they will end up with tendonitis or tennis elbow, or some other over-use injury that will hold them back.

Everybody has a natural “recovery ability.” For some, it might be 2 or 3 days and they are ready to slay dragons.

For others, they might need a little longer and can only hit the steel at a high level once per week.

The trick is figuring all of this out without having an injury.

Since I wrote my Nail Bending eBook, I have always suggested that people who have never done any grip training or steel bending before to do at least a 3 to 6 week ramp-up of just basic forearm training.

For instance, in my ebook, I talk about the 6 main functions of the wrist and forearm (FERUPS: Flexion, Extension, Radial Deviation, Ulnar Deviation, Pronation, Supination).

And I lay out an approach over several weeks where you focus in on each of these movement patterns in order to condition the muscles and connective tissues to direct training stress.

Gradually over the course of this training layout, you work the lower arms more intensely and more often. During this period, you can get a very good idea of how long it takes you to recover from an intense session. Also, as this program progresses, we gradually work Bending into the program and begin doing the direct forearm work less. Eventually, all you are doing is bending and you have a very good idea of what your recovery abilities are.

This is one way I have helped new benders get started on the right foot. They build the solid foundation first, and then the gains come quicker.

I encourage you to give yourself the time you need and work up slowly when you start bending.

Of course, there are many other things you can do to optimize your recovery, all of which are outlined in the ebook.

Applying This Process To Your Scenario

This is the process you can use for yourself when you want to find the best day(s) to bend for you. Think about the following:

  • What Type of Bending Will I Be Doing: In general Braced Bending is harder on the overall body that Non-Braced.
  • What Type of Training Am I Already Doing: The training you are doing and want to keep doing can dictate where Bending will be placed.
  • How Well Do I Recover: This is a relative issue for all benders and must be considered on an individual basis. Not everyone can bend multiple days a week, nor does everyone need to.

For most people who have a full training schedule, one serious bending day is enough. A second day can be used for technical improvements, but multiple days per week are excess in most cases and truly not needed.

Most people that do a great deal of bending each week have either been doing it for a very, very long time and have worked up to it, they don’t do very much per session, or they are complete freaks.

So please do not think that you have to bend 3 or 4 days per week in order to progress.

If you want more information on getting started bending the right way, you need the Nail Bending eBook.

Remember, it’s all about YOUR SUCCESS. Nothing pleases me more than people who have read my ebook getting rectified for bending the Red Nail, and shooting right past me in the rankings.

I like it when my students surpass their teacher!

All the best with your bending.


P.S. Check out the Strongman Show my buddy, Iron Tamer Dave Whitley is doing to benefit one of his good friends who was in a car accident: Bending for Burt. He is taking donations. If you would like to help, please check this out.

Don’t Waste Your Time Fumbling Through Bending Techniques. That’s Busch League!
Use the Techniques That Have Helped Hundreds of Other Benders Learn Their Craft Right.

Get the Nail Bending eBook. Click the Image Above. Start Bending in the Big Leagues.

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3 Responses to “Balancing Steel Bending with Other Training”

  1. Todd Says:

    Hey Jedd-great post! I would love to see more on how to figure out an individual’s recovery time. I was out of work for a bit, running 3 times a week, basketball once a week, and lifting 4x a week. I started a new job two months ago. Although I’ve lost some cardio, I am lifting a little bit less and think I am actually seeing more results due to even more rest. It’s kind of baffling b/c I didn’t feel like I was overtraining before.


  2. Grip Strength Training Says:

    Work is stressful dude. When you are under a lot of stress, you may need to reduce your training volume. On the other hand, if you get laid off and are not too strapped, you may be able to pour more into workouts.

    Regarding recovery time, that is a whole other article, but I can say right now that when I lay out a program with someone, we monitor it very closely. I tend to start out on the light side anyway. They usually tell me that they could have done more. Then we can start increasing weights, adding sets, adding reps, etc.

    The main thing is, that they should be seeing progress by the targeted time. Each program should have a defined period by which the client should be ready to test him or herself again and show improvement. If they are declining, then the program needs to be re-assessed and possibly changed.

    Recovery time can also change for a person depending on various factors: work stress (like you mentioned), other stressors, diet, hydration levels, sleeping patterns, etc.

    Hope this helps. I will try to tackle this in more detail later on don the line.


  3. Mike Rinderle Says:

    Great article Jedd! The only thing I would add is, more is better early on as you try to get your technique dialed in with easier steel. Once you move on to harder bends, you will need more recovery time.

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