Interview - 021 - Brett Bracken
Brett Bracken is in the house for an interview. He is very active at the moment in the bending game which is a really great fact, because he collected some very good bends in the past and is now on the road to chase some elite bends.
To follow the journey from other benders to reach their goals is always great to see and I am sure that Brett will bend his goals in the future for sure.
Brett is also a good guy when it comes to kettlebell lifting which I personally really prefer because I also have an affinity for the heavy bells.
Check out his channels to see some good bending and kettlebell feats:
Thanks Brett for the interview, which is a very good one:
Year of birth:
Weight 210lbs (95kg)
USA - SC - Charleston
Co-Owner of Charleston Kettlebell Club and Coach
What does steel bending mean to you?
This is a question I could take in multiple directions, but it all comes back to the same place: steel bending is a way of life. Once you bend your first piece of steel, no matter what it is, things are just different. You realize that almost anything is possible with the right focus of energy. The idea that, “where there is a will, there is a way,” becomes an undeniably true statement. We all have the ability to reach our goals in this game, it just comes down to what we are willing to sacrifice to achieve them.
Having watched this community grow at such a fast rate over the past couple of years has been amazing. The support that everyone shows each other is unreal. The things that Jan, Cody, and all the others have been doing to advance this sport and community shows just how awesome the world of strength sports really is. I’ve been a part of numerous athletic teams and communities over the years and they all fell apart or people were pushed out due to age or skill level, etc. With strength sports, and especially steel bending, you don’t see this. We are such a small community and even though most of us have never meet in person, we all seem to have this one thing in common: we genuinely want to see each other succeed.
When and why did you start steel bending and what does or did your active time look like?
I first saw someone bend a nail in January 2014 at a kettlebell workshop. I was intrigued and wanted to know more, so I asked and they showed me the basic concept. Not knowing what to do next and having other goals a the time, I put it on the back burner until August 2016, when I found out about the IronMind Red Nail and purchased a bag of nails from them. Like most of us, once it arrived I had to see where I was at. I managed to bend everything up to the red and got the red nail to just past 90-degrees and that’s when I hit the wall. After that I was hooked and I dove straight down the rabbit hole and have been doing it pretty much ever since. I took a short break in 2019 due to injury and a major house project. I started back up in 2020 and have only seen improvement since.
What do you love about steel bending?
There is a lot to love, but at the end of the day the reason I keep coming back to this beautiful thing we do is knowing that the mindset that is needed to do this requires a lot of self-control and discipline. Very few people have the ability to take control of everything and live in the moment. If you watch most benders while they are bending they have a certain look in their eyes; nothing else matters while they are attacking the steel. Steel bending has taught me so much over the years and living in the moment and enjoying the journey are a couple of the things I love about this crazy sport. Also, you have a trophy once you have earned it.
What do you hate about steel bending?
The variation in steel. Take the IronMind Red Nail- every year it’s different. I like to think of it like wine. Every vintage is different year to year, some are better than others, and some are just horrible. This current red nail is quite a bit harder than the last five to six years were. At the end of the day, we are taking a product that was designed for something very different from what we are using it for, so we are at the mercy of the producers. I ofter wonder what some of the producers would think if they knew what we were doing with all the steel we buy. Besides laugh on their way to the bank.
How does your training for steel bending look like?
I typically bend one to two days a week. I spend one day a week really chasing after big steel in double overhand position. On day two, if I feel recovered, I work on reverse, double underhand and snapping, but nothing big.
On my double overhand day I warm up with one to two easy to medium bends and then go after the bigger steel I’m chasing. Sometimes it goes well and might take me a while to do, but I finish and set a goal for the next session to do it faster. Other times it turns into an isometric battle. If that’s the case, after four or five pushes I pre-kink the bar about 10-degrees and try again. I’ll continue this process until I find what degree I can accomplish then bend from. Then, next session I start again from that degree kink, or a slightly lesser angle, until I can work my way back to bending the bar from straight. Nothing complicated, I just take really good notes so I don’t forget.
How does your other training look like (strength or other)?
A short outline: I lift three days a week, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. My current focus is on lifting the Dinnie Stones in August. Sunday, I do heavy 18” deadlifts. Tuesday is Dinnie Stone day, where I learn how to hold those rings (that little one is not fun when you have big hands), and Thursday I do 18” deadlifts again, but with an isometric hold for time at lockout. I mix in a good amount of kettlebell work for accessory lifts. I do some grip work two days a week; nothing crazy on these, just learning how to use them.
What goals have you set for yourself?
Currently, the goals on my list for bending are Horrido 10.9 and BSC Grade 5. Also, I am working on certifying IronMind COC #3. I am also training for the Dinnie Stones in August.
What was the most impressive bend you ever saw (live or on video)?
I have not seen very much bending in person, but I did have Don Cummings visit me a couple years back when he was working on the neck bridge snapping feats. I got to see him do a grade 8 while doing a neck bridge. It was very impressive and I think it was the first time he did it inside 5min, but I may be wrong on that.
I know this has been done before and I’m not sure of his name (his Instagram is Noble Force), but he recently bent a red nail barehanded. That was the first time I’ve seen that done and I was very impressed. Barehand bending is amazing to me and all the guys who really get after it are impressive.
Rapid stuff – choose one
Bolts or steel?
Unbraced or braced?
Singles or doubles?
Singles, but there’s a time for doubles
Chalk or not?
All the chalk
Beer or water?
Cordura or leather or both?
Cordura. This has been a recent development for me
Short bars or long bars?
Horseshoes or flat bars? Horseshoes, I do not train these very much but I really enjoy them
Chips or chocolate?
Chips, unless we are talking about homemade chocolate chip cookies. Then that’s a different story
The last words belong to you. What do you want the reader take away? Let us know your poems of steel!
My Three Rules to Steel Bending…
Always look cool when bending steel.
Never let them see you fail.
When in doubt refer back to Rule #1
Don’t worry guys the t-shirt is in the design process.
We all have goals that we are chasing and want to accomplish as fast as possible, but never forget the journey we take is makes the goal the goal. Many time we try to rush it by taking short cuts to the next bar and in return the steel punishes and just laughs. Remember it is the journey that teaches us and strengthens us, so don’t be afraid of taking the long road as you will come out on the other side stronger and much more prepared for the next one. Now just keep the goal the goal and trust the process.