Archive for the ‘Aerobic Training’ Category

Stop Fit Shamers From Sabotaging Your Client’s Fitness Goals – Lori Calloway.

How Long is a Training Session? – Alwyn Cosgrove.

Your Optimal Training Frequency for the Glutes Part I: Exercise Type – Bret Contreras.

An Introduction to Dieting Part 1 – Lyle MacDonald.

An Introduction to Dieting Part 2 -Lyle MacDonald.

How to Run Without Pain – Chad Waterbury.

Are we really working hard? – Alwyn Cosgrove.

Individual Differences: The Most Important Consideration for Your Fitness Results that Science Doesn’t Tell You – Bret Contreras and James Krieger.

Doctors Do Not Know Much About Obesity Because They Are Not Expected To – Dr Sharma.

Canadian Human Rights Petitions Against Sizeism -Dr Sharma.

Weight Bias Awareness Is Still Not Being Taught To Health Professionals -Dr Sharma.

Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 5 – Eric Cressey.

How long should you rest when training with lighter loads? – Brad Schonefeld.

What is the Best Rep Range for Muscle Strength and Size? -Brad Schoenfeld.

What Are Macros? — What To Know About Macronutrients – JC Deen.

Alcohol And Weight Loss — The 4D Fat Loss Guide For Losing Body Fat And Having A Social Life

Fine Tune Your Frequency -Blaine Summer

3 Tips for Successful Dieting – Nick Shaw.

Sleeping Positions: A Disucussion of Pros and Cons – Quinn Henoch.

The Best Program for You -Thomas Lilley.

More from the Mailbag – Lyle McDonald.

Training the Obese Beginner – Lyle McDonald.

3 Amazing Back Training Routines – Smitty

Less Sickness For Better Results – Eric Cressey.

Why People Store Fat In Different Parts Of The Body -Kevin Richardson.

Questions on GMOs -Steven Novella.

Curcumin Hype vs Reality – Steven Novella.

The Strength Training Guide for Women Over 40 -Nia Shanks.

10 Overlooked Reasons Why Every Woman Should Strength Train -Nia Shanks.

Strength Training Made Simple – The 5 Principles For Pencil Pushers –Charles Poliquin.

Rise of the (Weight) Machines: Why Exercise Equipment is Not As Bad You’ve Been Told – K. Aleisha Fetters.

Losing Weight and Your Sanity: Why the Scale Lies (And How to Make Sense of Your Weight) – Brian Sabin.

Lady Gaga, The Super Bowl, And Half-Assed Body Positivity – Ragen Chastain.

Maybe I’m just not fit enough to be a trainer. 6 ways to overcome this common anxiety and build a great career. – Lindsey Heiserman.

How To Lose Belly Fat And Keep It Off In 7 Effective Steps -JC Deen.

3 Simple Squat Depth Solutions -Dean Somerset.

Are You Ready To Do Stuff? A Post On Mobility – Dean Somerset.


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I’m adding this post into a series I did some years ago as it is an important phase and one I missed out of pure laziness.

The muscle definition phase (hereafter “MD”) is the phase you would use at the end of the training block of training parameters previously mentioned to help reduce bodyfat and draw out some of the muscle you have built, for clarity those previous phases would be:

  1. Anatomical Adaptation
  2. Hypertrophy
  3. Mixed Training
  4. Maximum Strength

To begin with let us state the scope of the MD phase as according to the authors:

  • Burns off subcutaneous fat and increases visibility of muscle striations.

  • Increases the protein content of muscles through performance of long, high-rep sets. In addition to better muscle definition, in some instances these exercises increase muscle strength.

  • Clearly increases capillary density within the muscle through increases adaptation to aerobic work, which may result in a slight increase in muscle size.  (Bompa et al, 2003, p.245)

The authors note they are breaking from bodybuilding tradition when they propose a rep range over 12 to 15 reps, stating that on average bodybuilders believe to increase muscle size reps over this range are not necessary, which the authors concede this. However they state that going over these rep ranges will promote “better looking bodies with higher muscle density, perfect symmetry, and increased muscle separation and striations” (p.245-6), they do this by (1) burning off the fat and (2) decrease load with more reps. Let’s take each in turn.

(1) Burn Off Fat

In order the maximize the values mentioned above removing fat is important, to do this the authors state that to do this: “the duration of nonstop muscular contraction must be increased” (p. 246). They state that bodybuilders have traditionally used aerobic steady state cardio to achieve this, but the authors state this method to be ineffective when compared to theirs. The difference, they say, comes from the fact that fat will be burned from local muscle groups and the body overall through the drastic (but progressive) increase in repetitions. Coupled with this they state to peform the program in a non stop fashion, that is “to perform hundreds of repetitions per muscle group per workout. Since it is impossible to do work of such long duration nonstop for only one muscle group, exercises must be continually alternated during the workout.” (p. 246)

(2) Decrease Load With More Reps

In order to achieve the kinds of reps the authors are talking about you need to drop the load to “30 to 50 percent of 1RM” (p. 245), that is by about half of what you normally lift (RM refers to Repetition Maximum and refers to the max amount of weight you can lift by a designated number, e.g 1,3,5,7 etc). Why do this?

At the beginning of a high-rep, low-load set, only a limited number of muscle fibers are active. The other fibers are at rest, bu they become activated as the contracting fibers become fatigued. This progressively increasing recruitment of muscle fibers allows a person to perform work for a prolonged period of time. Prolonged work exhausts the ATP/PC and glycogen energy supplies, leaving fatty acids as the only fuel available to sustain this activity. Use of this fuel sources burns fat from the body, and especially the subcutaneous fat. The burning off of this type of fat increases muscle striations and muscle definition. (Bompa et al, 2003, p.246)

Program Design For The MD Phase

The authors state in order to utilize fatty acids as fuel a large amount of repetitions must be performed, and thus short rest intervals will prevent ATP/PC and glycogen regeneration and force the body to use its fatty acid stores. The authors warn the MD phase must be carefully designed so that it only takes 2-3 seconds to move between exercise stations. Moreover as exercises are often paired together the authors note is preferable to pick an even number of exercises. They also state some basic programming principles:

In the first three weeks, the purpose of training is to increase the number of reps to 50 or higher for each exercise. When this is accomplished, the exercises are grouped into two, then four, and so on, until eventually all eight exercises can be performed together without stopping. (Bompa et al, 2003, p.247)

Fr maximum results the authors note that the ideal MD Phase should consist of two six-week MD phases, with the longer the time spent on MD the greater of amount of fat burned.

Muscle Definition Cues

Unfortunately this will be a straight quote, as it is bullet points:

  • MD training requires that muscle groups be constantly alternated.

  • The same exercise may be performed twice per set, especially one targeting a desired muscle group.

  • The number of reps may not be exactly the same for each exercise. The decision depends on the individuals strengths and weaknesses for given muscle groups or on an individuals choice in targeting specific muscle(s).

  • Speed should be moderate throughout the set. A fast lifting rhythm may produce a high level of lactic acid, which can hamper ability to finish the entire set.

  • In order to avoid wasting time between exercises, athletes should (if this is possible) set up all the equipment needed before the training session begins.

  • Since the physiological demand of MD training can be quite severe, entry-level athletes should not use it.

  • The total number of MD workouts per week can be from 2 to 4, depending on the athlete’s experience – lower for recreational, and higher for advanced or professional athletes. The additional 1 to 2 workouts can be divided between aerobic, H, or MxS training.

  • The number of reps per exercise should not be restricted to 50, as shown in our example. A very well-training athlete may go as high as 60 to 75. (Bompa et al, 2003, p.247)

Below I’ll include example workout the authors provide:

FullSizeRender (3)Reference

Bompa, T.O., Pasquale, M.D., Conrnacchia, L.J. (2003). Serious Strength Training (Second Edition). Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.

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Although not directly tied to the title of the book, Periodization offers plenty of “ancillary” information seemingly pertinent to any fitness enthusiast, as such we will look at some of that here today. Primarily we will be looking at energy systems, what they are, their role and the benefits of maximizing each. To begin let us look at Bompa and Haff’s rundown of the three energy systems and their role in providing energy:

At all times the various energy systems contribute to the overall ATP [Adenosine Triphosophate] yield. However, depending on the physiological demands associated with the exercise bout, ATP yield can be linked to a primary energy system. For example, very high intensity events, such as the 100m sprint, that occur in a short time can result in a significant reliance on the anaerobic energy [that is, energy created without the presence of oxygen] systems to meet the demand for ATP. As the duration of the activity is extended, the reliance on oxidative mechanisms for supplying ATP increase. For example, exercise bouts that last approximately 1 min will meet 70% of the body’s energy demand via anaerobic mechanisms, whereas bouts of exercise that are 4 min in duration will meet 65% of the body’s energy demand via the use of aerobic metabolism. (Bompa & Haff, 2009, p. 26)

From here the authors state that what this means is that at any given time during exercise there is a primary energy system that meets the body’s needs for energy, but they also note that this does not mean that we need to train one energy system for one intensity. Studies have shown (p. 27) that high intensity (anaerobic) interval training can significantly improve endurance (that is, oxidative, long duration) work, by increasing lactate threshold and thus allowing the endurance athlete to work at a higher intensity before experiencing a build up of lactic acid. The benefits of high intensity interval training can reach beyond this however, with increases in short-term and long-term energy system enzymatic activity, an increase in maximal power output as well as aerobic power output all being demonstrated reliably. (p. 27) The authors note from here that it has been suggested that a high aerobic capacity enhances the removal of waste products from high intensity anaerobic work because “this capacity enhances removal of lactate and PCr [Phosphocreatine a short term anaerobic energy system, one of two, the other being the glycolytic system) this has led some coaches to assume that aerobic training is useful in recovery strategies from high intensity intervals. This however has been rebutted by numerous studies (p. 27), the increase in aerobic output resulting from athletes in predominately anaerobic sports who train anaerobically will develop an aerobic capacity high enough to aid in postexercise recovery. Moreover the increase and use of aerobic work can actually decrease anaerobic performance, through proposed mechanisms such as a decrease in the force/velocity curve (that is the athlete’s ability to produce force in the high velocity/low-frequency region of the curve which can affect the athlete’s ability to develop explosive strength particularly high rates of force development and high levels of peak force, p. 288), as well as a fiber type shift from type II muscle fibers (“fast-twitch”) to type I (“slow twitch”). While not necessarily detrimental to the common exercise enthusiast this should be considered when factoring in ones sporting concerns and outcomes.

To train specific energy systems we need to be mindful of our work-to-rest ratios, perhaps by looking at the sport we wish to engage in, or if we are simply training recreationally we might like to look at what markers we want to increase, be it speed, power output, duration, or if we’re going for aesthetic goals. For example, shorter work-to-rest ratios that is a 1:1-1:3 ratio (that is one interval to one rest, working up to one interval to three times the rest) will work the oxidative system, whereas longer work-to-rest ratios will target the short-term energy systems, for example 1:12-1:20. (p. 27)

That might be enough for today’s post, in our next post we’ll look at aerobic versus anaerobic endurance more closely.


Bompa, T., Haff, G. (2009). Periodization. Human Kinetics.

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Why Weights Are Better Than Cardio for Fat Loss -Adam Bornstein.

The Sisterhood of Lifting -Alice Round.

Wheat Belly Deception: Understanding Wheat, Insulin, and Fat Loss -Adam Bornstein.

What Do We Mean By Fat Civil Rights?

The Body Cleanse: Does Juicing Really Work? -Adam Bornstein.

BioLayne Guest Blog by Jonathan Goodman – The Fitness Industry is Failing -Jon Goodman.

Strength Is Not Always the Answer -Adam Bornstein.

Strength and Prevention of Injuries -Mark Rippetoe.

A Better Way to Perform Circuit Training -Adam Bornstein.

The Ultimate Training Secret -Lyle McDonald.

If You Want To Lose Fat, and Keep It Off, Don’t Fall For The Low-Carb Trap -JC Deen.

5 Common Diet Excuses Too Many People Make -JC Deen.

Training For Fat Loss In Simple Terms: What You Must Know -JC Deen.

When to Eat Delicious Food and When to Avoid It -Mike Israetel.

The Hip Impingement Solution -Dan McClean.

The Sport Psychology of Goal-Setting -Mike Israetel.

Off-Season Strength Building for CrossFit: Do’s and Don’ts -Jacob Tsypkin.

Activated charcoal: The latest detox fad in an obsessive food culture -David Gorski.

The measles vaccine protects against more than just the measles -David Gorski.

What is Athleticism?– Justin Hays.

How Long Should You Stay on a Program? -Mike Robertson.

How to Stick to Your Diet -Nia Shanks.

Damage Control – What to do When You Over Indulge -Nia Shanks.

Top Fitness Articles Of 2014  -Kevin Richardson,

5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need Vitamin Supplements  -Kevin Richardson.

Are You Changing Behaviors with Motivation, Ease, or Both? -Eric Cressey.

Squeeze More Muscle into Your Training -Chad Waterbury.

Q & A: Whey Protein and the Deadlift -Chad Waterbury.

Proper Hip Thrust Technique: Head and Neck Position -Ben Bruno.

First Powerlifting Meet: 20 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Anabolic Steroids and Muscle Growth -Lyle McDonald.

Heavy Light Medium Training -Lyle McDonald.

Effects of Low-Versus High Load Resistance Training – Research Review -Lyle McDonald.

My Weekly Routine -Brad Pilon.

7 Muscle-Building, Testosterone-Boosting Tips for Guys Over 40 (& All Hardgainers) -Jason Ferruggia.

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The Diet And Training Combination: Figuring Out How You’re Messing It Up -JC Deen.

Yoga for Athletes: Why Activation and Inhibition Matter More than Stretching -Dana Santas.

Round Backed Deadlifts Another Look -Lyle MacDonald.

How To Gain Weight — Practical Applications for Eating to Build Muscle, and Why You Might Not Want to Gain Weight Fast -JC Deen.

Why Should I Use “Good” Form if I’m Stronger With “Bad” Form? -Bret Contreras.

The Top 5 Deadlift Mistakes to Avoid -Amir Fazeli.

9 Non-Fitness Books Every Fitness Professional Should Read -Dean Somerset.

Body Positivity in Space

How to Strength Train for Jiu-jitsu -Charles Poliquin.

Strength Strategies: Installment 1 -Greg Robbins.

Acupuncture, Organic Food, and Other Questions -Steven Novella.

5 Mobility Rules of Thumb, Part 1 -Quenn Henoch.

5 Things to Know About Your First Weightlifting Competition -Ariel Stephens.

(Please don’t skip me!) Warm-up -Neghar Fonooni.

How to Science Your Fitness -Dean Somerset.

The Taxonomical Disorder of Recovery – Antonio Robustelli.

4 Worst Foods for Plantar Fasciitis -Rick Kaselj.

The 3,500 Cal Per Pound Weight-Loss Fallacy And Why Even Experts Get This Wrong -Arya Sharma.

Perfectionism Sucks (Plus 9 other Things I Learned in 2014) -Neghar Fonooni.

7 Worst Shoes for Your Feet -Rick Kaselj.

2014: Chiropractors, naturopaths and acupuncturists lose in state legislatures -Jann Belamy.

The Best of 2014: Product Reviews -Eric Cressey.

BEST Products of 2014 -Rick Kaselj.

An Open Apology to the Internet – Lyle MacDonald.

The Health Benefits of Moderate Drinking -Harriet Hall.

BEST Articles of 2014 -Rick Kaselj.

The Truth About Belly Fat -Rick Kaselj.

Ethics in the Fitness Industry -Nick Mitchell.

Massage & Muscle Stiffness -Patrick Ward.

No, the HPV vaccine does not cause promiscuity -Scott Gavera.

5 Lessons on Coaching -John O’Neil.

Nine Things that Improve Insulin Sensitivity: Accelerate Fat Loss & Build Muscle Faster! – Poliquin Group.

Detox: What “They” Don’t Want You To Know – Scott Gavera.

Working in Tall-Kneeling -Dan John.

Fitness Marketing Bullsh*t -Nick Mitchell.

Top 10 Foods that Help Balance Cortisol for Optimal Body Composition – Poliquin Group.

Diesel Quick Tip – Awesome Hip External Rotator Stretch

The Multi-Angle Giant Set for a Big Back -Charles Poliquin.

Stop Striving for “perfection”. Find your strong.– Alice Round.

Why IIFYM doesn’t mean go YOLO on food choices….don’t be a basic bitch -Alice Round.

Why FATS dont make you FAT -Alice Round.

Bret’s Third Powerlifting Meet: What a Crazy Day! -Bret Contreras.

Don’t Be a Slave to the Scale -Bret Contreras.


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The Overlooked Key to Muscle Growth -Lee Boyce.

Why I Lift, and Why You Should Too -Bret Contreras.

Double Stimulation Training -Christian Thibaudeau

Kettlebell Leg Training -Mike Robertson.

December Research Round-Up: Foam Rolling Edition -Bret Contreras.

My New Study on Fasted Cardio and Fat Loss: Take Home Points -Brad Schoenfeld.

Bionic Ethics -Mike LaBossiere.

Eating What Bugs Us -Mike LaBossiere.

Simplifying Your Squat and Deadlift -Mike Robertson.

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

Eric Helms’ Epic Article on Natural Bodybuilding Potential -Alan Aragon.

BioLayne Video Log – How to Track Macros When Eating Out -Layne Norton.

The Myth Of Core Stability.

20 Ways to Train Smarter -Bret Contreras.

New Insight into Rest Intervals for Muscle Growth -Brad Schoenfeld.

When is Weight a Symptom?

Correctives-Dan John.

Realistic Reps and The Rule of Ten -Dan John.

Five Movements That Will Make An Impact Overnight -Dan John.

The Problem With A Lively Debate

Yes, Fat People Are Actually Human

What To Do When You’re Not Motivated -JC Deen.

The Iron Age: Resistance Training and the Metabolic Syndrome -Dr Jonathon Sullivan.

Stuff to Check Out: New Years Edition -Dead Somerset.

Bullet Proof Abs of Steel -Dean Somerset.

A New Approach To Fat Loss Nutrition -Adam Bornstein.

Eating At Night Does Not Make You Fat -Adam Bornstein.

No Carbs Diet: The Flaw in Fat Loss -Adam Bornstein.

Overtraining or Undertraining? Plan From a New Perspective -Michael Nackoul.

Calling All Rookies -Natalie Tenorio.

Light-Load Training: Can It Build Muscle? -Brad Schoenfeld.

Top Fitness Articles of the Week — January 11, 2015 -Jesus and Kristen.

5 Tips On How You Can Be the Change To A Better Gym Culture -Matt Klingler.

Top Fitness Articles of the Week — January 4, 2015 -Jesus and Kristen.

5 New Strategies for Fat Loss -Clay Hyght.

Steroids: What Pro Bodybuilders Are Really Using – Shadow Pro.

The Best Damn Posterior Chain Exercises -Bret Contreras.

How Many Carbs Do You Need? -Nate Miyaki.

An Often Over-looked Form of Soft Tissue Treatment -Jarrett.

Crawling Your Way to Chiseled Abs -Charlie Badaway.

A New Super Smoothie -Mike Snowden.

7 Reasons To Swing Big Bells -Kelsey.

Circuit Training -Kelsey.

Real Talk about Aerobic Training for Athletes -Mike Robertson.

Some Thoughts on Increasing Punching Power – Charles Poliquin.

My Take on Medicine Balls -Charles Poliquin.

 Most Bang For Your Bucks 2015 Resolutions -Charles Poliquin.

Ten Things I Was Grateful for in 2014 -Charles Poliquin.

Top 15 Incredible Reasons to Strength Train… Besides a Bangin’ Body -The Poliquin Group.

25 Simple Ways to Improve Insulin Sensitivity & PREVENT Diabetes -The Poliquin Group.


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The female trainee, and the female athlete have a lot on common, and are subject to similar stressors, it is important we take a second to look at these in any discussion of health, to identify and attempt to minimize them. After all, a healthy athlete is a productive one. Benardot states such things as the ‘female athlete triad’ (that is: eating disorder, menstrual dysfunction, and low bone density) p. 218, should be taken seriously.

Benardot states some of the ways women may have different nutrient intakes to men: some are due to body composition differences (males generally have a higher metabolic mass), some are due to body size (males having a larger body size than females generally), and some are due to physiological differences such iron intake with women needed twice as much (due to the blood loss during normal menses). That said, as Benardot states: “Energy intakes, for all athletes, are based on total weight, weight of the metabolic mass, and duration and intensity of exercise.” (Benardot, 2012, p. 219) Thus, dietary programs need to consider some different variables when being created for men and women. (p.219)

The first prong of the female athlete triad: eating disorder, is manifested and reported Benardot states in surveys of female athletes (p. 219) by a underconsumption of energy “leading many to assume female athletes are at an elevated risk of developing eating disorders regardless of what type of sport they  are participating in.” (Benardot, 2012, p. 219) The question of what a female athlete should ingest in terms of energy should be informed by their goals, food availability, habits, and of course substrate utilization, and Benardot states there are some relevant differences between men and women, as in regards to fat utilization.

Studies indicate that females have a higher lipid, lower glycogen (carbohydrate), and lower protein utilization than do males athletes during endurance exercise. Because glycogen storage is limited, the lower rate of glycogen utilization gives females what appears to be a clear advantage over men in long-duration, lower intensity athletic events. This also gives rise to the following questions: Should female endurance athletes have a different energy substrate consumption pattern than male endurance athletes given the difference in the pattern on substrate utilization? No solid evidence indicates there should be a difference in intake, and the nature of endurance and endurance events still makes carbohydrate storage (glycogen) the limiting substrate in performance.(Benardot, 2012, p. 219)

From a performance aspect for female athletes, fat should not prioritized as a macronutrient for exercise, nor should it be heavily reduced either. Benardot states many female athletes who desire to lower their bodyfat percentage levels excessively drop their fat intake (the study he cites shows, that fat intake is 6 percent lower in amenorrheic athletes versus eumenorrheic athletes, that is lower in athletes with no menstrual cycle for 3-6 months versus those with a normal menstrual cycle) p. 220 Given, Benardot states, the high energy needs of female athletes, and the fact that women have an excellent system for catabolizing fat for energy fat should range in the 20 to 25 percent of total energy intake.

Weight loss is important to most athletes, and women need to be aware of the risks of severely depleting caloric intake to lose fat, the author states that such a strategy could be particularly unwise, even if we ignore the associated health risks (and exposure to eating disorder, or disordered eating that can arise with such a strategy), simply because it doesn’t work. Benardot states that although lowing calories can be desirable to lose bodyfat, that there is a reasonable and manageable way to do so. Going to extreme lengths to strip bodyfat can actually have the reverse effect, that is it can negatively effect lean mass rather than fat mass. Moreover, getting to extremely low levels of bodyfat itself (Benardot states that a range of 17-22% is needed to maintain normal menstrual function in most women, p. 233) can itself be harmful in that reproductive function can be compromised, which in turn lead to bone density issues.

Severely calorie restricted diets can negatively affect vitamin intake as well as negatively and consequently affect bodily functions. Benardot states that female athletes on restricted diets (that is diets below the recommended dietary intakes for their particular sport), can present with zinc, vitamin B6 issues, and studies have found that iron and calcium can be low in endurance athletes.

Adequate calcium consumption is necessary to develop and maintain high-density bones that are resistant to fracture, and iron is necessary for oxygen delivery to working cells… Ensuring adequate calcium intake is within easy reach of every athlete, but it should be understood that calcium intake by itself does not ensure good bones. Calcium, vitamin D, estrogen, and physical stress are all needed for bone development. Surveys have found low storage iron (ferritin) in female runners, and other studies have found that female athletes with anemia can improve aerobic performance through iron supplementation. (Benardot, 2012, p. 221)

Benardot is quick to state of course that iron should be regularly assessed by professionals before supplementation is taken up.

The female athlete triad does not have any particular horn set in isolation, one influences or is influenced by the other, as such restricted caloric diet can negatively affect the other prongs leading to irregular menses which can lead to bone density issues, both of which will be discussed at length in another post. Expect some overlap.


Benardot. D. (2012). Advanced Sports Nutrition. Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.


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