Recently, courtesy of a shoulder injury (I got a little over-zealous in my quest for the One Armed Chin-up), I rediscovered grip training. For one reason or another, grip training - and the training of hand strength in general - was always left until last, and was anything but structured. Finally I had a bit of free time to address that.
Just as I started scouring the web for resources on all things hand strength, the Diesel Crew's Bending eBook appeared. As you'll see, this is a truly amazing work.
First up is the question 'Why in the hell would I want to bend nails?'
The answer - as Jedd details in the book - is more than just 'it's great fun'. There are a lot of specific strength benefits that will certainly help other areas of your lifting. This is far more than just training your hands.
The book details all of the areas vital to anyone new to the sport of bending, as well as a great deal of information that should keep even seasoned professionals off the streets. Covered are :
Types of Bending
The type of bending is largely defined by the length of the item being bent, and whether or not it is braced in the process. This book focuses on the unbraced bending of short (less than 8-10") bars and nails. This is certainly a challenging (and fun) area.
There are a couple of things that will make your life much, much easier if you are new to this uncommon pastime. After clarifying a number of the more opaque terms used in bending (such as CRS, DO and Driver Hand), the book addresses two key questions :
What factors determine how easy it will be to bend something?
What equipment will you need?
The answers to these are guaranteed to make your next visit to the hardware store a whole lot more fun.
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Although any number of items are ready for the bending treatment (including wrenches and frying pans), perhaps the simplest (and cheapest) ones to start with are nails and bolts. There are also packages of bending stock available from companies such as Ironmind - think of these as particularly strong headless nails and bolts which are manufactured to high tolerances and ready for competition.
Jedd details the various types of nails, graded bolts and bending stock available. These come in a number of forms and are created for both common and specialist uses - you'll probably notice quite a difference between the larger chain and smaller 'mom and pop' stores. This chapter will help you get the most out of both.
Tom Black performing a Crushdown behind the neck.
As with any area of strength training, understanding the preferred technique/s is vital. Not only will it assist you in lifting heavier weights (or, in this case, bending a stronger nail or bolt) and help you to minimise injuries; it will aid you in determining weaknesses and improving them accordingly.
For bending, there are two categories of techniques to be aware of. The first of these relates to the bending of the object itself (double overhand/underhand, braced/unbraced etc); the second refers to the act of wrapping (winding material about the ends of the nail/bolt in order to minimise injury to your hands).
This book extensively addresses each of these categories, leaving absolutely no uncertainty as to how to reshape an object.
74yo Sri Chinmoy wrist curling a staggering 270lb.
Once you have an idea of your starting point, further chapters discuss the conditioning of your hands, exercises that will greatly assist your bending skills (whether a beginner or professional strongman), injury prevention and numerous resources for purchasing the tools of the trade.
Everything you need to know in order to have some fun transforming otherwise ordinary nails and bolts.
All-in-all it's easily the most comprehensive manual on the subject I've ever seen. Whether you're just starting out or have been bending nails for years, this one is well worth getting. Superb.
Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 30) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing computer guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.
Stalkers may wish to track his every move via Twitter or Google+; everyone else is cordially invited to hop over to his online home. Enjoy.
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For a full list of what we're reading and watching at the moment, just head over to the Recommended Books & DVDs page. See you there.