Don Cummings Hammers the 100 Red Nail Challenge

Knowing what he'd be going through did not deter Don Cummings when he decided to square off with the 100 Red Nail Challenge. The IronMind Red Nail is a signature short steel bend known worldwide—bending 100 of these beasts is off the charts. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of Don Cummings It's not for the faint of heart, but the 100 Red Nail Challenge caught Don Cummings' eye and the rest is history: Don blew through 102 IronMind Red Nails before calling it a day. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of Don Cummings

If you’re 40 and think you should head to the couch, take a lesson from Don Cummings who took on and conquered the 100 Red Nail Challenge, winning a bloody battle that few would willingly undertake.

“I am absolutely obsessed with steel bending and love the physical and mental challenge of bending,” Don told IronMind.  I certified on the Red Nail in June of 2017 and won the two bending competitions that were held in the USA in the past 5 years.

“A couple years ago, I was researching steel bending and came across the IronMind article about Greg Amidon and Dave Morton each bending 100 Red Nails in three hours in 2005. That feat had never been done again . .. no one had come close to 100 Red Nails since them.

“The feat really impressed me because of the pain tolerance and mental toughness involved. The feat always lingered in my head and would not go away. It went away finally after I bent 40 red nails on my 40th birthday. My hands were destroyed and it was one of the most painful experiences. I decided I was not going to do any more high volume bending feats.  

“However, after the hands healed, the 100 Red Nail mark crept back into my head. After talking with some friends at the Gripmas Grip Competition last year, I decided I would go for bending 100 Red Nails this summer.

“After the Michigan Steel Bending and Breaking Championship and Steel Shredder King's Shield comps were done in May, I started training for the feat. I knew the thing I needed to train the most was my hand toughness.  I focused on doing big volume bending sessions. My hands would get torn up. I would let them heal and then do another big volume day with more nails. 

“The most Red Nails I bent in training was 50. The thought process was that I only needed to absolutely destroy myself one time. I just wanted to get my hands as tough as possible in training. 

“Bending 30 Red Nails hurt in training. Then I did 40 Red Nails easier than the 30 and my hands held up better. Finally, I did 50 easier than the 40 I did 1-1/2 weeks before. I bent the 50 Red Nails two weeks before the 100 Red Nail attempt day to give myself time to heal. I thought my hands were healing too much and I wanted to maintain some roughness, so I did about 20 bends one week before the attempt just to rough the hands up a bit.  I did a few more bends on the Monday before and then let the hands heal until the attempt day [Saturday].

“I had some good friends come over for the action, including Bill Hinbern.  Amir Bayour helped me with wrapping, which was desperately needed, especially when my hands were bad and bleeding.

“The first 50 went really fast. At 50 my hands were starting to tear decently. At 60 it was worse and at about 70 is when they started getting ugly. At the end, I really needed to prepare myself for each hit as the bending was being done on raw meat. My middle and pointer fingers and my palm were wrecked on each hand.  The kink was the worst part of the bends and was rough at the end. At the end, I could not put a new bar in the wraps because my hands were shaky.  My fingers were involuntarily twitching.  I had more nails but stopped at 102 because enough damage had been done. I had beat the 100 mark and was happy with how destroyed I was. I did not need to escalate the destruction. My body had a deep soreness for two days.

“Saturday was a great day for me. I accomplished a feat that I have been impressed with for a long time. My hands were mangled in the process. It is fun to test your limits and push yourself mentally and physically.  Fun times!

“I have thought about seeing how fast I can bend a 50-lb. box of 60-penny nails. There are over 500 nails in a 50-lb. box.  I only know of John Brookfield having done this feat.   I also have some steel snapping, reverse bending and braced bending goals to work on.

“My first two IronMind products I can remember buying were the SUPER SQUATS book and John Brookfield's first book [The Mastery of Hand Strength]. I bought those in high school. I had great success with the 20-rep squat program in high school.

“Thanks again for doing this and for running such an important company!,” said Don.

Not just another day in the office: Don Cummings (41 years old, 6"1 tall and 240 lb.) takes on—and meets—the extreme challenge of bending 100 IronMind Red Nails. IronMind® | Photo courtesy of Don Cummings


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