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I am currently in the last week of my second of three cycles leading up to the Arnold. The current phase is intended to peak for a 5-Repetition Maximum in the deadlift off of the floor. I will use a suit and belt for this 5-RM pull. I used a short three week cycle of band deadlifts in order to peak for the 5-RM. The bands provided 260 pounds of tension at the top. The main benefit of a deadlift suit is experienced off of the floor until just below the knees. Then the lifter is left with an overloaded top half of the pull, so it only makes sense to use a movement (such as band deadlifts) that overloads the top half of the pull.
My core strength is at an all-time high. This is, of course, due to very aggressive specific core training, but also due to the fact that I have not worn a belt much at all these first two cycles. All band deadlifts, dynamic effort box squats and deadlift accessory work (i.e. zercher deadlifts, partial isometric deadlifts and 5x5 back squat program) were performed without a belt. The zercher deadlifts have been good to keep my strength off of the floor up, especially when the band deadlifts aren’t that heavy off of the floor. The partial isometric deadlifts are intended to strengthen the deadlift where it is typically at its weakest point biomechanically (when it is furthest away from the body’s center of gravity).
I am also really starting to see the benefit of the accessory work performed in the last cycle. The wide grip RDL’s and pause deadlifts off of the floor have done wonders to strengthen my core and upper back for the pull. I am a low back dominant puller that typically gets in a really bad position just off of the floor (rounded back). However, my back stays in a very strong position now when pulling off of the floor, as can be seen in the band deadlifts. As always, videos of all movements can be seen at youtube.