Barbell vs Dumbbell Training: A Comparison

Free weights are an excellent training tool that have been used by bodybuilders and other athletes for over a century. There’s a reason they’ve stood the test of time, and despite all the features of many exercise machines, serious lifters swear by their free weights.

When it comes to free weights, you have two basic options with barbells and dumbbells. Although you can perform the same types of exercises with both pieces of equipment, the experience when you use them is much different. Here are the differences of barbell training and dumbbell training, although with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Barbell Training Allows You to Lift More Weight

Barbell Training Allows You to Lift More Weight

On any exercise that you perform, you’re going to be able to lift more when you’re using a barbell than with dumbbells. How much of a difference is there? This varies depending on the exercise and the lifter, but it’s typically a difference of about 20 percent. If you can bench press two 100-pound dumbbells, you’ll probably be able to bench press 240 pounds with a barbell.

There are two reasons why you can lift more with a barbell

Because of the design of the barbell and the way the weight is spread out, it doesn’t tax your stabilizer muscles as much as two dumbbells would. It’s more difficult to keep dumbbells stable since the entire weight is in a smaller area.

Since both your hands are gripping the same barbell, it allows your dominant side to do more of the work. With dumbbells, your dominant side can’t pick up the slack for your weak side.

Dumbbell Training Prevents Asymmetry in Your Muscles

Being able to lift more with barbells has its pros and cons. One of the issues it can create is asymmetrical muscles because your dominant side is getting more of a workout than your weak side. This usually won’t be a significant difference, but it’s something to keep in mind, especially if you’re interested in bodybuilding.

Barbell Training Gives You More Options

The barbell is the more versatile tool than the dumbbell for a few key reasons.

With barbells, you can use as much or as little weight as you want, and weights are available in small increments. You’re only limited by what your gym has. That’s also true with dumbbells, but it’s rare to find gyms with very heavy dumbbells past the 100 to 150-pound mark. That means if you want to squat or deadlift 400 pounds, you’re probably going to need to use a barbell, because
finding a set of 200-pound dumbbells is unlikely.

Certain exercises are awkward to perform with dumbbells. This includes the aforementioned squat and deadlift. Even if you had dumbbells heavy enough for these exercises, they feel much more natural when you’re using a barbell.

It’s easier to progress in weight when you’re using a barbell because of the smaller weight plates. Barbell weight plates usually come as small as 2.5 pounds, and with one on each side, you’re adding just 5 pounds to your lift. Dumbbells tend to come in 10-pound increments. Those extra 5 pounds matter quite a bit when you’re trying to improve on your one-rep max.

Dumbbell Training Allows for Greater Range of Motion

Dumbbell Training Allows for Greater Range of Motion

The size and shape of a barbell results in a limited range of motion. This isn’t a problem for most exercises, but you can get a greater range of motion when you use dumbbells, and this will stimulate your muscles more. Bicep curls, the bench press and the shoulder press are three examples of exercises where you can get more range of motion by grabbing a pair of dumbbells instead of a barbell.

Both Types of Training Have Advantages in Terms of Safety

Your training habits have the most significant effect on how safe you are while you lift. By asking for a spot when necessary, warming up properly and learning the correct form for each exercise, you can prevent injuries.

But there are also safety advantages with both types of training.

With dumbbells, there’s little risk of getting trapped under a weight like there is with a barbell. If you get to the bottom of a rep when squatting or bench pressing using a barbell and you can’t press the weight up, you’re in a difficult position. Without a spotter, you’ll need to tilt the weight plates off one side at a time. You can guide a dumbbell down to the floor at any time if you feel like you can’t complete the rep.

Barbells allow you to start the lift in a natural position. The same isn’t true of dumbbells, as you may need to hoist the weights into the correct position, which is an unnatural movement that could easily cause injury.

Grab and Go with Dumbbell Training

Although there are adjustable dumbbells that use weight plates similarly to barbells, most are a set weight. You can just go up and grab the weights you want. With a barbell, you always need to load the weight plates you want, which means it will take a little bit longer.

Both Options Can Deliver Excellent Results

The good news is that you don’t need to choose between barbell and dumbbell training. Both have their benefits and you could see results no matter which type you choose.

Since barbells allow for smaller weight progressions and let you lift more overall weight, you’ll find that most serious lifters work with the barbell more. The dumbbell is a good choice for supplementary exercises, such as isolation work. It’s also helpful for beginners who are more focused on form than on lifting heavy.

Conclusion

If you can only do one, you’re better off with the barbell. But the best choice is to use both, see what kind of results you get and adjust your routine as necessary.

The Complex Reality of Stretching

Weightlifting is the activity of working out by lifting weights. There are two standard movements involved with this type of training – the snatch and the clean-and- jerk. The snatch is a single- movement lift from the floor, as if snatching something up. The clean-and-jerk is a two-movement lift from the floor to the shoulders to above the head.

Weightlifting is used to build the skeletal muscles, using things such as weighted bars, weight stacks or dumbbells. Its exercises make gravity work to oppose the force generated by muscles through both concentric (meaning the muscle’s length shortens) and eccentric (meaning the muscle length lengthens) contraction.

In everyday movements, the muscles contract in a multifaceted way, producing changes in their length and tension in a time-varying manner. Sports that depend on weightlifting are bodybuilding, powerlifting, highland games, shot put, and

Sports that depend on weightlifting are bodybuilding, powerlifting, highland games, shot put, and many others. There are also sports were weightlifting is used as part of the athletes’ training regimen, such as soccer, football, and basketball. It’s become an increasingly popular activity because of its benefits. Weightlifting isn’t just proven to help with sports. It has also been used to help lose weight.

Weightlifting isn’t just proven to help with sports. It has also been used to help lose weight. Lean muscles burn calories at a faster rate than fat. They can also consume more energy at rest. Lifting weights can also help eliminate the visceral fat and fat that surrounds the organs. For women, it can even battle osteoporosis. Any athlete knows that stretching before any workout is mandatory.

There are three kinds of stretching: static, dynamic and ballistic stretches. Static stretches are held for anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. Dynamic stretches elongate the muscle in a body movement.

Any athlete knows that stretching before any workout is mandatory. There are three kinds of stretching: static, dynamic and ballistic stretches. Static stretches are held for anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. Dynamic stretches elongate the muscle in a body movement, such as torso twists and lunges. Ballistic stretches use a bouncing action, like toe touches.

Stretching has a few rules, too. Stretch slowly, making sure to create a controlled movement. No bouncing. Do not stretch until there is pain; there shouldn’t ever be ongoing pain. Relax and breathe slowly.

Pre-workout Stretching

Pre-workout Stretching

While it’s not necessary to do a pre-workout stretch, it can be beneficial. Pre-workout stretches shouldn’t be done with no warmup. It is recommended to do light cardio before stretching any muscles. This will decrease the risk of injury during the workout. Research has shown that static stretching before a workout can decrease your performance output

Research has shown that static stretching before a workout can decrease your performance output when it comes to power. Because of this, most people want to eliminate static stretching. However, static stretches help with flexibility. With this in mind, static stretches are actually beneficial.

Dynamic stretches are often the best pre-workout stretches.

Full body stretches offer the most benefits in a single stretch. These stretches engage multiplemuscle groups all at once.

First, start off in a pushup position, with back and hips relaxed while your core and abs are engaged. Then, put your left foot to your left hand in a lunging stretch. Do not raise your hips. This will stretch the groin area in particular. Let it stretch for a few seconds before proceeding to the next step.

Point your left arm to the sky to create a rotational movement that will open your body up. Then, it’s back to the original pushup position, followed by the downward dog pose.

Mid Workout Stretching

Ballistic stretching is best done during the workout routine. Ballistic stretches are more demanding than static stretches. It involves bouncing, rapid movements done in a repetitive motion. This stretches the joints and muscles beyond the normal range of motion.

Because ballistic stretching can be risky when not performed under proper supervision by a trained professional, it’s recommended to do these sparingly in the workout. Most people will confuse dynamic and ballistic stretching. However, ballistic stretching is supposed to be bouncy, jerky and erratic. Dynamic stretching is meant to be smooth and controlled. Ballistic stretching has benefits, such as helping basketball players jump higher.

An example of ballistic stretching during a workout routine is a simple hamstring stretch. While standing upright, put a leg on an elevated level to the front. Keeping your legs straight and your back straight, bend over. Repeatedly reach forward and relax.

Post Workout Stretching

Post Workout Stretching

When the workout is over, most people think it’s time to go home and begin to recover. However, it’s the most beneficial time to do static stretches. The reasoning behind this is that the workout is already over, and the muscles are flexible from the range of motion used in the regime.

Because of this, stretching to improve flexibility is best when don’t at the conclusion of the workout. They also serve as a great way to cool down and lower your heart rate. Post workout stretching is also a good way to prevent injuries. These stretches help relax and relieve the muscles worked during the exercise routine. They only take five to ten minutes, and the benefits far outweigh the consequences if not done.

An example of a post workout stretch is the glutes and IT-band stretch. For this one, lie on your back and bend the right leg while keeping the right foot on the ground. Cross your left leg over your right thigh and hold the back of your right thigh with both hands. Pull both legs towards your torso. Then you’ll repeat it for the other side.

The Stretching Life

No matter if it’s a workout day or not, stretching should be a vital part of anyone’s day. It can lead to being able to handle stress better and enables muscles to work better. Studies have produced mix results on the pros and cons of stretching for workouts. What is certain is that stretching can help prevent injuries, increase flexibility, improve posture, and decrease neck and back pain.

Everything You Need to Know About Barbell Rows

The barbell row is a classic back exercise that’s responsible for many of those sculpted backs seen in muscle magazines over the years. Since it’s a compound lift, it’s an excellent addition to any workout routine, and it can help you gain in muscle mass and overall strength. After reading this guide to the barbell row, you’ll know everything you need to about it.

How to Perform a Barbell Row

The barbell should be resting on the floor and loaded with the desired weight. Stand by the barbell with the bar right over the middle of your foot. Your shins shouldn’t touch the bar, and your feet should be about shoulder-width apart.

Bend down with a slight knee bend, being careful to keep your back flat the entire time. Grab the barbell using a pronated grip, which means overhand or palms down. Your grip can be a bit wider than shoulder width. It will likely be a little wider than the grip on a deadlift, but a little narrower than the grip on a bench press.

Lift the bar up until the weight plates are an inch or two off the ground, keeping your arms straight the entire time. Maintain a tight core and a flat back. Bring the bar straight up into your body until it touches around the upper ribs, right underneath your chest. Your shoulders should be pulling back, which will bring your elbows up for this movement. Once you’ve touched the bar to your chest, you can lower it back to the starting position, keeping full control the whole time.

Your core needs to stay tight and your back flat throughout this exercise. Perform as many reps as you’d like. Like any lift, it’s good to start with lighter weights and work your way up.

What Muscles Do Barbell Rows Work?

The muscles that get the most work from barbell rows are the ones in your back, including those in the upper and lower back. Barbell rows are also great for the muscles in your arms, especially your biceps, and they work your hips.

Common Mistakes to Avoid
Over the years, some have called the barbell row dangerous because of its potential to cause injury. This criticism doesn’t make much sense, as any exercise can cause injury if you perform it incorrectly. To make sure this doesn’t happen, watch out for these common barbell row mistakes.

Bouncing Up and Down

Many lifters bounce during barbell rows because they’re using too much weight and they need momentum to complete each rep. Now, with barbell rows, not all bouncing is bad.

Your biceps can keep you from lifting enough weight in this lift to really stimulate your back, and a very minor bounce can get you past that hurdle. The key is to keep your bounce small. To avoid going too heavy, gradually progress in weight with this lift.

Elbow FlaringElbow Flaring

When you flare your elbows out during a barbell row, it moves the barbell forward enough to cause extra pressure on your lower back. It’s obviously important to avoid unnecessary stress on your back, considering how frustrating back injuries are, and that’s why you should make sure the barbell is always traveling straight up and down and your elbows stay in a normal position.

Standing Tall

Your back should be close to parallel with the ground when you’re performing a barbell row, not at a 45-degree angle and definitely not upright. Being in the correct position makes the exercise more difficult, and if you’re having trouble with it, you likely need to take off some weight. You could also need to strengthen your core.

A Rounded BackA Rounded Back

This is by far the worst barbell row mistake, as it’s a one-way ticket to back pain. When you round your back, it puts more pressure on your spine, and this gets even worse when you start lifting a heavy barbell up and down. Stay cognizant of your back at all times during the exercise and make sure it stays flat. If you’re having trouble with this, reduce the weight you’re lifting.

Neck Issues

It’s nearly impossible to keep your back flat without having your neck aligned. If you look up or down too much, it will affect the rest of your body. Make sure your neck is aligned with your back – it’s often simplest to focus your gaze at the ground a couple feet ahead of your body.

Adding Barbell Rows to Your Workout

Barbell rows are a fixture in many popular workout routines, including Strong Lifts 5×5. If you’ve set up your own program, you can add barbell rows to any workout that requires a back exercise or simply substitute it for another back exercise.

Everything You Need to Know About Military Press

There aren’t too many trainers who can prescribe you workouts that fit the military standards. As it traces a long history, the physical fitness level of a soldier is something that is molded and taught.

While the military might take some unorthodox approaches to fitness, the results are astonishing. Soldier success stories featuring weight loss increased speed and agility, and other such accomplishments have taken the internet and the world by storm. One workout allows you to get a taste for this differing training format.

The military press was developed to train your upper body. The workout allows you to utilize many key muscle areas, such as the deltoids and triceps. Below is a comprehensive review of the workout and an informative guide for everything you need to know about this military training technique.

The Workout That Operates Under Differing FormatsThe Workout That Operates Under Differing Formats

The first area we want to get into is the different variations of the military press. The standard version involves a barbell and an individual placed in a standing position. The repetitions and weight hoisted are both important factors into building your deltoid and triceps muscles.

Start with a comfortable weight limit to get a feel for the form. Slowly increase the weight amount when you have mastered the proper form. The form of this exercise starts with the barbell being hosted slightly above your collar bone. Lift the bar straight up and extend your arms completely. Locking your arms can lead to tendinitis and other injuries over time, so be sure to keep a fluid movement.

Holding this lift for a second or two is welcomed and it often leads to proper form development. As you develop a form, begin to operate the routine in a fluid movement. The movement mimics that of pumping your arms straight up and down. Be sure to keep the bar just directly above the collar bone during repetitions.

This positioning will allow for a complete upper body workout. The second involves completing the exercise from the seated position. This is a good practice method for those who rely heavily on their legs to support a lift. This will limit the effort admitted from your lower extremities, relying entirely on your core and upper body to produce the repetitions.

The last involves the use of dumbbells instead of a barbell. This can be operated from the seated or standing position. It is important to note the free movement produced by dumbbells. A barbell is flat and is much easier to support and keep stable than dumbbells tend to be. This method should be utilized after one has tossed around the barbell option a few times.

With dumbbells, the form can be limited and often hard to keep steady and fluent throughout a set. Be sure to hoist a weight that allows you to keep the pressure on your elbows and other portions of your body. If you are experiencing fatigue in areas not central to the upper body, the exercise is not being performed correctly.

Breathing

Breathing is a very important element of this exercise. Improper breathing can lead to quicker fatigue and can disrupt your movements. As you breathe, your body follows along, allowing you to operate these movements with fluidity and in a concise nature. Before you prepare to extend your arms, take a big inhale.

Exhale once you fully extend your arms above your head. Repeat this process throughout the workout. To practice this strategic approach, start by performing the workout with the second or two holding technique presented earlier. This will make you aware of your breathing and present a case to whether or not it is something you need to work on.

Assisting Measures

Assisting Measures

One can also increase their explosion and hoisted weight amount through the use of a weight rack. The user can place the barbell on this rack and raise it to their collar bone level. This helps produce a movement that can create muscle memory tendencies. It will create a solid stopping mechanism that will train your arms as a personal notification measure.

Your body will recognize the location of where the weight should fall to before being hoisted again. This is also good practice for those attempting to reach personal records or maximize the weight they can lift above the head.

Reversing the Exercise

While this last piece is beneficial to the user, it can also present a greater injury risk. The barbell can be at rest directly above the top of your shoulder blades. The movement can then be completed behind your head, with the same full arm extension measures put in place.

This exercise format should be carried out with caution. Those who have experienced shoulder injuries and other upper body ailments should not commit to this format. It does present a more targeted burn towards areas of the deltoids, triceps, and the trapezius muscles.

Everything You Need to Know About the Bench Press

For many weight-lifters, or even guys hanging around in the gym, the bench press has become the go-to measure for checking overall masculinity. Squats, curls, treadmill all pale in comparison to the almighty bench press.

Unfortunately, this puts an inordinate amount of pressure on people to saddle up to the bench who have no idea how to press the weight properly. This does more than just waste time – it can also be deadly.

Why It’s Important to Master the Form

Without proper technique and a proper spotter, a lifter can become pinned to the bench by overestimating their ability level, or by something as simple as a small cramp. This student at Iowa State University died in 2016 due to losing the grip on the barbell he was lifting, sending all 315 pounds down onto his neck, killing him in a matter of hours.

The bench press doesn’t have to be fatal, however, nor does it have to be unsafe. By utilizing the proper technique and a few safety protocols, you can feel free to bench press anything you feel ready for, without worrying about getting pinned against anything. Here are eight things you need to know about bench pressing:

Why It's Important to Master the Form

1. Use a Spotter

Since you are literally lifting an incredibly high amount of weight above some of the most delicate parts of your body, a spotter is invaluable for an exercise like the bench press. A good spotter will not only provide you with the peace of knowing they’ll be there for you if something goes wrong, but will also push you (or stop you) when they know you need it.

Unfortunately, not everyone works out with a buddy at the gym. If that’s the case, make sure whatever person you ask to spot you at the gym knows exactly what you want to do and how far you want to push it, so they can help you. Remember, communication is key.

2. Learn How to Bail Out

Bailing out is as simple as it sounds. Learn to dump the weights off either side properly in case you get pinned to make sure that you can get out of an emergency situation, especially if there is nobody else around. Here’s a video that shows you exactly how to do it.

3. Get in the Right Position

Before you even lift, make sure that you have full range of motion in your shoulders, the bar is at the optimal height, your head is slightly away from the bar position (ideally, over the forehead to allow for unobstructed motion), your feet are planted firmly on the ground, and your grip is right.

If your wrist is bending backward, you know that it’s in the wrong position. Getting specialized wrist wraps can help make sure they’re in the proper position.

4. Don’t Worry About the Back Arch

If you’re looking to go into competitive powerlifting, then a back arch may be in the cards for you in the future, but for those just looking to get into it, it absolutely should not be a concern right now. Many arch their back when lifting large amounts of weight under the assumption you’ll gain more leverage; you may, but not everyone is comfortable doing so.

One of the main advantages is that it shortens the length from the bar to your chest, thus allowing you to pump out more weight with slightly less effort. In competitions, that matters a lot; in the average gym, not so much.

5. Follow the Right Path

If you notice professional weight lifters, their bars hardly ever go straight up and down. On the way up, it goes slightly towards the face and then straight up, and on the way down, it goes down and slightly arcs out. This not only allows for more weight to be pressed but puts less strain on the shoulders. If your lift does not follow this route, here’s an article to help correct your bench press path.

6. Protect Your Armpits

For newbie weightlifters, the temptation can be to flare the arms out, sometimes rapidly, in an effort to lift more weight. In reality, all this does is make the overall lift more stable and increase the chances for injury. You don’t want your elbows touching your body, but you want them to stay underneath the bar at all times.

Keep Your Shoulders Packed

7. Keep Your Shoulders “Packed”

Like the elbows, your shoulders have a tendency to move as well, usually in a shrugging motion. Make sure that you keep your shoulders on the bench at all times by pretending that you’re trying to squeeze a grape between them. Some people recommend keeping your shoulders down and back in order to provide the necessary tension for your body and your shoulders.

8. Dig In and Keep it Tight

One of the reason sit’s paramount that your feet are flat on the floor is because it allows you to use your legs to drive through the bench press. Pushing your body into the bench and keeping your body still and tight allows you to focus all of your energy on what matters most: pushing up the weight. Also, don’t forget to work on your breathing. The last thing you want to do is pass out with 200+ pounds above your neck.

Everything You Need to Know About Squats

Over the course of the 21st-century, the squat has become one of the most important exercises for both men and women to perform as both men and women have seen their exercise regimen can benefit from the use of these exercises.

What are Squats?

Squats have been around for a number of years and are now seen as an excellent way of working a range of muscles across the body to aid in developing a well-rounded option for creating a healthy body with prominent muscles given the chance to stand out on those completing these exercises; Men’s Fitness reports the squat can be used in a variety of different ways to help any person working out at home or in the gym to develop their body in a fast and efficient way.

The many different variations are seen in the use of squats as a popular way of making sure almost every muscle group in the body can be worked as a way of ensuring every individual has thechance to increase their fitness and strength in a positive way.

Variety of Squats

Bodybuilding explains there are seven separate squat exercises capable of increasing fitness when used on their own or combined with the lifting of weights and barbells.

The article reveals getting away from machines of many different types at a gym can have benefits when squats are undertaken by an individual looking for a higher level of fitness than already achieved. Among the different types of squat recommended by the publication are:

  • Back squats
  • Front squat
  • Overhead squat
  • Zercher squats
  • Anderson squat
  • Bulgarian split squat
  • One legged squat
  • Hack squat

This range of squats will work a number of different muscle groupings and can be used to make sure different areas of the body are exercised. The majority of these squats are completed while holding barbells while being completed which can result in a workout for the arms, as well as the abs, back, legs, and butt.

Who Can Benefit from Squats?

Despite the fact millions of people are following these squats the average person can also see benefits from completing a regular series of squats not including the holding of a barbell or any other form of weight. The squat is often used by personal trainers as a popular way of affecting many different muscle groups in a single exercise, the most common of which is the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the posterior.

Across the body there are many muscles being worked during the completion of a squat, the most famous of which are the muscles of the rear as the current trend for females to increase the size of their rear has seen a growing interest in the use of squats.

When completed correctly the squat can also work the abs in a positive way that can improve the overall appearance of the stomach area for any person looking to appear to have more prominent abs; when combined with a healthier lifestyle and better diet the chances of creating the six-pack most people long for is increased when squats are used by a person of any gender.

Benefits of Squats

Living the Bump reports the range of benefits available when completing squats are many and include an increased level of performance seen in the core muscles of the body, which are used to add both strength and balance to the individual.

The core muscles are often mistaken as being simply those across the abs but also include the back and other areas of the central portion of the abdomen; when the central core of the body is strengthened the body appears to perform better as the link between the upper and lower portions of the torso is strengthened.

How to do a Squat ProperlyExercise plays a key role in remaining as fit and healthy as possible with a high level of success seen in the development of hormones released by the body during exercise which has been linked to a higher level of virility and reduced fatigue. The release of testosterone when squats are completed by males is important in staving off the effects of aging and the lowered level of testosterone seen in many men as they grow older.

How to do a Squat Properly

In order to obtain the many benefits seen in the development of the body and mind when completing squats, the individual must make sure they are completing these exercises in the correct way.

Firstly, the feet should be placed shoulder width apart and the back kept as straight as possible to avoid any damage to this delicate part of the body; the aim of a squat is to assume a seated position similar to that of a duck, which is achieved by lowering the rear until the thighs are parallel with the ground.

The knees should not move forward to a position ahead of the toes as the position is repeated on a number of occasions to work the muscles in an effective way.

Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5 Workout

A former Olympian lifter, Bill Star is also popular owing to the huge success of his book, ‘The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football’, which was written way back in 1976. He is credited for popularizing the 5×5 workout through this book, and although it was primarily aimed at serving as a workout routine for football players, it is now looked upon as one of the best workout routines there is.

Continue reading Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5 Workout

Introduction to The P90X Workout Program

Short for ‘Power 90 Extreme’, the P90X workout routine was developed through the collaboration of some great minds, and these include Tony Horton, Carrie Wyatt, Steve Edwards, Carl Daikeler, Mason Bendewald, and Ned Farr; all experts in their own right. When it comes to home workout routines, the P90X features right up there with the best, and this is owing to multiple reasons.

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Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength

Extremely popular in the US, Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program is highly regarded when it comes to strength and powerlifting workout routines. The creator of this program, Mark Rippetoe, has a number of accolades to his credit, and his book, Starting Strength, which is now in its third edition, continues to sell copies by the day. It has been featured on many lists of the best bodybuilding books on the market.

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