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How to do Pull-ups: A Surefire Progression to Pull-up Proficiency Part 2

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of the pull-up progression on Monday. Click the link before continuing, or this will happen.

He'll visit you if you skip ahead.
He’ll visit you if you skip ahead. Photo credit:frabz.com

Seriously. Okay I’m kidding that was excessive, but skipping ahead of baseline movements is bad news.  Go read part 1 of your sure-fire pull-up progression here.

This post will be my last for the week and into next week since I’m currently Florida, attending a masquerade party–which also triggered. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m assuming that wearing a speedo, cowboy boots, and a mask won’t work. That said I get free drinks and food for a few days while working on my sunburn. Nevertheless, it’s time for business.

You’ve practiced your inverted row variations and blasted a few with your feet elevated –good job! Now, things get tricky. Pull-ups require a vertical pull, much more difficult than horizontal. The strength built up rowing your bodyweight will help, but further planning is needed before pull-ups.

Negative Band-Assisted Pull-Up: Using a band will lessen the load on the most difficult portion of the pull-up—the bottom. Use a high tension band, stepping into it from a box. With your chin above the bar lower your body, brace the core, squeeze the glutes, and lower until the arms are fully extended. Step  back to the box and repeat for two or three reps. The body is stronger during the eccentric portion exercises, so this engrains the range of motion and strength development in the pull-up.

[Use a band rather than a standing, assisted pull-up machine when possible. If you’ve reached this point you’re strong enough to control your body with a band-assist.]

 

women band assisted pull-up
Photo Credit: Band Assisted Pull-Up

Band-Assisted Pull-Ups: After gaining eccentric strength and control it’s time to perform the eccentric and concentric portions of the pull-up. Stand on the band with core braced and glutes squeezed, driving the elbows down until the chin passes the bar. Lower yourself under control and repeat for reps. Re-set between reps if needed, working with 3-8 reps per set.

Negative Pull-Ups: I program negative pull-ups with band assisted pull-ups for rapid improvements. Negative pull-ups through the entire ROM without use of any band-assistance is a great strength building exercise. Jump up to the bar OR step from a box with your chin above the bar. Keep reps slow as the arms extend, aiming for 4-5 seconds per rep for 3-5 reps per set. 

Pull-Up grip progression: Congrats! You’re ready to tackle Pull-ups, but it’s not that simple. Certain grips and hand positions are easier than others. First, use a shoulder width neutral grip (thumbs pointing back). You’ll be stronger in both a neutral and supinated (palms facing you) grip before moving to a true pull-up. Begin with these variations before a pronated (overhand grip) pull-up.

 Pull-Up Progression Programming

Pull-ups are no easy task—when 0-3 reps are your max then every chin-up is near maximal effort. This is extremely taxing on the central nervous system. Spread your practice throughout the week so theres plenty of time for recovery and avoid failure.

Each training session should include a variation of this progression, building strength and muscle to improve your chin-ups.
Since pull-ups are your primary goal start your sessions with a challenging variation; remember, pull-ups are a near maximal exercise, use plenty of rest between sets.

  • Pull-ups are the priority, plan them first in your training session.
  • Train between one and six reps per set, picking a total rep goal of 15-25 total reps in the workout. However you break up your sets is up to you.
  • Use rest pauses if you approach technical failure. Rest 10-15 seconds between reps to complete your sets.
  • Rest 60-120 seconds between sets. Remember, if you can’t do a chin-up nearly every rep is maximum effort.
  • Avoid failure. Avoid failure. Avoid failure.
  • Have a well-rounded exercise program focused on building total-body strength. Deadlifts, squats, presses, and lunges will strengthen your entire body.

Sample Program

Weeks 1-2: Focus on part 1 variations, 45 degree rows, inverted rows, and feet elevated inverted rows. Pick one variation each day and work up to 4-6×6-10 reps.

Week 3: Begin training negative band-assisted pull-ups for sets up to six reps per set. Pick the most difficult horizontal row you can perform and aim for 20-25 reps in your workout.

Week 4-5: Your eccentric strength and control has improved, so it’s time to pick things u with band assisted pull-ups.  Aim for sets up to six using a large band. Break sets up as needed until you hit your total rep goal. Pick the most difficult horizontal row you can perform and aim for 20-25 reps in your workout.

Week 6-8: Ditch the band, it’s time for un-assisted negative pull-ups. Control reps and take between 4-5 seconds on each rep. Use rest-pause technique as needed, aiming for 15-20 total negatives. Pick the most difficult horizontal row you can perform and aim for 20-25 reps in your workout.

Week 7-10: Get your mind right, it’s pull-up time! The time it takes you to master your first pull-up is specific. Different limb-lever lengths, body fat % and distribution, training experience, and gender will all play a factor. Use neutral grip or chin-up grip variations first before progressing to pull-ups.

How To Do Pull-Ups

This program is by no-means a cure-all. Schedule and training experience are highly variable, so do what fits your schedule. Its best to progress slowly if needed and be consistently successful. However, should you be feeling strong after a few negatives then jump ahead and give pull-ups a shot. Pull-ups are no easy task, doing them successfully shows great strength, determination, discipline. Armed with these suggestions you’ll be well on your way to pull-up prowess.

It’s Time to Build the Body You Want With the Time You Have

It’s not time for another cookie cutter magazine workout.
It’s time for a customized approach to maximize your results and improve your life, not consume it. Fitness will become a lifestyle. You’ll take control of your life and build your best body. But my words only go so far.

The bottom line is…

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Will you join them? Learn more here. 

 

 

How to Do Pull-Ups: A Sure-Fire Progression for Pull-up Proficiency Part 1

Pull-ups are my favorite upper-body exercise. I’ve been bumpin’ out pull-ups since I wore Nike wind pants and Pokémon cards were cool. I’m no longer slingin’ Pokémon cards on the playground but pull-ups and wind pants remain–they’re just too comfy.

Nothing builds relative upper body strength and carves your back, biceps, and forearms like pull-ups. Plus, they’re great for developing stable shoulders and are a fantastic indicator of overall fitness—If you’re able to knockout 8-12 pull-ups you’re clearly in damn good shape.

With the rise and media attention Crossfit games pull-ups have become commonplace in training programs, with everyone from young athletes to your 55 year old aunt looking to master their first pull-up. Swinging your way up to the bar for a “kipping pull-up” is a skill, but it’s not a pull-up. I’m here to guide your journey to strict, chest to the bar pull-ups. In the last few weeks Bach Performance online training clients and readers have been asking for help in mastering pull-ups. Whether you’re new to lifting, losing weight, or just want to finally master the pull-up then this is for you.

[This isn’t a Crossfit slam article, quite the contrary. I’m happy they have people touching barbells and looking to do “pull-up like exercises”]
Progress your way to Pull-ups

Make no mistake—Pull-ups are difficult. Seeing it on TV and wishing won’t make it happen. Mastering pull-ups takes dedication, patience, higher training frequency, and a well-designed progression. I’ve got the progression, but doing the work is on you.

45 degree inverted row: A suspension trainer like the TRX works best, but a barbell secured in a power rack works too. Position your body at 45 degrees—halfway between standing tall and being parallel with the ground. Keep the core braced, and glutes squeezed. Pull through the elbows, keep the head neutral, and control the negative (eccentric) of the lift.

Parallel inverted row: Parallel inverted rows utilize more bodyweight because the body is parallel to the ground. A good starting point is setting the barbell at hip height with enough room to fully extend the arms without lying on the ground. Brace the core and squeeze the glutes. Pull through the elbows, keep the head neutral, and control the negative of the lift.

Feet elevated inverted row: Elevating the feet further increases the difficulty of the lift. Use a stable surface like a bench or chair, never an unstable surface like a stability ball. Although feet elevated rows are a horizontal pull they will build tons of strength in the forearms, biceps, and back, preparing the body for vertical pulling. These are a fantastic alternative to bent-over rows and dumbbell rows

Wrap Up

Besides improving you awesomeness 10,000% these variations get the ball rolling and prepare you for pulling bodyweight pull-ups. For some of you these may be too easy, but sit tight and stay tuned for Friday. I’ll be dropping a program to guide your path to the pull-up promise land (say that 5 times fast, seriously).

 

P.S. Grab part two of the progression here.

How to do Pull-ups: A Surefire Progression to Pull-up Proficiency Part 2

 

P.S.S. Are you part of our Free Facebook Community? Join today for free workout tips, coaching tips, and an awesome network of like minded people.

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Dirty 30: Build Better Arms Fast

In the last post I hooked you up with a brief muscle building-workout:Shoulders to Boulders.

But, not everyone is focused on getting huge all the time; sometimes, we’d like to shred fat and improve the look of a body part even when short time.

This is especially true with arms.

Chin ups build great biceps
Photocredit:Zulumuscle.com

 

Great arms, whether it’s big biceps or toned triceps, aren’t easy to come by: They’re earned with hard work and worn like a badge of honor.

While it’s possible to build a good set of arms even when you’re training is lacking balance a well-designed program adds icing to the cake. With only 30 minutes to hit the gym a well-designed exercise program will get the job done.

Luckily, you don’t need to search the web for that program.

I have it right here.

This workout will blast the arms with supersets, making your rest periods shorter and workouts more efficient. Muscles will be challenged through different angles and rep ranges to recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers and build better arms fast.

Exercises

Superset 1

Chin Up: Chin-Ups are great for building great biceps. By supinating the palms—palms facing you—greater emphasis is placed on the biceps. With this compound exercise you will stimulate fast-twitch muscle fibers for growth. Perform four sets of five reps, using weight if necessary.

Reverse Grip Barbell Floor Press: *** USE A SPOTTER.

Have a spotter? Good, if not, use a normal, supinated grip for the press. Supinating the grip while performing a pressing exercise increases the range of motion (ROM) of the triceps, the biggest muscle of the upper arm. Compound exercises like the floor press add muscle to your arms and  boost your lockout strength in the bench press. Perform four sets of five reps after your chin-ups.

Superset 2

Barbell Curl: You didn’t think I would forget these did you?Curls are necessary to build arms. Pick a moderately heavy weight and a shoulder width grip for your curls. Three sets of eight to ten reps will finish off fast twitch fibers and recruit moderate-slow twitch muscle fibers.

Parallel bar dips: Dips are a great exercise for shoulder, chest, and triceps development. If needed, add a dip belt and perform dips to 90 degrees, extended the elbows just short of lockout at the top. Three sets of eight to ten reps will do the trick.

Superset 3

Dumbbell Hammer Curls: Hammer curls are a biceps curl, only with a neutral grip. This variety places more emphasis on the brachilias and brachioradialis, two important elbow flexors. Perform these under control for two sets of 20 reps.

Overhead Triceps Rope Extension: Using a rope attachment on a cable extend the arms overhead, flexing the triceps. This exercise will give the triceps a huge stretch and a powerful contraction to stimulate the long-head of the triceps. Perform two slow sets of 20 reps.

triceps, parallel dips
Photo Credit:http://www.muscleandfitness.com

The Workout

1a.Weighted Chin Up 4×5 Rest 60 sec

1b.Reverse Grip Barbell Floor Press 4×5 Rest 60 sec

2a Barbell Curls 3×8-10 Rest 0

2b. Dips 3×8-10 Rest 30 seconds

3a.Fat Gripz Hammer Curl 2×20 Rest 0

3b.Overhead Triceps Rope Extension 2×20 Rest 0

Wrap Up

A good set of arms, whether that’s bulging biceps or toned triceps, looks good on everyone. Luckily, this can be achieved by mixing compound, heavy exercises with isolation high-rep exercises.

Time is no longer an issue. Thirty minutes is all you need to build better arms fast.

Attention: Time is Dwindling!

If you’re looking to build muscle, shred some fat, and build a healthy lifestyle I’m opening up my coaching program for a few lucky clients.

Personal Training, build muscle,shred fat
http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkadog/3206541859/

 


Even better, Apply for the Coaching program today and you’ll qualify for my Holiday Discount. This rate is top-secret and reserved for a few close friends and family, so take advantage before it goes away.  You can check
it out here. <==

 

Strong. Shredded. Athletic.

-Eric

 

Dirty 30: Twigs To Tree Trunk Legs

The last few posts we talked about quick workouts: 30-minute fast-moving workouts to blast a body part in minimal time.

The feedback back has been an uproariously positive both here and on Facebookso thanks for being awesome. In case you haven’t been hangin’ around you can see yesterdays workout right here. >> 30 Minute Back Blitz <<

30 minutes is plenty of time to promote explosive growth and shred body fat: Especially when you’re blasting squats, jumps, and lunges.

Bach Performance Twigs to Tree Trunk Legs
PhotoCredit: www.niashanks.com/2011/08/train-like-a-girl-weekend-recap/

A balanced physique goes a long way towards a completely awesome body, and no area of the body is consistently neglected like the legs.

Guys with athletic and muscular legs…ergh butts grab the attention of females because a well-developed lower body screams power, confidence, and athleticism.

Similiarily, ladies with toned and shapely legs are the ultimate display of feminine strength and beauty.

This lower body blitz consists of compound exercises combined in super-sets to build strength, muscle, and burn fat. No leg extensions here! You’ll go from Twigs to Tree Trunks in less time than it takes driving to the gym.

This workout utilizes a highly effective strategy known as the contrast method. The contrast method combines heavy loaded exercises with explosive exercises performed in pairs. The contrast method utilizes the phenomena of PAP, which improves motor-unit recruitment and stimulates more muscle fibers.

30 Minute Muscle Building Tree Trunks Workout
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregorwinter/8364765619/

Exercises:

Superset 1:

Barbell Front Squat: Squats are a staple in great workouts. Front squats challenge the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core to maintain position while taking stress off of the spine when compared to the back-squat.

Box Jumps: Combining this body-weight jump directly after a high-intensity strength exercise engages the muscles of the legs and train explosive power. Perform three sets of 10 reps directly after sets on the front squat. Be conservative with your box height and focus on landing in solid, stable position.

Superset 2:

Back Squats:Back squats place a greater emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes than the front squat. Perform one set of 10-15 reps with the heaviest weight you can handle, this should be NEAR failure.

Body weight jump squats: Immediately following your set of squats perform 1 all-out set of jump squats for 60 seconds. Rest one or two minutes and proceed to the next superset.

Superset 3:

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: This hip-dominant lower body exercise blasts the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Perform three sets of eight, moving immediately to the next exercise between sets.

DB Calf Raise: Holding the same dumbbells from the Romanian deadlift immediately proceed to knock out 20 calf-blasting raises. Perform each rep slowly and deliberately rather than bouncing.

Alternating jump lunges: Using your bodyweight assume a lunge position and proceed to perform 20 jumping lunges, 10 on each leg. Stabilize your body between each jump.

This combination of heavy compound exercises, jumps, and varying rep ranges blasts the legs and promotes powerful training response in 30 short minutes.

 The Workout: Twigs to Tree Trunk Legs

1a. Barbell Front Squat 3×5 Rest 0

1b. Box Squat Jumps x8 Rest 60 Seconds

2a. Back Squats 1×10-15+ Rest 0

2b. BW Jump Squats x60-120 seconds

3a. DB RDL 3×8-10 Rest 0

3b. DB Calf Raises3x20 Rest 0

3c. Alternating Jump Lunges 3×20 Rest 1 minute

There you have it: A quick lower session to build powerful, dense legs and develop a fully rounded physique.

72 Hours and Counting

If you’re looking to build muscle, shred some fat, and build a healthy lifestyle I’m opening up my coaching program for a few lucky clients. I want to help you. 

Personal Training, build muscle,shred fat
http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkadog/3206541859/

Apply for the Coaching program today, as the I’m having a short-term Holiday Sale! This rate is normally top-secret and reserved for a few close friends and family, so take advantage before it goes away.  You can check it out here.

What is your go-to legs exercise? Better yet, how to you speed up workouts when short on time? 

photo credit: Gregor Winter via photopin cc

photo credit: Beverly & Pack via photopin cc

Strong. Shredded. Athletic.

-Eric

Dirty 30: Bigger Back Blitz

Yo! As you found out yesterday I’m rolling out FREE workouts for the entire week. Get the first one, Pecs of Steel right here: >> Pecs of Steel<<

These are concise workouts that get awesome results. The cool part –Each workout takes only 30 minutes to nail a body part for explosive growth. The workouts are precisely designed to allow progress even when time is an issue.

Today is  kickin’ off with the Bigger Back Blitz. 

Bigger Back Blitz
Photo Credit: http://beingpeterpan.com/wpcontent/uploads/2012/10/weighted-pullup.jpg

For guys, a jacked back stretches your shirt and builds the ultimate power look. Large traps and lats are a staple of a powerful, athletic physique.

For ladies, a toned and defined back helps create the look you’re going for—the hourglass body. Bringing up the back makes your waist appear smaller and creates symmetry with the hips.

If you’ve only got 30-minutes to train your back this super-set filled workout is exactly what you need.

Consisting of six of the best exercises this workout will hit your back from every angle to improve strength, muscle size, and muscle density.

Exercises:

 Superset 1:

Pull Ups: Pull Ups are the head-hancho for building up your backside. Pull-ups are a multi-joint exercise that will add slabs of muscle and definition to your lats and biceps.

Pull-ups will stimulate type-two muscle fibers, explosive fibers with the greatest growth potential. Perform four sets of five reps.

Too easy? Add some damn weight!

Face Pulls: Face pulls are a fantastic horizontal-pulling exercise for building stable shoulders and fully developed traps. In a cable stack use lightweight and row the rope attachment towards your eyes, driving your elbows as far back as possible. Perform four sets of 10-15 reps between sets of pull-ups.

Superset 2:

One Arm Dumbbell Rows: One-arm rows are a fantastic multi-joint exercise that will add thickness to your back, biceps, and forearms. Using a heavy weight perform three sets of 10-12 reps in the one arm row. Drive your elbow back as far as possible. By hitting a slightly higher rep range both moderate and fast twitch muscle fibers will receive stimulus, promoting greater growth.

Dumbbell Scarecrows: DB scarecrows are a phenomenal exercise for building stability in the shoulder. The external rotation will strengthen muscles in the rotator cuff to support the shoulder. Weight should be kept light for three sets of 10-15 reps.

Superset 3:

Side-to-side Rows: In a power rack or smith machine set a bar at waist height. Line up underneath the smith machine and perform a row, first to the right side and then to the left. Perform two sets of 10 reps per side, so 20 reps per set. This high rep sets will fatigue slow-twitch muscle fibers and force them to grow.

1 Arm Iso-Lat Pull Down: Set up by a cable stack and prepare for a memorable time.

Pull the handles down to shoulder height and perform 15 pull downs with your right arm while holding your left arm down by your shoulder. Switch arms and repeat, that’s one set. This exercise gives the lats a great stretch while creating a ton of muscle-building time under tension. Perform two sets of 15 reps.

This combination of heavy, compound exercises, isometrics, and extended sets recruits a tremendous number of high-threshold and low-hreshold motor units to create a powerful training response.

Bigger Back Blitz to build a beautiful backside
Photo Credit: http://pfiesterpfit.files.wordpress.com

The Workout

1a. Pull-Up/ Chin Up 4×5

1b. Rope Face Pull 4×10-15 Rest 30-60 seconds

2a. DB 1 arm Row 3×10-12

2b. Dumbbell Scarecrow 3×10-15 Rest 30 seconds

3a. Side-To-Side Row 2×10/side

3b. 45 Degree 1 arm Pull down 2×15-20/side Rest 30 seconds

There you have it: A quick Bigger Back Blitz is your key to building the coveted-power look.

By the Way

If you’re looking to build muscle, shred some fat, and build a healthy lifestyle I’m opening up my coaching program for a few lucky clients.

Here’s what people are saying:

  • Eric’s coaching is essential in my training as he breaks down complex scientific topics and applies them to my powerlifting, and making me a better Strength Coach. -Raven Cepeda, trainer, Monster Milk Athlete/Power lifter, Team USA Decathlete Denver, Colorado
  • Eric’s extreme attention to detail and motivation pushed my body to new limits. -Dr. Kyle Anderson, Eau Claire, WI, Chiropractor and Business Owner
  • My results with Eric have been the best of my life! -Bevan Cox, SCADA Analyst, Houston, Texas

Apply for the Coaching program today and you’ll qualify for my insiders discount. This is normally top-secret and reserved for a few close friends and family, so take advantage before it goes away.  You can check it out here.

What is your favorite back exercise? Better yet, how do you speed up workouts when short on time?

Strong. Shredded. Athletic.

-Eric

The Deload: The Path to Bigger, Faster, and Stronger


This morning, I messed up and forgot to feed my dog. So, being the nice guy I ran home to feed Rocky Balboa between clients. I flipped open my laptop  for a quick email to find my latest article is live on Breaking Muscle. 

This articles dives into the most forgotten part of the training continuum: Recovery. You see, without proper recovery gains in the gym aren’t maximized.

Poor recovery can stop fat-loss in it’s tracks, zap your strength, performance, and depress your immune system.  Since these are the major reasons most people train, recovery is a pretty big deal.

The most effective way to boost recovery is scheduling recovery workouts, often combined to form a deload week.

This is a week of lower intensity, lower frequency  training used to promote exercise recovery. I take all these variables head-on, providing you a solid game plan for success.

Ready to check it out?

<<Continue Reading >>

Deload bigger faster stronger
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sirwiseowl/6698963693/

photo credit: sirwiseowl via photopin cc

Strong. Shredded. Athletic.

-Eric

Bust through Plateaus with an Explosive Warm Up

Performing 2-3 sets of 1 exercise at the end of your warm up could dramatically increase your power and strength in your training session.

Crazy right?

I’ve already dove head-first into warm ups, you can find those here: Part 1 and Part 2, but there is one portion of the warm-up that will have a lasting impact on your workout.

I’m talking nervous system activation.

The central nervous system is your body’s computer, the central processing unit. It controls all the activities of the body.
The nervous system is the key to unlocking gains in the gym. Muscles leave much to be desired, as it’s is theorized that voluntary muscles contract at about 30% of their total ability.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hotmeteor/210180257/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hotmeteor/210180257/

We’ve all heard stories of superhuman strength where someone lifts a 3,500 lb car off a loved one. This is due to adrenaline up-regulating the nervous system to maximize muscular strength. These extraordinary feats show the power a fully engaged of the nervous system.

Note: Before going further, it’s important to note I’m not talking about creating a life/death experience in a warm up to jack up your strength.

So if we are only using say, 30% of our potential muscular strength, what would an extra 4-5% percent do for sports performance or workouts in the gym?

And what if our muscles contracted faster, getting to maximal activation faster?

Neuromuscular Readiness

Performing an explosive warm-up before your main exercise of the day will ignite your central nervous system (CNS) and maximize your strength.

How?

Using explosive movements prior to your heavy training will prepare and teach your body to move with maximal velocity and force due to the increased rate of firing from the previous exercise.

Power= Force X Distance
                          Time

The faster you can contract the muscles the more muscle fibers recruited, and the stronger are. It’s vital that these exercises are not performed to fatigue, rather short duration (5-8 reps), maximum intensity, and plenty of rest.

Practical Application

A good warm up should  wake up your muscles and central nervous system to  maximize performance during your workout. The activities in your explosive warm up should mimic the body positions and movements in your training, and explosive movements that mimic those patterns are best.

Based on your major exercise of the day, select a matching explosive movement pattern:

Main Exercise:                     Explosive Movement:

Bench Press                             Clap Push Up, medicine ball chest pass

Shoulder Press                        Overhead medicine ball slam/ throw

Squat                                         Vertical jump, box jump

Deadlift                                     Broad jump, kettlebell swing

Photography by Ryan Dial
Photography by Ryan Dial

Perform 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps after your warm-up — directly before the start of your training session. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets, focusing on maximum intensity on each rep.

 

Wrap Up:

What good is all that strength if you can’t generate it quickly? An explosive warm-up will help shatter strength plateaus, sprint away from your competition, and build more muscle. Implement the simple movements warm-up movements for explosive growth!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/hotmeteor/210180257/”>Hot Meteor</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

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