A science-based strength-training program that's simple, quick, and maximizes results while increasing enjoyment.
The popular understanding of exercise and its benefits lags about fifty years behind contemporary research. Deep Fitness brings you up to date on that research, introducing you to a recent revolution in our understanding of human health – one that can help you boost your strength and vitality, reduce your risk of chronic disease, and turn back the clock on aging.
Researchers have discovered that muscle does far more than move our limbs. It is the source of over 600 messenger molecules that promote well-being in every tissue throughout the body. The health of your muscles, it turns out, provides the bedrock on which your metabolic health rests. On the one hand, this news is alarming, because our bodies tend to lose significant muscle mass after the age of thirty. On the other, it is empowering, because it points to the simplest way of improving your overall health: give your muscles the opportunity to grow stronger—something anyone can do.
That doesn’t mean you need to devote hours every week to exercise. Deep Fitness introduces Mindful Strength Training to Failure (MSTF), a workout that is so simple and efficient, you can steadily increase your strength with just one or two half-hour sessions a week. By doing so, you’ll be achieving a state of ‘deep fitness’. The term refers to a state of overall well-being that will mitigate the risk of chronic diseases, promote vitality, help to avoid falls, pre-habilitate joints, bones and tendons to resist injury, support cognitive functioning and psychological health, diminish the risk of all-cause mortality, and increase your quality of life.
Deep Fitness includes over 30 illustrated, step-by-step exercises suited for all ages—some that can be done at home using your body weight or a resistance band, others that can be done in your local gym. With MSTF, each exercise is done slowly and mindfully, so that every session offers a mental reset that helps you become more present in both the workout and your life. This is a new approach to fitness and well-being, communicating in layman’s terms the most up-to-date, science-based, time-efficient method you can use to start optimizing your health today.
Meet the Authors
Founder of The Embodied Present Process™, author of Radical Wholeness and New Self, New World
Philip Shepherd is recognized as an international authority on embodiment. His unique practices were developed to help transform our disconnected experience of self and world, and are based on the vision articulated in his celebrated books, New Self, New World (2010) and Radical Wholeness (2017). The aim behind all the practices of The Embodied Present Process™ (TEPP) is to help people reunite the thinking of the head with the deep, present and calm intelligence of the body. Unlike the prevailing view of embodiment – which involves sitting in the head and ‘listening to your body’ – Philip’s approach helps you listen to the world through the body. What the body most deeply understands is that it belongs to the world. What the body most deeply feels is the present. When we join its intelligence, we discover companionship in the world rather than alienation; we recognize guidance where before we saw only obstacles; and we ground ourselves in the security of being, rather than seeking to build security for ourselves with symbols of external value. Ultimately, TEPP is about coming home to yourself.
Founder of New Element Training
Andrei Yakovenko, a former executive in the geophysics industry, founded New Element Training in 2013. While investigating the most efficient ways to build muscle, he came across research on slow strength training and began experimenting on himself and a few close friends. After a year, he was shocked by how much stronger and healthier they became, without having to spend hours upon hours per week in the gym—and decided to find a way to share those benefits with others.
So he traveled to Switzerland, learned from global fitness entrepreneur Werner Kieser, and opened NET’s first location in 2013. The guiding purpose of NET remains to use scientific principles to give clients the safest, most efficient, most effective workout for their lifelong health.
In 2020, NET opened its second location in Yorkville in partnership with Xiaolan Health Centre.
Advance Praise for Deep Fitness
“Deep Fitness provides the most comprehensive and compelling chapter on resistance training benefits that I have ever read. The chapter on exercise selection is exceptionally excellent, with important, practical, and detailed information on the proper performance of machine, body-weight, and resistance band exercises. People who put these strength training guidelines for safe, effective, and time-efficient resistance exercise into practice should definitely experience productive musculoskeletal responses.”
—Dr. Wayne L. Westcott, professor and chair of Exercise Science, Quincy College
“I have read thousands of books in my life, and none of them truly changed it. This book did. And not a moment too soon. When I was 25, I could get away with the wrong fitness approach. At 58, I can’t. My body demands that I listen close, and give it just what it needs. Deep Fitness shreds the misguided notions of well-being that have led me astray for decades and replaces them with clear wisdom and transformative tools. This book may well save my life.”
—Jeff Brown, author of Grounded Spirituality and Hearticulations
“Philip and Andrei have rewritten the story of our aging, fragile society. The inclusion of strength training is evidenced to improve your health markers, increase your quality of life, and reduce your risk of mortality. This book will guide you through some of the science of strength training using a time-efficient approach that even the busiest person cannot excuse themselves from. Mindful Strength Training to Failure (MSTF)—the core of this text—encourages a mental and physical submission to your understanding, appreciation, and improvement of your body and its function. Since this is your greatest asset, this might be the most important book you read. Ever.”
—Dr. James Fisher, senior lecturer, Exercise Science, Solent University, UK
“One of the reasons why diseases of Western society are so difficult to treat is because as a culture we are focused on the wrong tissue. Our problem is not with adipose tissue, it’s with skeletal muscle mass. In order to correct the issues of aging (which arguably begin in midlife) we need to optimize for muscle mass. Deep Fitness does a fantastic job at not only highlighting the importance of training but also translating the science behind the training. This book is a valuable weapon in fighting the trajectory of aging. I highly recommend it!”
—Gabrielle Lyon, DO, founder of the Institute for Muscle Centric Medicine
“This book is a godsend. It’s a mind-blowing historical, cultural, and scientific exploration of the path to physical fitness and total well-being. It turns out we’ve had it wrong for a very long time! Philip and Andrei blend the life-changing wisdom of embodiment with fascinating research and a practical and doable fitness method accessible to every age and stage of life.”
—Greg Farrand, executive director of Second Breath Center
“Raised in the cultural context and deep familial embrace of Daoist Qi Gong and Tai Chi, and as a founder of a Traditional Chinese Medicine practice in the West, I harbored a prejudice for inner energy cultivation. My personal experience with the Western mass fitness industry was characterized by minimal results, frustration, and often injury. Then I met Andrei and was introduced to Mindful Strength Training to Failure. I felt the benefits immediately—but it was only after several months, in response to Andrei’s cues for mindfulness, that I began to experience the myriad, profound sensations of my body as an organized presence. From that point I observed a cascade of measurable, positive health markers, including improved body composition, and functional strength and conditioning gains. Deep Fitness opens the benefits of MSTF to anyone, enabling them to transform their healthspan, functional stability, and groundedness. I wholeheartedly endorse it.”
—Xiaolan Zhao, author of Reflections of the Moon on the Water and Inner Beauty, and founder of the Xaiolan Health Centre
“Most of our cognitive abilities peak in early adulthood. Many of us think of aging beyond that point as a terminal disease, rather than a natural journey through life, fearing but accepting an inevitable accelerating decline of our cognitive and physical health as we age. The tools of modern neuroscience allow us to observe and manipulate the inner workings of the living human brain—yet the fundamental factors that lead to lifelong cognitive health remain elusive, and we are just beginning to scratch the surface in understanding the mind and body as an integrated, indivisible whole. Through Mindful Strength Training to Failure, Andrei Yakovenko and Philip Shepherd have merged the latest evidence-based advances in exercise science with ancient wisdom and understanding of harmonious mind/body unity that may otherwise have been forgotten through the ages. Their radical approach stands as a model to new frontiers in aging neuroscience research, and sets anyone who will listen on a path to living not just a longer, but a healthier and happier life.”
—Dr. W. Dale Stevens, director of the Cognition & Aging Neuroscience & Neurointervention Lab, York University
“If you know you need to radically transform your fitness but you know you just don’t have the time for that, then Deep Fitness is the place to start and where you will find your home.”
—Mark Bowden, co-founder of TRUTHPLANE®
“Deep Fitness conveys an extremely embodied intelligence, which I see as the next step in the integration of what we call the spiritual dimension of the human sphere. We perceive yoga as a spiritual exercise and lifting weights as an activity for lower-level spiritual beings. But this kind of separation, this lack of understanding that ALL of life is spiritual, keeps us from being present, from being both divine and embodied, from being human. Deep Fitness helps us grow into overall health with the understanding that every step is pilgrimage, every action a ritual, and every word a prayer.”
—Maurizio Benazzo, co-founder of Science and Nonduality (SAND)
“The approach to strengthening that is offered in Deep Fitness is unique. This is not the strength of the Instagram selfie, or the strength that is so often associated with rigidity or hardness. Rather, this is the strength of our intelligent, animal bodies; this is the strength that deepens our embodied mindfulness, presence, and intimacy with life. A book for our times, Deep Fitness will likely leave you with a whole reimagining of the role played by your muscle. Citing research that illuminates the connections between strength and conditions such as immune function, longevity, resilience, Alzheimer’s, depression, cancer, Covid, insomnia, and so much more, this book reveals the vast importance of your musculature, and shows how much is lost in the conveniences of modern life and the lack of movement required for daily function.”
—Carl Rabke, Feldenkrais and Natural Movement Teacher, Structural Integration Practitioner, and co-host of the Embodiment Matters podcast
“Deep Fitness is the ultimate guide for anyone desiring a new and much higher level of fitness. Andrei and Philip show you the way.”
—Barnet Bain, producer of What Dreams May Come
“Philip and Andrei bring a much-needed evolution to our understanding of what fitness can mean. Combining detailed, cutting-edge research with years of experience, and weaving in some potent, yet often missing pieces—that of embodied presence and slowing ... down ... — this book brings with it some deep wisdom. Deep Fitness identifies and lays out a very compelling argument for the benefits of occasional but regular, very brief bouts of high-intensity movement right to the point of not being able to complete the movement anymore. In experimenting with Philip and Andrei’s techniques, I’m discovering that I feel great afterward and am noticing the benefits. Having sworn off gyms many years ago, I find myself venturing back towards this territory, inspired by the possibility of bringing my full presence to the process. Beyond exhaustion and failure, something fresh, easeful, and unexpected can emerge. And in meeting my edge, I can learn something new about myself.”
—Rachel Blackman, Somatic Educator, Embodiment Trainer, and Feldenkrais Practitioner
“This revolutionary, evidence-based fitness program delivers a cascade of physical and mental health benefits. And just as important, its profound, unique incorporation of mindfulness opens the door to a joyful and integrated way of living.”
—Connie Shaw, author of The Tao of Walt Whitman
“Many of us dream of being vital, strong, and healthy into our later years. The darker truth is that we tend to cling to the idea that aging will inevitably rob us of that dream. Deep Fitness blows this myth apart. Its streamlined method is no less than revolutionary, yet its practicality is mind-numbingly easy compared to what we have been doing for exercise for the last 50 years. What Philip Shepherd and Andrei Yakovenko have done in this book will dramatically change how we exercise for our health and vitality. I can say with clarity and truth that my paradigm of what health looks like now and into my old age has changed forever.”
—Pat Carrington-House, owner of DolphinLeadership Inc. and senior faculty of leadership training at the Co-Active Training Institute
“Philip Shepherd is a great master of embodiment. He has wrung his profound insights from a lifetime’s immersion in the mystery of the body, and his work is amongst the most prophetic and practical that we have. In this extraordinary and brilliant new book, Deep Fitness, he and Andrei go far beyond any other book that I have read to propose a completely holistic approach to keeping the body vital, vibrant, and attuned to its Light source. What is especially moving to me about this indispensable book is that it is written in a way that anyone can read and benefit from, and offers precise practices that anyone can do to taste the subtle miracle of real comprehensive health and vigor. I wish this book the most extraordinary success and will recommend it to everyone I know, especially to Sacred Activists so in danger of self-neglect and profound inner and outer stress. Congratulations on this masterpiece.”
—Andrew Harvey, founder of The Institute for Sacred Activism and author of The Hope and The Return of the Mother
Forward by Doug McGuff
About Doug McGuff, M.D.
Author of Body by Science
Doug McGuff, MD became interested in exercise at the age of 15 when he first read Arthur Jones’ Nautilus Training Bulletin No. 2. His interest in exercise and biology led him into a career in medicine.
Throughout his career Dr. McGuff maintained his interest in high intensity exercise. Doug realized a lifelong dream when he opened Ultimate Exercise in November, 1997, where he and his instructors continue to explore the limits of exercise through their personal training of clients.