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How do you fix a crashed metabolism? Should you eat more than your TDEE while bulking on non-exercise days? Are resistance bands as effective as free weights over a short duration? 

In this episode, I dive into these questions and a lot more, all sourced from my audience who regularly participate in my Q&A posts.

As always, these questions come directly from my Instagram followers, who take advantage of my weekly Q&As in my stories. If you have a question you’re dying to have answered, make sure you follow me on Instagram (@muscleforlifefitness) and look out for the Q&A posts. Your question might just make it into a podcast episode!

If you like this type of episode, let me know. Send me an email ([email protected]) or direct message me on Instagram. And if you don’t like it, let me know that too or how you think it could be better.


0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!

1:13 – Do big meals stretch your stomach?

1:47 – Is the deadlift considered leg or back volume?

3:01 – Should I eat over my TDEE on non-exercise days during a lean bulk?

4:39 – Is training for abs still worth it?

5:35 – Can nuts aid in weight loss?

6:25 – What are strategies to fix a crashed metabolism?

9:44 – How can I progress from a 285lb to a 315lb bench press?

11:19 – Does your program involve too many sets and insufficient recovery?

13:50 – Find the Perfect Strength Training Program for You: 

14:36 – Can resistance bands replace weights effectively for a short duration?

16:51 – What are tips for lifting heavy with back issues?

18:26 – What’s the best training/eating regimen for lowering blood pressure?

18:41 – Would Legion Athletics consider Dylan Mulvaney as a spokesperson?

19:06 – Can you suggest a back day routine?

22:11 – How can I return to my previous lifting weight after a 3-week break?

24:55 – Why should I transition from BBLS 1.0 to 2.0?

26:01 – Are there concerns about electromagnetic frequencies from AirPods?

26:56 – What additional remedies exist for SI Joint issues beyond abductor exercises?

29:53 – What are your opinions on weight gainer and mass gainer supplements?


Mentioned on the Show:

Find the Perfect Strength Training Program for You in Just 60 Seconds:

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Hello there, I am Mike Matthews and this is Muscle For Life. Thank you for joining me today for another episode, a Q& A episode, where I answer questions that people ask me over on Instagram. And if you want me to answer your questions, you gotta follow me on Instagram at MuscleForLifeFitness and you gotta watch my stories, where I occasionally put up a story asking for questions and then I answer a bunch of them there on Instagram.

I choose ones. that are topical or that many other people are asking or that I just haven’t already addressed a million times before. And then I bring everything over here to the podcast where I can answer the questions in more detail. And so in today’s episode, I am answering questions about stomach stretching.

And hunger, if you eat too many large meals, can that stretch your stomach out and make it harder to feel full? I answer a question about deadlift volume, how should you be counting that in terms of your major muscle groups? There’s a question here on rest days when lean bulking, how many calories should you be eating on your rest days?

Abs training. Is it worth it? Should you be doing direct training for your abs? How to fix a crashed metabolism? And more. Vivienne, there in the username, asks, Big size meals stretch your stomach and you need more and more to feel satiated. True. Not quite, because regularly eating large meals increases stomach elasticity, so how much your stomach can stretch, but not its size per se.

Okay. However, research shows that that can indeed influence how full you feel after a meal, but the effect is small. It is not likely to make much of a difference, practically speaking. Candy Coom37 asks, does the deadlift count as leg or back volume or both? Well, if we want to be precise, I would count one set of a deadlift as one set for my hamstrings, for my glutes, for my spinal erectors, and for my traps, and maybe one half of a set for quads and lats.

Some people also would add one half of a set to biceps, and that is probably not entirely wrong, but I’m not sure. That there is enough stimulus on the biceps to make much of a difference. And so practically speaking, what that means is to get big biceps, you are going to have to do a fair amount of direct biceps training, direct volume for your biceps, indirect volume provided by deadlifting to whatever degree that is the case.

Certainly by any sort of pulling that provides more effective indirect volume to the biceps than deadlifting. Those two things are not going to be enough. If you want big biceps and you don’t already have big biceps, you are going to have to also do probably anywhere from 6 to 12 sets per week directly for your biceps.

Casey Dia asks, I’m on a lean bulk right now. Do I eat over my TDEE, total daily energy expenditure, even on days I don’t exercise? You can if that’s just one or two days per week. So let’s say you’re lifting four or five days per week and you’re off. The other days you can maintain your calorie surplus on those days, but I would probably bring my calories down to maintenance level just to try to gain a little bit less fat, which can matter if you are lean bulking over the course of many months.

And I definitely would do that if I were only training three or four days per week, but I also probably wouldn’t be lean bulking on three days per week and certainly not. Two days per week because I simply wouldn’t be able to get in enough volume in three workouts per week to make meaningful progress unless I was focusing on one major muscle group that I probably could do.

So that would entail doing five or six sets for whatever muscle group that is in each of those workouts. So let’s say it’s a Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine and I am Trying to focus on my lower body. Each of those workouts would entail five or six sets for my lower body, and then would probably entail anywhere from, let’s say, eight to ten sets of volume for the rest of my body.

And that could be broken up in different ways, but the goal Primarily would be to progress in my lower body training. That’s the focus and to just maintain strength and muscle everywhere else. Coach Gregory Groves asks, abs training still worth it? Yeah, sure. If you want bigger, more pronounced ab muscles in particular, the rectus abdominis muscles.

If you’re heavy compound lifting is not getting you the look. that you want or is not getting you there fast enough, you can add direct abs training to speed up that process or to give you bigger, more prominent abs. But if you are happy with the level of development in your abs and you don’t necessarily want Bigger, blockier abs, you don’t like that look, for example, then no, there’s no reason to do any direct abs exercises, your compound weightlifting that you’re doing, assuming you are doing some sort of squat, some sort of hip hinge, some sort of overhead press on a regular basis.

Those exercises will be enough. to maintain the level of core development that you currently have. David E Barraza asks, are nuts helpful for weight loss? I’ve been told that not all their calories are absorbed by the body. No, they’re not helpful simply because they have a lot of calories that are packed into a small package and those calories are well absorbed.

So, Whatever you heard is incorrect. That is not to say though, that you can’t eat nuts when you’re cutting. Of course you can, you just won’t be able to eat a lot of them without borking your meal plan. And that’s why most effective cutting meal plans out there, most. Meal plans that have helped people lose a significant amount of fat are not going to include nuts.

There are better ways to use those calories when your calories are restricted and your primary goal or one of your primary goals with your meal plan is to stave off hunger and cravings. Okay, Holly Bay Beaks 3 asks, how to fix a crashed metabolism? Well, fortunately, if you think that you have a crashed metabolism or a broken metabolism, you almost certainly don’t.

Your metabolism is likely less damaged than you may think, but it may be, let’s say, underperforming for various reasons. And there are a few key things that you can do to increase your body’s Metabolism, the performance of it. The first one is to do regular strength training workouts and to focus on gaining muscle in those workouts and flooding the body with anabolic hormones.

And that’s very simple to do. You just follow fundamental strength training principles, maybe with a little bit of bodybuilding hypertrophy work. included in the regimen. That’s how all of my programs in my books are designed. So if you are a guy and you haven’t gained your first, let’s say 25 pounds or so of muscle, check out bigger, leaner, stronger.

Or if you are, let’s say over 40, 45 years old and you’re brand new to strength training, I would recommend muscle for life instead. If you’re a woman and let’s say you’re looking to gain, maybe it’s 10 to 15 pounds muscle in the right places on your body, bring your body fat percentage down to an athletic level, thinner, leaner, stronger would be for you with the caveat of 40 to 45 plus brand new to all of this female muscle for life is going to be a better start.

And if you are an advanced weightlifter, if you’re an experienced weightlifter, you’ve gained a lot of muscle and strength. But you still can gain a bit more. Your genetics will allow you to gain a bit more and you really want to push for it beyond bigger, linear, stronger would be the program for you. So that’s the first point.

And the second point is high protein intake because that will support your strength training. It will help you gain muscle, but it will also increase the total thermic effect of food. That you experience, which is the energy required to digest food. So your metabolism has to run faster when you are eating more protein.

My third tip is to eat a good variety of fruits and vegetables and possibly even take a high quality multivitamin as well to plug any possible nutritional holes. that might impair metabolism. Adequate zinc intake, for example, is very important for metabolic function. And you can get there through food, but it depends on what types of food that you like to eat.

Okay, the next tip here is in the final tip number four is a high level of general activity, or let’s say as high as you can get. Given the constraints of your lifestyle outside of your strength training workouts, ideally, you would not just do strength training and then sit in a chair or on a couch or in a car for the vast majority of the rest of your day.

Days and I understand for some people that is just the way it is, but if you can incorporate just a bit of low intensity movement throughout the day, if you can go on a couple of walks, if you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, if you can park further away from the entrance to wherever you have to go, maybe you have to visit people in person for your work.

If you can just keep yourself moving. as much as you can. That also helps improve your metabolism. Okay, J77 Mueller asks, I want to be able to bench 315 for one rep max stuck at 280 or 285. Biggest tip to hit 315. The simplest tip, and this is where I would start, just see if this works. If you can just grab this bit of low hanging fruit and it’ll just get you there, is to bench press more often.

Specifically, get on the bench three to five days per week. And now, of course, you have to adjust your volume accordingly. I would not recommend doing more than probably 12 to 15 sets of the bench press per week. And if you are going to do that, you probably don’t need to do anything else for your pecs or your shoulders, at least your…

And so it’s possible that simply increasing the frequency of the bench pressing can help you break through this plateau, especially if you are only bench pressing once per week, because you are then probably going to do more bench press volume as well. If you were to go from, let’s say, 123 sessions per week, I mean, how much bench pressing are you doing in your one session?

Bench press workout per week. Six, maybe nine sets. Well, if you just go from that to three sessions and you do, let’s say four sets per session, you’re now up to 12 sets of bench pressing per week. So you have that increase in volume and you have the increase in frequency, which alone can improve performance on an exercise.

And that applies to other exercises as well. Sometimes the easiest way to break through an exercise specific plateau, especially if you are just doing them. The exercise once per week is to just do it more often. Jay Harris takes asks, I wonder if your program constitutes too many sets and not enough recovery.

I’m not sure which program he’s referring to, but my answer would be the same because I have put a lot of work into developing all of the programs that I offer. And I would say, no, I would say definitely not too many sets for a beginner. For example, it would be in the range of probably 50. Teen hard sets, which is a set taken close to failure for a major muscle group per week.

It’s not that 15 or even 20 hard sets per week is going to be detrimental to a newbie. It can. It depends on. Individual factors, how their body responds to training, how much stress they’re dealing with, how well they’re sleeping and recovering and so forth. But research shows that for people who are new to weightlifting, 15 to 20 hard sets for a major muscle group per week does not appear to be as significantly.

More effective for gaining muscle and gaining strength, then call it 9 to 12 sets per week. So unless you just like working out and you like to spend a lot of time in the gym, why do more than you have to, especially when doing more volume after a certain point, I would say after about probably 15 hard sets per week increases.

The risk of injury, if nothing else, just repetitive stress injury. And that’s not to say that weight lifting is dangerous, but it does place stress on your body. And if you do too much of it, you can overstress your body and that can cause problems. So anyway, coming back to the question, I would say that For newbies, anything over probably 15 hard sets per major muscle group per week is inappropriately high or unnecessarily high.

And for advanced weightlifters, I’d say anything over 20 hard sets per week, especially if there’s a fair amount of heavy compound weightlifting, is going to be too many. Eventually, those people are going to get hurt and none of my programs violate those two principles or those two thresholds. They don’t take newbies beyond 12, probably hard sets per major muscle group per week.

And my programming for advanced weightlifters doesn’t take you beyond probably 16, 17 hard sets for any individual. Major muscle group per week. And by the way, if you wanna learn more about sets per week and hypertrophy, just head over to legion and search for hypertrophy spelled hypertrophy.

And look for an article I wrote called How Many Sets Should You Do for Muscle Hypertrophy And Check it out. Have you ever wondered what strength training split you should follow? What rep ranges you should work in? How many sets you should do per workout or per week? Well, I created a free 60 second training quiz that will answer those questions for you and others, including how frequently You should train each major muscle group, which exercises you should do, what supplements you should consider, which ones are at least worth taking, and more.

To take this quiz and to get your free personalized training plan, go to muscleforlife. show, muscleforlife. show slash training quiz, answer the questions, and learn exactly what to do in the gym to gain more muscle and strength. All right, Kelsey J asks, can bands, short term like 48 weeks, be as effective as weights?

Well, it depends on how fit you are and how strong your bands are. And if you’re a fit person and you’ve never used bands before, you might be a little bit surprised at how effective it can be with a good variety of bands and some Basic bodyweight exercises, you can train every major muscle group fairly effectively, especially if you have access to a couple of other things like a pull up bar and a dip bar.

And the reason I say that is with the right bands and with the right simple bodyweight exercises done with the bands, you can train in the rep range of probably 10 to 20 reps per set. And that’s ending sets close to failure, if not right at failure, which is easy and safe to do with bands because there’s no risk of dropping weights on yourself or getting stuck at the bottom of a squat or getting stuck on a deadlift and trying to grind through a rep with a lot of weight to then have your form go out, which can lead to injury and so on.

Now, that said, if you are a fit person and you are used to doing proper weightlifting and now you’re going to do some band workouts because maybe you’re on the road or whatever reason you’re training at home for a bit, you probably are not going to make any progress to speak of with bands, no matter what you do, but you can likely maintain All of your muscle and probably a fair amount of your strength as well.

You are going to lose some exercise specific strength if you stop doing certain exercises for a period of time, but that strength comes back quickly when you start doing the exercises again. What’s most important is preserving the muscle because that is the primary source of our strength, not our skill at the exercises.

And if you want to learn more about band training, if you want to know how to set up some band workouts, some effective workouts, head over to legionathletics. com, search for band and look for an article that I wrote called the Definitive Guide to Resistance Band Workouts. Okay, let’s move on to Laney Bola who asks, how to lift heavy with back problems, SI joint, disc herniation, arthritis, scared of more injury.

Well, you’re going to want to stick with exercises that don’t aggravate the issues, and that can include variations of deadlifting like the trap bar or the rack pull, or maybe the Romanian deadlift, or the stiff leg deadlift, or no deadlifting whatsoever. If that is simply out, there are plenty of options that you can use for horizontal and vertical.

Pulling. You can also look into reverse hypers, which can be great for people with back issues. And I would also recommend trying to rehab your back, trying to improve your back. Ideally, you’d be able to work with a competent physical therapist. Ideally, someone who has worked a lot with athletes, because in my experience, those physical therapists have seen all kinds of injuries.

And if they have… If they’ve had a successful career working with athletes, they know how to get results. They know how to quickly diagnose problems and fix problems because that is what they are paid for by the athletes or by the teams. If they can’t get the athletes back on the court. on the field, they get fired.

Now, if that is not an option for you, for whatever reason, if you have to work through this yourself, pick up a copy of the book, The Back Mechanic by Stuart McGill, and go through the diagnostic protocol in that book, and then do the remedial exercises called for because there’s a good chance that it will help you a lot.

All right, M, B, Heywood asks, What is the best training or eating plan for lowering blood pressure? Check out the DASH diet. That is an evidence based diet for reducing blood pressure. A lot of good evidence of efficacy. That’s what I would do personally. Justin from Mind Pump asks, Would Legion ever consider Dylan Mulvaney as a spokesperson?

You know, that would be a great idea. If I could figure out a way to short a private company with maximum leverage. So if anybody out there wants to take me up on that, then yeah, I would love to make a Dylan Mulvaney edition of Pulse. Pondra20 asks a nice open ended question. Back day routine. Well, my favorite one size fits most approach for back training is to do one to four sets of a hip hinge, some sort of deadlift three to four sets of a horizontal pull, generally alternating every so often, maybe every 48 weeks between a unilateral and bilateral exercise unilateral, meaning one limit at a time, pulling one arm at a time, bilateral pulling.

Both arms at time, as well as alternating between different angles of movement. Research shows that that can produce better results over time. And then we would do three to four sets of a vertical pole exercise with the same notes as the horizontal pole, alternating between unilateral, bilateral, different angles of movement, and.

That’s it. Now, if you are not going to do the deadlifting in this workout for whatever reason, then I would say replace that exercise with three to four sets of either more pulling. And if you want to do that, what I would do just to keep it simple is one week, I would make it a horizontal pulling exercise different than the other one that I’m doing in the workout.

I would choose one that trains my muscles in a slightly different way, slightly different range of motion, slightly different angle. And then the following week, I would swap that for a vertical pulling exercise that’s different than the other one that I’m doing. So that’s one option. Or, you could consider doing some direct lat training, like for example, the dumbbell pullover or a machine pullover.

If your gym has a machine pullover, a lot of gyms don’t. My gym does. And I’ve used… Some pullover machines that I have not liked in the past similar to I would say seated hamstring curl machines can be hit and miss. Some can feel very awkward. Some can feel great. That’s been my experience with machine pullovers.

My gym has one from I believe it’s hammer strength that I really like. It feels really good and it’s great direct volume for the lats. You can also do a standing lat pushdown. That’s another option and this would just depend on your physique. So let’s say you have plenty of middle back development.

You’re happy with that, but your lats are lagging. You want more lats. Of course, you can continue doing your wider gripped pull downs and wider gripped, well, pulls of any kind, but similar to my comments on training the biceps earlier, you may benefit from doing some exercises that really just focus on the lats that don’t.

Also require biceps and other back muscles that can fatigue before the lats fully fatigue. And for what it’s worth, that’s what I had to do to get my lats to where I wanted them to be. Simply deadlifting and doing various pulling exercises was not doing it. And so I started doing some direct lat training.

Dumbbell pullovers, I mean, the exercise I just mentioned, dumbbell pullovers, machine pullovers, and standing pushdowns, and just worked at those and got stronger, and of course, slowly added muscle to my lats, until I was happy with what I saw. Riley D Harper 7 asks, just had to take 3 weeks off of lifting, any advice on how to get back to my weight?

Before training weight is what they’re talking about. Okay. So after a few weeks off, you should be able to go back in the gym and use the weights that you previously could lift for sets of probably eight to 10 reps and now get probably four to six reps, maybe even eight reps with those weights. And then you just use double progression to work your way back to where you were before, and so that means that you’re now working in the rep range, let’s say a four to six. And once you get one or two sets of six reps, you add maybe five or 10 pounds of weight to the bar to the dumbbells or to the machine. And that will knock you down to probably four again, you’ll lose, generally speaking, you’ll lose about two reps for every 10 pounds total that you add to an exercise.

And for dumbbell exercises, that means five pounds per. dumbbell. So 10 pounds total that will usually knock your performance down about two reps. So you have your weight once you can get one or two sets of six reps in this case, because you once could do eight, maybe 10 reps with this weight. Now it’s four to six.

All right, you got six, six, you’re adding 10 pounds to the exercise in some people. That is a little bit too aggressive. They will lose more than two reps. I see that more often with women, in which case I would recommend adding five pounds to the exercise whenever possible, not always possible with dumbbells, for example.

And if that’s the case, maybe you need to work up to three sets of your rep targets, maybe three sets of six, and then you go up 10 pounds on that dumbbell exercise, and it should stick. That progress should stick. You should only lose about two reps. All right, you’re at four now. slightly heavier weight and you just work your way back up to six rinse and repeat.

And if you don’t like working in the four to six rep range, you can apply this general approach to any rep range. So instead of using the weight that you were previously lifting for, let’s say eight to 10 reps, let’s choose something that previously you could lift for 12 to 15 reps. And now you can get, call it eight, nine, 10, probably closer to eight.

And repeat that double progression system that I just explained. And if you want to learn more about double progression, and if you don’t know really what it is, I mean, I just explained it in essence. But if you don’t know how to implement it, you need to learn it because it is the single most effective model for progression for most.

people. And to learn more about it, head over to legionathletics. com, search for double progression, and you’ll find an article I wrote on it. And next we have a question from Ryan B08. They ask, why should someone switch to BBLS 2. 0, so my second edition of Beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, versus sticking with BBLS 1.

0, the program in the first edition, what’s better? Uh, so, In BBLS 1. 0, the first edition that I released many years ago, it came with a reverse pyramid program, which can work well. However, I think BBLS 2. 0, the program in the newest edition, the current edition that’s out, the second edition, I do think that that program over time will take you further.

toward your genetic potential than BBLS 1. 0, but if I had to sequence them, I would say do bigger, leaner, stronger until you can no longer make progress on that. And then I would say, do BBLS beyond bigger, leaner, stronger 1. 0. If you have it, if you don’t, you don’t need it, you don’t have to go trying to find it somewhere on the internet.

I would say, just get the current second edition of beyond bigger, leaner, stronger, and you’ll do just fine. But if you have it, and if you like it. Do BBLS 1. 0 after BLS until you are no longer making progress or no longer enjoying it at all. Followed by BBLS 2. 0. The JBS family asks thoughts on electromagnetic frequencies from AirPods.

Well, the weight of the evidence is that it’s unlikely to be an issue because it’s non ionizing radiation, but there is evidence that suggests that heavy use of mobile phones that also emit non ionizing radiation may increase the risk of certain tumors. Now, in the case of air pods, they emit much less radiation than phones, of course, so it’s hard to say whether the research on phones also applies to air pods.

And so my personal takeaway is I think it’s probably smart to not have a cell phone on your ear. For many hours every day, and if you’re on the phone many hours every day, let’s say for your work and you are concerned about radiation, even lower amounts of radiation coming from air pods, then just get something that’s wired.

Get a wired. Alternative. xdmw08 asks, I also have SI joint issues. Anything else to help in addition to adductor exercises that can help if you’re having SI joint issues, if your adductor muscles are not as strong as they should be. And quickly, for context, the reason this person is asking me this question is I have mentioned a couple of times on Instagram that my SI joint on my left side was bothering me, and this goes back to a deadlifting injury that occurred many years ago, nothing too extreme, but probably some disc herniation that had to heal, and it that bothers me now and then.

And so I have looked into what I can do about it and strengthening the adductor muscles can help and that did help me. Another thing that helped me and this would be the answering the question is to check out your internal rotation on the problem side, because if your internal rotation of your hip. is restricted, then that can lead to SI joint issues, especially if you are using your hips vigorously like you do in weightlifting.

And you can improve that with daily stretching. That can help a lot. Something else that I should mention is you should audit your form on your squats and your deadlifts. And specifically, you need to make sure that you are really getting deep into your hips in those exercises, that you’re really pushing your hips back, not just sitting straight up and down or getting a little bit back with your hips and then going straight up and down.

And you know, you’re doing this correctly. Generally speaking, when you really feel your hamstrings working, especially on a deadlift, when you are getting to pull the bar. You should feel a lot of tension in your hamstrings, even going up into your glutes. You should notice that your shins are more or less straight up and down, more or less perpendicular to the floor.

They should not be angled significantly forward. Because if they are angled significantly forward, if your knees, for example, are right over your toes, when you start to pull, you are not deep enough into your hips and you are going to place a lot of strain on your SI joints, on your hips. Now, that tip applies more to the deadlift than the squat, depending on how your body is designed, your knees probably are going to have to travel more forward in the squat to do it correctly than in the deadlift, but if your knees are traveling significantly forward and you are not feeling a significant amount of engagement in your hamstrings, particularly in your glutes at any point in the squat, then you are probably not getting deep enough into your hips.

You’re not keeping those hips back or pushing them back as far as they need to be. And again, that is going to place an undue amount of strain on your hips on your SI joints. Okay. Yashwant Singh asks, any thoughts about weight gainer and mass gainer supplements? Most of those supplements are garbage.

They are full of cheap and relatively non nutritious carbs as well as fat. Sometimes even the protein is not the highest quality. Instead of doing that, I would highly recommend figuring out how you can eat enough food to Gain muscle, gain strength effectively. If you need to add a protein supplement, that’s fine.

You can get plenty of high quality protein supplements, but I would not recommend trying to replace whole meals with mass gainer or weight gainer supplements. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful. And if you did, Subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.

And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, [email protected]

Muscleforlife. com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about. Maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future. I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode and I hope to hear from you soon.

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