To perform well on this exercise, it is important to be sure the hands are well chalked. Initially, the webbing between the pointer finger and thumb may be damaged during the plate pinch. Allowed to heal, the skin will become tougher and ultimately stand up to the stress with little problem. Many find training the plate pinch with two hands on the plates at once to be key to developing a strong one handed pinch.
Pinching 2 25lb plates should be a readily obtainable goal for most. Working up to 2 35lb plates is more challenging. Progressive resistance can be obtained by running a piece of 1.5” inner diameter pipe through 2 olympic plates and adding weight as needed. One can also make the plate pinch work more challenging by doing timed holds or passing the plates from hand to hand. Note that these exercises are more likely to cause trauma to the thumb webbing than simply deadlifting the plates and setting them back down.
In addition to training the grip, this tool is helpful for overcoming mental blocks with a specific weight. Once the mind knows a weight can be controlled, breaking it off the ground becomes much easier. Also consider using the finger press on fixed size thick dumbbells. Slight pressure applied to the head of the weight will stop rotation and enable a stronger pull.
Progress can be tested by hanging additional weight off the block and working up to a max deadlift from the ground. Note that because the heavier blocks are also wider, lifting a 25lb block with 5lbs attached is not as hard as lifting a 30lb block. Weight can be attached by draping a piece of strong cord with plates tied to either end over the top of the block. An extremely strong magnet or magnetic weights can also be used.
Depending on the size of the block weight, performing the exercises above may also be possible while grasping the block across its widest point. Care must be taken to break into this type of training slowly. The extremely wide grip may hyperextend the thumb, causing a tendon injury that is slow to heal.
Also note that one style of olympic plate is entirely symmetrical, with matching ridges on the front and back rim, as well as handles cast into the plate. Often found at fitness gyms, these work poorly for plate pinches or hub lifts.