Monthly Archives: June 2019

Expectations vs Reality

Do you know what is actually achievable from training?
 
In our modern odd world it’s easy to have the lines blurred.
 
Growing up with classic 80’s, early 90’s cartoons and action stars such as Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Lindgren, Van-damme, Lee, plus a boat load of other physical specimens it’s easy to see why the world has some distorted views.
 
I shared a book with a close friend recently.
 
This book was apparently quite eye opening to him.
 
Of course over the years I had tried to convey many of the messages found in said book yet they all fell on deaf ears.
 
The combination of body dysmorphia, unrealistic expectations and wrapped social media/movie/anime images had set quite the distorted image of what was real and what wasn’t.
 
The book is ‘Your Muscular Potential’ by Dr Casey Butt.
 
A very good read for those looking to lift the veil, you’ll potentially enjoy his website too as it contains all the calculators mentioned in his book:
 
 
Believe it or not you might be near your maximum muscular potential, that is if you’re of a decent level of leanness.
 
Filling out a t-shirt is easy when your fat so if size if your prize you might do well to ask yourself this; is it legitimate lean mass and size I’m after or just being big due to being fat?
 
^^ Food for thought.
 
Beware of what you follow in the world wide web.
 
You might be being lead astray.
 
Once you learn what is realistic and what isn’t (without ‘enhancement’) you’ll find quite the weighty stress removed from your shoulders.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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Getting strong is easy, unless you don’t train these three elements that is.

Training these three elements will almost guarantee an increase in strength/performance.
 
1 – Breathing
2 – Core 3 – Grip
 
I can’t quite remember where I heard this and there is every chance I’m getting the quote wrong:
 
“When you master your breath you’ve mastered your strength.” ^^ 🤔
 
Going to dig this out, pretty sure it was a martial arts master who said it and it was in a book on strength training I read recently, probably a Russian author I can’t spell correctly or one of Pavel’s books.
 
Let us now have a very simple look at why each of the three above can yield so much reward for what might in real world time be very little sacrifice.
 
Breathing –
 
Breath is the essence of life and it’s fair to say that if you can’t breath you’ll die.
 
Oxygen and all it’s miraculous dealings/conversions in the body is actually quite impressive and truly worthy of our attention.
 
Alas many don’t give it a second thought.
 
In fact the majority of people breath Apically (top of chest and moth breathing).
 
This leads to a slight dominance in the sympathetic nervous system, if you are to take faith in the science.
 
^ It’s what when we are startled we gasp for air and sprints away. Mouth breathing allows us to get in more immediate oxygen for those ‘life or death’ situations, however it’s not something we should be doing all the time.
 
^^ Posture being a little poor can also affect who we breath.
 
Along with being wired all the time you’ll also find a potentially large amount of excessive tension in your upper back, traps, neck and surrounding muscles because they bering to rise/fall to help you take deeper breathes.
 
Just ask someone to take a deep breath and you’ll see the chest puff up and the person maybe even go a little red as they strain to get in more, while this is common it’s not correct.
 
Diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing, like kids do) is what we really want to be aiming for as this is our so called natural breathing pattern.
 
It’s also worth nothing that when you utilise this style of breathing you’ll find your core stability increases, as does your ability to brace under heavy loads.
 
There is an added bonus too, your hip flexors will relax as they no no longer have to provide ‘last minute stability’ because you’re breathing is shot and your core is akin to jelly, FYI.
 
^ Sue Falsone has some great work on this topic.
 
If you want to master your breath there is only one way to do it; practice.
 
Start off with 5min dedicated time per day (like meditation), in through the nose for a desired amount of seconds like 10 🤔, hold for some arbitrary time, perhaps 5, and then out for 10 again, you get the idea.
 
The focus should be on utilising your diaphragm.
 
If you’re really focused you can even concentrate on doing this while you’re walking, reading, sitting at your desk working (that ones hard), however you do it is up to you, just do it.
 
Next up,
 
Core –
 
Linked with breathing more than you’d think.
 
A great way to start to train your core is to think in the following way: – Stimulate – Coordinate – Isolate Here is what they mean to me.
 
Stimulate = begin a session with some drills such as TVA bracing, deep breathing, micro tensing all so that you can get the ‘feel’ of your core doing what it should be doing.
 
Coordinate = pick some large compound movements such as TGU, Crawling/Climbing/Throwing/Jumping/Locomotive patterns, rotational/unilateral compound movements and of course your classic lifts (snatch, C&J, S/B/D etc)
 
Isolate = finish a session with some core specific movements that start off high on the neurological scale of demands and get easier (2-3 can be a good start).
 
^ Example: Strict Hanging Leg Raise, L-sit, Plank All in all the more movements you can have in your training that link the body together as one unit the better you’ll find your core becomes, especially when you factor in diaphragmatic breathing as well.
 
The last part is known as ‘Breathing Behind the Shield’.
 
^You should investigate this thoroughly.
 
Lastly we have,
 
Grip –
 
Nothing is more impressive than a good strong grip that resonates in a firm handshake that your peers adore.
 
Having a strong grip not only allows you to lift more, it’s also a sign of your nervous systems health/fatigue levels because once your pressure drops you know it’s time for some volume/intensity dealoads.
 
Same goes for a day where you’re literally crushing the bar, that means load that bad boy and get some PB’s.
 
Another benefit of a strong grip is called Irradiation.
 
^ In short it means the sigher you grip something the more potential muscle fibre/motor unit recruitment you can have, look up Sherrington’s Law of Irradiation.
 
All in all holding things for length of time is one of the best ways to build grip strength endurance, to build grip strength you need to ‘crush’ things in your little paws.
 
CoC (captain of crush) grippers are excellent for this.
 
As is performing pulling movements with fat grips, thicker bars, towels wrapped around a bar so it compresses meaning you need to grip harder, you’ve also go the option of doing pulling movements holding the towel (look up towel pull up).
 
Climbing things is also great, like walls, ropes etc.
 
True enough you’ll find yourself humbled adding in a more difficult grip yet it will be well worth it in regards to your strength.
 
Oh, plate pinches and pinch grip work is also epic too.
 
We can’t forget heavy kettlebell single arm swings or snatches also forge a cast iron grip as well.
 
Taking in to account all of the above there is one ‘secret’ move that pretty much covers everything.
 
Heavy awkward object loaded carries.
 
Honestly, try carrying things for 5+ minutes at a time, you’ll find your breathing needs to be correct, your core braced tight and your grip locked like an immovable vice.
 
At the end of a good session of carries you’ll find everything is suitably fried.
 
Not just because of the effort required to pick up, carry (possibly load on to) and repeat, it’s also because of the time under tension (and overall tension too) they force you to have.
 
There you have it.
 
A lengthy ramble that could have been summed up with just one sentence –
 
“To get stronger train your breathing, core & grip more.”
 
😂😂😂 FML.
 
How much training time do you decimate to the above?

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Fitness & the Mid-Life Crisis

Do you wonder what your ‘mid-life crisis’ is going to look like?

Could it end up being the classic mixture of getting tattoos, a entirely new wardrobe to regain lost rebellious youth and maybe a bike too.

I guess you could be one of those who leaves their partner, home and comfortable life for someone 10+ years younger and partying on school nights.

Working in fitness you’ll find you see this happen a lot.

People getting results and aesthetic change often being the catalyst.

While we say looks don’t matter they do, as does the attention that comes with them.

True enough some very unique people get a lot attention and yet they never seem to hold on to a persona or settle down.

The sad reason why is because such people are often seen as a fetish, you know something that you want to do behind closed doors yet wouldn’t want to be seen in the light of day with.

This doesn’t mean they’re a bad person or not worth anything else other than being a fetish, however that’s just how it goes.

Sadly I’ve seen it happen many many times over.

Same is true for those who once upon a time were the object of everyones desire & attention, able to pick and choose at will.

Yea that fades over time and they too are cast to the margin bin. From all perspectives it can be quite the knock to a persons confidence.

It won’t change anytime soon and as such the mid-life crisis will always be a thing.

They usually reignite some of the embers of attention that was once a roaring flame, and to some that’s enough, for now.

Of course this too will die out eventually.

Once that happens you’ll be left with a bike you never ride, tattoos that you don’t like and a head full of bad memories.

I’m sure you know someone who has had, or perhaps is going through this time in their life, maybe it all started when they began going to the gym.

Who knows, just some food for thought.

If you do happen across people in this situation try to understand it from their point of view and more importantly why they feel as they do.

Knowing how someone feels can be the biggest step in helping them, especially if you get it too.

Hopefully it will also help you avoid the same pitfall.

Enjoy,
Ross

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3 Reasons why you DON’T need to find what works for you.

📜📜📜
 
You’ve probably heard someone say, or perhaps said yourself the immortal line of:
 
“Find what works for you/me” 🤔
 
While the sentiment is good this is more detrimental that it is useful when people are starting out because well at the beginner level you don’t know your ass from your elbow.
 
Sometimes literally…..
 
(I’ve known some rather unique people)
 
As such I’m going to give you some easy to understand reasons as to why finding what works for you doesn’t ever really find what works for you.
 
1 – Inconsistency & an excuse to give up 📜
 
First and foremost this attitude makes people as flakey as well cooked pastry.
 
Since they are trying to find their own unique style of training that is 100000% best for them they never stick at anything and instead pick training based on an emotional whim.
 
Often going for the shiny new method or what their bias sends them towards.
 
Ironically even if they do find what works for them it ends up working so well they stop and try something els because there must be something better out there which will get ever more results in a shorter time 🤦‍♀️
 
2 – Successful people follow a plan 📜
 
The reason so many programs have a generic ‘cookie cutter’ approach is because they’re based on the collective data from the majority.
 
Yes that means you.
 
Most of us fall in to that realm of just being ‘one of the many’, much to the dismay to the snowflakes of each generation.
 
Think of it this way, if you attend a Yoga class you follow the poses/flows and while minor adjustments are made to progress in the long run you follow the program and what is tough to you.
 
Same goes for martial arts, learning to paint, or anything else in life really.
 
Pretty much every person who achieves a level of success followed the wisdom and way of someone else until they understand enough about the basics and the underpinning principles to move forwards on their own.
 
True enough for some his too merely months to master, for others it took decades.
 
^^ You’d do well to live with the notion that you’re closer to the latter than the former.
 
3 – It’s an easy copout 📜
 
Did you know it’s far easier to tell someone to ‘find what works for them’ than it is to sit them down and try to have an objective conversation because most people just aren’t ready for that level of truth/depth.
 
True story. 🤗
 
Most people want to know what they want to know and already feel they know.
 
Take fat loss for example, if I was to tell you the most optimal way was to lift weights and adjust nutrition many would not like that answer.
 
As such they’d go off elsewhere until the found an answer that was acceptable to them.
 
This is what ‘finding what works for you’ gives to people.
 
Believe it or not we are not that unique, not really, and thinking we are is just the height of hubris.
 
Many have to earn the right tot truly program/train differently.
 
There are very few exceptions to this.
 
So there you have it, 3 reasons why instead of trying to find what works for you you’d be better off trying to focus on finding what works for the majority and going from there.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Your Personal Fountain of Youth

The fountain of eternal youth really does exist.
 
It just might not be what you think it is though.
 
Many picture it as some grand structure with overflowing waters that are of the purest quality.
 
Some see it as something small, humble and little more than a tiny water flow in something akin to a birds drinking fountain.
 
Both are admirable visions, however here is what it really looks like –
 
Your Posterior chain 🍑
 
Yep, all the muscles that cover the back of your body (the ones you can’t see standing head on in the mirror).
 
A strong posterior chain is responsible for solid structure, stability, strength power and it trained well will often covet this phrase for both ladies & gents:
 
“Look at that ass” 🤤🤤🤤
 
If you take a look at anyone in their more senior years you’ll notice that have poor posture, struggle to move quickly and pretty much everything is sagging.
 
Let’s be honest for a second and admit that no one wants this to happen to themselves.
 
It’s not shallow to value your physique, your overall health and want to retain a youthful stature well in to your 70’s.
 
Well maybe you do think it’s shallow however that’s your choice.
 
Personally I’d rather keep as much muscle (especially in my posterior chain) as I can for as long as possible, not only because of aesthetic reasons, for health and longevity reasons too.
 
Ask yourself, why does it change from:
 
“They fell over.” to “They had a fall.”
 
If you are weak and old then a fall can literally mean death for you, perhaps not from the fall itself, rather from your inability to recover because you’re just too weak.
 
This is where as strong posterior chain will help.
 
Think about all the muscles in the back of your body.
 
Lats, spinal erectors, QL, glutes, hamstrings, calves, triceps, traps, rear delts and just how having them be as strong as possible will mean good things for you.
 
There are plenty of movements you can use to train the PC.
 
My top ones for you are as follows:
 
– Loaded Carries (variations)
– Clean & Presses
– Swings
– Snatch (variations)
– Sprinting
– Rowing
– Climbing
– Rows, Face Pulls, etc
– Levers
– Pull Ups (variations)
– Deadlifts (variations)
– Squats because they’re awesome
 
The list could go on, however what you’ll find is that most of the best posterior chain movements also hit many other elements/parts of the body as well.
 
You’d do well to have a bias towards this in your training.
 
Think along these lines and you’ll never go far wrong, that is if you have no ultra specific goal that you’re training for; if you do then train for that and just accept there will be a price to pay for it.
 
Set up your training sessions like this:
 
1 x anterior chain movement
2-4 x posterior chain movements
 
Done.
 
Doing 2-3 times the amount of work on your posterior chain will serve you well you might have a session like this:
 
A1 – Weighted Dip 6×8-10 x10RM
A2 – Rope Climb x 10-20M
 
B1 – Deadlift 6-4-2-6-4-2-6-4-2
 
C1 – Farmers Walks 10x20m
C2 – Bodyweight Skull Crusher*
 
*yes triceps are posterior chain and a BW-SC will force total body tension and engage your lats massively if done well.
 
There you have it my good people of the world.
 
Your fountain of youth.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Peak, Cliff, Hesitate….

Sharing our experience, knowledge and understanding is all many of us can do to help others grow.

“I can tell you everything you NEED to know yet it won’t be what you WANT to know and because of this truth you’ll reject me.”

^^ I heard that recently, really made me think.

There are certain doors in our mind that will remain shut until the day we’re ready to open them, and to tell you the truth that day may never come.

In the sots you’ve perhaps read on here over the years you’ll find the topics vary somewhat however they are largely bis toward fitness/training.

Which makes sense as this is a fitness related page 😂

Everything that is shared has no ulterior motive.

It’s simply shared because it can be.

Some find things useful, others don’t, that’s life and in the end something that we will just have to accept because we’ve got no other choice.

Speaking of training, lately I’ve been doing a fair amount of higher rep work.

Things such as 10×20, or 20×10, 20 down to 1, 25×5 and other high volume madness.

Why?

Why not.

After spending a fair few years doing no more than 6 reps on big lifts (often no more than 3 in reality) I felt there was a need for change because my mental strength has wained somewhat.

Yep, I got lazy and was merely running through the motions.

In most session to be fair and I used a lot of different logical justifications for this when in reality I was just being lazy because I’d lost the oomph and joy for lifting I once had.

This happens to us all because after the peak there will always be a cliff.

I fell off that cliff and while now at a higher low point the the previous one I was in (strength/ability wise etc), it was still a drop off from what was.

I didn’t want to accept the fact I now had another mountain to climb ahead of me.

Thus I warped reality to suit what I wanted to believe.

^^ Sounds familiar to you?

Anyway, back to the point.

We try to stay on the peak and begin to lift the same weights, perform the same movements, attempt to train at the same level of intensity all to remain on our self appointed pedestal.

Our ego won’t allow us to gracefully step down.

As such reality comes along and gives us a rather vicious push.

I get it you know.

It’s hard to accept that many things in life come in the form of peaks and valleys.

This is why these days I quite like this question:

‘Are you progressing?’

^^ or moving forwards, or learning, or adapting or whatever you wish to call it.

I also like to ask it 5 times because the first 2-4 are often hyperbole and the last one can yield the true/real answer.

Combine this with also asking ‘why?’ and you’ve got a potent mix for some internal growth and learning.

Be warned though because it’s not comfortable.

To truly accept all that you are and become who you want to be you must first accept all the things you are not and that you pretend to be all to keep up appearances.

^^ That shit is hard.

So my dear readers, if you’ve made it this far I applaud you.

It’s fair to say I ramble on a fair bit.

Now that you are here though ask yourself the following three questions:

– Am I really progressing?
– What do I not address (in life, training etc) and why?
– Is this really me or just what I think I should be?

If you’re up for it leave your answers in the comments section below with they all important ‘why’.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Trigger me happy

People these days are very quick to react rather than respond.
Getting ‘triggered’ is commonplace.
You don’t like what someone said, get triggered and emotionally berate them in to submission.
That’s the modern way 🤗
This is why you’ve got to appreciate sports and physical tasks.
Q – Did you do XY or Z?
A – No, but it was because of the 5th ring of Saturn turning half a parsec faster than the 3rd & 4th that threw out my postural alignment.
Okay cool so you didn’t do it, that’s all that matters.
😂😂😂
The lies we tell ourselves can be quite creative at times.
Worst part is we say them enough times that we actually begin to believe them ourselves.
We delete, distort and generalise as much as we can to protect our own sense of self and fragile ego’s.
Did you know the ego itself fears death and rebirth because letting go of what we think we know is no easy task.
Obviously not being able to do something makes people feel bad, and depending now hat it is people won’t ever let you forget your failures.
Why?
Because it helps them come to terms with perhaps their own lack of something.
Not to mention we rarely want to help people surpass ourselves, often because when you’ve done it in the past there was never any thanks for it and those you helped tend to gain superiority complex and distort how things actually went down so that it was ‘all them’.
C’est la vie, eh?
Today I’d like you to try and catch yourself when you’re reacting emotionally.
Feel the tension in your body gather, your face tighten and your focus sharpen in preparation for the verbal attack you’re about to commence.
Even if you think to yourself that isn’t you and you’d never do it, I can tell you now you will because you’re human just like everyone else.
Gaining this level of awareness can save you a lot of hassle.
It will take time however it will be worth it.
Enjoy,
Ross

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Strength is Specific

Strength is also a skill too.

You can be strong, yet not have the right strength for a given situation.

It is in this knowledge things can become rather frustrating because we all want to progress, to become the best version of ourselves or whatever idealistic tome you wish to follow.

In truth you’ve just got to look at the big picture called life and see what kind of strength YOU will need the majority of the time.

When you’ve established this you can devote the bulk of your training time to that, then save say 20% of that time for other training styles (be those strength, endurance, anaerobic etc) that you enjoy to keep you consistent.

Obviously you can simply choose to train in the way you most enjoy, nothing wrong with that approach so long as you remember it might not be the most productive path for you to live your best life, yet that’s on you.

The next time you get stuck or feel at a loss for training ask yourself these questions –

1 – What strength do I need?

(physical, endurance, cardiovascular etc)

2 – Why do I need this style of training?

(the purpose of it all)

3 – How long & how often will I need to do this for?

(answer this one honestly)

These questions three will help you gain some clarity for your training and allow you to make the most optimal choices.

Enjoy,
Ross

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A little something arbitrary for y’all

GPP vs SPP.

General physical preparedness.

Special/Specific physical preparedness.

Some will ask which is better and the answer will always be; it depends.

If you have a solid goal then SPP will rule the roost and GPP will fall in line to help bolster the goal.

Yet say your goal is a loose one, you merely want to be a half decent allrounder, then in that case you ca pick and choose when you use SPP and have the majority of your training in the GPP area.

Do remember though that it often means you will never excel at anything and in fact more than likely not even end up as mediocre in the majority of things because of too much choice.

All this being said, here is something those of you that don’t really have a goal and just want to train can utilise in your training.

I call it the 50%-100%-200% Method.

You will use the above percentages in reference to your body weight on the movements you’re going to do.

So that could mean bodyweight barbell curls and double bodyweight press overhead as a superset if you’re some sort of genetic beast lobster (50% curl and 100% press will do for most).

Sets and reps can be up to you because the options for that are endless.

Take this example 3 day template for starters:

Day 1:

W/U – Clean & Press w/sandbag x50% x AMRAP x 15min
A1 – DL x 200% x6x4
B1 – Bench Press x100% x3 xAMRAP
C/D – Stretching/Yoga

Day 2:
W/U – Farmers Walk x50% x max total distance in 15min
A1 – SQ x 200% x8x3
B1 – Bent Over Row 100% x4-5 xAMRAP
C/D – Stretching/Yoga

Day 3:
W/U – Sled Push/Pull x50% x max total distance in 15min
A1 – Press x 100% x12x2
B1 – Pull Up x 50% x 8×3
C/D – Stretching/Yoga

The above if with mostly standard gym kit, however doing the above with awkward objects can be a great way to build ‘old time strength’ along with an epic amount of conditioning.

Often times we get some of our best results when we limit our choices because we have no other option than to put in some hard graft that has a defined purpose.

Try the simple loading strategy above and see how you get on.

Personally I’d lean towards working on volume/density as the main drivers, so getting out max reps (with good form) in specific time frames or more reps in the same time.

You might have heard this called EDT (escalating density training), Charles Staley is the man to look up for article on this.

Enjoy,
Ross

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A little time

You might that guessed I’m in quite the pensive mood of late.
 
Today I shall break with that trend and give you something you can use in the gym 🤗
 
It’s called ’25-35-45′
 
This is the length of time you will spend training in minutes.
 
You will cycle through them each session.
 
Why?
 
Because it will stop you faffing about.
 
You might be thinking that you can’t get anything done in 25min.
 
Well you can, in fact you can get quite a lot done however it relies on you pulling your finger out and being productive.
 
The cycling of session time will get you out of the mindset of –
 
“I need to train to feel tired/worked/like you did something”
 
Instead it will get you in the realms of –
 
“What can I do that is productive and not a waste of time?”
 
There might be some trial and error while you find the flow of it all, however once you do you will find that it’s not about the amount of time you spend in the gym, oh no.
 
It’s about the amount of effort, the quality of work and having a purpose that makes all the difference.
 
Don’t believe me?
 
Try to do 10 Thrusters & 5 Pull Ups without rest for 25min solid (wave loads as needed) and tell me you’ve not achieved something notable.
 
Here are a couple of ways you can set up the rotations.
 
1 – Pull/Squat, Hinge/Push, Loaded Carries/Movement
 
This takes 9 sessions before you start the cycle again, meaning each of the above (Pull/SQ etc) gets a 25-35-45min session.
 
2 – 25-35-45 & 1/2/3
 
25min session = 1 lift
35min session = 2 lifts (ideally in superset fashion)
45min session = 3 lifts (tri-set is good)
 
1 lift = pick a big movement that hits the entire body
2 lift = choose 2 solid half body movements
3 lift = 1 big lift, 1 auxiliary lift & 1 isolation/weak-point lift
 
3 – EMOM or AMRAP
 
Pick one or two lifts for an EMOM (ever minute on the minute), or choose as many lifts as you like and complete as many reps/rounds as possible in the given time.
 
4 – 200-300-400
 
The above are rep targets.
 
25min = 200reps
35min = 300 reps
45min = 400 reps
 
You can cycle the days as in option 1, I’d go for a simple Pull-Push-Legs so you might end up with something like this:
 
25min – 200 Presses (a combination of press/dip etc)
35min – 300 Squats (Squats, lunges, step ups etc)
45min – 400 Pulls (Dl, rows, chins, swings etc)
 
It will take 9 sessions to have each movement go through each rep/time set.
 
5 – Recovery, Run & Ramp
 
25min = Recovery work day – foam rolling, stretching etc
35min = Cardio work of your choice
45min = Lifting day where you ramp the weights/volume up
 
There are many options, however the 4 above should be enough to get you started.
 
Take some time to think about how much time you waste in the gym and for what other reason than you just feel like you should be in there for a certain amount of time.
 
Do less better.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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