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Fitness Plans and Monitoring



Committing to get fit has continued to take me out of my comfort zone this week. Thank you German Volume Training. On several of the workouts this week I have missed the target repetition range, which means I have to keep the same weight for next week and get a few more repetitions out.  

Which brings me onto recording your gym sessions, whether you use the old fashioned notebook and pen or for the more advanced wizards of you your phone. Recording your sessions has so many benefits. I have trained off and on for many years sometimes writing a programme to follow and recording each session, some times just hitting the gym and picking up a weight and seeing what happens. Well I can honestly say writing and recording each session is when I have got the best improvements. It allows you to see the little improvements each week. For example on my German Volume Training, I have recorded the weight and number of repetitions. This means I now know what I have to reach next time. This also shows my progression. You may not think it but if you see……

Week One -       40 x 10             40 x 10       40 x 8

Week Two -       40 x 10             40 x 10        40 x 9

….you have progressed. In week two you have done more work than week one. Writing down the weights also makes you that little bit more competitive with yourself. Remember in fitness you are only really competing with yourself and how far you can push your own body. Seeing that you got 8 reps out the week before makes your determined not to take it easy this week and stop at 7, you know you have to get to 8 or at least 9 repetitions out.

I will now return to the SMART principles of last week, specifically looking at Measurable. Hopefully you have set your Specific goal, but how do you know you are progressing towards this Specific goal / target?

Measurable should look at finding where you are currently, what level are you currently at? This means performing some sort of assessment, ok…test. There are no pass or fails with these tests, simply a score that you look to improve on the next time you assess (test) yourself. Each test is likely to have a recommended score. There are many different tests which you can perform, the one(s) you select will be dependent on your Specific goal / target. For example, it is pointless to perform a cardiovascular (aerobic) test if your goal is to increase your strength .

Body Composition

Weighing scales – make sure you only weigh yourself at the same time every week. Remember our body weight will fluctuate day to day due to food intake (you will weigh more directly after eating), fluid loss and our bowel movements. Weighing yourself at the same time of day, on the same surface each week will make results more comparable. 

Body Stat Percentage – this uses a bioelectrical impedance machine to send a current around your body to measure your body fat percentage and hydration levels. These machines work as fat free mass contains more water than fat. Meaning fat-free mass has less resistance to the current.

Hydrostatic Weighing – your weight is first measured, then in minimal clothing you sit on a specialised seat overhanging a water tank. You then expire the air in your lungs and are lowered into the tank until you are fully submersed. You then remain motionless underwater while your underwater weight is recorded.

Caliper Testing – This is more invasive than the body stat percentage using a bioelectrical impedance machine. Measurements are taken between 3-9 sites, usually down the right side of the body. The tester pinches the skin at a designated site and callipers are applied. After 2 seconds a reading is taken. All the scores are put together and your body fat percentage is determined. 


VO2max – to monitor and record the aerobic endurance. The test requires you to run on a treadmill, with the speed increasing every minute until the subject cannot run anymore. During the test you breathe into a specific mouthpiece and are not able to use your nose. Expired air is collected and  analysed using a gas analyser to work out your VO2max.

Bleep Test – continuous running between 2 cones 20m apart in time to the beeps. As the test progresses the speed increases. If you arrive at the line before the beep you must wait for the beep to catch you up. If you do not make the line you receive a warning, 2 warnings and you are out.

Cooper Test – usually performed on a running track. You have 12 minutes to run as far as possible. At the end of the 12 minutes your total distance is recorded. Various equations can be performed to work out your VO2max score.

Yo-yo intermittent – this test comes in two either the Intermittent Recovery or Intermittent Endurance. This is similar to the Bleep test, you run between two cones 20m apart, keeping up with the beeps. Upon completing two lengths (40m) you rest for 10s before repeating. Again as the test goes on the speed increases for which you have to cover the 20m distance. The Intermittent Endurance test is exactly the same apart from you get 5 seconds recovery between each 40m run.

2000m Rower – simply row 2000m as fast as you can.


20m Sprints – measures your acceleration, max speed and speed endurance. If you can get hold of timing gates this will make your timing more accurate. Simply time how long it takes you to run 20m (or a set distance).

Agility –  these tests look at your ability to move quickly and change direction.  The agility test you perform will depend on the sport you play. You can make your own agility test up. With any test you have to make sure it is repeatable, valid and reliable. This means in can be replicated. Take measurements of distance between cones, angles between cones and the same surface.


Endurance – perform as many repetitions as you can on a selected weight.

1 Repetition Maximum – perform this test sub maximally. Perform several warm up sets, using a lighter weight that your test weight and perform 5 reps on a weight you could do 20 repetitions on, 5 reps on a weight you could do 16 repetitions on, 3 reps on a weight you could do 12 repetitions on,  3 reps on a weight you can do 10 repetitions on. Then test. Select a weight you can only do 2 – 10 repetitions with. Perform as may repetitions as possible with this weight (hopefully below 10) and work out your 1 repetition maximum. As I am having problems attaching the 1RM table drop me an e-mail and I will forward it to you. (

So if you are going to test yourself find a partner or group of friends and assist each other in recording your results. You are always that little bit more motivated when there is a group of you. Hire a sports hall, astro pitch, get into the gym and measure where you currently are. Then re-test in 4 – 8 weeks and you will then see how well you are progressing towards your specific goal.   


Post Exercise Recovery - Nutrition



This weeks training has continued to progress in the right direction with a few questions being raised within the Sussexsport team regarding the structure of the German Volume Plan. I only completed half of my lifts in my additonal session yesterday, not being hydrated, slight over training and the heat meant that I cut it short and went little jog. This afternoon I hope to be back on track with the GVT and looking to have a de-load week soon to allow the body to recover.


Post Exercise Recovery

When we are at rest, we are reported to be in a respiratory exchange ratio of 0.75 indicating fat as the predominant energy source (Bourgouts and Keizer, 1999). When we start to exercise and increase our speed from walk to run, fuels which provide the body with energy change from fatty acids to mainly glycogen (van Loon et al. 2001). Upon completion of exercise rehydration and re-synthesis of carbohydrates stores (which rebuild the glycogen stores) are the key component of recovery (Williams, 2004). The fast re-synthesis of glycogen stores is important for not only athletes who perform repeated bouts of training the same day or consecutive dates (Parkin et al. 1997) but for people performing everyday tasks, cycling to and from work, playing in the park with your family, walking up the steep hill on your way home. Replenishing these stores is important as they supply us with the energy to perform these tasks.

Various studies have looked at various mixes of two main nutrients , carbohydrates and protein to aid glycogen re-synthesis. Studies have looked at consuming carbohydrates on their own, protein on their own and carbohydrates-protein combinations.

Various replenishment rates and quantities have been reported. Some research has supported carbohydrates alone as the best source to refuel glycogen stores whilst others have support a carbohydrate-protein combo. Protein alone has not scored that well. Having looked through and read various literature sources, it is reported that a ratio of 3g carbohydrates : 1g protein is the best mixture for  a recovery drink / meal. If we look at the studies in the table we see that the carbohydrate-protein mixtures that had a rough ratio of 3:1 (Ivy et al. 2002, Zawadzxi et al. 1992 and van Hall et al. 2000) reported the same glycogen replenishment as carbohydrate alone.

The other consideration before you think it does not matter whether you take carbohydrates alone or a mixture of carbohydrates-protein is that protein has many benefits to the body. Not only is protein essential to help repair our damaged muscles through exercises it is also important in our insulin response. Our insulin response is important in the second phase (post exercise 30-60min) when glycogen becomes insulin dependent. It has been reported by Zawadzki et al. (1992) and Jentjens and Jeukendrup (2003) that insulin keep glycogen transporters active for longer or activates more transporters to be released.

Now you know that you should be consuming 3g carbohydrates : 1g protein it is important that you get the timing right….this is as soon as you have finished exercising. The longer you delay it the less full your glycogen stores become…obvious yes…but the absorption rate slows down and the nutrients can be seen as surplus as opposed to if they are consumed straight after exercise, the nutrients are then utilised.


This is why breakfast is important. We have usually fasted for 12 hours (7-7),  10 hours (9-7) of if you are like me 9 hours (10-7) breakfast is vital. I like my car demonstrations. Imagine you fuel your car up with enough petrol or less petrol than you need to make it from home to work and back. Leave it on the drive for 12-10 hours would you be able to drive it to work the next day? Your body is the same, it needs food to fuel us. When we are at rest our resting metabolic rate will vary depending on your age, muscle mass, genetics, weather, healthy eating plan. Your resting metabolic rate tells us how many calories you need to just function, sitting still and breathing (imagine a hangover day!). Now add movement walking around work, up and down the stairs, standing up sitting down, moving the remote control and even exercising, we have added even more calories to meet our daily need (recommended 2000 calories for females and 2500 for males). Breakfast is the most important meal as it provides us with the fuel for the day ahead.

If you are after weight loss breakfast is still the most vital meal of the day. Studies have shown that healthy eaters who eat breakfast lose more weight and keep it off for longer.

Summarising post workout (sleep) look to consume a meal (meal replacement drink) that has a ratio of 3g carbohydrates : 1g protein immediately post exercise. This will increase your glycogen re-synthesis rate, allowing nutrients to be stored and used for their purpose. You will then have more energy to:

-       Run around in the park with your family

-       Cycle home

-       Walk up your hill home

-       Go for a walk with your partner (brownie points)


Remember ‘train smart, not stupid’

 Example foods:

-       Chocolate Milk Shake (yep you read that correct)

-       Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (if looking to increase muscle mass)

-       Bowl of granola and low-fat milk

-       Bowl of whole grain cereal and low-fat milk

-       Medium banana and glass low-fat milk


Bourhouts, L. B. and Keizer, H. A. (1999). Exercise and Insulin Sensitivity: A review. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 20, 1-12.

Ivy, J. L., Goforth, H. W., Damon, B. M., McCauley, T. R., Parsons, E. C. and Price, T. B. (2002). Early post exercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement. Journal of Applied Physiology. 93, 1337-1344.

Jentjens, R. and Jeukendrup, A. E. (2003). Determinants of Post-Exercise Glycogen Synthesis During Short-Term Recovery. Sports Medicine. 33(2), 117-144.

Parkin, J. A. M., Carey,  M. F., Martin, I. K., Stojanovska, L. and Febbraio, M. A. (1997). Muscle glycogen storage following prolonged exercise: effect of timing of ingestion of high glycemic index food. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 29 (2), 220-224.

Van Hall, G., Shirreffs, S. M. and Calbert, J. A. L. (2000). Muscle glycogen resynthesis during recovery from cycle exercise: no effect of additional protein ingestion. Journal of Applied Physiology.88, 1631-1636.

van Loon, L. J. C., Greenhaff, P. L., Constantin-Teodosiu, D. C., Saris, W. H. M. and Wagenmakers, J. M. (2001). The effects of increasing exercise intensity on muscle fuel utilisation in humans. Journal of Physiology. 536 (1), 295-304.

Williams, C. (2004). Carbohydrate intake and recovery from exercise. Science and Sports. 19, 239-244.

Zawadzki, K. M., Yaspelkis III, B. B. and Ivy, J. L. (1992). Carbohydrate-protein complex increases the rate of muscle glycogen storage after exercise. Journal Applied Physiology. 72 (5), 1854-1859.

Tips - 100km Walk



So this week I have taken my GVT seriously, well, kept pushing myself towards the desired number of reps and sets. I have to admit however the cumulative fatigue of the intensity of training and adding some extra bits in when I should have not, has meant I have been a little fatigued this week and will be having a de-load week next week to recharge the batteries ready for a further 3-4 week stint of GVT before I look to try a new training method.

This week as part of the commit to get fit challenge I have met with James, who is taking part in a 100 km walk over the downs with a team of four, Lois who regularly attends circuits at lunchtimes and Jocelyn and her team for a spin session. In this blog I will look to take the question posed to me by James, at is was the first question, I will then answer (a blog will be posted in about a minutes time!) the question of exercises for the Bingo Wings and Muffin Tops.

So James, whilst walking the 100K challenge I would suggest

- Plenty of hydration and fluids, you want to have a mixture of water and sports drinks (carbohydrate based) to help keep energy levels up. Just a 2% decrease in hydration levels can affect our performance, look to consume 500ml of fluid an hour.

Sports drinks – Sports drinks are important to allow absorption of carbohydrates, electrolytes and sodium into the body. Helping supply energy and prevent energy levels dropping. Also look out for the different names:

Hypotonic – carbohydrate electrolyte concentration which is less than body fluids, rapidly absorbed. Best taken before exercise, no real energy boost. Homemade this would be 500ml orange juice, 500ml water, pinch of salt. Good for hydration before a race.

Isotonic – 6-8% carbohydrate electrolyte concentration which is similar to body fluids. Best used later in the recovery process or during exercise, i.e. Powerade and Lucozade drinks. Homemade this would be 750ml orange juice, 250ml water, pinch of salt.

Hypertonic – carbohydrate electrolyte concentration is more than our body fluids. This is best taken for a recovery post exercise. Homemade think of a litre of orange juice and a pinch of salt


 - Have a strategy in place. Walk for a period of time 40 – 60 minutes, take off your rucksack and stretch the calfs, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Then reload, fuel and fluid. Put the bag back on and off you go again. Look to keep these periods short to stop the muscles seizures.


- Fuel. During the walk is not the time to try new foods as these could play havoc with your digestive system, try them on your practice walks. Look to consume:

Bananas, apples, nuts and raisins (get a mixture of protein and carbohydrates in),

Fig rolls (

Jaffa cakes (

Jelly beans, jelly babies,

Flap jack (homemade) (

Energy Gels ( ( I would go with the raspberry flavour or summer fruits)

Sandwiches – on wholemeal / whole grain bread look to use a filling such as jam or peanut butter and jam.


Have fun James. You should write a blog on your training and walks.

Bingo Wings and Muffin Tops



For those of you who do not have a clue what I am talking about, bingo wings are the back of the upper arm and muffin tops are the bits that sit above the side of our trousers on our side. I was going to post some pictures but I could not be cruel enough to copy and paste these from a well known search engine.

Anyhow there are many exercises which look to target the muscles of the back of the upper arm the tricep and side of the stomach, the oblique muscle. However before I continue it is almost impossible to particularly target certain areas of our body for fat loss. We all are made up of different genes (and all fit different genes! (a ha) some people will lose weight in the face first, legs or arms before losing fat on our stomachs.  For more on fat loss look at my previous blog

The following exercises will help you to target a specific muscle group


Bingo Wings

Assisted Dips (31s onwards)

Tricep Dips

Narrow Press Ups

Tricep Kick Backs

Tricep Pulldowns


Muffin Tops

Side Planks

Pallof Press


Dead Bug

Wood Chops


Enjoy your training

Summer Running



Firstly big congratulations to everyone who took part in the Commit to get fit May challenge. Remember it’s the taking part that counts, which is the nice thing with many of the activities put on by Sussexsport, although some do have an element of competing, most activities are about having fun and challenging yourself. Although the challenge has finished I am still available to help with any questions, fitness related, you may have, just send an e-mail to

So summer is fast approaching, meaning many of us will be dusting off our summer runners and hitting the pavements/seafront getting ourselves more active. What can we do to help ourselves make the most of our running and improve our times?

Hydration – not only whilst running but pre and post. OK so we may have had a run before heading to the BBQ, but hold off the alcohol for a drink or two. We want to replace the fluid we have lost, being dehydrated by 2% can lead to decrease in performance, we lose concentration and performing tasks become harder.  Hopefully summer nights will be warm, meaning when we are asleep we will lose fluid. Therefore it is important to replace this lost fluid when we wake up and start the day hydrating.

Running Shoes – make sure they are appropriate to your running style to help prevent injuries. When your foot hits the floor do you over-pronate or under-pronate   

Stretch – to help prevent injuries, aid recovery and maintain your range of movement (stride length, leg lift etc) stretching should be a stable part of any runners routine, whether you are a casual runner or a marathon runner. When stretching you may wish to foam roll prior to stretching that muscle group, these release the knot and allows for a better stretch. When stretching pay particular attention to the quadriceps, hip flexors, IT band, hamstrings and glutes

Strength – to get quicker, maintain running technique and avoid injuries we should look to strengthen the core, glutes and hamstrings. By strengthen I mean you should be looking to do 6-10 repetitions with your selected weight and that’s all you should be able to perform. You should not be holding a weight doing 20 repetitions and stopping even though you could do more. This is not challenging the muscles enough. The strength work should supplement the endurance work your muscles are getting whilst running, just performing endurance work is likely to lead to injuries and not aid performance.

Pace – you should look at several different pace runs. You should have a recovery run pace, this is slower than your race pace. You also have your race pace and another option is your interval pace, this pace is quicker than your race pace. When performing intervals your pace will be determined by the distance of your interval, your pace for 400m will be quicker than your pace for 800m.

Massage – OK we can all do with a massage every now and then and yep it can be expensive to continue to pay for these. So why not supplement your massages for a foam roller. This looks to get into the muscles and relieve the tension

Cross Training – this does not always mean going on that lovely piece of gym equipment. Cross training means variety, look to mix your running up with other activities that help maintain your fitness but prevent overuse injuries. These activities could be biking, swimming, racket sports, circuits, zumba.

Nutrition – plan for your training. Pre exercise meals should be based on providing you with the energy to carry out your planned session and post meals should help replenish stores post session.

Randomised workouts and the defeats will come Chris



Chris hold onto those days where you are still beating your son, by the sounds of it, it won’t be for much longer. Then it will be role reversal, he will be letting you win the odd point here and there to keep you interested and thinking you have a chance in the game.

With all this hand eye coordination going on I hope you have put a team in for the staff rounder’s event next Wednesday? (slight plug for the event)

Well as it’s the end of term, at Sussexsport we like to treat it a little like the end of school when planning classes, you know when you can wear anything you want in on the last day of term. So this week we have been looking at making classes a bit more randomised.

I am not sure where the idea came from but to make classes randomised the idea brought me back to a book I read a few years ago called ‘The Dice Man’. This book is about a psychologist who decided to live his life by the role of a die. Ok, it is not totally randomised as he has to make the six choices for which the die decides. This can make life exciting and  change your behaviour towards certain things as you will make some general choices for the way you ‘normally’ live but also you will write down some ‘risks’ that you want to try but may not do if you make the decision.

So coming back to making things randomised, like everyone I want to be able to compete against Usain Bolt, run a marathon under 3 hours, get a clean and jerk over 100kg, be a combative midfield player running from box to box. But alas, being great at all of these at the same time is impossible. So how can I make training fun, varied and surprising, well, through the role of a die.

In order for this to happen you have a workout randomiser, used by Dan John ( Roll the die once to select your exercise. Roll the die again to select your session.


Roll One

Roll Two

1.  Treadmill

1.   Tabata (Work 20s : Rest 10s x 8)

2.  Cross Trainer

2.   20 minutes continuous @ 705% max heart rate

3.  Rower

3.   Work 40s : Rest 20s

4.  Bike

4.   6 x 400m sprits

5.  Stepper

5.   4 x 4 @ 90% max heart rate

6.  Arm Bike

6.  10 x 100m sprints


If you are more interested in strength workouts then why not use this version adapted from the Dan John randomised workout

Roll One:    Lift of the Day

Roll Two:    The Program

Roll Three:  The Finisher


Roll One: Lift of the Day

  1. Press
  2. Squat
  3. Pull Ups
  4. Clean
  5. Deadlift
  6. Clean and Jerk


Roll Two: The Program

  1. 8 repetitions then sprint
  2. 5-3-2 (first set 5 reps, second set 3 reps, third set 2 reps
  3. 3-3-2-1-1-1-1-1
  4. 20s of lifting, 10 seconds of rest x 8
  5. 3 sets of 8 with one minute rest between sets, select two exercises for this
  6. Fifty-Five reps, anyhow you like, sets of singles,10’s, 5’s so long as you total 55 repetitions

Roll Three: The Finisher

  1. Sled pulls sprints
  2. Sled pushes
  3. Farmers Walks
  4. Rope Waves
  5. Med Slams
  6. Burpeees


Why not give it a go. It could decide your lunch time team options. So and so wants to play badminton; so and so wants to play table tennis; so and so wants to go for a walk to Stanmner park. Get the office die out and let it decide for you.

  1. Badminton
  2. Table Tennis
  3. Walk
  4. etc
  5. etc
  6. etc

DARO - Rockinghorse cycle challenge



Glamour and Look magazines with the radio are accompanying our departmental cycle challenge for the Rockinghorse charity.  Apparently Sussex Life wasn't inspirational enough and didn't come with a free nail varnish.  Those that have completed their part are sporting a lovely rosy glow on their cheeks...

Commit to get far



So after the success of 'Commit to get Fit', an initiative run by the Sports Centre to encourage more staff into using the Sports Centre they are now running a 10 day challenge for January starting yesterday called 'Commit to get Far'. The basis of the this challenge as the title suggests is a group challenge to try to get from Brighton to Edinburgh, 698 miles. Now obviously this is a massive distance with the emphasis being on getting as far as you can, all activities can be converted into a mileage which adds to the total, so even that relaxing hour of yoga will get you a couple of miles.

What is really great is that the Sports Centre have responded to feedback from people who have requested wanting a challenge for the bleak, dark months when all you want to do is hibernate inside eating stodgy food and watching DVD box sets. Motivation for me is always a hard thing but from today I'm going to try to do something active for everyday of the challenge whether this be a class, swimming or even a short bike ride. My individual mileage is not a major concern of mine, but getting into good habits and starting the year in an active way.

The Cap'n Walks The Plank (a.k.a. Coldean Lane)



Shivvering me timbers

Our Team Captain, Becky, took up the challenge to walk home - although the weather wasn't as kind for her odyssey!

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Boxercise, The Long Walk Home and Mountain Goats



Another eclectic update from MPS!

This week we have been taking the fitness to another level, getting involved in more physical activity and forgoing transportation home!

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Netball, well, sort of...



Netball Crazy!

The torrent of team trials and tribulations continues into this week, with a quick update on the Netball session.

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A flurry of activity at MPS!



More activities for MPS

There has been a flurry of activity over the past week, with a whole bunch of different activities being undertaken by our team.

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You're a wizard, Harry



Another weird Commit to Get Fit update from MPS!

Hats off to SussexSport again for the unusual but very welcome inclusion of Quidditch in the lineup this year!

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Commit to Get Fit 2015 - It begins....



MPS Commit To Get Fit 2015!
Another year, another month full of fun and activity!

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Marvellous Montenegro, Wonderful Wales & Delightful Derbyshire



Updates from our Foreign Correspondents!

At Team MPS we enjoy sending our team off around the country to promote healthy living and exercise.

This year for Commit to Get Fit, we sent 3 people off on diplomatic missions around the globe - starting local with our dispatch of Debbie to Wales and Sally to Derbyshire - before going international and sending Sarah to Montenegro!

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Broken Car, Frizzing Bees and Climbing Up The Walls



More commitment from MPS!

Another update from MPS, this time a little closer to home - so no need for holiday-snap-jealousy.

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Going the extra mile



More updates from MPS!

Another day, another bunch of aerobic action over at MPS!

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Two generations of useless explorers



More adventures from MPS!

An update from blog author Matt today on last week's fitness activities!

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Dance Like an Egyptian and Sting Like a Bee



A (belated) Boxercise and Egyptian Dance update from MPS!

Due to a blog backlog, it has taken me ages to get these updates onto the blog!

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Commit to Get Fit 2015 - MPS Team Summary



Commit to Get Fit - MPS Team Summary

A few thoughts on the end of Commit to Get Fit 2015 from Team MPS!

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