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The Bodybuilder Bible: Volume 1

Strength & Mass For “Hard Gainers” (Pt. 2)

Posted by Dave_Diesel - January 24th, 2015

To make significant gains and substantial progress, learn that a component in stimulating muscle fibers is with hormones, since their individual function will trigger anabolic or catabolic effects. They are a class of diverse signaling molecular chemical structures that are produced by glands to target distant organs and tissues, regulating physiology and behaviour.

A hormone may also alter the production and release of other hormones, thus controlling the internal environment through homeostasis. With that said, behaviour and the environment influence hormone secretion – Below you will find descriptions and actions for positive hormonal activity.

Alongside this, routines and programs offer a targeted approach that when implemented correctly will maintain or enhance protein synthesis, muscle hypertrophy, insulin sensitivity, nutrient partitioning, as well as increase energy balance, stabilize metabolism and sympathetic nervous system. Tenacity is key throughout all aspects and areas of life, so find your fire and light it from your core.

Anabolic Hormones

Insulin is released from the pancreas in response to increase in blood glucose. It directly influences the amount of amino acids (lipids) and glucose (glycogen) transported into muscle cells, in many cases controls cellular electrolyte balances, as well as prevents mobilization of nutrients stored in the muscle, so favoring muscle-gain and diminished muscle-wastage.

Foods high on the glycemic index spike your insulin (rise and fall rapidly) and are ideal for bursts of energy, while foods lower in GI and complex carbs stimulate a slower insulin response, allowing for sustained release of energy. Generally speaking, bodybuilders desire an insulin spike after a workout to feed their muscles quickly. It is a myth carbs in the evening or before bedtime will make you fat, assuming it fits your total macro limit. Diet controls major aspects of metabolism via insulin. Regardless of insulin levels, no glucose is released to the blood from internal muscle glycogen stores.

HGH – Human growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain. It is regulated during sleep and is responsible for bone and muscle growth and development, body composition, bodily fluids, sugar and fat metabolism and heart function. Arginine and ornithine supplementation is suggested to increase levels, although intensive exercise, sufficient diet and quality sleep will enhance this anyway. A party lifestyle reduces HGH by 70%, due to sleep deprivation. Also insulin and growth hormone cannot coexist at the same time, so to maximize wait at least 30 minutes upon waking to work out (HGH is highest upon waking and during training), then take low glycemic carbs. To avoid catabolism take pre-workout or BCAA’s in the morning and right after working out. With this said, HGH needs to be increased for a long duration and stacked with testosterone to make any significant difference to muscle enhancement. Also most people are at average levels and scientific studies find little muscle effects on elevated amounts for those with already maintenance levels. A doctor can check if you suspect yours is decreasing due to age.

DHEA – Dehydroepiandrosterone is an abundant circulating hormone produced by the adrenal glands, gonads and brain; for protein synthesis, sex drive, reversal of aging, improving immunity, energy, mood and memory. It’s made in the body using cholesterol through two cytochrome P450 enzymes. Supplements exist that are created from wild yam or soy, although research is needed to ascertain efficiency, long-term effects or potential risks, so not recommended until further testing. Scientists are aware of its function as a precursor or prohormone to other hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, and that it naturally peaks in the mid-20’s and declines with age. The side effects of elevated DHEA levels alone should put you off supplementing.

Testosterone (T) – A secreted anabolic hormone, produced by the pituitary gland and leydig cells, and is responsible for protein synthesis, enhancing sexual energy and stamina. It’s the key reason for traits and characteristics considered ‘masculine’, including physical strength, body hair, dominance and virility. Males on average produce 7 - 8 times more ‘free testosterone’ than females, whom are more sensitive to its effects – The greater testosterone you have, the easier you’ll accumulate muscle and shrink fat cells. Most T is bound to proteins, helping them become more soluble to transport / store throughout the body, and protecting them from being broken down by the liver and kidney. The remaining 2% - 6% of ‘free testosterone’ binds itself to receptors on the surface of muscle cells and amplifies the effects of protein synthesis. It decreases adipose tissue (body fat), since testosterone plays a large role in regulating glucose, insulin and fat metabolism. An increase in accumulated adipose tissue contains the enzyme aromatase that converts into estrogen, leading to reduced testosterone and an answer in understanding how to combat gynecomastia (moobs) and this continual cycle. Whereas, circulating levels of testosterone and estradiol control insulin sensitivity, vascular reactivity and immunity. Simply by increasing T levels, you shrink many or inhibit creation of fat cells and experience greater muscle mass.

Testosterone sharply increases libido and overall sex drive. Greater research is needed; however, doctors have compelling evidence that high testosterone can prevent cardiovascular diseases – Not due to the hormone itself, but rather health benefits that pair with optimal testosterone levels. Low testosterone can cause osteopenia (bone loss) and osteoporosis in later life, while higher levels increase bone density by stimulating mineralization and reducing desorption. Testosterone reduces depression and those prescribed testosterone treatments have shown improvements in mood, overall energy levels, as well as significantly lowered chance of developing anemia, Alzheimer’s Disease, high-grade prostate cancer, and showed maximal increases in cognitive ability. Testosterone also stimulates the release of another anabolic hormone, HGH.

It is worth noting testosterone may increase competitiveness, risk-taking, dominance, and desire for power or status. On the other hand, men with higher testosterone that already have power or status, become less risky in an attempt to retain theirs. T ramps up before a fight or competition (increasing after each win – the winner effect) and produces effects on muscle mass, hemoglobin, speeds reaction times, improves visual ability and increases feelings of endurance and indomitability. This desire for dominance is negative if it leads to criminal activity; however, it can also motivate men and fuel the climb for success. It should also be pointed out there are other factors to consider – The brains’ frontal lobe and limbic system are primarily involved in problem solving, cognitive and impulse control, behaviour, moral judgment, motivation and emotional association with memory respectfully. As well as chemicals and hormones, such as low cortisol, CSF adrenocorticotropic, monoamine oxidase, catecholamine and serotonin being an influence.

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Naturally, females tend to be attracted to dominance or assertiveness and ability to control conversation; traits of which are displayed in those with higher T levels. This coincides with features considered masculine, signaling good immune response and health, though cortisol and stress will lower the immune system and thus rating of ‘attractiveness’. Males exposed to scents of ovulating women record higher testosterone and motivation to initiate and engage in sexual behaviour, thus evolutionary reproductive success. Polyamorous males and females both tend to have proportionately higher testosterone than average levels. When testosterone eventually surges past optimal, it has a negative effect leading to overconfidence and poor decision-making where risk-taking becomes risky behaviour. Testosterone levels decrease with age and can be checked with a home test, although a doctor assessing before and after is most accurate – More research is needed to determine if testosterone therapy in older men raises LDL and lowers HDL levels. 300 – 1000 ng / dl is about normal range for the average persons testosterone levels and fluctuations when already within this upper tier poses less overall benefit.

Finally, to dispel a couple of common myths – Some believe you need Arnolds frame in order to bulk up; however as a natural male you should have sufficient testosterone, that can be increased through lifestyle means, and so muscles can be built upon – Similarly HGH is positively altered through lifestyle, promoting pre-pubertal bone growth prior to the fusing of plates and enhanced muscle development. Genetics only account for the rate you build muscle or the optimal potential. So if you are not making gains now, perhaps you’re not accounting for all the variables that elevate your own optimal potential.

Surrounding women and weights, lifting heavy will not make the average woman bulky or muscular, due to testosterone being necessary for muscle hypertrophy and females naturally having 10 times less than the average male. Therefore she will likely find herself instead with aesthetic gluteus, toned abs, conditioning and functional strength.

Lastly, the use of anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone) to increase natural levels are dangerous and unnecessary, as well as lead to the body losing the ability to produce testosterone on its own.

Natural Testosterone Sources

There are several ways to naturally boost T levels, which do not have this effect and are far healthier, although you must exercise, eat and sleep right, in order to reach optimal levels with supplementation. You may shake or blend and incorporate some of the following ingredients into a T shake (with eggs) for half the week every other day, and your regular protein shake (with whey) the remaining days.


  • Healthy fat (coconut oil, olive oil and almonds), and cholesterol, since your body needs this to produce testosterone – 20% of daily intake, with 7% being saturated. Four whole eggs in the morning and four whole eggs before you sleep (pasteurized if mixed raw), since during REM is when the body produces testosterone for the following day.

  • Fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids), morning and night. This will lower HSBG and increase production of the Luteinizing hormone, responsible for triggering the testes to produce T. Healthy fats also clear blood from excess saturated fats and cholesterol. Can also use flaxseed oil or chia seeds.

  • Nuts, particularly Almonds(20) and Brazil nuts (45) for selenium it contains, as a mid-day snack and again in the afternoon. They also provide cholesterol that Leydig cells use for T production.

  • Vitamin D3 supplementation – 5,000 IU in the morning and another 5,000 IU before bed. However, if it affects quality sleep then avoid before sleeping. Our bodies produce this naturally from the sun, but many Westerners are deprived – Typical sunscreen use does not generally cause deficiency, although extensive usage may prevent absorption.

  • Vitamin C – Citrus fruits help lower cortisol, estrogen and boost testosterone.

  • Vitamin A – Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, paprika, red pepper, cayenne, chili powder, liver and eggs for a testosterone boost.

  • Cayenne pepper is high in capsaicin that aids testosterone and burns fat.

  • Zinc – 25g from a supplement, or milk, eggs, seafood, green vegetables, pulses, beans, nuts and seeds; inhibiting aromatase, an enzhyme that converts testosterone into estrogen.

  • Asparagus – Folid acid, potassium and vitamin E are all crucial for testosterone production.

  • Pineapple, bananas, raw honey – contain bromelain, an enzyme that boosts T and aids protein digestion. Old school bodybuilders of the 40’s and 50’s had a bit of pineapple before each meal.

  • Kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage – Indole-3carbinol (DIM), is a chemical that aids DNA repair in cells and accelerates T by reducing aromatase activity.

  • Celery – Androgens, androstenone and androstenol, as well as flavonoids luteolin and apigening.

  • Blueberries – Calcium-D-Glucarate to lower estrogen, and the compound reservatrol for T.

  • Beetroots – A natural methylator that lowers levels of estrogen.

  • Kelp delays the production of estrogen and makes it harder for estradiol receptors to activate.

  • Watermelon contains nitric oxide and a compound, citrulline, shown to increase blood flow and erection frequency, thus greater T. Also more nutrients will be delivered to the androgen receptors.

  • Spinach – Anti-estrogenic and contains magnesium and vitamins C & E for T production.

  • Raisins are a source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin B, and the mineral, boron.

  • Garlic contains a chemical, Diallyldisulfide, increasing testicular weight and testosterone levels.

  • Raw chocolate – A source of magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, tryptophan, arginine and catechins; components necessary for testosterone production and nitric oxide blood-flow increase.

  • Sleep about 10.30pm and for around 8.5 hours – melatonin can help. Our bodies produce most of our testosterone it needs for the day, during prior sleep, as well as manages cortisol.

  • Resistance training and heavy compound movements are associated with higher increases in testosterone. Greater volume in sets, reps and weight – Progressive overload. Additionally, greater muscle mass and reduced body fat (that converts testosterone into estrogen) enhances T.

  • Whey protein to feed muscles and rebuild following a workout.

  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) – Sharp bursts of exercise, with rest and intense exercise repeated a number of minutes increases T, conditioning, strength and fat metabolism; a few times a week for 10 - 20 minutes, following resistance training.

  • Allow recovery – At least 2 days off per week from intense exercise. Overtraining drains T levels.

  • Ice Bath / Cold shower / Winter training – Doing this for 10 - 15 minutes, several times a week will aid recovery, boost testosterone and burn fat.

  • Caffeine – To be used moderately, increases cortisol, which in turn reduces testosterone. Sleep can also be affected and lower testosterone so avoid before bed. Some studies suggest caffeine taken before workouts boosts testosterone and aids performance.

  • Epimedium – A flower genus native to China that mimics effects of testosterone and containing icariin; a PDE5 inhibitor, making it an aphrodisiac and sexual function enhancer. It’s an antioxidant, antidepressant and neuroprotective, as well as increases production of bioactive nitric oxide and reduces risk of osteoporosis. Ginkgo Biloba may increase T although there is debate.

  • Clomid / HCG – Used to treat hypogonadism, blocking estrogen at the pituitary and hypothalamus, thus signaling luteinizing hormone and the production of testosterone.


  • Reduce alcohol – Limit amount since regular consumption causes reduction in testosterone.

  • Halt masturbation – T is produced in the testes and studies show when you ejaculate you release or use some of that testosterone. It’s fine if you are having intercourse, as this is natural; however, masturbation can be habit forming and drain you of testosterone and true sexual potential. When abstaining, there is a gradual increase in T during the first five days, with a huge spike on day six and seven by up to 147%. The day following is when levels return to normal, meaning seven days of abstaining is most effective for reaching peak T levels.

    In addition, pornographic material can cause a reduction in sexual satisfaction due to a “numbing” effect that results by becoming over de-sensitized and the constant need of escalation to complete that satisfaction.

  • Eliminating stress, to reduce cortisol, resulting in increased testosterone. Meditation and deep breathing exercises twice a day can help control emotions, as well as cooling off steam whenever you feel the stress building up.

  • Avoid licorice and antiandrogens like spearmint tea.

  • Avoid xenoestrogensandestrogenic foods like soy and environmental toxins, improve the digestive system, and detoxify from intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and processed foods.

Alternatives To Chemical Steroids

Sarsaparilla, yohimbe, licorice, damiana, cordyceps, and tribulis terrestris. These are natural, safe and effective herbs that have a steroidal activity and function in the body, as well as enhance sexual energy and stamina. Disclaimer: With that said, abuse of any natural or synthetic item, even one found in nature, is not recommended for improper use, binging or over consumption so make sure you have authentic products and read the label.

Catabolic Hormones

  • Cortisol – The main glucocorticoid and its actions include mobilization of fats, proteins and carbs. It is generally counterproductive to gains, and is a stress hormone secreted by adrenal glands and responsible for providing the brain, heart and vital organs with glucose by tapping into protein stores via gluconeogenesis in the liver, allowing energy for fight-or-flight.

    In small amounts cortisol is fine and even useful. With that said, increased levels raise blood sugar, inhibit amino acid uptake by muscle and protein synthesis, counteract insulin, as well as decrease calcium absorption, bone and collagen formation and has deleterious effects on the immune system. Several studies show when cortisol levels are high, testosterone is low, and when testosterone levels are high, cortisol is low. Sleep deprivation, stress, poor diet, caffeine, binging, viral infections, severe calorie restriction and prolonged intensive exercise generally increase cortisol; however proper nutrition and conditioning stabilize this release.

    It can also be reduced with magnesium supplementation, omega 3 fatty acids, black tea, phosphatidylserine and massage therapy. Elevated cortisol eventually overloads the adrenal glands, leaving the body vulnerable to other hormones like over abundance of estrogen.

    Sleep for 7 - 9 hours per night and train between 45 mins - 1 hour, to avoid overtraining and release of this catabolic hormone altogether.

  • Epinephrine – Also known as adrenaline is a hormone and neurotransmitter, formed by Tyrosine and secreted into the bloodstream by the medulla of the adrenal glands, in response to strong emotions like fear or anger. They’re also released at ends of sympathetic nerve fibres, serving as chemical mediators for conveying nerve impulses to effector organs – This in turn increases heart rate, muscle strength, blood pressure and sugar metabolism (fight or flight). It occurs naturally and is essential for maintaining cardiovascular homeostasis due to its ability to supply tissues with blood while under stress. Contraction and relaxation of smooth muscles cells (heart, arteries and veins) are controlled by epinephrine receptors. It is also used medically to treat cardiac arrest, asthma and anaphylactic shock. Degradation and glycogen synthesis occur in the liver cells and the hormone insulin (responsible for converting glucose into glycogen), acts to lower blood glucose concentration. With that said epinephrine (along with glucagon) is a hormone that breaks down glycogen to glucose. The primary stimulus for epinephrine secretion is exercise.

  • Glucagon, insulin’s antagonistic hormone, promotes mobilization and utilization of stored nutrients and conversion of glycogen in liver cells to glucose that then get released into the blood; so when your diet is low in carbs, glycogen levels rocket, putting you into breakdown mode, instead of anabolic mode.

    Low levels of blood glucose dictate the release of glucagon, and growth hormone, cortisol and certain catecholamines like epinephrine have glucoregulatory actions that are similar to glucagon itself. Although protein consumption stimulates glucagon (along with insulin), the glucagon is unable to stimulate gluconeogenesis as it otherwise would, due to the prevalence of insulin that is produced when eating protein (with the exception of insulin-dependent diabetes) and so this action is halted.

Bulking & Cutting (common but not solely recommended)

Insulin can negatively promote fat storage and reduce fat mobilization and usage, while excess carbs can be stored in fat cells, meaning it’s vital to maintain balance when eating carbs – more when bulking and less during a cut. Most people use milk in their protein shakes for bulking and water if cutting. The downside with this method is a loss in some of the new muscle when cutting, and depending how well your body is able to partition nutrients, as well as where those with negative insulin sensitivity being more susceptible to extra fat gain – Lethargic is an indication. The increase in excess adispose tissue leads to a rise in estrogen, which results in less testosterone and so it continues.

Then again, if already lean you can constructively – Set up timeframes and goals of how much muscle you build by then (1 - 2 pounds of weight a month is achievable), track calories, keep cardio whilst bulking (2 - 4 times per week, for 10 - 30 minutes); hill sprints, 400m sprints or medium intensity on a treadmill, as it will not inhibit strength and muscle gains, providing you do a moderate amount in comparison to resistance training. Total calories are as vital as daily calories, since over-eating one day increases your total weekly intake. Use photos and measurements every two weeks to access progress periodically. Maintain calories and increase exercise, maintain or build strength, increase volume and workload, incorporate a re-feed day every two weeks (one gram per pound of bodyweight in carbs), in addition to usual diet, to increase muscle glycogen and stay anabolic – Use muscles or lose them.

A lean bulk means to maintain a low body fat retention whilst cleanly gaining muscle, and then a quick cut – This mostly relates to beginners and intermediates, as after a while it becomes harder to gain muscle and this is the reason that the concept of bulking and cutting was created. Professional bodybuilders and advanced lifters are required to bulk and cut in order to prepare for a contest; however, it is healthier for every day people to be ripped the entire year, than for only one month. Also each week you bulk on a 20% caloric surplus, is a week you’ll need to cut at a 20% caloric deficit. In conclusion, bulking and cutting is not required to build muscle and there are other options.

Re-Feed Day / Carb Loading & Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (not recommended)

Long periods of carb deprivation (roughly five days), with less than 50g of carbs per day, followed by one or two days carb loading. This is effective at stimulating fat reduction, although counterproductive to maximal muscle accumulation and puts you in a catabolic state. When carbohydrate levels are low, stored fats and proteins are the primary source of energy production and glucogenic amino acids from proteins convert into glucose through gluconeogenesis, although this is a slow process and the rate does not change much even under a wide range of conditions. Low carb diets increase energy deficit and control insulin; a hormone that stimulates hunger and plays a role in fat storage, so lower insulin can aid fat burning.

With that said, gluconeogenesis is not a healthy energy source and puts strain on your liver and kidneys, as well as the body tends to adapt to a shortfall of calories by burning less of them – To counter this many people carb load or re-feed at the end of the week to interrupt this slowdown.

Fat burning diets reduce thyroid hormones and leptin (directly affect fat burning) and IGF that supports muscle growth, while increasing calories and loading brings these levels to normal. There is an anabolic rebound at the end of the week (24 hrs); perhaps enough to maintain muscle mass but most likely not enough to promote maximum gain. Some people use this to ‘cheat meal’ as their carb load, but the leanness of an individual will determine how many calories are burned or stored as fat, also depending whether they genetically have a spendthrift metabolism or a thrifty metabolism. Having said this, an occasional cheat meal is fine if it keeps you focused and you don’t overindulge.

G Flux (recommended if already lean)

Energy balance equals your caloric intake vs. your caloric output, which basically means a higher nutritional intake and exercise frequency enhances body composition. Your body is given the necessary time to adapt and as you gradually increase calories to just above maintenance and volume of lifts challenging your body; visceral stubborn fat reduces, whilst increased overall muscle mass from lean gains decreases the prominence of MONW (skinny fat). Having a higher energy balance will also enhance potential athletic performance and the increased workload will boost metabolism.

To be in a state of G Flux, increase exercise volume to a minimum of 5 - 7 hours per week, consisting of 4 - 5 weight training days and 1 - 3 cardio or HIIT sessions (sometimes post resistance), as well as non-exercise physical activity. The more you workout, the greater your energy balance, so consumption of increased calories becomes necessary to maintain this new balance. Benefits for this include nutrient partitioning and which function nutrition you consume goes toward, increased insulin sensitivity (carbs processed more efficiently), protein turnover and a sustained sympathetic nervous system. Being able to activate, utilize to full capacity and allow it to recover are fundamental to carrying enhanced body composition and superior performance.

Carb Cycling (recommended)

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Consuming carbs and fats not together and mostly in periods of increased insulin sensitivity (morning and post-workout), will achieve muscle mass with minimal fat buildup. However, carb or calorie cycling is more effective. This involves eating carbs during the morning and post-workout to refuel glycogen, but varying the amount of carbs (high, moderate and low) and number of calories each day, prevents metabolic slowdown by providing caloric spikes and glucoregulation for homeostasis, as well as lean bulking increasing the likelihood of achieving an aesthetic body all year round.

With that said, anyone looking to gain muscle mass, shouldn’t follow a restrictive fat-loss diet for more than 16 weeks in a row (8 - 12 ideally), since you may witness muscle breakdown or at least limit ability to gain the mass. Every 3 - 4 weeks decrease carbs and calories slightly to continue losing optimal fat, but avoid drastic cuts as this will result in muscle loss. After this cycle, take 4 weeks of regular clean eating, but increase calories and then go for another carb-cycling period. If after 2 - 3 weeks of a cycle you have no obvious gains, increase protein and carbs by 25g each, and up this every 2 - 3 weeks thereafter, until you are at the amount where you start to notice increase in mass.

Logbook Or Tracker

Whether a bulk, maintenance or cut, or whatever the approach, keep records of diet and training to make significant gains, since fingers-crossed approaches are less effective overall. You can track either old school or using an app / website. Instead of scales, it is much more accurate to assess using periodic photos; try not to use flattering light or angles, since they have to be honest and accurate to gauge precisely if a method is working for you. Also take measurements with a tape-measure, so you can calculate using a body fat percentage calculator.

  • My Fitness Pal and the meal planner will track your macros, water intake and training – calculating remaining calories, macro and micro-nutrients, to maximize gains in mass, strength or endurance.

  • My Net Diary offers a similar service, as well as highlights and nutritional daily value.

  • Full Fitness has a fat percentage calculator, and a BMI & bodyweight tracker. Create routines surrounding machine, free-weights, bodyweight exercises and cardio.

  • Fitness Buddy is a similar resource with additional built-in routines.

  • Daily Burn is the only paid app, and is most comprehensive. It features nutrition and exercise trackers, custom routines, fixed plans per goal or diet, a check-in reminder and graphs to pinpoint fluctuations or progress.

  • Workout For Men is a how-to and workout routine video resource that searches YouTube and offers categories by muscle group, cardio, nutrition, and other tagged options.

All of these tools are highly beneficial and remember the timer function of your phone / watch, so each exercise lasts an exact duration and rest between sets is reduced. Honestly, duration of a workout is less important than consistency – it is vital that you keep it going, or in the end you will only be tricking yourself and hindering progress. It is necessary in bodybuilding, or any sporting discipline, to have the right mentality and attitude in order to move forward.

One who truly conquers himself is greater, than another who conquers a thousand on the battlefield – Buddha

Be sure to also check out:
The Bodybuilder Bible: Volume 1 - Strength & Mass For “Hard Gainers” (Pt. 1)

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How To: Barbell Bicep Curl

Today we’re going to be going over proper form for a barbell biceps curl. Before we get into the 3 golden rules, I just want to do...


So much info!!! Amazing job!!!! Thank you :D

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We definitely take pride in our articles!


WOW! Awesome article dude!

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Yeah we need to get Dave to make more volumes!