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Roman gladiators have been portrayed on the big screen by some of largest chest structures that Hollywood could produce. Even a few real-life strongmen have dawned the Roman garbs and mounted a chariot or two to fulfill this fantasy role. In the movies, a barreled thick chest of a gladiator is often covered with thick metal plating, so that the chest appears to be invincible in battle. However, a serious weightlifter cannot hide behind a gladiator’s armor, so his chest must be thick and square from the bottom of the ribcage to the top of the clavicle. The fibers of the pectoralis of the chest must have thickness along the sternum and not just be thick along the lateral edge of this muscle. A well-trained, thick chest should scream power and command attention, even if you are away from the gym and fully clothed. Does yours?

For the most part, massive slabs can be added to your chest with a lot less effort than that which you must expend in thigh and back muscles. It is a bit more difficult to push the thickness along the inner side of your sternum, but certainly, this in an achievable goal. The flat bench press is pretty good at activating a wide range of muscle mass, but it is particularly good at stressing the most lateral parts of the chest. However, a small change to the bench press can turn the focus from the outside to the inside of the chest. That simply is taking a closer grip on the barbell for your bench presses. Close-grip benches can be equally brutal for both the triceps. As you approach your last set, this exercise can make your posterior arm and the medial parts of the pectoralis major of your chest feel like you are driving knives through these muscle bellies. Perhaps not a pleasant feeling, but definitely a great result will be in store if you stick it out.

The pectoralis major muscle is shaped like a fan, which spreads across the entire chest to the humerus bone of the upper arm. It attaches to and moves the arm through the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint. The pectoralis major muscle has two heads. The clavicular head lies along the anterior lower surface of the clavicle (collarbone). The sternocostal head of the pectoralis major muscle begins on the manubrium (the top portion of the sternum), the upper six costal cartilages (cartilages at the ends of the ribs that attach to the sternum). It also attaches to the tendon-like portion of the superior part of the external oblique muscle (a lateral muscle of the abdominal wall). The clavicular and sternocostal heads converge on a groove near the head of the humerus (intertubercular groove) near the shoulder joint. The sternocostal head is preferentially activated by close-grip bench presses.

Both heads of the pectoralis major muscle adduct the humerus bone (draws the arm toward the midline of the body) and they medially rotate the humerus at the shoulder joint. They also flex the humerus bone by moving the upper arm anteriorly (or toward the front of the body), and this is the major function achieved in a bench press. By moving the hands close together, the arms are adducted and the inner parts of the pectoralis muscles are activated most strongly in this hand position.

The triceps are also hammered quite intensely with close-grip bench presses. As its name implies, the triceps has three parts (tri = three) or heads (ceps = heads). The fibers in all three muscle heads taper to attach to a common triceps tendon that crosses the elbow joint to attach to the olecrenon on the ulna bone of the forearm. Therefore, contraction of the triceps brachii muscle primarily causes extension of the forearm at the elbow (straightens the elbow joint). Some people have a short triceps tendon and the triceps muscle belly appears to extend all the way to the elbow. Others have a relatively long triceps tendon, which gives them a more “peaked” triceps, but a short muscle belly. The lateral head of triceps brachii creates the lateral part of the “U” in the horseshoe of the triceps. Its fibers run from a small vertical section of bone on the posterior part of the humerus (upper arm bone), starting about two-thirds of the way toward the shoulder joint and stopping short of the shoulder joint. The long head of the triceps brachii (the “inner head” in gym lingo) begins on the scapula (shoulder blade) just inferior to (below) the head of the humerus at the shoulder joint. Because this muscle belly crosses the shoulder joint posteriorly, the arm should be moved posteriorly into shoulder extension (i.e., arms and elbows back) to fully activate this muscle head. This happens very well in the down position of close-grip bench presses. The medial head of the triceps brachii lies deeper and between the other two heads of the triceps. It encompasses two-thirds of the upper and posterior part of the humerus bone. It is a very thick muscle further up the arm toward the shoulder and provides enormous depth to the curved “U” part of this horseshoe; however, it has a shorter muscle belly than the other heads and this gives the appearance of the hollowed-out center part of the horseshoe near the elbow.

Close-Grip Barbell Bench Presses

1. Place an Olympic-style barbell on the weight stand of a flat bench. Load the barbell so that you can get 10-12 repetitions. You should warm up the shoulders and chest with a light set or two first before hitting the heavy stuff.

2. Lie supine on the bench. Place your hands on the bar with a pronated grip (palms facing to the ceiling and away from your face). Grab the barbell with your hands a little narrower than shoulder width. This will be about 8-12 inches apart for most people. Some people prefer a thumbless grip. This does not affect your chest any differently, but you will have to be a bit more careful with balancing the bar with a thumbless grip.

3. Lift the weight from off of the stands by extending (straightening) the elbows. A training partner can be used to lift the bar for you so it is over your shoulders. Make sure that you are in control of the weight in this position before going to the next step.

4. Slowly lower the bar in a slight arch, so that the bar moves from closer to your feet at the top and closer (slightly), to your chin at the bottom. The weight should move from over the shoulders to a position where it just barely makes contact with your chest at the nipple (the fifth intercostal space). You should inhale as the weight is lowered to the chest in a slow and controlled fashion.

5. Without making a strong contact with your ribcage (and never bouncing the bar on your chest), immediately explode upward with the bar. Move it in a slight arch toward your head so that the weight is returned to a position immediately under the shoulder joint. Exhale during the ascent of the barbell. Make sure that your training partner hangs around until the end of the set in case you get stuck with the bar across your chest.

 

The close-grip bench press clearly involves more than just chest muscles. It strongly activates the anterior fibers of the deltoid and the triceps brachii as the weight is moved upward. The intercostal muscles are active during the forceful inhaling and exhaling. The serratus anterior is active to stabilize and protract the scapula during the lift upward (flexion of the humerus at the shoulder). Even the latissimus dorsi and teres major muscles of the upper back are active, both as stabilizers for the shoulder and when the humerus is extended at the shoulder.

Aside from the safety problems common to all free-weight exercises, any flat bench press, including close-grip benches, can aggravate or induce rotator cuff irritation – especially if you get a little sloppy in your form. That is because these muscles limit movement of the glenohumeral joint posteriorly (and the rotator cuff muscles prevent this posterior location) as the bar is being lowered. Obviously, the greater the resistance and the more times it is done, the more potential irritation is imposed to the rotator cuff muscles. Nevertheless, if your form is excellent, you should be able to benefit from the advantages of the positive effects of close-grip bench presses without tapping into any of the negative potentials.

Neglecting your inner chest is training suicide, and certainly a great body is not complete without fully developed and thick chest muscles. Proper selection of your torso exercises will give you the ability to develop a supercharged and balanced chest, without inducing any injury. Close-grip benches are an outstanding way to pack mass on your triceps while simultaneously packing enough mass on your chest to make any gladiator envious.

References:

Jandacka D and Vaverka F. A regression model to determine load for maximum power output. Sports Biomech, 7: 361-371, 2008.

Koshida S, Urabe Y, Miyashita K, Iwai K and Kagimori A. Muscular outputs during dynamic bench press under stable versus unstable conditions. J Strength Cond Res, 22: 1584-1588, 2008.

Martins J, Tucci HT, Andrade R, Araujo RC, Bevilaqua-Grossi D and Oliveira AS. Electromyographic amplitude ratio of serratus anterior and upper trapezius muscles during modified push-ups and bench press exercises. J Strength Cond Res, 22: 477-484, 2008.

Moore, KL and AF Dalley. Clinically Oriented Anatomy. Fourth edition. Baltimore, Lippincott Williams & Williams, 685-720, 1999.

Norwood JT, Anderson GS, Gaetz MB and Twist PW. Electromyographic activity of the trunk stabilizers during stable and unstable bench press. J Strength Cond Res, 21: 343-347, 2007.

Rambaud O, Rahmani A, Moyen B and Bourdin M. Importance of upper-limb inertia in calculating concentric bench press force. J Strength Cond Res, 22: 383-389, 2008.

The post Want Bigger Arms and a Massive Chest? appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Want Bigger Arms and a Massive Chest?
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/training/want-bigger-arms-and-a-massive-chest/
Published Date: Fri, 02 Jul 2021 12:29:04 +0000

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Mens Health

Homecoming: An Evolutionary Approach for Healing Depression and Preventing Suicide

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Captura de pantalla 2024 07 13 a las 17.40.10 1
Photo by: Andreea Popa / Unsplash.com

Part 1

Depression and suicide have been my companions as far back as I can remember. I was five years old when my mid-life father took an overdose of sleeping pills. Though he didn’t die our lives were never the same. I grew up wondering what happened to my father, when it would happen to me, and what I could do to prevent it from happening to other families.

In an article, “Being Bipolar: Living and Loving in a World of Fire and Ice,” I described my own mental health challenges and healing journey. In my book, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression, I shared my research and clinical experience that convinced me that men and women are different in ways they deal with depression and aggression in their lives and in other ways as well.

Depression and suicide are not just problems for men, but there is something about being male that increases our risk of dying by suicide. According to recent statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, the suicide rate among males is, on average, 4 times higher (22.8 per 100,000) than among females (5.7 per 100,000) and at every age the rate is higher among males than females:

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Even during our youth where suicide rates are relatively low, males are still more likely to die by suicide than are females. It is also clear to me as my wife and I move into our 80s, we face many challenges as we age, but it is older males who more often end their lives by suicide with rates 8 to 17 times higher than for females.

In my book, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound, I describe my father’s slide into depression and the despair that increased when he couldn’t find work. As a writer, he wrote regular entries in his journals. I still feel the pain as I re-read them and feel his increasing shame when he couldn’t support his family:

            July 3rd:

“Oh, Christ, if I can only give my son a decent education—a college decree with a love for books, a love for people, good, solid knowledge. No guidance was given to me. I slogged and slobbered and blundered through two-thirds of my life.”

            July 24th:

“Edie dear, Johnny dear, I love you so much, but how do I get the bread to support you? The seed of despair is part of my heritage. It lies sterile for months and then it gnaws until its bitter fruit chokes my throat and swells in me like a large goiter blacking out room for hopes, dreams, joy, and life itself.”

            August 8th:

“Sunday morning, my humanness has fled, my sense of comedy has gone down the drain. I’m tired, hopelessly tired, surrounded by an immense brick wall, a blood-spattered brick world, splattered with my blood, with the blood of my head where I senselessly banged to find an opening, to find one loose brick, so I could feel the cool breeze and could stick out my hand and pluck a handful of wheat, but this brick wall is impregnable, not an ounce of mortar loosens, not a brick gives.”

            September 8th:

“Your flesh crawls, your scalp wrinkles when you look around and see good writers, established writers, writers with credits a block long, unable to sell, unable to find work, Yes, it’s enough to make anyone, blanch, turn pale and sicken.”

            October 24th:

“Faster, faster, faster, I walk. I plug away looking for work, anything to support my family. I try, try, try, try, try. I always try and never stop.”

            November 12th:

“A hundred failures, an endless number of failures, until now, my confidence, my hope, my belief in myself, has run completely out. Middle aged, I stand and gaze ahead, numb, confused, and desperately worried. All around me I see the young in spirit, the young in heart, with ten times my confidence, twice my youth, ten times my fervor, twice my education. I see them all, a whole army of them, battering at the same doors I’m battering, trying in the same field I’m trying. Yes, on a Sunday morning in November, my hope and my life stream are both running desperately low, so low, so stagnant, that I hold my breath in fear, believing that the dark, blank curtain is about to descend.”

Four days later, he took an overdose of sleeping pills and spent seven years in a mental hospital receiving “treatment” until the day he escaped. The book has a happy ending, but it took a long time to get there.

            I share what I have learned over the years in an on-line course, “Healing the Family Father Wound.”  I recently read a chapter in the book, The Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health edited by J.A. Barry, et al., by Martin Seager, titled “From Stereotypes to Archetypes: An Evolutionary Perspective on Male Help-Seeking and Suicide,” that adds some important pieces to the puzzle and added to my understanding of male depression and suicide and how we can more effectively help men and their families.

An Evolutionary Understanding of Male Psychology

            “In our current age it is unfashionable to think of human gender as connected with our biology and evolution,”

says Dr. Seager.

“Gender is currently thought of primarily as a social construct, a theory that carries assumptions that gender can be fluid, molded by education or even chosen as a part of a lifestyle. Gender is increasingly seen as a collection of disposable social stereotypes, separate from and unrelated to biological sex.”

            Dr. Seager goes on to say,

“This hypothesis is bad science and even worse philosophy…When held up against the anthropological and cross-cultural evidence, a social constructionist theory of gender cannot explain clearly observable and universal patterns of male and female behavior.”

            I agree with Dr. Seager and have long held that we cannot understand or help men, or women, without recognizing our biological roots in the animal kingdom. In my book, 12 Rules For Good Men, Rule #4 is “Embrace Your Billion Year History of Maleness.” I introduce the chapter with a quote from cultural historian Thomas Berry.

“The natural world is the largest sacred community to which we belong. To be alienated from this community is to become destitute in all that makes us human.”

            I also say in the book that all humans are also mammals and we cannot understand men without recognizing that fact. Dr. Seager agrees.

“Human beings are evolved mammals and they have never stopped being so,”

says Seager.

“Whatever social, cultural and political structures are placed upon us as humans, these cannot erase our mammalian heritage and indeed are constructed upon and shaped by that heritage, though not determined or defined by it.”

            Dr. Seager goes on to say,

“Globally, across all human tribes or societies and throughout all known history and pre-history, allowing for inevitable variation across a spectrum, there are universal patterns of male and female behavior in the human species.”

Based on the most massive study of human mating ever undertaken, encompassing more than 10,000 people of all ages from thirty-seven cultures worldwide, evolutionary psychologist Dr. David Buss found that there are two human natures, one male and one female. In his book, The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, Dr. David Buss explains the evolutionary roots of what men and women want and explains why their desires differ so radically.

            “Within human beings perhaps the most obvious universal patterns of sexual differences are: Female: (1) Beauty, attraction and glamour (Including body adornment) and (2) Bearing and nurturance of new-born infants and young children. Male: (1) Physical protection (strength) and (2) Risk-taking,”

says Dr. Seager.

            Dr. Seager goes on to say,

“In all human cultures throughout history and prehistory there is consistent and incontestable evidence of males taking high levels of risk to protect and provide for their family, tribe, and community or nation either collectively as bands of hunters and warriors or as individuals.”

Some view male risk-taking as foolhardy, immature, self-destructive, and harmful to women and children as well as men themselves. But both Dr. Seager and I recognize that protecting women and children and risk-taking behavior are archetypal, instinctual, positive, and evolutionarily important for survival strategies.

In the second part of this series, we will continue our exploration of ways we can improve our understanding of male depression and suicide and how we can be more effective in helping men and their families.

You can learn more about the work of Martin Seager at the Centre For Male Psychology.

We need more programs for men that are evolutionary-archetypally informed. You can learn more at MenAlive.com and MoonshotForMankind.org. If you like articles like these, I invite you to become a subscriber.

The post Homecoming: An Evolutionary Approach for Healing Depression and Preventing Suicide appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: Homecoming: An Evolutionary Approach for Healing Depression and Preventing Suicide
Sourced From: menalive.com/homecoming-an-evolutionary-approach-for-healing-depression-and-preventing-suicide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=homecoming-an-evolutionary-approach-for-healing-depression-and-preventing-suicide
Published Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2024 23:40:56 +0000

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Mens Health

My New Favorite Squat

hatfield 5

a man lifting weights in a gym

I’ve done the traditional barbell squat my whole life. It’s a great exercise for overall lower-body strength. I’ve also experimented with other squat variations: the front squat, the goblet squat, the belt squat.

This year I’ve been doing a squat that’s become my favorite ever: the Hatfield squat.

I love this exercise. I originally switched to it because long-standing problems with cranky shoulders and knee pain were making the traditional barbell squat uncomfortable. The Hatfield squat has made squatting fun and productive again after years of frustration trying to make the barbell squat work for me. What’s also great about the Hatfield Squat is that it’s an excellent movement for quad hypertrophy, which lines up nicely with my new fitness goal of getting more ripped. It’s been a game-changer in my training.

If you’ve had trouble with barbell squatting or are looking for a different squat variation to mix into your programming, here’s everything you need to know about the Hatfield squat.

What Is the Hatfield Squat and What Are Its Benefits?

The Hatfield squat, named after powerlifting legend Dr. Fred Hatfield, aka Dr. Squat, is a back squat variation that requires a safety squat bar, which is a type of barbell that looks sort of like an ox yoke.

When you do the Hatfield squat, you place the safety squat bar on your back. Then, instead of holding on to the safety squat bar with your hands, you rest your hands on an additional barbell or a set of handles that have been placed at navel level on the barbell rack. As you descend into the squat, you keep your hands on the support in front of you, using it to maintain your balance and an upright torso.

This increases the stability of the exercise, allowing the Hatfield squat to offer some unique benefits:

Great for quad hypertrophy. If you’re looking to grow legs as big as tree trunks, the Hatfield squat can be a helpful tool. Its increased stability allows you to overload your quads more than a traditional squat. Instead of focusing on keeping your balance during the squat, you can just focus on the movement, which means you can be a bit more aggressive in adding reps or weight.

Great for squatting around injuries. The most significant benefit that the Hatfield squat has given me is that it has allowed me to squat heavy again despite the niggling physical issues I’ve had on and off for years.

Because I have shoulder tendonitis due to bench pressing and struggle with shoulder flexibility (despite the amount of time I’ve worked on developing this capacity), the bar position on the traditional low-bar squat just exacerbated my shoulder pain. Because you use a safety bar with the Hatfield squat, you don’t have to use your hands to hold the bar on your back. It completely removes the stress on your shoulders.

The Hatfield squat has also allowed me to work around some pain I’ve had behind my knee since 2020. The pain only happens during the descent part of a traditional barbell squat. I still don’t know what the source of the pain is despite talking to an orthopedic surgeon and getting an MRI done. I reckon it’s some sort of overuse injury on a tendon back there. But at any rate, the increased stability of the Hatfield squat allows me to squat heavy and below parallel without any pain behind my knee.

People with lower back issues have also found the Hatfield squat helpful for squatting without exacerbating their injury.

Due to the Hatfield squat’s pain reduction ability, I’ve also been calling them “Midlife Man Squats.”

It is a great accessory lift for the barbell squat. You don’t have to replace the traditional barbell squat completely with the Hatfield squat. Instead, you can use the Hatfield squat as an accessory lift in your barbell programming. On deadlift day, you could do the Hatfield squat for 3 sets of 8-12 reps for hypertrophy and increased work capacity.

Or you could use the Hatfield squat for overload training to build strength and confidence in hoisting heavier weights, doing 3 sets of 3 reps with weight that is heavier than you typically lift on the traditional barbell squat.

Here’s a hypothetical barbell program that would incorporate the Hatfield squat:

Lower Body Day A

  • Squat 3 x 5 (squat is the main lower body lift)
  • Rack pulls 3 x 5 (rack pulls are the accessory lift for the deadlift)
  • Good mornings 3 x 10

Lower Body Day B

  • Deadlift 1 x 5 (deadlift is the main lower body lift)
  • Hatfield squat 3 x 8-12 (Hatfield squat is the accessory lift for the squat)
  • Lunges 3 x 12

How to Perform the Hatfield Squat

The Hatfield squat is pretty dang easy to perform. You just need to get the right set-up.

Equipment Needed:

  • Safety squat bar (SSB)
  • Barbell or handles

Place the handles or barbell on the squat rack at about belly height.

Get under the safety squat bar and unrack it.

a man standing in a gym performing hatfield squat

Keep your hands lightly on the handles or bar in front of you. You’re not using the handles/auxiliary barbell to assist in pulling yourself up. You’re just using them to maintain your stability throughout the lift. a man squatting in a gym

Squat with an upright torso. The Hatfield squat should be done with an upright torso. You don’t need to bend over like you do on a low-bar squat.

Lower yourself until slightly below parallel and then rise back up. Remember, just use the handles for stability. Do not use the handles to pull yourself up.

Like I said at the beginning, the Hatfield squat has been a game-changer for me. It’s allowed me to keep squatting without any pain. If you’ve struggled with incorporating the barbell squat into your workout due to pain, try the Hatfield squat. I think you’ll probably like it as much as I do.

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: My New Favorite Squat
Sourced From: www.artofmanliness.com/health-fitness/fitness/how-to-hatfield-squat/
Published Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2024 14:16:11 +0000

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Mens Health

The Japanese 3X3 Interval Walking Workout

Japanese Interval Walking 3

Japanese Interval Walking 3 1

The overarching principle of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is that the harder you do an exercise, the more physiological benefits you accrue; thus, by incorporating intervals of higher intensity efforts in your workouts, you can get more fitness bang for your buck in less time. 

When we think about HIIT, we tend to think about going absolutely nuts on a fan bike or doing all-out sprints.

But as Dr. Martin Gibala explained on the AoM podcast, while high-intensity training rises above the level of the moderate, it doesn’t require a complete max out of your heart rate, nor is it limited to certain exercise modalities.

You can do interval training by pedaling like a madman on a bike, but you can also do it with a less strenuous approach. 

Enter Interval Walking Training (IWT), which originated in Japan.

This 3X3 walking workout is simple: you do 3 minutes of low-intensity walking (40% of peak aerobic capacity for walking — a little faster than a stroll), followed by 3 minutes of high-intensity walking (70%+ of peak aerobic capacity for walking). You repeat these interval sets at least 5 times, and do this 30-minute workout 4 times a week.

Your heart rate during the high-intensity intervals will vary according to your fitness level and age. One 68-year-old who participated in an IWT-based study had his heart rate go up to about 130 beats per minute during the fast intervals, so you’re moving at a good clip.

Even though IWT is highly accessible, studies that have been done on it show that it produces significant health benefits. People who did Interval Walking Training 4X a week for 3 months experienced significantly more improvement in their blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, leg strength, and aerobic capacity than those who did continuous, moderate-intensity walking. 

Hiroshi Nose, who developed Interval Walking Training, reports that among those who do IWT, “Physical fitness — maximal aerobic power and thigh muscle strength — increased by about 20 percent which is sure to make you feel about 10 years younger than before training, [and] symptoms of lifestyle-related diseases (hypertension, hyperglycemia, and obesity) decreased by about 20 percent.” IWT walkers enjoyed mental health benefits as well: depression scores dropped by half.

Walking in general is already one of the very best forms of exercise you can do, and IWT just helps you take its benefits up a notch. Hiroshi has used Interval Walking Training to get thousands of elderly Japanese citizens into shape, and it’s a great form of exercise if you’re in the older decades of life. But it’s also good if you’re just beginning your fitness journey and looking to get off the couch and start doing more physical activity. Even if you’re already a regular exerciser who’s in good shape, IWT is a nice way to mix up your usual neighborhood strolls while enhancing your health even further. 

For more HIIT protocols, from the accessible to the challenging, listen to this episode of the AoM podcast:

Help support independent publishing. Make a donation to The Art of Manliness! Thanks for the support!

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: The Japanese 3X3 Interval Walking Workout
Sourced From: www.artofmanliness.com/health-fitness/fitness/the-japanese-3×3-interval-walking-workout/
Published Date: Tue, 09 Apr 2024 17:35:28 +0000

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