5 Important Lessons for New Steel Benders by Chris Smith
I’m still pretty new to the nail bending game. Before I started nail bending, I would watch loads of videos of other people bending pieces of steel, and was filled at first with disbelief and eventually fascination. That’s how it works. It draws you in. That’s why people refer to it as the addiction. There is something mystifying about taking a perfectly good piece of steel and demolishing it with your bare hands. Once you bend your first nail, there is no turning back…
There is a lot to learn when getting started though. You can’t (and shouldn’t) just pick up any piece of steel you can find and try to bend it. As a beginner, there are lots of things you need to know. The differences between pieces of steel, what to start with, how to progress and how to correctly bend are just a few of the things you need to know before even picking up your first nail. If you have never been in a gym before, you wouldn’t just walk in and try to bang out deadlifts would you? Steel bending is no different. You need to know proper intensity (what stock to use), frequency (you can’t just do hard bends every day), and technique, among other things. Here are a few of the most important things I’ve learned as a beginner in steel bending.
Get in touch with people who know what they are doing
When I first decided I wanted to learn to bend nails and steel, I had no idea where to start. Not only did I not know how to bend, I didn’t know what to bend, or where to get it! So I found as many people as I could who were already experienced steel benders. Their advice proved invaluable to me as a beginner, and still does. Without the help of people who are already bending, it’s going to be very hard, almost impossible, to get started yourself.
Learn Everything You Can
As I’ve mentioned, there is a lot of information about steel bending that you need to know before you get started. At times, the sheer amount of things to know can be overwhelming. If you aren’t purchasing a kit with a specifically laid out progression, figuring out where to start and how to progress can be difficult. Learning the differences between different types of stock, nails and bolts is key. The length, shape and manufacturing process all affect the difficulty of a bend. There are also different techniques to learn and master. Learning these things makes contact people who are already involved in steel bending that much more important.
Proper Wraps Make a Difference
A good pair of wraps can be the difference between your nail bend being a test of strength or a test of pain tolerance. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good pair of wraps from a reputable company, or find out how to make your own from someone with experience. Some of the most popular choices are leather and cordura. Keep in mind that if you want to become certified for completing certain nail bends some companies require you to use certain wraps. It’s best to gather a few different kinds and let your hands adapt to using the different materials.
Take It Slow
After you do your first bend, it’s very tempting to start bending nails and steel all the time, every day. Resist the urge! As I said, treat bending like you would any other form of training. Be smart and avoid overtraining and the injuries that walk hand-in-hand with it. It’s been said that a difficult bend taxes your body in the same way as a maximum effort lift. If you find that you are experiencing pain in your joints after bending, you’re probably doing too much, too fast. Don’t be afraid to take a few days off. Your strength will not suffer, and will most likely increase.
Technique is Everything
Just like any lift, proper technique is crucial to steel bending. When you are starting out, take extra time to learn good technique and learn it well. Even when you feel that you have learned good technique, consistently refine it. It is very easy to let your technique get sloppy as you move up to harder steel, especially if you have gotten used to bending easier pieces of stock. This is a problem I personally had. I got too comfortable bending steel that wasn’t that challenging and let my form get sloppy because of it. When I tried to move on to a more difficult piece, it wouldn’t budge. Once I took the time to really sit back and carefully reevaluate my technique, I realized that I had gotten sloppy and made the necessary corrections. As soon as I did, I was able to crush a few pieces of stock that I wasn’t able to do before. Pay attention and don’t be afraid to critique yourself. If possible, have someone who is experienced critique your form for you.
There you have it. Five things that I, as a beginner bender, have learned that have helped me immensely. Hopefully this has helped some fellow beginners, or motivated some interested individuals to get involved.
Chris Smith is the owner and head trainer of Train Better Fitness, a performance training company based in New York City offering training services to people of all fitness backgrounds. He is a certified personal trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine, martial artist and overall fitness fanatic.
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