Hub lifting is a form of pinch grip training. The hub, or the center of the weight plate, is the spot upon which you will do all your lifting when hub training. This can be a very inexpensive form of grip training, especially if you already own lifting plates that have a decent hub on them. It can also be a very expensive form of grip training, if you try to find some of the rarer types of plates that exist for hub lifting.
Before we get into too much detail about the many types of hubs that exist, it is important to understand a few things about hub lifting. Since this is a form of pinch grip training, it focuses on the development and display of thumb strength – the strength of the thumb will be the limiting factor in completing a hub lift. It is said that you have fully lifted a hub when you pinch the plate or other hub device and then lift it so that you stand in a fully upright position. Breaking the object off the floor only slightly or pulling it a few inches from the floor does not constitute a full lift. You must be able to control it long enough to reach the locked out position.
While many grip strength feats are easier for those with larger hands to perform, hub lifting might just be one of the feats that is easier for the smaller handed athlete to perform. I believe this to be so because the smaller handed individual is able to grasp the hub implement closer to the center of the hand. When a larger handed individual takes a grip on a hub, much of the hand will fail to come in contact with any of the gripping surface of the hub, so leverage and mechanical advantage is decreased. This bottoming out effect is caused by the fingertips hitting against the flat surface of the plate.
VARIOUS TYPES OF HUB PLATES
There is quite a variety of plates that are available with which to do hub lifting. Plates and their hubs can be thin or thick, straight, or sloped. These variations make some plates much easier to hub lift than others.
These days, many weight plates are thin and have a very shallow hub. While not impossible to lift, a shallow hub is much tougher to lift than a deep hub because you can not get as much surface area when applying your grip on the hub. Also, if the shallow hub is straight up and down, it will be much easier to lift. If there is a slope to the hub, the difficulty goes up quickly. These plates are by far the most common plate designs that I have seen in gyms where I have trained.
Occasionally you might run across thicker plates, sometimes called deep dish plates. A thicker plate means that it will usually have a deeper hub. This additional surface area will help you to lift the plates more easily, especially if the hub is straight. You can see in this image, from HeavyGrips.com, that the plate is rather thick and the hub is very deep and straight. As long as the finish on the plates is not too smooth, it is probably on the easier end of the spectrum to lift.
Not all deep dish plates are easy to lift, though. Decades ago, York Barbell produced some of the thickest and also the most sloping hub plates. These plates are rare and are very expensive. I have heard tell that collectors will easily shell out $150 for these pieces of iron history. At Diesel Crew, we have been lucky enough to collect over the years a couple pairs of these highly sought after York plates. You can see in the image that while the hub is very deep, it also slopes outwards. Even with a textured surface, this slope makes this York hub a very challenging hub to lift.
Hub lifting is a great form of pinch grip training, especially if you have grown tired of other styles such as plate pinching or working on the Titan’s Telegraph Key, which I wrote about a while back, here. If you are interested in performing feats of strength and would like to join a message board on grip strength training, the Gripboard maintains a record list of the site’s members who have completed certain feats of grip strength. One of the lists is the Double 45-lb Hub Lift. There are many other feat lists that are maintained, which makes it fun to always have more feats to shoot for.
If you have any questions of hub lifting, or other feats of strength like nail bending, please feel free to ask me.
All the best in your training.