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Wannagrip

Bending at a High Level - Base Genetics and Attributes??

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Wannagrip

This is a legit question I have pondered for a long time.  I never attempted to bend anything and don't plan to either frankly.  

What baseline attributes genetically are needed to become a higher level bender?

A big part of my curiosity is I see a lot of guys for nearly decades now who just aren't very impressive physically (no offense guys!) who can perform some impressive bends.  And, I am not sure they are that strong in the normal bro metrics (Squat, bench, deadlift, etc.) either.

 

 

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Fist of Fury

If we are talking about double overhand. It's extremely dependant on mobility and technique. You don't get better mobility when you're bigger. So that is probably the reason we see smaller people bending big steel in this style.

Double under hand and reverse, it's just like grip I think. Strong hands and arms is the most important for those styles.

Horse shoes and braced bending I don't know, I haven't trained it but I suspect the largest and strongest individuals would be best at that if they really spent time on it.

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Wannagrip
14 minutes ago, Fist of Fury said:

If we are talking about double overhand. It's extremely dependant on mobility and technique. You don't get better mobility when you're bigger. So that is probably the reason we see smaller people bending big steel in this style.

Double under hand and reverse, it's just like grip I think. Strong hands and arms is the most important for those styles.

Horse shoes and braced bending I don't know, I haven't trained it but I suspect the largest and strongest individuals would be best at that if they really spent time on it.

Mobility in what way? 

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Fist of Fury
15 minutes ago, Wannagrip said:

Mobility in what way? 

In your upper body. To gain the advantage of DO bending you need to be able to get in the right position and be able to apply maximum force from that position.

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KRC

For me the most important physical component is connective tissue strength.  Muscles are great but if you've been swinging a hammer or bending conduit your whole life, that base is going to give you an enormous advantage in starting point.   

Following this, anthropometry.  Certain people are built for certain feats.

Overall though I think mental intensity is the #1 factor.  

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Squeezus

I think forearm-to-humerus ratio is important for DO. The higher that ratio is, the closer together your hands will be when you try pull a bar under your chin to kink it and the more flexible you will have to be to put any power into it. Additionally, I think wrist size is important. The wider your wrist, the lower the torsional forces on the connective tissues and bones.

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Tom Flesher
5 hours ago, Fist of Fury said:

If we are talking about double overhand. It's extremely dependant on mobility and technique. You don't get better mobility when you're bigger.

For a great example of this, look at @devinhoo recently jumping more or less straight to the Bastard. He has a good base of strength and great leverage. He also doesn’t have a lot of extraneous tissue like some of us do to get in the way.

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Horrido

A very good topic.

My thoughts on this...

It's always better if you have a very good overall strength and perhaps some good genetics, but I think nearly everyone can be good at bending. It's all about the invested work on this thing.

Bending is a unnormal movement for the body and it needs a non conformist strength. You can train and learn these two things only when you bend. If you wanna be good at bending you have to bend a lot and you have to prepare your body and your mind for this force. If you are general strong you might take a better start in bending but at a advanced level you also have to learn everything what it takes and the mind muscle connection. And this is not a short journey. Some will be advanced after one year, some after perhaps four years, it's different from person to person and what everybody is willing to give for it.

Nothing magic, only consistent work and training for it and you can become a very good bender.

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wobbler

What would you consider high level, and what type of bending?

From my experience (double overhand) you mostly just have to be stubborn. And willing to fix stuff along the way. I've always had shoulder problems, but I managed to sort that out and can get red nails in imps pretty regularly, not consistent enough to certify yet.

Once I sorted my shoulders out, I started having tricep problems, working on those now.

But you can only "technique" so much around crush strength, that's where I have trouble and may need to hit the weights soon. Basic stuff like push-ups and chest crushing grippers only goes so far.

Bending higher volume might be the answer but my skin can only take so much, that may be a personal limitation.

I'm 5'10 180ish and not particularly "impressive physically" really about the same as when I couldn't even kink a yellow nail.

So my vote for big factors is just being stubborn.

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Fist of Fury
8 hours ago, wobbler said:

What would you consider high level, and what type of bending?

From my experience (double overhand) you mostly just have to be stubborn. And willing to fix stuff along the way. I've always had shoulder problems, but I managed to sort that out and can get red nails in imps pretty regularly, not consistent enough to certify yet.

Once I sorted my shoulders out, I started having tricep problems, working on those now.

But you can only "technique" so much around crush strength, that's where I have trouble and may need to hit the weights soon. Basic stuff like push-ups and chest crushing grippers only goes so far.

Bending higher volume might be the answer but my skin can only take so much, that may be a personal limitation.

I'm 5'10 180ish and not particularly "impressive physically" really about the same as when I couldn't even kink a yellow nail.

So my vote for big factors is just being stubborn.

Maybe train with HRS to improve the crush? I find the crush on the red nail to be a like a joke compared to 8 mm HRS. It took me 3 seconds to get past the sweep and crush on the red nail. On HRS it stops me (if it's square steel).

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wobbler

I have some 3/8 hrs cheat bent to different angles for isometrics (possible it could move slowly) but yeah. Using thicker wraps would also be a good strategy, just allowing me to work with heavier bars, because my kink is a strong point relative to crush. Get stuck somewhere and work through it. Don't want to lose the feel for kinking in imps though.

But more strictly on topic, I would not say I have good "genetics" for bending so I need to use a lot of different tools to get there, I'll add "patience" as another important factor.

I guess stubborn + patience = determination, and commitment?

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Squeezus

Definitely having longer fingers and thicker palms is helpful on crush. The longer your fingers, the earlier you can lace fingers. The thicker your palms, the harder you can push before you feel like you're being crucified.

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richcottrell

I think there is a much bigger mental component going on as well. 

It takes a special type of person to follow a fitness goal over the long term [here i am talking years and not months].
Bending is one of the most obscure fitness things you can do.  The bragging rights that come after bending a big piece of steel does not translate to the general public.  My feeling is the bending goal is more internalized as the only people who can tell the difference between a mid level bend and a high level bend are people who are already bending themselves.  The bending will need to train over and around many injuries and nagging pains over the years.  It is just part of the price of admission.

Not only is there no fame or fortune in becoming a high end bender, but  it is also a very expensive way to train!

With that all in mind, I feel the "mindset" of the High End Bender might be just as important as the person's genetic disposition.

 

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Donc101

Strength at weightlifting does not necessarily correlate with bending strength. That being said, you need to have good body strength to be a good bender. I cannot think of any elite benders who are not strong people.  Wrist strength, tendon/ ligament strength, back strength and core power and strength are very important for basically all types of bending. DU and reverse require more wrist strength. Braced bending requires the most full body strength for all of your body, especially the core, back, arms and hips. Braced bending is a phenomenal core and overall body strength developer. Bending is very isometric in nature and hits you from lots of odd angles. This isometric and odd angle strength is more important than straight line benching type strength. The odd angle and isometric nature of bending is one reason I think it is so good for wrestlers, BJJ and other combat sports. Snapping tests your physical endurance, work capacity, stamina and cardio like almost nothing else. It really is brutal on your body.

The mental component is probably the most key element in bending. Pain tolerance and toughness is huge. Bending hurts. You have to be able to push past that pain.  You also learn in bending to be able to use more of your body power in each movement. I think because you are training isometric type movements all the time, your mind-body connection heightens and you can recruit more muscle fibers to fire at one time. You learn to harness more power from your body for each movement.

I agree with Jan’s @Horrido post. Most people can become good benders. Consistency is the biggest component. You need to train and build your strength and put in the time bending to maximize your potential.

I agree with @KRC and @richcottrell too.

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Fist of Fury
1 hour ago, richcottrell said:

I think there is a much bigger mental component going on as well. 

It takes a special type of person to follow a fitness goal over the long term [here i am talking years and not months].
Bending is one of the most obscure fitness things you can do.  The bragging rights that come after bending a big piece of steel does not translate to the general public.  My feeling is the bending goal is more internalized as the only people who can tell the difference between a mid level bend and a high level bend are people who are already bending themselves.  The bending will need to train over and around many injuries and nagging pains over the years.  It is just part of the price of admission.

Not only is there no fame or fortune in becoming a high end bender, but  it is also a very expensive way to train!

With that all in mind, I feel the "mindset" of the High End Bender might be just as important as the person's genetic disposition.

 

I really wish steel bending was cheaper :D

But it's far from the most expensive hobby you can have, so I guess we shouldn't complain too much :) 

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Horrido

Totally agree with @Donc101 and @richcottrell great posts which I can sign to 100%

Because it was mentioned before: Handsize, Fingersize, Forearms and all the angles together are not I big factor in bending in my opinion. I know good benders with big hands and wrists and also with small ones. Personally I have small hands and wrists for my overall body length.

Every size has pro and cons during a whole bend. You only have to figure out what is the best positioning and technique for your body. To adjust very small points on your bending journey over the years is very important and the leraning factor is a really big one. Only very small points can be the reason for a good bend or a fail (for example: only 1cm more or less the pad is on the bar can make a huge difference or another hit from a higher or lower angle).

Preparefor some huge lessons for your body, the angles, the pads, the positioning, the pain, the stamina, the strength and so on. Steel Bending is not only bend a bar or a bolt this is much more and the further you go the more it hits to your mind.

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Billy Jack
Posted (edited)

I posted the below on 7/29/15 and still feel most of it is true from my own limited experiences in bending:

"In my opinion, until you get to the elite level above a red nail, I think that bending breaks down as follows: 50% technique, 30% mental, and 20% strength. Never, ever underestimate the importance of the mental part of bending. It's just steel and it will bend if you are tougher and have your technique down. You are an animal that will destroy whatever is in your hands. If you progressively move through the bars as outlined countless times on here, you will know when you are ready to bend a Red Nail or Bastard. And your perceived strength will play the smallest part in most cases."

Looking back, I think I would change my thought to bending being 40% technique, 40% mental and 20% strength. I also want to add that the 20% strength I speak of is core body strength as Don mentioned earlier. In my thought above, I also lumped genetics/flexibility into technique in my mind. I truly believe longer torso/longer arm people are more inclined to excel at DO bending and stockier/short arm individuals are better equipped for DU bending. In my opinion, reverse bending is the great equalizer and those with the strongest wrists will prevail. I also lump hand-toughness into the mental part of bending. Yeah, you can build up that toughness but it's still gonna hurt like hell on the max bends. You just have to love the pain and be semi-crazy as well.

I may test your question and many thoughts in this thread soon Bill. I have not trained grip, lifted a single weight, etc. for over three years now. I have not bent a piece of steel since January 2015. I hurt my shoulder(non-bending related), had another kid, had two major surgeries, almost died on two occasions(pulmonary embolisms and septic shock due to bacterial infection) and generally lost the motivation for training. Those two near-death experiences really made me want to focus more on family and being a better person, so maybe the motivation was just redirected I guess. Funny thing is, two months ago I purchased a bunch of drill-rod to maybe start again. We will see. It is still sitting in the corner in an unopened box.

Edited by Billy Jack
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Mike Rinderle

It's 90% mental.  Period.  If you are the type of person who can embrace the pain day after day for years, you can be a top level bender.  People who can go to that special dark place in their mind and completely disregard the pain and possible injury are the ones that can be great.

After that, leverages and then strength in that order.

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Tommy J.
Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Mike Rinderle said:

It's 90% mental.  Period.  If you are the type of person who can embrace the pain day after day for years, you can be a top level bender.  People who can go to that special dark place in their mind and completely disregard the pain and possible injury are the ones that can be great.

After that, leverages and then strength in that order.

Yep. This covers It.

 

to add to the discussion, those of us who go far with it don’t even think about things like this along the way. Never once during my bending run did I question if my body was capable. I just decided it was, and moved forward. No need to get deep.

 

(Insert mental game in bold)

 

Edited by Tommy J.
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Dave Kirschen

Hi all, brand new to bending and this is actually my second post. Commenting because I thought my experience might be interesting for the discussion. 
 

I retired from pro powerlifting in March, and decided to try grip since I still need strength goals and grip is much easier to do at home. I competed in powerlifting for over 20 years and was able to get to a pretty high level of the sport. After a couple of months of grip training I decided to try some bending, and so far I think I’m hooked.

So having zero bending experience but a high level of general strength, I was able to bend a yellow nail double-underhand, and bend an Ultra Lite #2 on my first tries, both pretty easily. Also bent a couple of harder shoes that I don’t know the brands of. That is all the steel I have right now, but I feel like I could probably have a good shot at a blue but wouldn’t even be close on the red.

Overall, I think coming to this with a high base level of strength is helping me, but there are drawbacks as well:

First, having advanced strength with novice technique is a little dangerous. Basically my shoulders, back and CNS are able to apply forces that the tissues in my hands aren’t ready for. I seem to get beat up VERY easily. I think in terms of longevity, it’s better to lay down a foundation of technique before pushing strength.  

I also struggle with some positions due to poor shoulder mobility. Double Overhand simply doesn’t work. 
 

I’ve found the ”psyche” of bending to be different then powerlifting. Powerlifting rewards aggression while bending seems to be more about tenacity. Personally I see bending as more mental than most strength sports because the variety of techniques allow determined athletes to find a way to maximize their own leverages. Contrast this to powerlifting or weight lifting which favor specific body types, making genetics more of a determining factor.

A successful bend seems to come down to how good your technique is and how badly you want it. 

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Wannagrip
4 hours ago, Dave Kirschen said:

Hi all, brand new to bending and this is actually my second post. Commenting because I thought my experience might be interesting for the discussion. 
 

I retired from pro powerlifting in March, and decided to try grip since I still need strength goals and grip is much easier to do at home. I competed in powerlifting for over 20 years and was able to get to a pretty high level of the sport. After a couple of months of grip training I decided to try some bending, and so far I think I’m hooked.

So having zero bending experience but a high level of general strength, I was able to bend a yellow nail double-underhand, and bend an Ultra Lite #2 on my first tries, both pretty easily. Also bent a couple of harder shoes that I don’t know the brands of. That is all the steel I have right now, but I feel like I could probably have a good shot at a blue but wouldn’t even be close on the red.

Overall, I think coming to this with a high base level of strength is helping me, but there are drawbacks as well:

First, having advanced strength with novice technique is a little dangerous. Basically my shoulders, back and CNS are able to apply forces that the tissues in my hands aren’t ready for. I seem to get beat up VERY easily. I think in terms of longevity, it’s better to lay down a foundation of technique before pushing strength.  

I also struggle with some positions due to poor shoulder mobility. Double Overhand simply doesn’t work. 
 

I’ve found the ”psyche” of bending to be different then powerlifting. Powerlifting rewards aggression while bending seems to be more about tenacity. Personally I see bending as more mental than most strength sports because the variety of techniques allow determined athletes to find a way to maximize their own leverages. Contrast this to powerlifting or weight lifting which favor specific body types, making genetics more of a determining factor.

A successful bend seems to come down to how good your technique is and how badly you want it. 

I looked you up Dave as your name looked familiar.  

https://www.elitefts.com/author/dave-kirschen/

Welcome to the GripBoard.  

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climber511

I've bent a good bit of steel but never really considered myself a "bender".  I have always struggled getting into a good double overhand position and bent everything more of a high chest level.  I think if I could have more easily gotten bars high under my chin I would have done much better.  I never really had that much hand pain with double overhand - it hurt of course but never seemed to be the limiting factor.  My forearm to upper arm - shoulder width ratios don't seem to be optimal for it plus my shoulder flexibility isn't all the great.  Steel seemed to "melt" those times I could get my elbows ahead of my shoulders - I struggled with that a lot.  I bent a 6" Red about the same time  I managed a 7" simply due to being able to get a higher/better position.

Reverse seemed to come fairly naturally - with my biceps at the elbow taking all the beating.  I was my strongest this way and could sometimes reverse bars I couldn't finish DO.  I was fairly successful reverse.  Length didn't seem to matter as much as with DO.

I simply didn't like double underhand so never did it.

I could bend easy horseshoes but never got into them.

Long bar bending I thought was a lot of fun - but total body strength was the secret here - some learning body mechanics but just horsepower for the most part.

I consider "scrolling" as a form of bending and is probably my favorite way to destroy steel - there's quite a bit of mechanics here that can make it much easier - and when you're done you actually have something you can give as a gift of sorts.  

I felt my mental strength was all right but not exceptional at all - on DO I was always afraid of getting hurt (mostly because i always was).  No fear on reverse so I did better there.

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Dave Kirschen
Posted (edited)

Yep, lol that’s me, just less fat and bearded now.

Starting over in a totally new strength discipline has been humbling, but fun. So far the best part has been the community. Seems like gripsport athletes/ benders are a tighter knit community than powerlifters tend to be. 

Edited by Dave Kirschen
Typo
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Tom Flesher
18 minutes ago, Dave Kirschen said:

Yep, lol that’s me, just less fat and bearded now.

Starting over in a totally new strength discipline has been humbling, but fun. So far the best part has been the community. Seems like gripsport athletes/ benders are a tighter knit community than powerlifters tend to be. 

Well, there ARE dozens of us....

Probably dozens, anyway.

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Dave Kirschen

Good, equipped powerlifting wasn’t nearly fringe enough anyway, haha. 

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