Friday, 24 August 2012

Hormone Timeline 

I think I have figured it out.

The human body responds to Physiological stress.  And when it is able to, it always responds in a positive way!

In this article I am going to go over what I think is going on inside me with regards to hormones and how they interact with one another to be as anabolic and 'muscle preservingly' catabolic as possible.  I'll start by firstly disclosing that this may all be wrong, however it does kinda fit with my experience and results.
Iv gone from 102.4kg Obese 28%body fat, to 81kg 14.5%BF  and yet I am still eating shitloads

There are a bunch of words here that you may need to brush up on.
Hormone = cool stuff that floats around our body doing things
Anabolic = the (re)building of tissue (not just muscle)
Adrenaline = awesome stuff that gets you psyched, blood pumping and burning fat
Amino Acid = the bits that make up a block of protein.  
Blood Sugar Levels = something that your body tries to keep stable at all costs!
BMR/RMR = Basil metabolic rate, Resting Metabolic rate = the number of calories you burn just being alive each day, 
Catabolic = the break down of cells for energy
Caffeine = bitter substance that is awesome, raises blood pressure, heart rate and makes you pumped.
Cortisol = stress hormone that sucks sugar out of stored glucose within cells (leading to cell breakdown)
Catecholamine = group of hormones related to the fight or flight response, mainly adrenaline and nor adrenaline
Epenephrin = same as adrenaline just posher name
FFA = free fatty acids - not the same as fat
Glucose = smart arse word for Sugar
Glycogen = stored form of glucose
Glucogon - hormone that breaks down glycogen into glucose, (Increase glucose in blood)
Ghrelin =hormone from stomach that tells us we are hungry, precursor to GH
Growth Hormone (GH) = awesome anabolic hormone that promotes the rebuilding and repairing of cells
HIT = High Intensity Training, Exercise that makes you cry
Insulin = anabolic hormone that shuttles sugar from blood to be store in cells within the body, made in the pancreas, (you dont want to fuck your pancreas)(Decreases glucose in blood)
Leptin = hormone from fat cells telling us we should not be hungry
Liver = thing inside you that is very important
Lipolysis = breaking down of fat into its constituant parts ie FFA and Glucose
Metabolism = the combination of Anabolism and Catabolism
Oxidisation = destroying stuff, ie fat oxidization = burning fat
Sympathetic Nervous System = SNS produces the goods for fight or flight.
Pancreas = makes both Insulin and Glucagon, opposing purposes
Parasympathetic nervous System = PNS produces the goods to digest and rest, and poo
Petuitary gland = tiny thing in brain makes GH, Luteinizing hormone (precursor to Testosterone)
Testosteron = Anabolic hormone produced by your balls and makes you manly, if your a man and produced by the Overies and makes you manly if your a woman, Derived from Cholesterol, increased by weight training, sleep and fat loss.
Estrogen = girl hormones, gives you titties
Titties aka MOOBS

So lets start off with the hormone that everyone enjoys talking about so much
Insulin is an anabolic Hormone, Its purpose is to grab a hold of sugary glucose and other cool shit in your blood stream and shove it into your bodies cells such as your muscle and fat cells and importantly, the Liver
Now it is not just a case of dragging the sugar (glucose) to all your cells in your body. It is more a case of dragging the glucose to the cells that are crying out for it.  This is where the idea of being Insulin sensitive comes into play,  You can have a shit load of insulin pumping out of your pancrease in response to a shit load of food but if you are INSULIN resistant, it is not, only, that you are making loads, but also that you are just not having the insulin work very well.  It is not finding the cells to dump the sugar and it is staying elevated for a long period of time which means you have a longer time of elevated blood sugar which is not too good.
It also shoves in a lot of amino acids to help rebuild any broken cells.

Insulin thus raises as you eat,  in fact it spikes just after you have eaten, then it falls and keeps falling until you eat again.
Insulin sensitivity on the other hand raises the longer you go without food (up to a point).
What you want is for your insulin profile to be as effective as possible, not as big or as long as possible. (ie having a massive or long dick is no use if you can't get it up and pump till the cows come home additionally it can be a little dangerous just swinging around knocking things over, giving you a sore back etc)
If you don't have a spike in insulin due to being diabetic or what not, your pancreas keeps on pumping out Insulin, it takes longer for it to drop, and what this means is that when your blood sugar levels are level, there is still insulin floating around further dropping blood sugar, giving you a massive yoyo effect. your pancreas then has to counter act the floating around insulin with a burst of glucagon and this as well may be an over reaction and your body is constantly swinging from high blood sugar to low blood sugar and your body is blasting out hormones left right and centre to control it.
Your blood sugar is like a tightrope, and insulin and glucagon are the weights that go on either side of the tightrope walkers balancing pole.  A healthy person has a very well balanced rope walker, a diabetic or insulin resistant person on the other hand has a tightrope walker with an inner ear deficiency 

Insulin is from a part of your pancreas which is a ugly looking thing inside you just after your stomach and pumps its stuff into you very close to the start of your intestine

These guys dont like each other, and Cortisol blunts the effect of insulin thus meaning that you have to pump out a lot more than normal if you have an intake of food while you have high cortisol. 

these guys are like armies facing different directions.  Insulin response to food and GH response to a bunch of other things, when insulin is pumped out Growth hormone tends to drop.  In terms of fasting then GH and Insulin are two sides of a coin.  In terms of weight training, they can be brought together(more on that later).

Insulin first pushes aminos and carbs (sugars) into your muscles and it leaves fatty acids in your blood, they then circulate and can be deposited after the carbs and protein in either your muscles or maybe even in your fat cells, yes your fat cells may get a little bigger from eating!  However it also goes that the fatter you are the more insulin resistant you may be,  weight loss and exercise is the key to heightening your insulin sensitivity again.

INSULIN and Glucagon
yep, they done like each other, Glucagon wants to convert stored sugar into active sugar in the blood. when insulin is high (from eating) glucagon shuts down for a while

INSULIN and Stress (Psychological)
Not really any affect, insulin is really a digestion hormone and psychological stress will have little effect on its output, however constant psychological stress can increase base levels of Cortisol which in effect may make you a little Less insulin sensitive, meaning you may have to pump out more.

INSULIN and Stress (Physiological)
By doing bad ass exercise you are depleting your glycogen stores, you are making your body crave the sugar to go back into its cells. You are making your cells more insulin sensitive. Bingo, Exercise increases Insulin sensitivity and thus potentially decreases insulin production.

INSULIN and Fasting
Same as above, by fasting you are not letting your body constantly have a supply of sugar and amino so the longer you fast the more sensitive your body is to insulin.
Fasting will cause your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to chill out for a while as you are not digesting or pooing and thus your SNS gets a little bit of a boost while you are in an unfed state thus indicating an increase in your resting metabolism

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INSULIN and Immune system
Not really related, but people who are type 2 diabetic, insulin resistant are at greater risk to their health.  again the question is is it that lots of insulin is the danger factor, or is it the resistance to it? Maybe if your cells are resistant to insulin then it cant shuttle neutrients and antigens to the cells, thus leading to potential illness.

INSULIN and Food (Carbohydrate and Protein and Fat)
There is an insulin response to Carbohydrates (that get broken down to sugars) and to Protein (that gets broken down to aminos) However however the change in blood sugar is much more with carbohydrate rich meals, potentially it is that the hormone response is nearly the same however the heightening of the hormone sensitivity may be more with protein than with carbs. (need to research this more).  However i suspect that whether carbs or protein, you will still have the same insulin response but protein has a greater effect on reducing appatite compared to carbs and is usually less energy dense ie fills you up more with less calories.  (quote, However, fat will also suppress HSL even when insulin levels are low.  This means you will be unable to lose fat even when carbohydrate intake is low, if you are overeating on calories.  If you ate no carbohydrate but 5,000 calories of fat, you would still be unable to lose fat even though insulin would not be elevated.)
Thus, just suppressing insulin aint going to get you ripped you can still be a fatty if you still eat over your recommended BMR of calories

Next biggie that everyone loves
This is the stuff that we are all trying to produce more of nowadays.  Its purpose is to protect muscle and break down fat to provide fuel. It shuts down the uptake of glucose into muscle tissue but also stops the conversion of amino acids into glucose. So kinda stopping you dragging sugar out of your blood but not letting you get fuel from your muscle cells!

You pump out tones of this stuff during sleep, more if you go for a full 8 hours and even more if you go to bed at 10 compared to going to bed just 2 hours later at 12.  The more you dream the more REM you have and the more GH output you have.
During your sleep you are burning fat like nobodies business.  Your body is repairing itself during your sleep, the growth hormone is stimulating repair and put poshly Protein synthasis

It also stimulates the immune system. so maybe there is good advice in the old saying, "starve a cold" The feed a feaver part is cos a feaver is a bit more badass and you want some food in you to survive)

So growth hormone is elevated by
1)deep sleep
2)HIT exercise
4) Sauna
5) Pain

So to rock that hormone profile,  Get to bed at 9.30 sleep from 10 deeply, wake up dont eat, and beast it in the gym, have a sauna then stub your toe on the way out and keep on not eating as your GH will just keep on rising as your blood sugar levels will be wanting to fall.

Loves it if it is hard core, high intensity,  and short in duration. The hard core bit means using lots of muscles. Seemingly it is more stimulated by lactic acid build up in large muscle groups, not just bicep curls but hill sprints, or rowing sprints.  The term used these days is your Lactate Threshold, and you have to destroy it as fast as possible, ie do an exercise which makes you produce more lactic acid than you can handle… guess that is also part of the pain factor in the list above.
PAIN IS GOOD FOR YOU. For the guys who do the olympic 400m they are trying to get their all out threshold to last for the 40s of running. for the rest of us it is probibly more around the 20-30s of balls to the wall sprinting or rowing.

The longer you fast the more your hormone goes up, usually kicks in at around the 8-12hours and has increasing effect from the 12-24hours then still raised but not continuously increasing after 24hours., you still get your peaks of GH during sleep and after intense exercise and the rest of the increase in GH is more due to glycogen depletion raising your base level of GH.  Over a 4 day fast each day total GH will increase but if you have a poor nights sleep… you will probably have lost all the benefits.
The other thing is that over eating massively kills GH output!!!
The picture above shows HG response is normal on the first day of over eating, no bad thing (ie it is ok to over eat for a day) but by day 3 of over eating by 75%over BMR you have a totally flat GH response!  So a 3 day food binge=bad (no shit!)

Ok so your thinking, simple, Insulin good, growth hormone good, try and get equal amounts of both.  and that would be a very good move.  So my advice here is, eat in a short time period, say between 3-8, then you have 2hours till sleep time, when you get lots of growth hormone, then when you wake up and if you dont eat and go to the gym you get a double dose of GH because you are doing HIT training and being fasted. BINGO! And when you do eat your cells in your body are primed to accept the sugar in your blood so that your insulin can drop quickly after eating so that you can get busy burning off your fat stores and preserving your glycogen stores.

GH and Insulin
They are not actually mutually exclusive, yes GH likes to come out of its fasting hole when your asleep and when you are low in glycogen and thus insulin but your body can still pump out GH and insulin together.  This makes for a very anabolic situation and is found when you eat right after a workout. GH response to HIT training and infact so does Testosterone so combining GH, Insulin and Testosterone and you are onto a real winner!

My tip would be that if you are doing a double workout day, make the morning session cardio based and the evening session much more weight bearing, have your lunch(break fast) before the gym, about 3 hours or so and then eat after the gym and bingo, all kinds of gains!

GH and Cortisol
GH is anabolic, we know that, and Cortisol is Catabolic (more on that below) However these guys could work together in a very positive, fat burning way, Cortisol breaks down cells, and GH protects muscle cells, so thus leading the Cortisol to only be able to break down the Fat cells for energy!  Bingo mixing GH and Cortisol = fat burning

Both Cortisol and GH are increased with exercise, be it HIT or Heavy weights.  In the morning you have a lot of cortisol so quickly combine some exercise so that it doesnt have time to start breaking down your muscle cells!

GH and Glucagon
Kinda buddies, If you inject a kid with Glucagon, soon after there is an increase in GH. Glucagon breaks down stored glycogen and puts it back into the blood, in doing so triggers GH to be secreted to protect the muscles

GH and the Immune System
awesome! stimulates it like a motherfuther! Think about it.  Your a cave man running around trying to find some food, you run and catch something but it gets away from you, you need your muscles and health so you can pick yourself back up and go chase it down again.   no food in you means your body is not fighting all the bacteria in your stomach from the food and is insted just flopping around killing off annoying cells all over your body.
Same goes for your bones, GH makes you retain more calcium and makes your bones stronger.


Anything else to think about?

What about being CATABOLIC!
To understand this you need to think of your body, not as a car (ie fuel in, performance out) but as a constantly changing CITY. Over time roads get pot holed, buildings crack, windows get broken, parks need up keeping people need moving and so on its the same with your body nothing stays the same. there is something around 70 Trillion cells in a human and almost all of them get destroyed and replaced repeatedly over a life time (apart from brain cells)  There is a theory that every cell in your body in 7 years time will be different ones to the ones you have today. So just imagine that as a city every building and road will be updated torn down, built back up, repainted retarmacked and so on and so forth.  Being catabolic for a while is needed to get rid of the dieing/ degrading cells to help replace them and also to create the energy to help rebuild the new cells.

I spend 19hours a day being catabolic! My muscles should be wasted!!!
For your body to be in a catabolic state it has to say, right fuck this building of muscles, I just need energy.  for example when you are in a Fight or Flight response. Your body pumps out adrenaline, nor adrenaline, cortisol and other catecholamines which target cells to tear them apart to get energy.

The term use it or lose it springs to mind with these catabolic hormones, if it is something you are not using then they will just come and rip it away from you. If you are not using your muscles..... ie sitting at a desk all day being stressed, then it will sure as hell target them as they are easier to breakdown than fat cells.

The bummer is that these hormones are produced not just when we are exercising but when we are stressed psychologically. Tough job, bitchy mother in law, parking wardens etc induces stress which gets the body pumping out these hormones which go on the attack and just strip any cell they come across (like a riot in the city tearing down shops)  This can most definitely lead to muscle wasting and fat storage because your muscles have an easier supply of aminos and when they get ripped apart the aminos float in the blood stream and then as there is no insulin floating around they get board and drop off in the nearest fat cell.  (imagine the riot tearing up shops and the staff in the shops leaving then heading to the pub to sit around until the shops are fixed)

But what if we could get the Riot group to specifically target all the bakers and pie shops?  We, the city would still be catabolic as it would be ripping them apart but it would be ripping apart what we want to get rid of, FAT
What we need to do is put down the metal shutters on the good shops leave the doors unlocked on the fat shops.
This is where the interplay of GROWTH Hormone becomes very important, and if we give the message right, we can lead the riot squad right to the doors of fat.

This is something that is regularly touted as something to be avoided, and that is true, if you are a sedentary lazy thumb sucking life fearing turd. Sitting on your ass all day being worried about everything will motivate your fear response, pump out cortisol and it will go out on the rampage ripping up muscle cells and getting bored with the extra energy in the blood stream and then dump the stuff in fatcells. NOT GOOD!  leading to muscle wasting and fat gaining. DOUBLE BUMMER!

Cortisol runs on a diurnal cycle, ie it goes up first thing in the morning as you wake up and is near flat at around 3am at night when your in dream land.
It is ravishing your body at around 8am!? WHY? what is the bonus of that?  Well, you have been asleep for 8 or so hours, and you have gone from a physical state of sleep to awake which in itself is akin to the difference between sitting at your desk awake and blasting out a balls to the wall 10 mile hill sprint!, Its a big change in your bodies homeostasis, which your body wants to keep roughly the same all the time. You have also not eaten for around 10 hours and suddenly you need all that stored up glucose and aminos that you have stored in your muscles and fat and liver back in your blood streem so that you can get going.  Caffeine as well as being a neural stimulate also increases your cortisol,  which is why people love a coffee in the morning!
So it sucks, first thing in the morning you will be breaking down muscle and fat cells for energy.  So how do you quickly change that to it just breaking down fat cells?
You need something to either preserve muscle or to cut down the cortisol.

1) First option is to eat breakfast, Doing so you will have a spike in insulin which will send back all the glucose in the blood back to the cells and also on the way put in some more of the glucose from the food you have just consumed. This may also put some more back into the fat cells.
That is the easy option but not the best option.  Annoyingly cortisol kinda counteracts the effects of Insulin so your body has to pump out more insulin for the same effect. which is not so good as stated above.
2) Option 2 which is what i have been doing is to go to the gym at 7am, a light warm up and then a couple….3-5 sets of balls to the wall rowing or skipping or something.  Yes this will further increase cortisol and possibly even get me producing adrenaline. My blood sugar levels may try and drop further, and if i dont eat my body will have to respond with a blast of GROWTH HORMONE, which sends out the signal to preserve the muscle and motivates the fat cells to get used instead.  Leptin is also produced or, potentially more accurately your brain becomes more senstive to leptin and further rallies the catabolic hormones to the fat cells!

Cortisol also has some extra added benefits!
It is an anti inflamitory, ie it is your bodies natural Hydrocotisone (ie stops itching from midge bites) and also swelling from muscle tears.
It raises blood pressure, good for getting warmed up for a workout quickly
and stimulates hepatic detoxification (ie reduces heavy metals from the body)
It increases your pain tolerance, deminishes fatigue and strenghtens motivation

This may explain how on my 40hour fast where I did 3 gym sessions 1@12hours, 2@20hours and 3@32hours, where I did my 10 Ton Challenge at each time (1 set per exercise as many reps as possible, what ever weight, adding up all the reps and weight to reach 10,000kg moved)
I managed to do my 10 ton challenge fastest and easiest on the 3rd go while massively depleted in glycogen and possibly massively pumping out Cortisol and Growth Hormone

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But weakens the immune system, stops calcium being transported to the bones, works with adrenaline to create flashbacks (PTSD), and is a diuretic (makes you piss lots).

So it is a real give and take hormone that is best tempered with a nice dose of imune system boosting GH and fasting.

Interesting hormone here.  It is actually produced in fat cells!, the amount of circulating Leptin is directly proportional to the amount of Fat you have.  Fat people have a lot of leptin.
Strangely, Leptin is a hormone that goes from fat to the brain to tell you to stop being hungry!
Fat people should not be hungry!
Well kind of, Firstly Leptin is considered a Long term hormone, it tells you how hungry you should be in a general scale, not like an instant appatite hormone such as Cholecystokinin.
So the leaner you are the harder it is to produce more leptin however just like insulin the trick here is not to produce more but to more senstive the the amount that is produced. Getting it working harder father than being bigger or more.

So how does fit man increase leptin sensitivity?
Recent research says 1 bout of all out 30s cycling sprints does the trick.  They didnt test more but i suspect that more would have an even greater effect, so again this supports the idea of doing some High intensity balls to the wall 20-30second all body, or main big muscle group exercises, ie hill sprints, rowing sprints, but not bicep curls!

This is a little bitch of a hormone, It is secreted from your stomach lining and triggers hunger!  It usually pops up at around 5-6hours after your last meal.  It is advised that you try and be asleep at this point.  It is a hormone that goes to your brain and has no actual purpose apart from to promote you to eat.  In the past it had a purpose as it promoted you to get off your fat ass and go hunting for some food but with todays unlimited access to food, it just makes you waddle to the fridge and eat a pie!

Good thing though is that when this guy pops up, and no food is consumed guess what happens!
Signals go to the brain and say OI we just asked for food and we aint getting any!  Lets rev this machine up and get going beeach, Brain responses and goes, ok hers some GH and some catecholomines! lets go!

So Ghrelin and no food = GH increase,  good ho!


Ok so lets put this all together now,  what should the most effective, fat burning, muscle preserving, immune boosting, metabolism rising, day look like?

(Suppliment) Coffee
Wake up after an 8 hour sleep, if you went to bed at 10, then you can get up at 6am! If you feel tired when you wake up which you will, cos you have just woken up, go grab yourself a coffee.

This time of day your cortisol will be rising, not good as it will be ravishing your muscles as well as your fat cells.

(Suppliment) Aminos (table spoons worth)
So time to get some good anabolic hormones into you to stop the negative effects and get you burning fat instead.
This is where morning High Intensity Training will help, Go to the gym before work, destroy it on the rowing machine (3-5 sets of 30s balls to the wall rows, with a good 2-4minutes rest between). This promotes GH and also if you pulled hard enough it will also raise your Testosterone.  As well as even more Cortisol.
If your lucky enough then go and get yourself a sauna afterwards, The heat further promotes GH and instigates an artificial fever which further boosts white blood cell count and thus immune system!
Take a couple of aminos or a small amount of protein so that you at least have some good stuff floating around inside (no more than 10g, large table spoon)

(Suppliment) Coffee, green tea, diet cola.
Time to go to work,
Dont eat!
If tired have a diet coke, or a coffee (very little milk or sugar) or if your tummy can handle it, green tea or if your a pussy like me and love your sweet tooth get a diet coke in you to keep you satisfied.

If you have a job. Or do your normal days stuff. dont just sit and watch cookery programmes!
These 6 hours your body will be ravishing your fat cells for energy the longer you wait the more your fat cells will be used. I suspect the time between 1-3 is the most badass inside your body.

(Suppliment) Protein shake, chia seeds, Creatine
eat! eat like your starving! You will deffo be hungry by now Ghrelin will have been high and insulin low, your cells will be craving sugar and be super insulin sensitive. Try and make it healthy. I suspect you could eat what ever the hell you want to eat at this time but as a double benefit supply your cells with quality stuffs and also Nutrient dense but calorie low food stuffs, fruit, bananas, veg, and protein are very important at this time.  this is the time your body is storing all that goodness in your cells.

(Suppliment) Pre-workout stimulants, aminos, coffee.
Heavy weights, raise your testosterone and GH levels,  Squats, deadlifts, pull ups, bench press, shoulder presses, leg presses etc  This is not about high intensity just about OVERLOAD with weight.

Suppliments (Protein shake, chia seeds)
Get home, shower or sauna, and have a more protein rich dinner.  Try and avoid sugars and also caffeine, you want your body to start chilling out, so eat slowly but eat as much as you need.
My advice would be whole eggs at this time. 4-7 eggs will give you the protein and also the fats to help build your muscles, promote testosterone and the B vitamines to help you break down the broken cells during night.

(Suppliment) Herbal tea, Chamomile or honey and mint. (not ginger) (pint of water beside bed)
Go to bed, you should be tired and satisfied. close all curtains so that the room is dark and better yet, put your phone on charge in a different room, so that if someone does text you it dosnt wake you up but when the alarm goes off in the morning, you have to drag your sorry ass out of bed quickly to turn it off.
The pint of water is so that when you wake up,  you down all that water, and that means you really give a nudge to your innards to push out any built up turd and also it gets you rehydrated quickly.

However that is just what i have been doing. and it is what i am seeing fantastic results on.

This isnt easy.  Your body wants you to just eat when you can which unfortunatly is all the time nowadays. You will have to, at some points, be hungry, you will also have to exercise, you will also have sore muscles, you will also sweat!

But in the end you will also be ripped and have an awesome immune system!

If it was easy everyone would do it.  But it takes a bit of discipline.... thats why so many people are fat.


  1. hey dom, great stuff! one question regarding your schedule - when you say (suppliment) are you referring to the word to the right of it or are you saying you suppliment with stuff like a protein powder? if you can clarify this, that would be great. i plan on doing this soon! thanks

  2. This is the most useful information I've ever read. You are truly a badass. Self taught photographer (wrote book on it) Got tired of being fat (redefined effective) I'm proud of you buddy!

  3. Guy, you're amazing!
    No only you made your path in photography by yourself but also decided you'd needed a change and made it!
    I hope I can grasp a bit of your diet+training hints and finally find my way back to a normal weight.

    Oh, BTW you also gave me many photography hints, simply THANKS!!

  4. Hey man, literally just seen this, I guess I should read the desc. more often.

    What you're saying makes sense to me, but I'm fairly limited in my knowledge of human biology, as I did it for about a month at AS level and then switched to maths. My only concern is potential loss of muscle during the fasting periods, which I understand is what the aminos are for, but won't necessarily do. Are you aiming to build muscle? If so I'll monitor your progress for a while and see if I like the gains you're getting, currently I'm in a plateau as far as building goes, but my 'throw loads of food at yourself' approach has worked for the one year I've been training. I'm an ectomorph and I've gained nearly 2 stone, while staying pretty lean, haven't been gaining fat or muscle lately though, perhaps I need to try a different approach.

    All the best,

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    3) Add one set to the first superset you do in each workout.

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    Go here to get started: ===> Advanced tips to lose inches from your waist <=====

    Train hard but safe,


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