Jedd’s delivered another terrific article on steel bending, how it balances the power you develop in other ways. Well worth reading. Of course, this is in promotion for his new DVD – Nail Bending: How to Melt Steel with Your Bare Hands. If nail bending sounds like a good idea to you (despite others calling you crazy) I would highly recommend it.
Hi, my name is Jedd Johnson, and I bend steel with my hands.
That’s right, I take steel bars, wrap them in suede to prevent a cut to my hands, and bend them into a U-shape.
“Why the hell would he want to do that?” you might ask…
I’ll tell you straight up…
Because it makes me feel like a friggin’ animal.
It makes me feel like I am a 800-lb rain forest gorilla that can destroy anything put in front of me.
And I like that feeling…
Maybe that description is too wild, and you can’t identify with it, so let me describe it a little differently…
A PR Bend is like adding 50 lbs to your deadlift, and holding it there while you scream before dropping it back to the platform like a bomb from an airplane.
Completing a bend you never were able to do before is like hitting 100 snatches in 5 minutes for the first time ever, and letting out a warrior cry because it took so much hard work and determination to get there.
Much like the landmark feats described above, I love taking a perfectly good nail or bolt and making it completely useless.
Some people think this is ignorant, but they don’t realize that BENDING IS THE PERFECT COMPLIMENT to movements such as the kettlebell snatch and the deadlift…
Now, you’re probably thinking: What!?!? How in the world could bending steel compliment my snatch and deadlift work?
The answer is the principle of Antagonistic Balance.
“Antagonistic” means opposite, against, contra-indicative.
Think of a Broadway Play. The agonist is the main character and the antagonist is the character that plays opposite him or her. Many times these two are enemies, or their views are somehow contra-indicative of one another – they are opposites; they disagree.
So what is Antagonsitic Balance, then?
Well, your body works the best, improves its performance, and is at its healthiest when the antagonistic muscle groups in the joints and opposing sides of the body are within a reasonable balance.
Think of the shoulder. If you do too much bench pressing and not enough rowing, pull-ups, retractions and other opposite movement patterns, you can really do harm to your shoulders, messing up the posture, pinching off nerves, and thus ruining progress on the bench.
You’ve heard of this before probably a hundred times and you are well aware of it in your training, right?
And you know, if you do too much pushing and not enough pulling, you could be setting yourself up for a serious fall down the line.
Now, where does this come into play with respect to the relationship between steel bending, the kettlebell snatch and the powerlifting deadlift…?
To fully understand this, let’s look at the movement patterns of these movements individually.
The Kettlebell Snatch is marked by Extension throughout the body.
The athlete starts in a flexed position with the knees, and hips bent. The bell is swung back through the legs, loading the hamstrings.
The momentum of the bell is reversed with controlled violence and then extension begins throughout the body. The hips and knees extend to give momentum to the bell. The spine is lengthened.
And finally, the arm punches itself into a straight, extended position.
The Deadlift is very similar.
The lifter starts out in a crouching position, grasping the bar as it sits on the floor.
From there, the lifter pulls the weight up along the body, extending the knees and the hips.
Once the bar is pulled to its highest point, the lifter further extends himself, pulling the shoulders back into a position of pride.
Upon analyzing both of these movements, the action that is repeated time and again is extension: extension in the knees, hips, shoulders and arms.
So, what is the natural antagonistic balancing action for the movement pattern of Extension?
There has to be some kind of contra-indicative movement pattern that essentially will negate these two big lifts, right?
The answer is Flexion.
To repeat, we are looking for an antagonistic, or opposite movement pattern, and we already said that KB work and Deadlifts involve a lot of force into extension, so the natural antagonistic movement pattern would be flexion.
BUT WAIT – I thought that, just like the ghost busters crossing the streams, having your “body in flexion” was bad!?!?
Sure, sitting at your desk all day in flexion is BAD. In can have a huge toll on your body over the years, so let’s try to avoid that…
How about Crunches?
SCREW THAT! BORING!!!
There has to be some other exhilarating strength training practice that involves flexion, while also requiring the same level of dedication, the same level of discipline, and the same level of technical precision in order to succeed that the Kettlebell Snatch and the Deadlift require. But what is it???
The answer – STEEL BENDING.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at steel bending, now, and the movement patterns involved.
The athlete starts out by grasping the nail high up under the chin with the spine, hips, and knees extended.
From there he takes a small step forward, initiates pressure into the steel and begins to lean forward into flexion.
As the steel heats up under the pressure, he feels it begin to move and puts on one last pulse of flexion as he “crushes the can,” compressing his abdomen down and further bending the nail.
Hit after hit on the nail, he does the same thing, flexing his body, until the ends of the nail are within two inches.
Being stuck in it at an office desk or behind the wheel of a car all the time is a bad thing. It makes you tight in the hip flexors, it can weaken the glutes and it can hurt your posture.
However, performing flexion in order to translate the power from your core and torso into your hands and to make the steel tap out to your strength is a good thing.
And not only does it help balance out all of the other training you do all the time, it makes you feel like you are a monster with green skin that can smash through concrete walls.
I’ll warn you right now, though…
As fun as it is, Nail Bending isn’t easy.
If it were easy, everybody would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
If you want to learn how to bend nails the right way, I’ll show you.
Check out my killer DVD, Nail Bending: How to Melt Steel with Your Bare Hands.
All the best in your training, my friends. Now go get your SAVAGE on!
Jedd Johnson is a certified Red Nail Bender, a CSCS, RKC and Captain of Crush. He is a World Record Holder in the Two Hands Pinch, AND he likes to bend sh*t.