• To reach your greatest potential you’ll have to fight your greatest fears

Foods That Feed Your Brain

You’ve been on your health and fitness journey a while now and you’re likely reaching a solid understanding of the types of foods you should eat to look after your body.

You understand macros - how much protein, carbs and fat you need to reach your physique goals, and even have an understanding of which foods contain what.

What’s less explored, are the foods you should be eating to look after your brain.

I’m sure we can all agree, this year has been a particularly strange one. With a number of accumulating stresses, it’s more important than ever to look after the man behind the curtain.

Do you want to be smarter and improve memory and focus? More resilient to stress?

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Results and Physical Attraction

You already know there are a ton of reasons to get fit. Improved energy, strength, athleticism, mood, confidence, heath, longevity… the list goes on.
 
No doubt at least one of these reasons got you off your ass and into the gym.
 
But a big driver for a lot of people, which they won’t always admit, is to become more attractive to the opposite sex (or same sex, whatever your preference). 
 
While attraction is multi-faceted (meaning there’s much more to it than just what you look like), whether we like to admit it or not, this biological hardwiring is still an undeniable part of the attraction equation.
 
Today, we’re going to look at what the scientific data says on the subject, so you can stack the odds of this particular attraction metric in your favour.
 
As we’ve evolved, mate selection has been a key part of our survival in ancestral times. This is why certain qualities have become more attractive than others.
 
For women, a man’s formidity (ability to fight and protect) was an essential part of her own survival strategy. Upper body strength, therefore, is a crucial visual que that demonstrates a man’s ability in these areas. 
 
While protection is not as important for women in the modern era as it once was, the evolutionary preferences still exist in our monkey minds.
 
According to the latest research by a group of Australian scientists, there are three physical attributes that women find more attractive in men. Strength, height and leanness(1).
 
Using pictures of men’s physiques, it was possible to almost perfectly predict how attractive a man was based on these 3 attributes(1).
 
But surprisingly, looking strong was far more important than height or leanness, making up for over 70% of male bodily attractiveness(1).
 
For men, it’s more about the perceived fertility of a women being attractive for successful child bearing(2).
 
One study found that visual ques of a lower waist > hip ratio (narrower waist and wider hips / booty) represented sexual maturity and adequate key reproductive resources(2).
 
For both men and women, these qualities can all be enhanced as a by-product of consistent dedication to training program and diet. 
 
While there are many more reasons why you might find someone attractive, the physical aspects are undeniable factors in the scientific literature.

That’s great news for you action takers out there - wanting to be more attractive is a perfectly legitimate reason to get after it! Let’s go!

References

Lassek, W. and Gaulin, S., 2019. Evidence supporting nubility and reproductive value as the key to human female physical attractiveness. Evolution and Human Behavior, 40(5), pp.408-419.
Sell, A., Lukazsweski, A. and Townsley, M., 2017. Cues of upper body strength account for most of the variance in men's bodily attractiveness. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284(1869), p.20171819.

Sacrifice or success?

The main thing I want to get across to you is that you are not sacrificing anything by turning down a night out because you want to get to your goals. In society not drinking makes you look boring or feel like the odd one out, people look at you funny. If you are not eating shit when everyone else is, or not having a takeaway and eating what’s on the plan, within your calorie target. People will try and drag you down and make comments. It’s difficult, especially when all your mates or family are not into fitness. But you have got to see it as your happiness long term, and if you can’t make those adjustments and be disciplined with it, you are not going to get to your goal. If you can’t go out and have one or two drinks and eat well then maybe going out is not the best thing for you at the moment. Maybe staying in and working your ass off and getting in shape and feeling good about yourself might be the best thing to do.

But if you’re going out and spiraling out of control, eating like crap and drinking way too much you’re not going to get anywhere. This program is not for you then because there are other people who really want to do it. You’ve got to make those adjustments and compromise, but it is not a sacrifice. If your friends and family are saying you are boring and telling you to live at a little, that is just for weak minded people who want to pull you down. Do not listen to them.

If you have a goal and mission, turn it down. Don’t do it to yourself because you will feel shit about yourself long term. You are paying for this. You’ve got a coach and they want to help you achieve the best results and hold you accountable. If you are not ready to commit you aren’t ready to commit. Do not for one second think you are sacrificing anything by turning down a night out. Giving into instant gratification to be happy in the moment and make those around you happy by having that drink or junk food, that moment is going to be nowhere near as good as six months to a year’s time, you feeling so good about yourself. When you can look at yourself in the mirror and feel happy for once, in the clothes you wear and what you see. Knowing that you did this. And those negative people around you will be jealous because you achieved it and they know they never could.

The Importance of Sleep and a Bedtime Routine

Do you ever get into bed, knowing you’re up for work in 8 hours and find your mind is still racing?

You know how important sleep is, you even feel exhausted, yet there’s no way you’re falling asleep any time soon.

Problem is, while your body might feel ready to sleep, your brain hasn’t received the signals that it’s time to rest.

Humans are a dineral species, which means we wake with daylight and sleep at night. In the modern world, this pattern easily gets disrupted. Artificial lighting, smart devices and endless Netflix entertainment are all contributors.

But coffee exists, why should you be bothered about a lack of sleep?

Consistently under sleeping even by just two hours has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, memory loss, high blood pressure, anxiety, diabetes, weight gain, irritability and slowed reaction times… the list goes on(2,3).

On the contrary, a good nights sleep boosts your immune system, cognition, mood, exercise performance, testosterone production and sex drive(4).

The National Sleep Foundation advise that healthy adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night. While this varies slightly between individuals, I’m afraid that Brad from the office who only needs 4 hours is full of it(1).

So what can we do to maximise our chances of a good nights rest?

A bedtime routine is one of the most effective ways to signal to your body and mind that it’s time to sleep. Just like a morning routine, it sets you up for what’s to come next.

Starting 2 hours before you want to go to bed (you could set an alarm for this), you could focus on…

Dimming the lights, use night mode on devices or use blue light blocking glasses (with the red lenses). It’s the blue light spectrum that is responsible for stimulating your brain(5).

Journal - jot down your wins or gratitude’s for the day. You could also write down anything that’s on your mind. Getting thoughts onto paper and out of your mind will help you wind down.

Eat light - try to finish eating at least 2 hours before you go to sleep.

Stop using devices, especially in bed - social media or working late will keep you stimulated. Try reading or listening to audio instead, fiction is my recommendation for sleep. Think of it as putting your brain into story mode instead of problem-solving mode.

And probably the most important - having a consistent wake up / bedtime. This will help regulate your sleep / wake cycle and help you fall asleep when the time comes.

Good sleep is vital for all around optimal health. Hopefully these tips will help you get the rest you need. Let us know in the comments what has worked best for you!

References

Foundation, S., 2021. How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? | Sleep Foundation. [online] Sleepfoundation.org. Available at: [Accessed 10 December 2021].
Luyster, F., Strollo, P., Zee, P. and Walsh, J., 2012. Sleep: A Health Imperative. Sleep, 35(6), pp.727-734.
Luyster, F., Strollo, P., Zee, P. and Walsh, J., 2012. Sleep: A Health Imperative. Sleep, 35(6), pp.727-734.
Shechter, A., Kim, E., St-Onge, M. and Westwood, A., 2018. Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 96, pp.196-202.
Worley, S., 2021. The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: [Accessed 10 December 2021].

The fear of change

I want to talk to guys about change. Don’t be afraid of being the person that you have become because you have worked hard on your body and your mind. You’ve changed your habits and you need to own that. You’re a different person, more confident, you look different, you feel different and you’re hanging around new people and places. Sometimes people will judge you and say things that upset you. They will try and manipulate you.

You have got be true to who you are. Making a change and a commitment to that change is difficult, I get it. I am forever changing who I am as a person and I always get judged by other people, but it doesn’t bother me because I am on a mission to help people. I know my heart is in a good place and I really do care for people. So when people say negative things to me, I’m not bothered. I’ve got confidence and thick skin and a lot of people don’t.

Someone might say something to you that really upsets you and it might question who you are as a person and what you have achieved. You might want to slowly crawl back to that person because this person who you are now, might rustle a few feathers and shine light on other people’s insecurities. You have done an amazing thing and truly changed your life, physically and mentally. People around you who have been trying all this time haven’t done it and your growth is going to threaten them. You’ve done it, you’re the one whose risen up and smashed your goals and achieved what you set out to.

Don’t be afraid of owning your success. You have worked hard and earned it. You’ve built that confidence, smashed your training and nutrition and lost that weight. You need to embrace the different person you have become. Hang about with different people, go to different places.

Don’t accept average and don’t let people get you down. If people are trying to get you down, tell them straight and stand up for yourself.

Wearable Tech - Is it Worth It?

Wearables are everywhere in consumer technology right now. Whoop, Oura, Apple Watch, Fitbit and Garmin just to name a few brands.

You’ve likely seen a bunch of these products advertised, perhaps even considered investing your hard earned cash.

But do they help? Are they worth your money?

Perhaps… let’s start by understanding exactly what they do and are trying to achieve.

A wearable is usually a hardware device (watch, ring, wristband, etc) that links to an app-based interface, providing you with a selection of data metrics that the device can track.

That data might be steps, heart rate, distance ran, calories burned, sleep duration, etc

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Organ Meats - Nature's Multi-Vitamin

“Superfood” is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the fitness industry, but nutritionally speaking there is really no such thing.

This term has been adopted as a common marketing phrase, typically to sell products. While some foods are particularly nutrient dense, there is no one “superfood” that serves to be the holy grail of health and disease prevention for every single human being on this planet.

However, there is a food group that provides extremely high quantities of digestible nutrients in a relatively small portion size. These foods and their benefits are often overlooked when it comes to nutritional recommendations, but that’s changing.

In addition, many of these nutrients are essential for optimal performance and hard to come buy from other sources.

If nature packaged and sold a powerhouse multi-vitamin, this would be it.

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5 Top Tips on Setting Goals

When it comes to setting goals, it’s common for people to stop cut their journey short because they are unable to achieve them. It’s a frequent issue; people have that spur of motivation to get fitter and healthier, which is fantastic, and we promote this attitude, but are then quickly put off because of their inability to hit their desired goals which inevitably causes them to give up completely. There are numerous reasons as to why people fall off their plan and one of them is not correctly setting their goals when starting their journey which unfortunately is setting them up for failure. Here are some top tips on setting goals:

Set Milestones

One of the biggest setbacks on a fitness journey is not achieving your goal when you wanted to. You have reached for the stars and implemented ONE final goal to achieve. But what exactly is this achieving? You have set your sights on one objective, ignoring all the little things you have completed throughout. This will help you embrace the chance you haven’t hit your final target, but you have achieved so many wins along the way, and then it’s easier to say to yourself, “ok we keep going until I get there” instead of, “I didn’t do it so I will give up”. What we are trying to convey here is to set yourself milestones along the path to your final goal. Milestones such as getting into a routine, hitting a new PB, trying something new, implementing a healthy nutrition plan, achieving weekly weight loss targets instead of one final target, the list goes on. Implementing smaller goals will enhance the cognitive function of success which will have a positive effect on both your mind and body.

Be Realistic

Come on, it’s time to be realistic. Setting outrageous goals is inspiring but also near enough impossible to achieve. As we mentioned above, setting that one final goal is motivational but also detrimental to your mindset as you will be setting yourself up to failure by setting an unrealistic goal. Yes, we love the enthusiasm but it’s also an uneducated and could also be a damaging aspect to your training.

Timeframe

Things take time, understand that certain goals will take longer than others. Trust the process and you will get there but understand that certain goals will require certain timeframes. Understand this timeframe and work towards it. “I want to run a marathon in less than 2 weeks” – this is an unrealistic timeframe for someone for example who has yet successfully ran a 5K. Become familiar with what training is needed to attain certain physical abilities and outcomes and align it with the correct timeframe.

Work Together

Find someone who is also on the sam path as you. It will enhance the level of dedication and sustainability when pairing up to achieve something together. Find a support system with the same finish line achievement and work off each other to achieve that goal.

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The Physical Benefits of Saunas

Have you ever been sat in a sauna, sweating through every pore, wondering how long it is until you can get out?

Did you ever think to yourself, I’ve heard this is good for me, but why?

Today, we’re going to explore why spending your precious time in the sauna could be of interest.

The benefits of sauna use are often underestimated. People will cite relaxation or sweating out toxins as the main reasons to use one, but this is only scratching the surface.

What about improving cardiovascular health? Lowering blood pressure? Building muscle?

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Shifting the mindset

The mindset shift from being a negative person is hard. I have been one of the most negative people you would ever meet, you might not think that now but it’s because I’ve worked relentlessly on my mindset to get where I am now. It has taken a lot of work, consistency and being disciplined with it to get where I am now. Listening to you guys, the trainers, about the situation that you’ve been through, the mindset you have and the things you say, it touches home a lot. I know because I have been there myself. Feeling like the world was against me, that I was the only one going through anything in life.

It is the victim’s mentality. This mentality isn’t going to help you, isn’t going to serve you or benefit you in way. We need to flip the switch. When you are complaining, moaning, blaming other people and not taking complete ownership of where you are at currently, right now, that isn’t going to help. You have to take complete ownership of the situation you are in and own it, and then take one step in front of the other and accomplish what you need to accomplish.

You’ve got structure, you’ve got a set plan. Tick every single box daily. Make sure you hit those boxes every single day and it will compound over a long period of time and then you will move and shift. Not just your mindset, body, health, energy, but you are going to walk, talk and act completely different. This program is not just about changing your body shape, you know that. It is so much more.

Seeing you guys happier, getting promotions at work, or taking that step in meeting new people and building new relationships and owning every single part of where you are at is amazing to see. We are not going to bull shit here, we are going to tell you the truth. If you need to sort your shit out, sort your shit out because no one is going to do it for you. No one is going to come to save you but yourself. Even though you might be feeling like shit and having a bad day, try and see the bad situations as a way to grow and learn instead of just being so negative and depressed about everything you are going through.

Today I want to talk about mindset. For me, mindset is everything. It is something you have to work on consistently, always pushing further and trying to reach that next level. There is always a next level. Building your mindset takes years. I started working on my mindset in different ways from being in school, in subtle ways like doing an extra rep or set each session. Picking the harder exercises or training for a few extra minutes when you really don’t want to do it.

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The Importance of Rest and Recovery

Do you find it hard to take a rest day?

You’ve been to the gym 5 days in a row, your body is aching and your nervous system is shot.

But you’ve built momentum and don’t want to stop. More action, more results, right?

While the training piece is undeniably essential to improve performance, it’s through rest and recovery that we reap the benefits of training.

Today, we’re going to examine this in more detail and understand why it’s so important.

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Enhance Your Mind with Meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice, steeped in Eastern cultural and religious history.

When you think of meditation, you might envisage a monk in orange robes working on his mindfulness game before a chanting session.

If that’s not what you’re doing this weekend, perhaps this kind of practice seems difficult to connect with and to see how it could be helpful.

But there’s a reason why meditation app’s and classes are blowing up in the West.

All of a sudden people are realising how beneficial the practice can be, something Buddhists have known for thousands of years.

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Cold Exposure

If you’ve ever run out of hot water while showering, you’ve no doubt experienced the sudden shock to the system that cold water immersion brings.

You might find yourself gasping for breath as the cold water pierces every nerve in your body and get yourself out of the firing line as quickly as possible.

Yet a growing number of people are using cold water exposure as a tool to a tool to improve recovery, metabolic health, mental focus and even immune system health.

This is nothing revolutionary, cold exposure has been used as a therapeutic tool for millennia.

But more recent trends include ice baths, outdoor swims and daily cold showers, popularised by Wim Hoff in his book “The Wim Hoff Method”.

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Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

Have you ever considered the impact the people around you have on who YOU are?

Entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and author Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

Another popular expression of this idea is, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”.

These statements suggest that our lives as an individual are heavily influenced by our relationships with others. When you think about it, it’s not really that surprising.

And we’re not just talking about what you do with your free time or where you go.

Your habits, the way you think, your confidence, your goals, and your motivations. While these might seem like this is all based on you, who you spend your time with impacts these significantly.

As a follower of this page, it’s likely you’re the kind of person that wants to grow and develop, becoming the best version of yourself. If the people around you are doing the same, that’s massive for motivation, strategy, and positive reinforcement.     

But what if they’re not? What if you have a couple of friends from your past that have no interest in growth. What if they put you down and hold you back? Are they the type of people that sit around and criticise others?

Perhaps their habits don’t align with yours. Did you know you are 61% more likely to smoke if your best friend smokes? Data has also shown that if your friend gets obese, you are 45% more likely to gain weight over the next 2 years(1,2).

While this isn’t the be all and end all for who you are, the influence others have over you is multifaceted and undeniable.

Your friends can make you powerful. Energised. Driven. Happy. Confident.

They can also make you more negative. Exhausted. Unhappy. Unhealthy. Insecure.

So think about it. Here’s some ideas to consider.

How are you spending your time, and who are you spending it with? Seek out people who inspire you and motivate you. Are these people living the life that you want to live?

Could you be spending less time with people that hold you back? Are these people living a life you don’t want?

Are you exposing yourself to other positive influences? That might be podcasts, reading or other forms of educational material.
Remember, it’s not only about the people you're friends with, but the information you are regularly exposed to.

So, take stock of your own life and consider the power relationships and a supportive environment have when allocating your time.

References
Christakis, N. and Fowler, J., 2007. The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(4), pp.370-379.
Christakis, N. and Fowler, J., 2008. The Collective Dynamics of Smoking in a Large Social Network. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(21), pp.2249-2258.

Music and Exercise Performance

Three potential scenarios:

You’ve just finished work, you want to exercise, but you’re feeling a little demotivated.

Perhaps you made it to the gym, but today, you’re struggling to finish your workout.

Or perhaps, you’re ready to smash a personal best but need some kind of performance enhancer to ensure you seal the deal.

Could music be the answer?

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Increasing Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) for Fat Loss

Are you getting the fat loss results that you want?

You’re probably aware that fat loss requires a caloric deficit. That’s less energy taken in than you expend each day, over a consistent period of time.

Simply put, for fat loss you need to eat less or move more.

If you’re eating right and training hard already, increasing your gym time or cutting calories further can be a daunting prospect.

Cutting back on food isn’t fun for you, or anyone around you for that matter (hangry, anyone?)

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Myths Around Carbs and Perceptions

There was a time when fat was demonised in health and nutrition, cited to be the number one cause of all health problems.

Low fat this, low fat that, was promised to be the healthy option.

But the scientific literature has proved that to be incorrect, and diets like Atkins, keto and carnivore which promote higher consumptions of fat have been popularised.

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are the new public enemy number one. “No carbs before Marbs, no pizza before Ibiza”. Many people would have you believe that carbs make you fat, unhealthy and removing them is the holy grail of health decisions.

But do carbs really deserve the level of demonisation they’re receiving? We’re going to look at some of the myths and perceptions around carbs and discover if they’re really as bad as people think.

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AM vs PM Training

Do you ever find yourself wondering if the time of day you train is important?
 
Perhaps you know a guy whose full throttle at 7 am, getting strength PB’s before your day has even started.
 
But for others, they may find that surge of beast mode comes later in the day, with the morning being a consistent Grogg-Fest.
 
Should you be powering through to train at a different time for maximum gains? What does the scientific literature tell us?
 
Today, we’re going to look at AM vs PM training and how to figure out what's right for you.
 
Our daily rhythms are largely considered to be individually variable, with cognitive and physiological energy peaks occurring at different times throughout the day.
 
Are you a morning person? Or more of a night owl? It’s likely you can answer this question for yourself quickly.
 
While these are preferences, they don’t definite you entirely and can be trained through habit. More on that later.
 
One study found that regardless of preference (morning or night), athletic performance was the same between sessions, the reps and velocity were the same. What differed was the recorded motivation of the trainee and the perceived difficulty of the workout(1).
 
That's to say, the workout felt easier and the subjects' motivation to train was higher in their preferred time slot. This suggests why people feel stronger at their preferred time of day, and weaker otherwise.
 
Another study found that regular training at a specific time of day caused greater adaptations to occur from training at that time of day.  In other words, if you train in the mornings consistently, you will get better at training in the mornings. The same can be said for training at other times of the day(2).
 
This is great news for anyone that can only train at specific times of the day.
 
In a more practical sense, training in the morning offers some key benefits. You will no doubt have to get up earlier, which requires discipline for most people. Your training will also be done immediately, and not become a task that looms over you, later on, becoming the victim of a change of plan.
 
Training in the evening allows you to prioritise extra sleep in the morning, which is exceptionally important for cognitive and physical performance, among other things. You may also find evening sessions easier to stick to and find them more enjoyable if that’s your preference. Many people also find they have more time to dedicate to their sessions when done in the evening, I know that’s true for me.
 
But what’s best?
 
When you train is ultimately down to personal preference, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The key takeaways from the science are, you get better at training at the time you train often. You will also find it easier to motivate yourself and train at a time that you prefer to train(1,2).
 
We know at Physique Academy that consistency is king, and long-term adherence to a fitness lifestyle is what will enable you to achieve lasting results. Pick a time that you like and stick to it as much as you can for the best results.
 
References
Blazer, H., Jordan, C., Pederson, J., Rogers, R., Williams, T., Marshall, M. and Ballmann, C., 2020. Effects of Time-of-Day Training Preference on Resistance-Exercise Performance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 92(3), pp.492-499.
Chtourou, H. and Souissi, N., 2012. The Effect of Training at a Specific Time of Day. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(7), pp.1984-2005.

Calorie Deficit For Weight Loss

If you’re just starting on your weight loss journey and have decided to take it upon yourself to do a little bit of research, then we can guarantee you will have come across the term ‘Calorie Deficit’. To put it simply, a calorie deficit is the process of consuming less calories than your body burns over a period of time. The correlation of calories consumed and burned is directly linked to weight gain, weight maintenance and creating a calorie deficit enables weight loss.

In order to understand how many calories you burn a day, you can use the Harris-Benedict Formula which allows you to calculate how many calories you burn a day based on your age, weight and height. This is known as the basic metabolic rate (BMR) calculation:

  • For men: 66 + (6.2 x weight) + (12.7 x height) – (6.76 x age)
  • For women: 655.1 + (4.35 x weight) + (4.7 x height) – (4.7 x age)

 

The results of the BMR calculation are then used to multiply against the average daily activity of the person. Points are awarded based on how active a person is:

  • 1.2 points for a person who does little to no exercise
  • 1.37 points for a slightly active person who performs moderate exercise 3-5 days a week
  • 1.55 points for a moderately active person who performs moderate exercise 3–5 days a wee
  • 1.725 points for a very active person who exercises hard 6–7 days a week
  • 1.9 points for an extra active person who either has a physically demanding job or has a particularly challenging exercise routine

 

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