Fat Loss Detour with Nia Shanks.
I’m mixing it up a little today. Instead of the usual tomfoolery that you’re accustomed to (insert Tracy Anderson quote here followed by a sudden urge to put a hole in my head), I’m taking you off the “beaten path” so-to-speak, and sharing an interview I did with strength coach and personal trainer Nia Shanks.
Nia recently released Fat Loss Detour. As you might have guessed from the title, the program is geared towards fat loss. However, unlike most fat loss programs, this one takes a more unconventional approach (albeit the right one) and tells women that they should, you know, lift some freakin weight- among other things.
As someone who trains his fair share of women, not to mention writes roughly 80% of the programming for all the women who train at CP, I think this manual is fantastic. Moreover, I’d go so far as to say that many of the dudes reading this blog could get tremendous results as well. It’s an ass-kicker to say the least.
In any case, enjoy!
TG: Nia, first things first, when are we going to have that deadlift-off?
NS: Well, I’m not entirely sure on the date at this moment, but hopefully in the near future. I’ll be traveling quite a bit next year, so maybe I can take a detour to come visit you at Cressey Performance. One thing is for sure – it will be entertaining!
SIDE NOTE: I included Nia as part of a Miscellaneous post a few months ago when she deadlifted a cool 300 lbs at a bodyweight of 122. Of course, I challenged her to a deadlift off. Stay tuned…….
TG: Okay, lets get down to business- for those who may not be familiar with you or your background, can you tell everyone reading a little more about yourself?
NS: Sure. I first became interested in training when my Mom introduced me to the weight room when I was 16. She has been involved in the fitness industry for almost 30 years now, so I guess you can say I fell into this field naturally.
After that first experience, I became addicted and read anything and everything I could pertaining to weight training, improving performance, and especially training for fat loss. Most people I encountered (and still do) on a daily basis want fat loss results, and so I made it a goal to help them get those results as fast as possible, and in the most stress-free way possible.
You showed a deadlift video of me on your blog previously (linked above), and that was my first powerlifting meet. I set the Southern Powerlifting Federation world record for my division in the push/pull competition. I pulled 300 pounds and bench 145 at a bodyweight of 122.
I also graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in Exercise Physiology. Go Cards!
TG: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Go Cards!?! I’m a Syracuse fan and normally those would be fightin words. But since my high school JV cheerleading team could beat SU in football, I really have no room to talk smack. What got you into the field of strength and conditioning? Do you ever make guys cry because, you know, you’re stronger than them? Be honest.
NS: Well, as I mentioned I truly became addicted with achieving my personal goals and helping my clients achieve theirs. When my clients get the results they want, their reaction is what motivates me to get better and better at what I do.
Having someone tell me that they didn’t think it was possible, they didn’t know it was actually simple, they are no longer stressed and frustrated with losing weight . . . those remarks are what inspire me to keep learning and educating myself so I can continue to serve them the best I can.
As far as making guys cry . . . that’s another story! There have been a few times when a guy will grab the 40 pound dumbbells for a set of bench presses, and then they have a confused look on their face when I grab the 50’s for my set. Fun times.
The most recent incidence occurred a couple of months ago. I was warming up for deadlifts and this guy came over and asked if he could jump in. I agreed as he did a few reps with 135. After that I did about three warm up reps with the 185. He jumped in and did a few as well.
Then I put 225 on the bar for another warm up set, and I think he did one rep as well. After that I put about 275 on the bar. He never came back to do another set.
TG: I uh, had an important meeting I forgot about, Nia. So yeah, you deadlift like 300 lbs (a world record for your weight class I might add), AND you still look like a girl. I thought it was pretty much scientific fact that any girl who lifts a weight more than 10 lbs (or isn’t pink) will inevitably turn into a she-man. What gives?
NS: Ha ha ha. Sarcasm, Tony; I love it.
Well, I “looked like a girl” before that 300 pound deadlift. The next day, however, my traps doubled in size and my legs grew a few inches in diameter. I officially looked like a linebacker.
No, in all seriousness, that is still one of the biggest fitness myths when it comes to women lifting weights and it drives me crazy. When women lift heavy weight with the big compound movements (deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, overhead presses, rows, etc) it only improves their physique, and even their confidence.
To keep this short, I’ll give you this example. A client of mine competes in Mrs. America pageants. These women have to be completely “feminine” since they are not only judged on swim suits, but also evening gowns and other events as well. I trained Tammi (my client) just like I train myself and all of my other female clients – she lifted hard and heavy and did the main exercises I mentioned above.
She blew away the competition. She won the Mrs. Purchase area 06, Mrs. Kentucky USA International 06, placed Top 10 at Mrs. USA International, Mrs. Kentucky America 4th runner up 07, and first runner up 08. She is the prime example that women can (and should!) lift heavy with the basic movements and stay away from machines and the BS “light weights for high reps” non-sense that is so prevalent in magazines.
TG: Great stuff! Lets talk fat loss. Why do most people suck at it?
NS: From my experience, not many people are truly dedicated to their goal. This applies to fat loss, building muscle, getting stronger, making money, and practically everything else in life. It’s easy to say you “want to” do something, but it’s completely different to actually put forth consistent effort
Other than that, most people are following bad advice such as lifting light weights for high reps and using machines instead of free weight and bodyweight exercises.
Another thing that trips a lot of people up is they follow very strict diets/eating patterns that cause them to be stressed and frustrated. For instance, it is still recommended that people should eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day if they want to lose fat.
Well, I used to suggest that as well until I realized how inconvenient it is for a lot of people. Yes, they could force themselves to eat that way, but they were miserable!
People need to stop revolving their lives around working out and eating when it comes to fat loss. Believe it or not, fat loss is actually quite simple, but you still have to commit yourself and take consistent action. Too many internet gurus make fat loss sound so complicated. It really is not at all.
TG: I couldn’t have put that better myself. You recently released Fat Loss Detour. How is this program any different from any other fat loss program you can find on the interwebz?
NS: First of all, I believe it is the first and only complete fat loss program. Every other program gives you the workouts and nutrition information, but they neglect other important areas.
For instance, Fat Loss Detour contains a Warm-Up Manual (created by Mike Robertson). I knew this component was a necessity, so that’s why I asked Mike to create one since here is the ultimate guru in this area. This warm-up provides people with some great mobility and corrective exercises that will allow them to get the most from their works. As you well know, Tony, most people desperately need to include mobility and corrective exercise work, and that’s exactly why it’s included in Fat Loss Detour.
Furthermore, Fat Loss Detour also has a Motivation Guide. I’ve asked my blog readers and clients what they need when it comes to achieving fat loss. The answer was overwhelming motivational information. So to fill this need I contacted one of my previous college professors and she contributed to this portion. I really think this component is going to be a huge benefit.
You might be wondering about the “Detour” part of Fat Loss Detour. It is just that – a detour for achieving fat loss. By following the information and workouts with Fat Loss Detour, you are not directly training for fat loss. Instead you focus on improving your performance. Fat loss just becomes a wonderful side effect.
Finally, Fat Loss Detour is completely flexible – from the workouts to nutrition. It is centered around my motto: revolve your workouts and eating habits around your life, not vice versa.
TG: I love you. I mean, moving on. We all know there are a million and one (only a slight exaggeration) myths concerning women and weight training. Which one (or all of them) make you want to take your keyboard and slam it across someone’s face the most?
NS: I’ll pick the most annoying two myths:
First, as you agree I’m sure, is the notion that women should not lift heavy or else they’ll get “big and bulky”. Most of my female clients had this concern in the back of their mind when we first started training.
After a few weeks and months of training, they are all very happy with their results. They get stronger, they get leaner, their confidence increased, and they looked amazing. And something I find interesting – the vast majority of women love lifting heavy once they get a taste of it.
All I have to say is this: Ladies, put down the pink dumbbells . . . it degrades us all. Get in the weight room and see the potential you truly have.
Second, I still don’t like how most women think they should only do isolation exercises such as curls, kick-backs, leg extensions, leg curls, inner/out thigh machine, etc.
Women need to realize that doing a (proper!) set of squats will do more for their legs and butt than every leg machine combined, and that doing a set of push-ups will benefit their triceps to a greater extent than dozens of sets of triceps kick-backs, and that building up to negative chin-ups and bodyweight chin-ups are better for their biceps than curls. I’ll stop now because I think you get the point. ; )
TG: No need to apologize, I wish we had more professionals like you out there to filter out the stupid. So, I don’t know if you realize this, but you’re officially my first interview, ever. Hope it wasn’t too painful! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to talk some shop. Where can my readers find out more information about you?
NS: Thanks, Tony. I truly enjoyed it and I’m honored to be your first interview!