NEW ELEMENT TRAINING  = Strength training for lifelong health

New Element Training Founder and lead coach Andrei Yakovenko

New Element Training Founder and lead coach Andrei Yakovenko

This week in Episode # 52 we are excited to bring you our guest Andrei Yakovenko. Andrei is the founder and lead coach of New Element Training in Toronto Canada. At New Element Training they center their approach around three key components: Technique, Intensity, and Consistency.

Coaching a client through a rear delt Row at New Element.

Coaching a client through a rear delt Row at New Element.

The New Element Training environment is designed to be distraction-free: there are no mirrored walls, no pounding music, no split television screens. An essential part of their training protocol is to stay fully focused on the physical work being done over the entire 30-minute session. It is a way of harnessing the power of ones mind in the transformation of the body by paying attention, by maintaining perfect form to optimize your efforts, and by using precise, controlled movements to keep your body safe. Producing the all-out effort required to access and fatigue the targeted muscles in each exercise takes intense concentration.

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The New Element approach translates cutting edge academic research into a practical, time-efficient, safe mode of exercise that produces results … fast.

TAKU’s NOTE: Jesse and I really enjoyed our time speaking with Andrei. He is a very thoughtful coach who has truly created a unique training environment and experience for his clients at New Element.

P.S. Check out Coach Andrei in action doing a two-minute Chin-Up!!


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We’re Back!!

In this week’s podcast episode #51 we are honored to have with us strength coach and fitness entrepreneur Dwayne Wimmer. Excited to bring a new concept about personal training to the people of Philadelphia’s Main Line, Dwayne founded Vertex Fitness Personal Training Studio. Dwayne has owned and operated his award-winning personal training studio since 2001.

Working hard at Vertex Fitness

Working hard at Vertex Fitness

Dwayne graduated from Missouri Western State University with a physical education degree and an emphasis in coaching. He is proud to say he walked onto the football team as a wide receiver and earned a starting position, for 3 years, as an offensive lineman at center. After his football career, while completing his degree, he was hired as a student football coach. He was the coach for running backs, tight ends and the offensive line. After graduating from MWSU, he went on to coach as a graduate assistant at East Stroudsburg University where he was in charge of the running backs.

In the late 1990’s Dwayne accepted an assistant strength & conditioning coach at Villanova University where he worked with male and female varsity athletics such as former Villanova Wildcat & Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook.

Dwayne Wimmer. Winner of the 2019 “GRIT” award from the R.E.C.

Dwayne Wimmer. Winner of the 2019 “GRIT” award from the R.E.C.

TAKU’s NOTE: Join us with this week’s guest Dwayne Wimmer as we discuss various interesting topics such as exercise vs “exertainment,” proper programming, and making the fitness field a true profession.


By Wayne L. Westcott, PhD

Slow weight-training technique vs. Fast weight-training technique has become a lively subject of debate among strength and conditioning coaches. My experience as a strength coach and a researcher has put me in the "slow" lane. I believe that slow weight-training technique is both more productive (in terms of improving muscle strength) and less destructive (safer).

Six solid reasons can be offered in support of this hypothesis:

Factor One: More Muscle Tension

Slow weight training produces a longer period of continuous muscle tension. First, slow weight lifting provides a longer period of muscle tension during the concentric phase of the movement. Second, slow weight lowering provides a longer period of muscle tension during the eccentric phase of the movement. For example, a fast-paced one-second up and one-second down training cadence requires only 20 seconds of continuous muscle tension to complete 10 repetitions. On the other hand, a slow-paced two seconds up and four seconds down training cadence requires 60 seconds of continuous muscle tension to complete 10 repetitions. Given the same weight-load, both methods accomplish the same amount of work. However, the slow technique demands much more muscle effort--and muscle effort is the key to muscle development.

Factor Two: More Muscle Force


Cybex isokinetic evaluations of maximum muscle strength invariably reveal that more muscle force is produced at slow speeds than at fast speeds. There is an inverse relationship between movement speed and muscle force. The maximum muscle force produced at 0 degrees per second is greater than the maximum muscle force produced at 120 degrees per second. Likewise, the maximum muscle force produced at 120 degrees per second is greater than the maximum muscle force produced at 180 degrees per second. Because muscle force decreases as movement speed increases, fast weight training appears to be counterproductive with respect to maximum strength development.

Factor Three: More Muscle Fibers


The two basic components of muscle force production are the number of muscle fibers activated and the firing rate of the motor nerve impulses. Muscle force can be increased by activating more muscle fibers, speeding up the firing rate, or both. Because the firing rate of motor nerve impulses at slow speeds isn't as fast as it is at fast speeds, the greater muscle force produced at slow speeds is apparently due to greater recruitment of muscle fibers. It should be noted that the selective recruitment of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers does not seem to occur at fast speeds or slow speeds. Research findings by Lesmes, Benham, Costill, and Fink (1983) indicate that both muscle fiber types are actively recruited during maximal muscular contractions, regardless of the movement speed. Although the mechanism isn't fully understood, it is logical to assume that more muscle force can be produced at slow speeds because more muscle fibers can be activated.

Factor Four: More Muscle Power


According to the Power Formula, Power is equal to Muscle Force multiplied by the Distance of force application, divided by the Time of force application. Power can be increased by increasing the distance of force application, but strength training has little influence on this factor. The distance of force application can best be increased by better technique, more flexibility, and increased range of movement. Power can be increased by decreasing the time of force application, but strength training has little influence on this factor. The time of force application is basically a matter of nerve-impulse facilitation. In other words, movement speed is largely determined by how efficiently the motor-nerve impulses are transmitted from the central nervous system to the muscle fibers. Power can be increased by increasing the muscle force. Strength training has great influence on this factor. Some coaches believe that fast weight training is more effective for developing power. It isn't. Fast weight training requires relatively light weight-loads, whereas near maximum resistance is essential for maximum force production (Westcott, 1983). One can lift light weight-loads quickly or heavy weight-loads slowly, but one cannot lift heavy loads quickly. Muscle force can be best increased by using relatively heavy weight-loads and slow training technique. Because more muscle force means more muscle power, slow weight training should be the preferred method for improving muscle power.

Factor Five: Less Tissue Trauma


As previously discussed under the power section, speed is essential in any power event such as football. However, almost all power actions are performed with body-weight (jumping, diving, and tackling) or with relatively light implements (e.g. weight of pads & equipment) Power events performed with heavy resistance (e.g., clean and jerk) place great stress on joint structures, thus increasing the risk of tissue trauma. The faster one accelerates an object, the greater the initial stress on the involved tendons, ligaments, and muscle fascia. For example, consider attaching a rope from a tow truck to a disabled car. The faster the tow truck accelerates, the greater the stress on the connecting rope and the greater the probability of breaking the rope. Similarly, the faster one decelerates an object, the greater the terminal stress on the involved tendons, ligaments, and muscle fascia. For example, the faster the speed of the tow truck, the greater the difficulty of controlling the disabled car upon stopping quickly. Slow lifting movements accomplish the same amount of work as fast lifting movements by means of continuous and controlled force application. However, slow weight training produces less tissue trauma at the start and finish of the exercise movement and is therefore less likely to produce training injuries. For this reason alone, slow weight training should be the preferred technique for athletic conditioning programs.

Factor Six: Less Momentum


Momentum plays a part in virtually all weight training exercises. The faster the lifting movement, the more momentum that is developed. The slower the lifting movement, the less momentum that is developed. It is important to understand that as the momentum component increases, the muscle force component decreases. By developing momentum, one can lift heavier weight-loads with less sustained muscle effort. There are many means of developing momentum. The most common technique involves the use of assisting muscle groups to begin the lifting movement. Example: using back muscles and trunk movement to initiate barbell curls. Although heavier weight-loads can be used, the target muscle group (biceps) actually receives less training stimulus due to the momentum factor. Another example of momentum-assisted weight lifting is bouncing the bar off the chest during the bench press exercise. In addition to the high injury potential, this careless use of momentum reduces the training effect on the target muscle groups (chest, shoulders, triceps). While momentum certainly has its place in sporting events, it should play a minor role in weight training programs. Momentum-assisted lifting gives the appearance of greater muscle strength, but

it actually decreases demands on the target muscle groups and increases stress on the joint structures.



Lesmes, G. R., D. W. Benham, D. L. Costill, and W. J. Fink. (1983). Glycogen utilization in fast and slow twitch muscle fibers during maximal isokinetic exercise. Annals of Sports Medicine 1: 105-108.

Westcott, L. (1983). Strength Fitness: Physiological Principles and Training Techniques. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

TAKU’s NOTE: This week I offer yet another excellent article from my friend and mentor Dr Wayne Westcott.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Instability Training Good or Bad?

Asking for trouble…

Asking for trouble…

I was checking out some fitness columns and I came across an interesting article published in the Washington Post on instability training, or training on unstable surfaces like a physioball (swissball) or a BOSU.

Now, everyone is entitled to their own opinions on things, but mis-information is not an opinion…it’s just plain wrong.

The article went on to talk about how instability training is effective for training other areas of the body (which isn’t entirely untrue…but there’s more to it than that). Basically, the premise is that training on an unstable surface forces you to use more muscles in the body to stabilize the movement. Exercises like “Stability Ball Bench Press” and “Stability Ball Bench Press with Feet Elevated on an Inverted BOSU” were discussed. Seriously, how ridiculous does that sound?

Here are some pictures from the article so you can have a visual reference. Please, click on these photos and seriously try to comprehend how foolish it is to do something like this. By the way, the photo credit should go to NSCA but it was incorrectly referenced in the article as the NCSA, as shown on the picture.  Another one of my gripes with the overall article content.




By lying on a physioball, you truly are creating an unstable surface. You will have to balance by activating other muscles in the body. But the muscular activation will in no way compensate for the decreased weight you’ll have to use OR the risk involved with an exercise like this. Additionally, it’s almost impossible for you to do these exercises on your own. You must have a partner to give you the bar and take it from you when you’re done.

Here’s some basic physics for you. The farther from your body the weight is, the more unstable you’ll be. Conversely, the closer the weight, the more stable you become. But, the closer the weight is to the chest, the more difficult it becomes to press and the greater the chance of “sticking” or hitting a point in the range of motion where you can’t effectively move the weight up. If that happens, you’ll most certainly need the help of a spotter. Worst yet, you may need to “dump” the weight. In that situation, you can’t just push the bar off of you as you could on a stable bench. If you do, the ball shoots out to one side, you hit the floor and the weight gets a nice soft landing on your head or torso. The chance of that happening anyway is also a factor. Oh yeah, the ball could burst too. Yes, they’re built to endure a lot of compression, but you won’t have that issue with a bench at all.

Now lets look at the second picture. Inverting a BOSU and placing your feet on it will only make you MORE UNSTABLE and not in a good way. Adding the increased instability to the equation will in no way make the exercise more beneficial! This is, unfortunately, a huge misconception in the fitness industry. It’s an industry that thrives on evolution and industry leaders and gurus are constantly looking for the next best thing. Unfortunately, movements like the ones above are the result of that quest.



Bottom line: Don’t get sucked into thinking instability training will aid your overall training or progression. Physioballs have their place, but it’s not underneath you while you’re pressing a weight. As for standing on a BOSU and lifting weight, all that will make you better at is standing on a BOSU. It won’t carry over to your athletic prowess. Additionally, strength gains will be drastically limited since the very nature of instability training requires you to work with a lesser load.

OUCH…This is going to end BADLY!

OUCH…This is going to end BADLY!

Conclusion: Training on unstable surfaces has it’s place, but instability training is, for the most part, a waste of time when it’s performed as detailed above. Use your head and think about what you’re doing. If it seems ridiculous, it probably is.  If you truly want to get stronger, just stick with the fundamentals. If you’re an athlete, work the skill sets of your sport, while developing strength in the gym. The two together will be much more beneficial than trying to stand on a ball.

On a side note, one individual who posted a comment on the article from the Washington Post said it best: “…one legged dumbbell rows will not make you a better athlete….these implements and adaptations only give the notion that we are doing something “functional” and “lifelike,” when in reality it is simply taking a non-functional movement and making it awkward. One would be better off doing heavy rows and heavy bench presses than light rows on a BOSU ball or bench presses on a swiss ball.”

Food for thought.

Until next time, keep training hard!





I am a fan of protein shakes. I have one almost every day. People often ask for good recipes, so here are just a few of my favorites. The secret to any recipe is to tweak it until it suits you. Some like thicker, some prefer thinner. Keep playing with the ingredients until you make it your own.

O.J. Protein Smoothie:


Combine the following ingredients in a high-speed blender:

1/2 cup Orange juice

1 Orange (peeled)

3/4 cup water and/or ice

2-1/2 tbsp Almonds sliced/or 1 tbsp flax oil

30-40 grams Whey Protein

*Blend on High until smooth

**Add additional water to reach desired consistency

Blueberries Protein Smoothie:


Combine the following ingredients in a high-speed blender:

1-1/2 cups blueberries

1/2-cup water and/or ice

30-40 grams Whey protein

2-1/2 tbsp Almonds sliced or 1 tbsp flax oil

*Blend on High until smooth

**Add additional water to reach desired consistency

Mixed Berry “Super-Nutrition” Protein Smoothie:


Combine the following ingredients in a high-speed blender:

• 10 oz. of plain whole milk yogurt, kefir or coconut milk/cream

• 1-2 raw high omega-3 whole eggs (optional)

• 1 Tbsp. of extra virgin coconut oil

• 1 Tbsp. of flaxseed or hempseed oil

• 1-2 Tbsps. unheated honey

• 1-2 scoops (1/4-1/2 cup). protein powder (optional)

• 1-2 cups of fresh or frozen mixed-berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)

*Blend on high until smooth

**Add additional water to reach desired consistency

Properly prepared, this Mixed-Berry Protein smoothie is an extraordinary source of easy-to-absorb nutrition. It contains large amounts of “live” enzymes, probiotics (vitally important “live” proteins), and a full spectrum of essential fatty acids.

Smoothies should be consumed immediately or refrigerated for up to 24 hours. If frozen in ice cube trays with a toothpick inserted into each cube, smoothies can make for a great frozen dessert.

Feel free to play around with different berry combinations. You might find something you really like.

Send us an email with your best creation. We’ll post it in a future article and make sure you get credit for it!

Happy blending!

TAKU’s NOTE: Friday June 21st was the official start of summer. With the longer days, outdoor fun, and body-surfing in mind…I offer these Super Summer Protein Smoothies. Try them out and let me know what you think. Better yet, send me your favorite recipe and I’ll post it here on the T.N.T. Blog!!

The Science of Strength:


The Science of Strength

As easy as 1 – 2 – 3

1. Progression: Making the workout or exercise more challenging over time. This could be adding weight to strength exercises, or running faster or longer with cardiovascular training. Either way if you are not challenging your body no improvement will happen.


2. Overload: Is when the body is challenged through intense exercise and the muscles are worked past their current capacities. This training “environment” is what sets the scene for improvement.


3. Recovery: After the muscles have been overloaded they need time to adapt and get stronger. This process takes between 48* - 96 hours +.

So the science of getting stronger is as follows:


1. Train as hard as you can on each exercise to make sure overload takes place.


2. Allow the body to rest and recover. You can’t rush improvement.


3. When you return to the weight room try to add weight or repetitions to each exercise.

The science of getting stronger is easy to understand. It is the application that is challenging. There are no secret routines or special exercises, just simple things that need to be done a certain way, for an extended period of time.

Train Hard!


(*minimum recovery period for athletes with optimal recovery ability).

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What does research suggest?


In 2004, Dave Smith and Stewart Bruce-Low of the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Liverpool in England began to investigate High-Intensity vs. High Volume strength training - examining the parameters of sets, repetitions, training frequency, duration, intensity and speed of movement. In December of that year they published an article in the Journal of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists titled:

“Strength Training Methods and the Work of Arthur Jones.”

The research duo examined twenty studies that explored speed of movement during exercise and arrived at two outcomes: ONE, that slow training was superior to explosive training (for strength and power); and TWO, that there was no significant difference between slow and fast speeds. In four studies, they identified and exposed the serious risk of injury from explosive training. “It appears that Jones’ recommendation,” they concluded, “that slow, controlled weight training is all that is necessary to enhance both muscular strength and power is correct.”


In their investigation, explosive training produced, at best, a similar result - and at worst, an inferior result - to that of slow, controlled exercise . . . with one major difference: explosive training embodied an elevated risk of injury. High-risk exercise with no added benefit makes about as much sense as hitting your head against a wall to prepare for the impact forces experienced in an American football game.

Despite clear facts to the contrary, advocates of explosive training continue to preach their unique version of physiology, and cite research to support their claims, that:

  1. Fast-twitch muscle fibers (thought to be prime contributors to power-oriented performances) are activated by a fast speed of movement. And conversely, that slow-twitch muscle fibers are activated by a slow speed of movement. Hence the mantra, “If you train fast, you’ll be fast; and if you train slow, you’ll be slow.”

  2. Fast speed of movement during exercise is vital to develop “power” for sports and/or activities of daily living.

The second claim has been critically challenged, if not negated, by the research of Smith and Bruce-Low. Which leaves us with the first claim, that muscle fibers are preferentially activated by speed of movement.


In support of that premise, Dr. Ralph N. Carpinelli, Human Performance Laboratory at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York made an exhaustive review of the scientific literature on the subject and reported his findings in the Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness, volume 6, number 2, 2008.

Carpinelli’s analysis of muscle-fiber recruitment revolved around the Size principle, in his words,

perhaps the most supported principle in neurophysiology.”


TAKU’s NOTES: After our first 50 episodes we’re taking a short break, as we get ready to produce even more awesome content for our T.N.T. listeners. With that in mind, this week’s article features some interesting information in support of Effort-Based strength training with regards to the work of NAUTILUS inventor Arthur Jones.



This week marks our 50th podcast episode!


In honor of this week’s podcast episode #50 we are excited to once again be joined by our friend, and fellow evidence-based exercise specialist Patty Durell from Rock Solid Fitness. Patty was kind enough to take some time from her very busy schedule to visit with us, and chat about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we want to go.

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Join Jesse, Liam, and Patty Durell as we discuss things we have learned during our first 50 episodes such as how we stay fresh and focused, things we have learned from some of our amazing guests, how we maintain our work/friendship relationship as we move our business forward, and what we are looking forward to as we expand our presence into the social media world and beyond.


Jesse and I would like to thank all of our listeners out there, and invite you to reach out to us anytime with questions. We are here to help you. Let us know what type of content you would like to hear more of. Who would you like us to have on our show as a guest? What topics do you want us to dig into a little deeper?

Drop us a line at

We are ready to help you with all your fitness needs!