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  1. #1
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    calculation muddle :(






    Hi everyone
    I am in a bit of confusion about how to calculate and increase the weights to use in an exercise. Like, doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps, using 10,8 and 6 kg's (its ok to reduce the weight as you go down the sets isn't it?) if I can do the first set for about 14 reps then I increase the weight used in the first set. But should I right off increase the weights used in the second and third sets too? Or should I try and work to the point where I can do more than the required reps in the 2nd set and increase the weight, and then try and do the same with the third, and after that try increasing the load in the first set again and so on? (Otherwise I'll be just increasing the load on the first set only always, right?) Sorry, this is basic stuff, but I am confused so please do advise.
    Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo

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    Bodybuilding is as complicated as you make it. Personally speaking, I love to simplify things. Something like this: If you can do more than 12 reps, increase the weight. In no time at all, you'll hit your personal limit.
    December 30, 2007: Body Weight: 75.8 Kg / 174.3 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 21.9%
    Current (January 13, 2008): Body Weight 66,7 Kg / 147.2 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 5.8%

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    Yes sir, I will, but do I increase weight on all 3 sets at once or can I just do it one set by one?
    Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo

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    Increase the weight and do your sets within the planned rep range with that weight. If you can do all planned sets within the rep range, increase the weight. That's how most people do it.

    My approach is different since I have a big, big problem with a fixed number of sets. Nobody can tell you where the idea comes from and what the reasoning behind this is. There is no science that can give you an ideal rep range or number of sets because we’re all different. You are the only one who can tell which muscle has been worked sufficiently. For this reason, as long as I am able to complete a set within the rep range without reaching technical failure, I add another set. On some exercises, this means only two sets. On other exercises, it can mean ten or even more sets.
    December 30, 2007: Body Weight: 75.8 Kg / 174.3 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 21.9%
    Current (January 13, 2008): Body Weight 66,7 Kg / 147.2 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 5.8%

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    can someone tell me if my training Technique is ok, here is a example of my last set of bench presses i did in my last chest workout 2 days ago.
    warm up set 55 pounds (25kg) 12 reps.
    warm up set 2 77 pounds (35kg) 8 reps.

    working sets.

    set 1 - 121 pounds (55kg) 11 reps
    set 2 - 121 pounds (55kg) 10 reps
    set 3 - 121 pounds (55kg) 8 reps
    set 4 - 115.5 pounds (52.5) 9 reps

    i kind off work to Failure. by this i mean i have a spoter (my brother) and lets say for example after the 9th rep i am pretty sure i cannot do another rep then i finish that set. but if i think that i may be able to get i more rep but am not sure i go for it and cannot make it then my spoter steps in.

    So this means that on some off my sets i am going to failure. is it normall to drop i or 2 reps as each set goes on. i always see people saying do a weight with 12 reps for 1 set, then next set increase the weight and do 10 reps, then next set increase the weight again and do 8 reps. i dont understand how people can keep increaseing the weight on each set and only drop by 2 reps. As you can see i drop by 1 or 2 reps each set keeping the weight the same, so if i was to increase the weight each set i would post likly drop about 5 reps by each set. is this just me am i doing something wrong. please help.

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    I don't want to be impolite, but your question should have been asked in a new thread because some people don't like it when their thread gets hijacked. But well ...

    You're obviously working to absolute failure, which is different from technical failure. Technical failure means that you can't do another rep using perfect form. For instance, you slow down at a sticking point or aren't under full control of the weight. That's where I stop a set. Most others "man up" and do another two or three reps no matter the cost. That's where most people get their injuries from.

    Have you ever asked those people what the reasoning behind this method is and what evidence they can show you that it actually works? What's your reasoning behind going to absolute failure? Who told you to do so and why? Your goal is to overload the muscle to stimulate growth. You have reached this point when you get to technical failure. I don't need a spotter because I'm not training for powerlifting. I need impeccable form because I am training to become a bodybuilder.
    December 30, 2007: Body Weight: 75.8 Kg / 174.3 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 21.9%
    Current (January 13, 2008): Body Weight 66,7 Kg / 147.2 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 5.8%

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    sorry for not starting a new thread, i am new here and thought that because my question was kindoff the same i would just ask here. sorry will not happen again.

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    Regarding the original question +1 for keeping it simple if simple works.

    According to the survey on my site, which has only a few entries, most people increase the weight for later sets.

    Biggly

    Do you change weights between sets?
    Yes, I start light and add weight 13 81.25%

    Yes, I start heavy and reduce weight 1 6.25%

    No I keep the weight the same between sets 2 12.50%


    That puts me in the 12.5% range then, I tend to just throw some suitable plates on and boink em up and down, recover, do it again, maybe a 3rd set.

    Life's too short to be changing weights for the same damn exercise, that's what I say.. though 87.5% disagree with me, one way or the other


    B.

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    Ty for responding, Xfatman and Biggly. (*pokes UFC* - I learned somefin from your q too hehe). mhmmm I think I am treating my 3 sets as one entity while everyone else treats them as individual things. Let me see if I have got this correct- it doesnt matter if it's my 1st 2nd or 3rd set, whenever I can complete/exceed the reps thats have been fixed for that set, I simply bump it up right?
    Biggly,sir, if you keep the weight the same and not lighten it up on the succeeding set, dont you just about die?Going full out on both sets sounds too tough for me Guess I aint tough!I have a beginners workout program that someone kindly gave me and it calls for me to do the same exercises of the previous week , same reps, 2 sets(was 1 set before), and I dont think I can do the same amount of reps for two sets using the same weights. In addition, I end up doing extra sets for the left side of my body which is lazier than my right. (I must be built all wrong!-or like Xfatman said, I am built way too different!)
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  10. #10
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    Biggly,sir, if you keep the weight the same and not lighten it up on the succeeding set, dont you just about die?
    I'm still here aint I?

    Reducing the weight will give you more stimulus to some extent, which is good, and a lactic acid build up, which isn't so great, and reduce the energy available for the next exercise, which is awful, and murders motivation, which is terrible, and means you spend your time in busy work adjusting weights instead of breathing deep and concentrating on your goals n stuff, which is kinnda silly...

    But that's jus' me

    Some of the old-school guys acheived great things just heaving a lump of concrete up and down in their garden - they didn't 'adjust' the concrete from one set to the next.

    Getting too light? Find a bigger lump.

    I'd say the biggest challenge newbys face is the fact that growth takes awhile and often they give up before seeing results. Having said that they often notice the boost in strength to start with but you can't develop at that pace for long. So they get a quick boost, think "great!" and then it flattens off and nothing happens. After awhile they quit trying. More pizza?

    I'm very human myself too. So to me anything that makes life easier is a good thing. If I have to drag myself off the sofa and miss an episode of Mythbusters, that takes committment and enthusiasm, which may be lacking at that moment. If it includes the prospect of changing a lot of weights around and generally being a pain, sofa wins.

    Simple is best. Do the simple thing.

    Get all complicated and confuse yourself later whan you hit a real flat spot.


    B.

  11. #11
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    Uh sorry about being so dense sir, but wouldnt keeping the weight as high as the previous set increase the lactic acid output and lessen your energy for the next exercise even more?(Dont kill me- I am a newbie who dun have a clue ).
    Hmm so I am gonna find that I will reach a plateau sooner or later. And you are right sir, changing the weights around is a bit of pain in the butt .My problem is,if I keep the weights the same I find that I go flat, way before I reach the end of the set.And then I end up having to take a breather before I continue.And thats really bad isnt it sir? I'll try heaving the same weight though and see how it goes,maybe after trying it some time I'll be able to do it. Ty for replying ,sir
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    Lifting weights is as complicated as you make it. I lift weights to stimulate muscle growth. As long as I can lift a weight within the planned rep range, the muscle hasn’t been worked sufficiently to give it a reason to grow. That’s why I add sets dynamically. I hope this clarifies my answer.

    You stimulate muscle growth by overloading the muscle. If you take weight off the bar, you are actually doing the opposite. As a result, guess what your muscle will do? Exactly, it will do nothing.

    As a beginner, you should first watch your form. Never add weight if you have to sacrifice form. Choose a weight that you can lift for 12 repetitions. If you can lift it for more than 12 repetitions without getting to technical failure, the weight is too light. If you can’t lift it for at least for 9 repetitions, the weight is too heavy. Use this method to find the ideal weight for all your exercises. This can take days and even weeks but it’s worth it. When you got that going, add a second set to each exercise to see if you can still lift the very same weight for twelve reps. Add sets until you can lift the very same weight for only 8 repetitions. Once you got there, it’s time to add more weight. You don’t need to be tough to do that.

    Do not treat your left side differently from your right side. It is normal to have a weaker side. Just do your exercises normally. Your weaker side will eventually catch up.
    December 30, 2007: Body Weight: 75.8 Kg / 174.3 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 21.9%
    Current (January 13, 2008): Body Weight 66,7 Kg / 147.2 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 5.8%

  13. #13
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    wouldnt keeping the weight as high as the previous set increase the lactic acid output
    Nope, not compared to reducing the weight and doing more reps.

    The acid is basically a waste product from burning energy. If you're just after losing weight then sure but you're trying to grow, right? You don't need to burn to grow and fewer sets with a heavier weight is often looked down upon because there's so little burn or soreness the next day. It still works though.

    If you grab an empty bar and go for 100 reps the next day you'll be in agony from that acid. Lots of effort, no real growth, quite possibly the opposite.

    As Xfatman said, growth comes from stimulating and overloading the muscle to the point it needs to adapt. What message are you sending when you keep reducing the weight cos the little baby's tired?

    Usual disclaimer - just my opinion, albeit an informed one, I hope.


    B.

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    Thank you for the clarification and the lucid example, Xfatman,sir. Happy to know that I dont need to do extras for my left side Tyvm for replying sir
    Biggly, sir, I was actually thinking of reducing the weight for the same no: of reps coz I couldnt heave the same weight for the required number of reps.(Sort of trying to do all the reps-giving undue importance to reps I suppose).Tyvm for answering, sir, and no need for a disclaimer- I do find the opinions and advice given here very valuable
    My program calls for 2 sets of 15 reps so I'll just use the same weight and if I cant get to 15 on the second set I'll not worry about that, rather than me going and lowering the weights just to achieve 15 reps.
    Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo

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    Quote Originally Posted by maltesecorsair View Post
    My program calls for 2 sets of 15 reps so I'll just use the same weight and if I cant get to 15 on the second set I'll not worry about that, rather than me going and lowering the weights just to achieve 15 reps.
    Exactly. You got it.
    December 30, 2007: Body Weight: 75.8 Kg / 174.3 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 21.9%
    Current (January 13, 2008): Body Weight 66,7 Kg / 147.2 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 5.8%

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    Quote Originally Posted by Biggly View Post
    No I keep the weight the same between sets 2 12.50%

    That puts me in the 12.5% range then, I tend to just throw some suitable plates on and boink em up and down, recover, do it again, maybe a 3rd set.
    B.
    i keep the weight the same too. but does your reps drop as the sets go on.
    when i keep the weight the same i usally lose about 1-3 reps as each set go on. this is my bench press sets.

    set 1 - 121 pounds (55kg) 11 reps
    set 2 - 121 pounds (55kg) 10 reps
    set 3 - 121 pounds (55kg) 8 reps
    set 4 - 115.5 pounds (52.5) 9 reps

    is this normally to lose 1-3 reps as each set goes on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UFC rocks View Post
    i keep the weight the same too. but does your reps drop as the sets go on.
    when i keep the weight the same i usally lose about 1-3 reps as each set go on. this is my bench press sets.

    set 1 - 121 pounds (55kg) 11 reps
    set 2 - 121 pounds (55kg) 10 reps
    set 3 - 121 pounds (55kg) 8 reps
    set 4 - 115.5 pounds (52.5) 9 reps

    is this normally to lose 1-3 reps as each set goes on.
    Totally normal. Some people drop more than 3 reps for each additional set, others fewer. For exactly this reason I use a more dynamic method. Have you ever tried this with all of your exercises? You will be surprised how many set you can do on some exercises.
    December 30, 2007: Body Weight: 75.8 Kg / 174.3 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 21.9%
    Current (January 13, 2008): Body Weight 66,7 Kg / 147.2 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 5.8%

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    thanks for the reply. on all my exercises i keep the weight the same, on some exercises the reps dont drop quiet so much on others they do. here is my last set of deadlift.

    set 1 - 141 pounds (65kg) - 8 reps
    set 2 - 141 pounds (65kg) - 8 reps
    set 3 - 141 pounds (65kg) - 7 reps

    as you can see my deadlifts the reps dont drop as munch as each sets goes by. i would say that the exercises that the reps drop most for each set for me are bench press, shoulder press and dips. but on most off the pulling movements the reps only drop by about 1 rep as the sets go on.

    you said that for this reason you use a more dynamic method, what is this method.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UFC rocks View Post
    you said that for this reason you use a more dynamic method, what is this method.
    That's pretty simple. I add sets as necessary. If I can complete a set within my planned rep range, I do another set.
    December 30, 2007: Body Weight: 75.8 Kg / 174.3 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 21.9%
    Current (January 13, 2008): Body Weight 66,7 Kg / 147.2 lbs Body Fat Percentage: 5.8%

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    Thank you for steering me right, sir
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    Ohh I forgot to ask this- how much time do you rest between sets sir? I do a 60 sec rest.
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    Experiment.

    For good growth you want a fairly short rest period, around 60 seconds, but again it depends on the exercise. For chin-ups I'll rest 2 minutes, for bench 60 seconds, for curls 45 seconds.

    Find what works for you.



    B.

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    Yes sir, I will experiment , as you say. Sorry for having troubled you all like this, I get so confused especially when reading mags.Like, one mag (M&F) says you dont need to train to failure to grow and stuff like that.I think its about time I stopped reading 'muscle mags'
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  24. #24
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    The problem with muscle mags is they have to either say the exact same and correct thing every month, or say something different...

    Also, BECAUSE people are different, you'll hear different things from different people who are telling the truth, speak from experience and may have excellent results from it - but still different from each other!


    B.

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    sigh! So it all boils down to something you've already said, sir- Experiment! *getting that into my thick head* Tyvm for the reply sir
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  26. #26
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    Well certainly general guidelines can help point you in the right direction but the fine tuning comes down to what works for you.

    When I first read in muscle mags that people have different levels of fast twitch or slow twitch muscle fibers my first reaction was "What bollox is this?" but it's true enough. For some a slow controlled rep will have more effect than the exact same workout with everything else the same, for others a longer rest period, or shorter, will give maximum results.

    Even things like "work to fatigue" can be misleading or subjective. To me "fatigue" means I cannot perform another rep without swinging my hips and peeing on the carpet, to some it means even though they already pissed on the carpet, crapped on the carpet and bust a blood vessel in their head, they can't quite manage another rep. For others it means they might have to grunt a bit, and they're shy. Best put it down now, just in case

    (and they fart putting it down and everyone larfs anyway..)

    Sheesh, toilet humor this morning, where was I?

    Oh yeah, such stuff is subjective. Sadly a lot of writers use jargon and terms such as "bang out a few reps at 65% 1RM" and even though you've learnt 1RM and you know how to calculate it you find yourself thinking "Mm, "bang"? Does he mean with fast explosive power - or just do a few?" If you find a writer and you can understand what he's talking about, seek out his stuff and devour it.

    I'd suggest you find a system you understand and feel OK with, then get consistent at it for at least a month. If you want to change anything change one thing at a time - and monitor the results.

    Finally, listen to every word I say like gospel - but be prepared to ignore it and listen to someone else instead. Rather than trying to find the perfect system, learn everything, build on your knowledge and along the way learn all about YOU.

    For example supersets might rocket you into your dreams - or kill your motivation stone dead. Early morning cardio is great - unless it makes you give up on cardio altogether. There's one particular system that will work for you, give you great results and that you can stick to over the long term. You just have to find it!

    Silly but true story - I spent so long with my car dashboard as my desk that I could use my belly to write on. Got into bodybuilding, got great results, for me anyway, had peeps say "You oughta write a book!", so swotted up, learnt heaps, wrote a book, wrote software with it, got all technical, did everything "right", and gave up altogether. Now I'm getting back into it, using what I've learnt to find what works for me, WITHOUT killing my motivation. If it doesn't work, that itself will kill motivation, but if it kills motivation it don't work anyway! You need to find that sweet spot, where you're confident, seeing results but can live your life complete with real-world distractions and time constraints, temptations and everything else - and WIN.

    The person you're competing against is you. Learn everything you can about your opponent.


    B.

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    whee that was a swell post- including the humour So sir, I am the scientist and i am the guinea pig too aint I? So many variables means I might have to do this for a long time before I find the things that do work for poor lil me. I guess monitoring myself would include measuring myself often to see if I am growing or not.But after the beginner's lucky spurt of gains, things start to slow down a bit right sir? So how much time period is one supposed to continue using the workout before you take it as an official 'no go' statement from the body? A month atleast, I would say, from what you posted-right sir? *just making sure I am following you correctly*
    Btw I bet you are exaggerating about your belly story . What's the name of your book sir?
    And finally, motivation is the king- I will keep that as the first commandment in this thing.Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to write down all this stuff, sir.
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  28. #28
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    You know, I see you're from Asia and I guess I'm a 'mat sellah, 'farang' or 'orang putih', or whatever the local variation is, but you really don't need to keep saying sir, in fact it's embarrassing. Either that or you're a very cheeky scamp. Whichever - stoppit.

    The book is the Biggly Body Plan but you don't need it and wouldn't like it; it's written for compete noobs and has no pretty pictures, so even noobs don't like it.

    I guess monitoring myself would include measuring myself often to see if I am growing or not.But after the beginner's lucky spurt of gains, things start to slow down a bit right
    The initial spurt is in strength rather than muscular mass. Your body just gets better at recruiting muscle fiber but yes that happens faster than the gains in size (in fact to some extent you get both).

    So how much time period is one supposed to continue using the workout before you take it as an official 'no go' statement from the body? A month atleast, I would say, from what you posted-right
    A month is long enough to see how your diet is going, and long enough to see if you can maintain a new routine (say jumping from 2 to 3 workouts a week, or from 80 sec to 30 secs between sets etc). If it doesn't put you off or strike you as real silly then I'd say you need 2 months to judge a routine or workout plan.

    Main thing is to get your diet sorted, KNOW what you require to grow, maintain or cut. Can you imagine how much easier it is if you KNOW this stuff?

    Sure, we can say "+500 to grow, - 500 to shrink" but even that's not so simple. The body develops a 'set point' and will fight hard to stay there, even if you are say 400 calories under what you need to maintain comfortably. Then you slash 500 off and whoop, there went the last 6 months of work in 3 weeks. And if you weren't monitoring you wouldn't even notice at first. If you were monitoring every day you'd notice before the end of the first week.

    No, you don't need to monitor everything every day but if you're changing your diet for example, then yes, you should measure hips, waist and skinfolds every day. And weight. This is another reason for changing only one thing at a time - your body is remarkably good at doing what it does and stubbornly refusing to change over the short term, longer term it's a different story.

    A lot of people will change their tempo, then the reps, then the sets, then the workout frequency, then the rest periods, then the entire routine, then the muscle mag they read - and never actually gave their body a chance to tell them what was or wasn't working for them.

    As I say it's not just your genetic makeup, it's your lifestyle, preferences etc. We all know a lot of people start the new year full of hope and promise, and quickly quit. It's not that they don't believe it's possible, though that happens too, but that they don't believe it's possible within the time/effort and hassle they're willing to commit. You'll get some guy making good progress on 2 all-over workouts a week that'll hear he "has" to do 3 workouts a week, he has to keep changing that workout and he can never eat another carb again after 6pm. Gee, what a twat for quitting eh?

    Well wouldn't YOU? Poor bastid was just getting started and the mags dump that crap on him.

    Had he stayed at it the following new year's resolution might be "bench 250" or "10% bf", instead of "go on a diet again".

    Knowing for certain what you're doing is working for you is a great place to try changing a variable to see what happens. If you're not 100% confident in it you're more likely to quit than see an improvement when you change it a little.

    You're No1 danger is not getting the number of reps wrong or dropping a weight on your head, it's giving up. Take the time to experiment but do so from a solid base of what works for you and that you're willing to do.

    Then it's all cheese all the time.


    B.

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    I am from Asia, and for some reason,I do have a tendency to use 'sir' and 'ma'am' a lot, but I wasnt being cheeky, honest!*sniff*(Atleast you didnt ask me whether I am into bdsm like someone else did).
    About the book- I dont need pretty pics, I would rather have a lot of info.And yanno,we hardly ever get any bodybuilding books where I live. The only book I, personally, have seen is Schwarzenegger's 'Encyclopedia of bodybuilding'. Lots of books on dieting(especially for women), but bodybuilding-nope.And I am a complete noob arent I!Lately I havent even seen the only two muscle mags we used to get at the store.
    I get what you are saying about patient analysis of routines and stuff.I guess you are saying that I shouldnt get scared of all the options out there. No, I'll try and stick to this thing as it is and hopefully learn some patience and self discipline on the way.
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