Start with moderately heavy weights. Picking the right amount of weight to lift is important to build the right kind of muscle and avoid injuries. First, you need to determine your max-out weight: the heaviest weight that you can lift, at least once. Use a spotter and find out your max. Ideally, beginner bodybuilders should be lifting 70-80 % of that single rep max for 6-10 repetitions of 3-4 sets. This is the optimal set and repetition range for muscle growth.
22. The muscle building topics and guides you read today are not written in black and white. You should learn how to balance what you read by sticking to what the pro lifters are reading and using in their workouts. Also, you should remember that although there’s a lot of science in bodybuilding, most of it is still an art because it’s not always black and white.
There are so many great strength- and muscle-building exercises to choose from, so picking the 10 best bodybuilding exercises is a tough (and subjective) task. But the following exercises have withstood the test of time, outlasted every fitness fad and trend, and continue to be the most reliable exercises for bodybuilders. Go ahead, ask any hardcore fitness fanatic and chances are, all of these moves are in their regular arsenal.
Some competitors find themselves bingeing days and even weeks after the contest, which can quickly destroy months of hard work and sacrifice. When someone regularly consumes foods that are high in sugar and fat, they stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain. This can lead to a feeling of euphoria following consumption, creating a persistent craving for these foods. If bingeing continues, insulin levels will remain elevated, resulting in the acquisition of excess body fat.
When lifting it is essential to focus your mind completely on the muscle group you are attempting to work on. This makes sure that you are actually using the target muscle to lift the weight rather than accessory muscles or even momentum. This skill will develop with time, and as you progress in making that mind to muscle connection, your workouts will become much more productive and efficient.
Doing at least eight sets per muscle is enough to get some muscle growth but, it can depend on how many reps you're doing. Eight to twelve reps is great, while doing any more may be unnecessary, depending on your body type. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to do 25 sets for squats and about 10 reps, whereas his friend Franco Columbu only did five sets of squats and 10 reps.
Begin your day right with a muscle-building breakfast. The bodybuilding staple of eggs and oats is a good option, as is any type of vegetable-packed omelet, boiled or poached eggs on toast, or a lean bacon sandwich on rye or whole-grain bread. When you're in a rush, go for something quick and easy, such as Greek yogurt or cottage cheese mixed with almonds or almond butter, some frozen berries and a chopped banana.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Various formulae exist for calculating what this starting weight should be, but I find it just as easy to trial different weights until you get to that limit. If you’re new to free weights, this helps familiarization as well. Try an obvious light weight, for you, to warm up and then upgrade to something heavier for the workout set. By the third set, you should have settled on the 12RM weight. If not, just move on and upgrade the weight next session.
Stretching after each lifting session is extremely important in preventing injury. Flexibility allows your body to become much more able to handle the odd assortment of stresses that are placed upon it each day. I'm sure that the more hardcore of us bodybuilding fans heard that Branch Warren recently slipped and fell, landing on his outstretched hand and tearing his triceps in the process.

Unless you do extreme sessions for considerably longer than an hour, include intense cardio or strength-endurance weights programs, or ate poorly in the hours leading up to the session, you probably don't need anything other than water during a workout. Don't let your blood and muscle glucose get too low, or cortisol and other hormones will start to break down your muscle. But you don't need expensive supplements to protect you from catabolic cortisol surges. All you need is carbohydrates from a sports drink, gel, or bar.


If you have little experience of weight training and free weights, you may wish to start with the machine leg press instead of the squat, especially if you're not accompanied by a trainer, helper or spotter. Even so, there is no reason to be intimidated by the squat exercise. It need not be done in a squat rack or power cage with the big bar and free weights to begin with, although squatting with the bar alone is a good way to practice form. Dumbbells or small-bar barbells or a Smith machine can provide reassurance for the beginner. The same applies to the racked bench press with heavy bar, which can be substituted with dumbbells or lighter barbells. The key is not to lift too heavy too soon.
Intensive weight training causes micro-tears to the muscles being trained; this is generally known as microtrauma. These micro-tears in the muscle contribute to the soreness felt after exercise, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is the repair of these micro-traumas that results in muscle growth. Normally, this soreness becomes most apparent a day or two after a workout. However, as muscles become adapted to the exercises, soreness tends to decrease.[22]

The bulk of the workout should consist of basic compound lifts, like the traditional barbell squat for quads. If you stop progressing in strength gains on leg exercises, you are most likely overtraining. In that case, give yourself more time between the leg days and cut back on the volume. Also, to speed up recovery, always stretch before and after your workouts.
So when you get to that point in your leg workout where you're completely dead but have to finish an insane drop set, then you need to go to the gun scenario. Would you finish the set if there were a gun pressed against your temple? Hell yes you would, so do the damn set! As an advanced lifter, it's not supposed to be easy or "fun" and you might even puke. Just man up, find your happy place and do your damn set!
You can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you are. So before you conduct any sort of diet overhaul, take a look at the number of calories you currently consume on a day-to-day basis. Apps like MyFitnessPal make this exceedingly easy to do. Your daily caloric intake might surprise you! And once you know how many calories you devour each day, figure out how many calories you ought to be consuming using the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.
Many other important bodybuilders in the early history of bodybuilding prior to 1930 include: Earle Liederman (writer of some of bodybuilding's earliest books), Zishe Breitbart, Georg Hackenschmidt, Emy Nkemena, George F. Jowett, Finn Hateral (a pioneer in the art of posing), Frank Saldo, Monte Saldo, William Bankier, Launceston Elliot, Sig Klein, Sgt. Alfred Moss, Joe Nordquist, Lionel Strongfort ("Strongfortism"),[6] Gustav Frištenský, Ralph Parcaut (a champion wrestler who also authored an early book on "physical culture"), and Alan P. Mead (who became an impressive muscle champion despite the fact that he lost a leg in World War I). Actor Francis X. Bushman, who was a disciple of Sandow, started his career as a bodybuilder and sculptor's model before beginning his famous silent movie career.

This program isn’t just for the true beginner who has never touched a weight before; it’s also suitable for anyone who has taken an extended leave of absence from training. How long has it been since you went to the gym regularly? Six months? A year? Five years? No worries: The following routines will get you back on track in—you guessed it—just four short weeks. Let’s get to work.

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Some competitors find themselves bingeing days and even weeks after the contest, which can quickly destroy months of hard work and sacrifice. When someone regularly consumes foods that are high in sugar and fat, they stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain. This can lead to a feeling of euphoria following consumption, creating a persistent craving for these foods. If bingeing continues, insulin levels will remain elevated, resulting in the acquisition of excess body fat.
In Week 1 you’ll perform three sets of every exercise per workout, which over the course of the week adds up to nine sets total for each bodypart, a good starting volume for your purposes. With the exception of crunches for abs, you’ll do 8–12 reps per set. This rep scheme is widely considered ideal for achieving gains in muscle size (the scientific term is hypertrophy) and is commonly employed by amateur and pro bodybuilders alike.
Do you want to become a bodybuilder? Did an old clip of Arnold Schwarzenegger inspire you? Did a recent competition spark your interest? Bodybuilding is becoming an increasingly common sport for men and women, with competitions popping up in most major cities. To get started in bodybuilding, you need to find a gym, start weight training, and design your diet to match your routine.
If you're always lifting in the same rep range from workout to workout, it's time for a change. In fact, you can even work in multiple rep ranges and intensities in the same workout. "I prefer to hit the basic compound movements such as squats, presses, and deadlifts using a 5-8 rep range," says Honn, "and then move to a higher 8-12 rep range for accessory moves."
Sandow organized the first bodybuilding contest on September 14, 1901, called the "Great Competition". It was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Judged by Sandow, Sir Charles Lawes, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the contest was a great success and many bodybuilding enthusiasts were turned away due to the overwhelming amount of audience members.[4] The trophy presented to the winner was a gold statue of Sandow sculpted by Frederick Pomeroy. The winner was William L. Murray of Nottingham. The silver Sandow trophy was presented to second-place winner D. Cooper. The bronze Sandow trophy — now the most famous of all — was presented to third-place winner A.C. Smythe. In 1950, this same bronze trophy was presented to Steve Reeves for winning the inaugural NABBA Mr. Universe contest. It would not resurface again until 1977 when the winner of the IFBB Mr. Olympia contest, Frank Zane, was presented with a replica of the bronze trophy. Since then, Mr. Olympia winners have been consistently awarded a replica of the bronze Sandow.

In 1990, professional wrestling promoter Vince McMahon announced that he was forming a new bodybuilding organization named the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF). McMahon wanted to bring WWF-style showmanship and bigger prize money to the sport of bodybuilding. A number of IFBB stars were recruited but the roster was never very large and featured the same athletes competing; the most notable winner and first WBF champion was Gary Strydom. McMahon formally dissolved the WBF in July 1992. Reasons for this reportedly included lack of income from the pay-per-view broadcasts of the contests, slow sales of the WBF's magazine Bodybuilding Lifestyles (later WBF Magazine), and the expense of paying multiple six-figure contracts while producing two TV shows and a monthly magazine.

Consuming wholesome and nutritious foods is necessary. However, what is crucial in order to build muscle faster than usual is to eat regularly and in sufficient quantities. Including high protein and some vitamins like A, C and E in your meal gives your body the nutrients it needs. Building a muscular physique requires a caloric surplus, and that can be achieved only with healthy, nutritious meals consumed once every 3 hours or so. However, this must be complemented with efficient and intense workouts in order to see maximum results in our physique. A balanced diet does more for our physique than anything else. Several servings of protein a day are required if one has to see immediate and positive symptoms of muscular hypertrophy. 


Assuming that around 80-90% of your diet is comprised of nutrient-dense, “clean” foods (such as lean proteins, minimally refined carbohydrates and healthy fats), the other 10-20% can come from whatever sources you’d like as long as it fits into your overall daily calorie and macronutrient totals. (The only exception here are for foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils, as these should be strictly limited or eliminated altogether)

Muscle, unlike flab, is a metabolically active tissue, and you need to put away plenty of calories to keep it growing. Eat too few calories and you’ll whittle it away. When mass gain is the goal, aim to consume about 20 calories per pound of body weight each day (about 3,600 calories for a 180-pound guy). If you find that 20 calories per pound packs on mass and fat, drop to 16–18 calories. But this doesn’t mean you’ve got the green light to pound pizza. Quality matters too, so keep it clean.


Most of your workout plan should include exercises that will stretch a minimum of two muscle groups in your body. For instance, the shoulder press will stretch your triceps and shoulders. On the other hand, squat will build your hamstrings and quads. Another important workout is bench press as it will work your chest, triceps, biceps and shoulders.
In the modern bodybuilding industry, the term "professional" generally means a bodybuilder who has won qualifying competitions as an amateur and has earned a "pro card" from their respective organization. Professionals earn the right to compete in competitions that include monetary prizes. A pro card also prohibits the athlete from competing in federations other than the one from which they have received the pro card.[12] Depending on the level of success, these bodybuilders may receive monetary compensation from sponsors, much like athletes in other sports.

In step 3, cut back your energy intake by the 15 percent you added previously. Because you're now not the lean guy you once were, you may have to eventually eat slightly more to maintain that extra muscle, but that comes later. Bodybuilders do this to prepare themselves for competition: They put on muscle and some fat by eating, then they strip off the fat, leaving the muscle to show through. It’s called "cutting."

What can a bodybuilder do to break a plateau? Advanced bodybuilding training techniques are applied on an occasional basis to introduce variety into the bodybuilding routine in order to further stimulate muscle growth. The purpose of such bodybuilding techniques is to take the muscle beyond the point of failure. Muscular failure is the point in which performing another repetition in good form becomes impossible and also the point that stimulates the muscle to grow. Most of these advanced bodybuilding training techniques should only be used sparingly; do not use them on every workout or else you risk overtraining and/or injury. Supersets, tri-sets, and giant-sets, however, are the exception to this rule and can be used on every workout.


In his phenomenal book "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business," Charles Duhigg dedicates an entire chapter to what he labels the "habit loop." Without giving away any spoilers—I'm not kidding, it's a book that will melt your brain, and you should read it—Duhigg explains that one of the most fail-proof ways to create a habit is to preface the behavior you want to reinforce with a cue.

The lateral raise (or shoulder fly) is performed while standing or seated, with hands hanging down holding weights, by lifting them out to the sides until just below the level of the shoulders. A slight variation in the lifts can hit the deltoids even harder, while moving upwards, just turn the hands slightly downwards, keeping the last finger higher than the thumb. This is an isolation exercise for the deltoids. Also works the forearms and traps.
Order of exercises: Design your plan so that large muscle groups are worked before smaller groups. The theory is that if you fatigue a smaller muscle group first, then the larger group won't work as hard as it can. For example, do bent-over-rows before biceps curls. Biceps work in both exercises, but since the larger and stronger back muscles are used in the rows, they wouldn't get a maximal workout if the biceps are fatigued. Another way to say it is that the biceps become the weakest link in the chain if you work them first.
The bulk of the workout should consist of basic compound lifts, like the traditional barbell squat for quads. If you stop progressing in strength gains on leg exercises, you are most likely overtraining. In that case, give yourself more time between the leg days and cut back on the volume. Also, to speed up recovery, always stretch before and after your workouts.
Now, I understand that going from two to three meals a day to six can be quite a shock. However, I do not expect you to change everything all at once. As a matter of fact, this is the reason why 99% of dieters out there fail. My goal is to have you succeed just as I did when I had weight problems. Therefore, if you rather ease into this program slowly by making small changes to your current diet on a bi-weekly basis, then please visit my article on Easing Into A Bodybuilding Diet
Rather than hide the glaring weakness, he famously cut off the lower half of his pants and wore shorts to constantly remind himself of his weakness and redouble his efforts to bring them up. He trained calves more frequently, early in his workouts when he was fresh, and sometimes between sets for larger body parts, a strategy that helped him claim the world's biggest bodybuilding title.
Move carbohydrate quantity up or down according to your weight and energy levels as you train or compete. These are estimates of daily carbohydrate requirements for weight trainers. Intensity of exercise over time increases quantities required, and these estimates only apply to days of exercise. Choose the lower numbers if you're doing light exercise. Choose higher rates if you mix cardio sessions with weights.

The exercise order should be maintained as above, busy gyms notwithstanding. This order has been designed with large muscle group, compound exercises first, the smaller muscle isolation exercises following and with alternating ‘push’ and ‘pull’ to achieve a session that alternates muscle groups and modes of action as much as possible to enable maximum rest and recovery of the various muscle groups. Some compromises were required. Don’t get too hung-up if you can’t achieve this sequence. It’s not always possible to access equipment when you want it in gyms. In the scheme of things, it’s not fatal.

"Wide-grip pull-ups coax the upper lats to come out," Arnold wrote. Understand that with wide-grip movements, the elbows stay out away from the sides, which engages the upper lats more effectively. With closer-grip and reverse-grip back exercises, the elbows stay in tighter to the sides, which reduces the emphasis on the upper lats and instead places more of the focus on the lower lats. So depending on elbow position relative to your torso, you can effectively focus on some areas of the back over others.

Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
In the 1970s, bodybuilding had major publicity thanks to the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, and others in the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron. By this time, the IFBB dominated the competitive bodybuilding landscape and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) took a back seat. The National Physique Committee (NPC) was formed in 1981 by Jim Manion,[7] who had just stepped down as chairman of the AAU Physique Committee. The NPC has gone on to become the most successful bodybuilding organization in America and is the amateur division of the IFBB. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the decline of AAU-sponsored bodybuilding contests. In 1999, the AAU voted to discontinue its bodybuilding events.

If you're prone to berating yourself for poor food choices or the way you look, now's the time to make a concerted effort to replace this negative self-talk with more positive statements. Every time a negative statement comes to mind, replace it with two positive affirmations about what you're doing well. This could be something like, 'I chose a healthy chicken salad at lunch today,' or "I drank 10 glasses of water today."
Dumbbells. I prefer solid dumbbells since the plate-loading type can be tedious to change repeatedly. Dumbbells cost anywhere from 50 cents to $1 per pound. Solid hex dumbbells are what I recommend because they are inexpensive, and they don't roll around like round dumbbells. You might also decide to purchase a bench. Look for an adjustable bench that is well constructed. It should not rock and should feel solid when you lie down on it. If you decide to purchase a bar for the bench press, then you will need uprights on your bench. I don't recommend this for beginners due to safety issues (unless you have a spotter); you can always do dumbbell presses to get you started. If you decide to go with a bar and plates, then look for a 35- to 45-pound bar with collars to lock the plates in place, and then you need to buy plates to load the bar. Figure to shoot for a bench press of up to 100 pounds, so you will need to purchase plates for at least that amount. You can start with two 25-pound plates, four 10-pound plates, and four 5-pound plates. That will get most beginners started.
The world of female bodybuilding can be daunting to enter. While the initial images you conjure up may be of bulky, masculine-looking women with ripped muscles, this isn't always the case. In the 1990s, figure and bikini classes were introduced into women's bodybuilding for those who wanted a smaller yet defined and aesthetically-pleasing physique, says trainer Matt Weik of Bodybuilding.com. Before you take the plunge into competing, there are several important factors you should consider.
Your legs are even more important if you play sports. Strong legs will help you run faster, become stronger, and most importantly, lower your chance of being injured. I know this first hand. I used to train my legs sparingly because the workouts were so hard. I simply didn't feel like going to the gym on leg days and even if I did, I would just go through the motions and never train at a high enough intensity.
Protein provides the amino acids used to build muscle. Shoot for 1–1.5g of protein per pound of body weight, or 180–270g a day for a 180-pounder. Top protein picks include dairy, eggs, poultry, red meat, and seafood. These foods offer a wealth of complete protein, providing your muscles with the aminos necessary for recovery and growth. You may supplement with whey, casein, and soy protein powders as well. And don’t overlook plant-based protein sources such as quinoa, beans, and hemp seeds.
The benefits of resistance exercise are well documented, and ongoing research continues to prove that it's an important activity for Americans to be engaged in. Long ago in hunter-gatherer societies, humans' muscles got a workout by building shelter, hunting, farming, and all the other manual chores necessary to live. Today, however, we have engineered inactivity into our lives with labor-saving devices to the extent that our muscles rarely need to be pushed very hard. We don't rake leaves or cut grass or shovel snow by hand; we don't climb stairs or even walk in airports (people movers do it for us!); we don't wash our clothes or our dishes or even push a vacuum by hand (Have you seen the robotic vacuum Roomba?), and we spend more and more time in front of our computers and televisions than we do outdoors raking leaves, playing touch football, baseball, soccer, hiking, or participating in any other recreational activities. Research shows that physical inactivity is the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and it's literally killing us.
Caffeine helps to increase alertness and improves concentration. This helps you to focus on your cut. Products such as Promax Lean and Thermobol contain caffeine should you prefer not to overdo it on the coffees or want to combine this intake with protein. However, it is recommended not to exceed a daily intake of 400mg of caffeine from all sources.
You can stick to natural supplementation with things like a protein powder and creatine if you're looking for faster gains. Now don't think I mean faster like 10x faster, I just mean slightly faster, but usually worth it for the cost. But don't go overboard on supplements either. A few basics should do. I recommend a protein, creatine, EFA's (essential fatty acids), a multivitamin, and amino acids. Once you become more experienced a pre-workout N.O. product could be a valuable addition as well.
The intensity of a workout was often adjusted by decreasing the amount of rest taken between sets. By training faster, bodybuilders would automatically train harder. Arnold was rumored to train with so many sets and so quickly that he would need three sets of training partners that he would alternate with workouts in order to keep up with him. With the decreased rest periods between sets and the increased volume of the workout, bodybuilders could get into top contest condition without the use of cardio.

Fat, including the much-maligned saturated fat, is necessary for building a rock-solid physique. It revs up testosterone production, provides necessary calories, and helps your joints endure the heavy lifting needed to spur muscle gains. Aim for at least 0.5g of fat per pound of body weight (90g for a 180-pound man), or 30% of your total daily calories. Divide that into equal thirds from saturated fats found in beef, coconut products, and dairy; monounsaturated fats from almonds, avocado, olive oil, and peanut butter; and fat-burning polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. Avoid the trans-fatty acids found in fried foods.


"When there is a particular muscle group that I really need to focus on, I like to lift a little lit heavier than usual, lifting roughly 6 working sets for 6 reps each," explains fitness model Tricia Ashley Gutierrez. "Then, if that muscle really needs more work, I like to come back three days later and train that same muscle group using higher-rep isolation movements."
For bodybuilding, you need to gain muscle. And to gain muscle, you will have to keep adding weight to the bar. The principles you have set won't matter if you don't put more pressure on your muscles as time goes by. When you get stuck, you should go for other strategies like supersets and drop sets, to name a few. This will help you increase the potential of your body.

An easy rule of thumb here whilst trying to get in shape in the shortest time possible is to drink a minimum of 1 litre of water per 25kg of bodyweight. Not only will this help flush out that subcutaneous film of water that lies between the muscles and the skin, but also you simply cannot lose body fat properly unless you are adequately hydrated. I am constantly shocked by the poor water intake of the general population – fizzy drinks and coffee do NOT count to your fluid intake!!  


The exercise order should be maintained as above, busy gyms notwithstanding. This order has been designed with large muscle group, compound exercises first, the smaller muscle isolation exercises following and with alternating ‘push’ and ‘pull’ to achieve a session that alternates muscle groups and modes of action as much as possible to enable maximum rest and recovery of the various muscle groups. Some compromises were required. Don’t get too hung-up if you can’t achieve this sequence. It’s not always possible to access equipment when you want it in gyms. In the scheme of things, it’s not fatal.
The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance.[19] A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.
About 6 months ago, while playing basketball, I landed awkwardly and tore my A.C.L. My doctor told me that if my legs were stronger, my injury would have been less severe. Just two months ago, I started to train my legs again, squatting just the bar and eventually working my way up. I've still got a long way to go before I can play basketball or even run again.
The Basic Strength and Muscle program is not just for beginners: you should use it if you want a formalized and precise program following casual experience with weights. As the name implies, it's an all-around program for basic strength and muscle building. This could be used in off-season training if your sport has elements of strength, power and strength endurance, which fits many sports. Consult your coach to ensure it doesn't conflict with other training priorities. Training programs are always most efficient when tailored specifically for individuals and their goals.
Weight training and bodybuilding nutrition are sciences like anything else. There's biology and biochemistry and physiology, with rules and a base of evidence. Selling supplements, most of which are not needed, has become such a huge business in the commercial weight training and bodybuilding industry that it is almost impossible to know if you are getting an objective evaluation of a bodybuilding diet.
Eat the right amounts and types of protein: To figure out your protein needs, multiply your total body weight by 1.2 and that will give you the total protein grams you need to consume per day. Divide that number by 6 and that equals the amount of protein grams per meal. Limit your protein sources to lean meats like chicken, turkey, and white fish such as tilapia. Out of the six meals, no more than three should be protein shakes. The post workout meal should be a whey protein powder mixed with the cream of rice as in this manner nutrients will reach the muscles as quickly as possible. In addition to the post-workout meal, no more than two other meals should be liquid ones.
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