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Advanced Nail Wrapping

Jedd Johnson

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It is amazing how the sport of Grip has evolved in the years that I have been involved in it. We have hundreds of athletes heavily involved in the sport now, all across the world, and there has been an explosion in the way of smart, effective training and maximizing technique.

Nail Bending is not exempt from this monstrous mass of knowledge and information. I know I have learned a ton that has helped me improve my bending technique and performance from guys like Aaron Corcorran, Ben Edwards, and Josh Dale over the last couple of years. Even the methods for wrapping nails for bending have improved and this is what I’d like to focus on with this article.

When I first started competing, wrapping techniques were in the dark ages. In 2003, most people were wrapping nails and bolts with towels. Now think about that - we were all taking a pointed nail or a jagged-edged piece of stock and protecting ourselves from being stabbed by wrapping a cloth towel around the end. Needless to say, each bend that was done, the athlete was taking a chance, risking injury.

At the Strong Arm Tactics contest in January 2004, I wrapped a blue nail cut to 4 inches with a normal green bathroom towel. I hit it with the reverse style and almost instantly the end of it popped completely through the towel. The only thing that kept it from going through my hand was the fact that I wrapped the very end of the cut edge with athletic tape. I didn’t complete that nail bend – the ends wound up about 2.5 inches apart, if I remember correctly – but if I had, it would have been the shortest blue nail ever bent, tying Rob Vigeant who completed it at the contest.

If I remember correctly, the two Vigeant cousins, who have now moved on to full time arm wrestling as their athletic pursuit, wrapped their nail stock that day with a bank bag, a very resilient material, but very bulky and cumbersome to bend with. It didn’t hurt them though - one bent the blue nail I mentioned before and the other put a really nice kink into a red nail, which was a treat to watch.

A kinked red nail was a BIG DEAL back then, and I think two things are the principal reasons for the explosion in red nail benders and other tremendous bending eats these days. One of them is the use of the Double Overhand technique. I go into why the Double Overhand technique is so powerful in my Nail Bending eBook. The other, quite frankly, is wrapping techniques.

Looking back at the memories of early grip contests I competed in, it was just plain silly to wrap a pointed nail or a jagged piece of HRS/CRS stock with just a towel. Talk about ludicrous. But, we didn’t really know any better.

Today, it’s a different story. Nowadays, people are using leather wraps that are both more effective at completing big impressive bends and at protecting their hands. In fact, it’s been probably two years if not longer since I have seen anybody wrap with something besides leather or a combination of leather and something else.

The first person I ever saw wrap with leather is the Terminator, Pat Povilaitis. In 2005 (I believe), I went to the Arnold Classic and participated in that year’s Night of Strength, a gathering of Grip athletes where everyone demonstrated feats of strength. This was what I believe to be the catalyst for the shift in the Grip world toward using leather wraps when bending nails.

If you’re going to start bending nails, bolts, and stock, you need to get yourself some leather. You can get leather at many places. I have gotten good quality leather wraps from three sources.

The first source I got leather from was a vendor on ebay. Smitty bought a welding cloak and we cut it up and got lots of good leather wraps from it. Smitty and I have used these leather wraps for well over 2 years. They’ve taken a beating and they have some worn spots in them, but they’re still good enough to get it done with some serious steel.

I got another set of wraps from John Beatty at Fat Bastard Barbell Company. They are sweet. Even when brand new, they still wrap around the stock tight and get a good hold.

The last type of wraps I have gotten, and what I am currently using, are the wraps from Adam Glass. I am not sure where Adam found these wraps, but they are really nice. You barely feel anything when you use these wraps, and when you do as much grip training as I do, you need to minimize the wear and tear on your hands as much as you can when bending.

For the athletes looking at starting out with nail bending, all I can say is GET YOUR LEATHER NOW. There’s no need to risk stabbing yourself with a nail or cutting your hands up with the threads of a bolt. Find a source of leather you like and get a few pairs so that you can be sure you can have fun doing it for a long time, and so you can excel at nail bending.

The most important thing for you to remember when wrapping your attempts with leather is to get them really tight on whatever it is you’re bending.

For more information about nail bending, check out my Nail Bending eBook. It should answer any questions you have, and if it doesn’t then email/PM me.

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