Guest post by Jedd Johnson
Hi, my name is Jedd Johnson. I am a CSCS through the NSCA, an RKC through Dragondoor, and am co-founder of DieselCrew.com. Our website is dedicated to exploring the development of strength and conditioning for all athletes in all sports.
Over the years, my favorite facet of strength training has been Grip Strength and I compete in several competitions every year. Grip Competitions involve Crushing, Pinching, Support lifting and other forms of hand and lower arm strength.
One of the coolest parts of the sport of Grip is Nail Bending. Bending nails, spikes, bolts, steel stock, drill rod, and other things is one of the most exciting and obsessive types of strength training you can do.
Up until now, Nail Bending might be one of the last things you would ever think of doing in your program, but there are actually a ton of benefits that you can get from Bending. Check these out…
1. Forearm size
Nothing has built my forearms over the years like Bending
Nail Bending involves a great deal of tension in the hands, wrists and forearms which leads to major forearm muscle development. Often, forearm work at the gym involves movements like wrist curls and other simple variations.
While wrist curls and similar classic forearm exercises bring about results, they pale in comparison to the bulk build by bending. The sustained tension of nail bending causes growth in both the flexor side of the forearm and the extensor side of the forearm, creating an impressive look of balance and control.
In short, your forearms will probably BLOW UP!
2. Mental and Physical Toughness
Bending nails, bolts and other items involves taking a perfectly good nail and twisting it into a shape that makes it completely useless for any of its normal industrial applications. You’re doing something that was never meant to be done, and to do this requires you to focus all of your strength and your mental power into the bend. A lack of commitment from either end of the spectrum will end up in your inability to finish up the bend.
In order to Bend Big Nails, you have to work hard and be mentally strong
When you become proficient in harnessing your mind’s and your body’s power in nail bending, imagine the results you will see in your other lifts or in the sport you play. You’ll be unstoppable compared to everyone else who has never truly tested themselves in the ways you have after taking on the challenge of bending.
3. Make an Impression!
Take Note: Nail bending is NOT some form of trickery or slight of hand like magic is
However, it DOES bring about much the same reaction from a crowd.
Imagine talking about this new sort of strength training you are doing and when they ask you to show them, you bust out a nail, wrap it in a towel and bend it right before their eyes.
How awesome will that be?!?!
You could use this classic feat of strength of Bending to set yourself from everybody else at school, at the gym, or at your place of work. Instead of just blending in with the rest of the people, you will automatically be set apart from everybody else.
Instead of just somebody in the crowd, you’ll become the Strong Guy/Gal (Yes, ladies bend too!!!), or The Nail Bender.
Every time people see you, even if it’s only occasionally, you’ll be burned in their mind as somebody with a strong grip – nobody to mess with, that is for sure.
4. Get Your Name “Up in Lights”
Nail bending has been growing in popularity exponentially. In fact, you can now get certified for Serious Nail Bending.
The first widely known certification system for Bending was the IronMind Red Nail, a 7-inch long, 5/16-inch thick round piece of steel bar. This bar takes over 450-lbs of strength in order to bend.
Other sites have come on board with certifications of other pieces of steel stock, including Fat Bastard Barbell and Bender’s Battlefield. The numbers of people bending challenge bars steadily increases each day
Isn’t one of the reasons you train in the first place to have fun? Well, the best thing about nail bending is that it is good pure fun. You are able to test yourself and see improvement in your technique and strength while seeing increases in confidence and mental edge.
You can crank up the music and go for a new personal best.
Over the course of time, all of the nails, bolts, and stock you bend can be saved for posterity. You can see how you progressed over the years.
One day, you’ll be able to tell your grand kids about when you first dominated the 60-penny nail or the grade-5 bolt. And maybe you can even log them onto one of the certification sites and show them the certifications you were able to acquire.
In short, nail bending is one of the most exciting parts of the sport of Grip Strength. For me, the physical and the mental benefits I have seen from nail bending are outstanding, not to mention the friendships I have made with some of the top nail benders in the United States and around the world. I
In fact, I love the challenge of Nail Bending so much I recently put together a DVD showing you everything you need to know in order to get started. This DVD contains info on Bending Techniques, Strength Building, and Hand Health so you can continue to bend and enjoy it for years to come.
Until then, all the best in your training, and get ready to bend some steel!!!
Jedd Johnson, CSCS, RKC
Red Nail Certified – 2007
The Diesel Crew
guest post by Jason Ferruggia
What is “Working Up” and Who is it Good For?
Beginners shouldn’t work up. Novice lifters should always stick with straight weight and use what’s known as a “sets across” approach. So if the program calls for five sets of five they should pick a weight they could do for maybe eight reps and do all five sets with that weight.
135 x 5 x 5
Advanced lifters, on the other hand, should “work up.” So instead of doing five sets of five with the same weight they would work up to one top end set of five and maybe hit one back off set after that. All in all they may end up doing more than five sets. It might be closer to ten. But only one or two is a real heavy work set.
Bar x 10
95 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 5
225 x 5
250 x 5
275 x 5
315 x 5
295 x 5 (back off set)
That ends up being nine total sets. Just because only one or two sets is heavy doesn’t mean the others are useless. As anyone who has practiced speed training or the Dynamic Effort Method understands, you get a training effect with weights at as low as 50-60% of your max and above.
In the previous example, if the lifter was working up to a near five rep max with 315 we can assume a one rep max of around 370 pounds. Therefore every set above 222 will give him a training effect. In this case their are five productive sets. This is a much better approach and easier to recover from than if he just did five straight sets of five with say 295-305 pounds.
As long as you are exploding each of the “working up” sets as fast as humanly possible you are training speed while en route to your maximal strength sets. Essentially you are killing two birds with one stone. Especially if you do a large number (6-10) of “work up” sets, which I highly recommend for the big barbell lifts.
There have been plenty of times in the past where I’ve said that there’s very little reason for an advanced lifter to do more than one or two heavy sets on a big barbell exercise. On occasion people mistook that to mean I was a big proponent of HIT (High Intensity Training). That’s not the case. As you can see from the example above it’s actually closer to ten total sets but with only one or two being really heavy.
So what sets count as warm up sets and what sets count as work sets? I don’t even think about it to be honest. The line is blurred. Anything above 60% definitely elicits a training effect so if you wanted to count that would be the place to start.
The last thing I want you to do is a couple quick, half-assed warm up sets and then one or two work sets. That’s a terrible approach that doesn’t fully fire up your central nervous system and makes you more prone to injury.
What Exercises Should I “Work Up” On?
All of the big, compound barbell exercises. I never have intermediate/advanced lifters do more than one or two heavy sets on exercises like squats, deads, bench presses, military presses or deadlifts. I like to do all of these exercises for eight reps or less, for the most part, in order to maintain perfect technique and reduce the risk of injury. So we always work up to a top end set here. Note that it’s never a true rep max, just a good, clean heavy set.
You never want to do slow, grinding, ugly reps. That’s a prescription for weakness and injuries.
Certain assistance exercises are best done for sets across and others lend themselves well to working up. Bodyweightexercises like inverted rows and glute ham raises are usually best done for sets across. These types of exercises don’t beat you up too much so you can tolerate more volume on them.
Even if you are advanced it’s always best to do any new exercises you are trying out for sets across as well. For example, if you are just starting handstand pushups there is no way to really work up. So just do something like six sets of two. Or if you are just starting ring dips for the first time it would be best to do multiple sets of low reps with a constant load.
Other assistance exercises like a one arm dumbbell press lend themselves well to working up. So you might do something like this:
70 x 8
75 x 8
80 x 8 (top end set)
75 x 8 (knew you wouldn’t be able to get the 80’s again so you dropped down for one more set)
If your assistance lift is very similar to your main lift you need very little in the way of warm up or “work up” sets. If you bench press as your big lift of the day and follow it up with an incline dumbbell press your sets might look something like this:
90 x 8
And that’s all she wrote.
The Same But Enormously Different
In my brand new ebook, Minimalist Training, I have a wide variety of set and rep schemes listed. The beauty part is that if you know the difference between “sets across” and “working up” the same loading parameters can be used for both beginner level and more advanced lifters.
Let’s say Little Johnny has a max squat of 185 and Big Bill has a max squat of 495. The program calls for ten sets of three.
Little Johnny will do ten sets of three reps with 160 pounds.
Big Bill will get to his ten sets like this:
Bar x 10
95 x 3
135 x 3
185 x 3
225 x 3
275 x 3
315 x 3
365 x 3
405 x 3
425 x 3
445 x 3
If they are doing dumbbell military presses for assistance work, Little Johnny will do four sets of eight reps with the 40’s.
Big Bill will do this:
70 x 8
80 x 8
85 x 8
90 x 8
Of course, I have different programs and different frequencies for beginner and advanced lifters but some of the set and rep schemes are sometimes similar.
The huge, colossal, magnanimous difference, however, is the “working up” part. High level intermediate to advanced lifters simply can’t do heavy “sets across” on big compound barbell or dumbbell exercises.
If you haven’t done so already pick up your copy of Minimalist Training. All the cool kids are talking about it.
by Mike Westerdal
How you gain weight is no mystery. You gain weight by consuming more calories than you burn off in the course of a day. The excess calories, if not used by the body for energy, muscle building, or some other metabolic process, is stored as body fat. It’s stored as fat in case there is a future shortage of calories.
Much like you put excess junk you have around the house into a closet for storage, your body stores excess calories you haven’t used as body fat for future need.
The problem is, if you continue to eat the same amount of calories (or more) every day, there never is a future need and your body simply continues to store the excess as fat.
If excess calories are the culprit of weight gain, than the answer to achieving weight loss has to do with calories as well. You have to reverse the process that caused you to gain weight. You have to eat less calories.
I do not necessarily mean eating less food. I mean eating fewer calories, which is different.
There are two ways to have an impact on calorie expenditure in your body. Either eat less calories or burn more of them during exercise. I do not recommend going to extremes on either one of these but rather doing a little bit of both. When you diet and severely restrict calories, your body goes into a defense mode and begins to hold onto stored body fat.
While on a typical “diet” your body senses possible famine and holds onto body fat in case of future need. Also, your metabolism slows down because there’s not as much food to burn through and utilize.
So a drastic, sudden drop in calories is definitely not the way to achieve long term fat loss results.
Besides, how long could you possibly go on a restrictive diet before the feeling of deprivation makes you give in?
That is why diets traditionally do not work. You eat restrictively for a couple weeks and indeed have some success with weight loss.
But soon the diet becomes much too restrictive and you go back to the older, less restrictive way of eating. When the less healthy, less restrictive lifestyle comes back, so does all the weight you lost.
If you are trying to lose fat by dieting, you are always going to be in a position of playing “catch up”.
What I mean by this is, when you come off from a restrictive diet, you are going to “catch up” and eat all of the foods you felt deprived of. Instead of eating moderately and sensibly, the feelings of deprivation cause you to consume much more food than you normally would have if you weren’t dieting.
You’ll lose some weight on a diet and then gain it all back. Hence the term “yo-yo dieting” or “roller coaster dieting”
The solution? Do not eat restrictively and do not ban any specific foods.
I am a big advocate of eating regular, whole foods to lose fat. The foods you eat just have to be in smaller portions.
There isn’t any food you have to give up altogether for weight loss to occur. You just have to moderate and eat smaller portions, more often, for your metabolism to operate efficiently.
End of Article
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