HUBanero Training or Setting Your Grip On Fire

by James Fuller

Driving home from the 2013 Heavy Lift Championships, I realized I had a puzzle to solve.  How to continue improving my Hub lifting ability without the aid of Frank Ciavattone’s large hub Yorks? Remember, Frank’s hubs are the SAME 4  3/4″ across as on my 100 lbers!! Lifting by the hub is NOT at all like lifting a thick bar, pinch gripping a bunch of 10 lb plates or crushing a gripper to death. Hub lifting is uniquely it’s own. The performance is not straightforward as Al Myers can tell you.

4 Spoke Grip Nemesis

To Frank’s meet, I brought 2 45lb BEN Deep Dish plates. These were my Hub Lifting practice plates. The hubs are the same 3  1/2″ across as my York Deep Dish 45’s but have only 3 ’spokes’.  The spokes are the risers on plates most people don’t notice. Near the lip or flange of the plate, they start low and and gradually get taller like a ramp until they merge into the hub.

I showed Al how to grab the hub with index and middle finger together while the ring finger is on the other side of the spoke. The thumb doesn’t seem to contribute much. The pinky ‘backs up’ the ring finger at best. From here twist hand INWARDS against the spokes, as if to unscrew the top off a pickle jar. Now pick up the weight. When I’m done training with these plates it is the ring finger(s) that feel the most stress/work. The twisting helps get my hands closer to the hub and effectively ’shortens’ my fingers. As Al pointed out a smaller hand person has the advantage when it comes to Hub Lifting. The larger the hand, the more work that has to be done  by the finger tips alone.

My 4 spoke York 45’s give me nothing to twist against. The spokes are laid out differently and require me to pick them up ’straight on’ by the finger tips. I can not lift them this way…yet. I need something lighter but with similar dimensions. I believe I’ve found a possible solution. I bought a couple of Fire Hydrant Nozzle Caps(FHNC) at a local Antique shop.

Comparison of Nozzle Cover: Gripping Lip (left) and Gripping Base (right)

These caps provide 3 different gripping ‘handles’ to train. The top is a pentagon. One fits a thumb and 3 fingers while the other fits a thumb and 2 fingers. Oddly, the smaller pentagon is on the heavier cap. The second ‘handle’ is a lip just below the base of the pentagon. The lip can only be picked up by the finger tips. The 3rd handle is the base below the lip. This is the widest part of the cap. One measures 4  3/4″  and the other is 4  1/4″.  One flares out much like a hub. The other  is straight and has finger holds. With hand over the pentagon, there’s more distance between the palm and the fingers, requiring more fingertip strength to pick up the cap. The insides are threaded so that I can attach a pipe and add weight.  The whopping cost for these caps were 10.00$. Some rattle can rust converter to keep the tetanus down to a minimum and I’m off to the races. I’m curious to see how training with these turns out. You certainly can’t beat the price. Remember, there’s nothing like fire hydrant parts to add fire to your training.

The Hub Lift Clean & Press

by Al Myers

James Fuller hub lifting an Old-style York Deep-Dish 45 lb plate, then cleaning and pressing it!

Last month at Frank’s Barbell Record Breakers  James Fuller did something that really impressed me.  Most of us know James by his secret forum identity only (61pwcc , ok – it’s not a secret anymore!!).  I first met him at the Heavy Lift Championships in York, PA in 2011.  James epitomizes an all rounder – he is constantly thinking of different lifting movements to incorporate into his daily training.  He is interested in ALL TYPES of strength.  Just watch some of his YouTube Videos of his training in his dungeon and you’ll see what I’m talking about!

Now what did he do that impressed me so much?  Well – even though he did several spectacular record lifts that wasn’t it. In fact, this strength feat was done as an exhibition lift that is not an official lift of the USAWA and thus is not a record of any kind.   It was him hub lifting an old style deep-dish York 45 plate, then cleaning it, and finishing off by pressing it.  That’s quite a grip feat.  James commented in the forum by saying, “I hub lifted one of Frank’s York Deep Dish 45’s and he in turn used MY York Deep Dish 45’s that I just got. Been wanting to Hub Clean & Press a 45er for awhile.”

I have a old York deep-dish 45 in the Dino Gym, and I’ve only seen a few lifters even lift it up by the hub.  I consider that a great grip feat and definitely puts a person in a “class of their own”.  Performing a Clean & Press by the hub is just unreal!  I just hope James shows up at the Heavy Lift Champs this spring in Walpole, as I’ll try to talk him into repeating this effort so I can see it first-hand!