Interview with Nia Shanks

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February 2013-

How’s it going ladies and gents! Today we have a special guest on the DDT blogsite, this woman is a true inspiration to others in the fitness industry. She has been through ups and downs in her fitness journey. She has fought for what is hers. She has a no BS mentality when it comes to training and nutrition. She is strong! Ladies and gents…Please give your undivided attention to Nia Shanks and get ready to learn a thing or two!

DDT: Could you give us a little background info on who Nia Shanks is?

Nia: I’m a strength and conditioning coach with a degree in exercise physiology from the University of Louisville. (Go Cards! Did you see the whoopin’ they put on the Gators? Awesomeness).

I’ve been strength training for over 10 years and I also love ski-boarding, hiking, and other outdoor activities and adventures. And for some other random information, I’m a chronic moonwalker and one of my favorite meals is shrimp ‘n grits.

Finally, I’m all about teaching and promoting simple, no nonsense workout and nutrition information that delivers maximum results in minimum time.

DDT: That was indeed a pretty awesome game! We have a lot of female followers and clientele. In your experience as a personal trainer and individual training, can you please explain the benefits to lifting heavy weights and how this myth of getting bulky must be put to rest?

Nia: Lifting heavy weights via compound exercises and constantly improving one’s performance has proven, at least in my experience, to be the best way for women to build the physique they want. It’s also a tremendous way to boost your self-confidence. Once my clients can perform their first bodyweight chin-up or deadlift 1.5 times their bodyweight, they’re noticeable more confident in the gym and everyday life.

The myth that weight lifting makes women big ‘n bulky will always be around. My clients and I just lead by example and prove that it’s just a horrible myth.

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DDT: That’s great how your clients carry over the gym confidence into their everyday lives. Why do you feel that most women are unsuccessful with their goals when it comes to training and nutrition?

Nia: Many women follow stressful, impractical workout routines and diets. They attempt to do a complete overhaul and revolve their lives around going to the gym and the meals they’ll eat.

The result is they quit after a while because that kind of a schedule can’t be maintained long-term.

Instead they need to set themselves up for success by following a workout program and nutrition regimen that’s tailored to their lifestyle, goals, and preferences.

DDT: Tailoring training and nutrition programs to their lifestyle, goals, and preferences is key! What’s your favorite body part to work out? And what’s your current training split look like?

Nia: I don’t have a favorite body part to work out, but I do have favorite exercises. Lately I’ve been doing primarily bodyweight workouts to recover from an injury I sustained last year.

My favorite exercises right now include all types of chin-ups, push-ups, and handstand push-ups. Unfortunately I haven’t been doing much barbell squatting lately because of my nagging back issues, so I’ve been doing things like lunges, leg curls, and leg presses since they don’t cause me any issues whatsoever.

I don’t have a “split” or set routine I’m following right now. About once or twice a year I’ll go through a period of about two weeks where I just do whatever I want when I show up to the gym. This allows me to just have fun and do some exercises I normally wouldn’t.


DDT: We definitely know about injuries, they always suck. We know you are very strong. What are your best lifts in the gym?

Nia: My best lifts are as follows.

Sumo deadlift – 300 x 3

Sumo deadlift – 330 x 1

Handstand push-ups

Squat with 1.5 times my bodyweight


DDT: Have you ever considered doing a figure competition or powerlifting meet?

Nia: No, I have no interest in doing a figure competition. I competed in a push/pull Southern Powerlifting meet a few years ago and set the world record for my division with a 145 pound bench press and 300 pound deadlift. I don’t have any plans to compete in the future.

DDT: Those are some solid numbers there. At times life throws challenges at you to test your mental toughness and heart as a person. What has been your biggest challenge in life and how did you overcome it?

Nia: Well, my biggest challenge was very personal and something I don’t discuss. But, there’s always a lesson to be learned.

I’ll always make mistakes and face various trials, but I make it a point to learn from my mistakes and grow stronger. As long as you come out stronger and more knowledgeable, then that’s all that matters. You can’t stop bad things from happening, but you can determine how those instances affect you as a person.

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DDT: We couldn’t agree more with what you just said. What kind of advice can you give to an aspiring female who’s barely beginning their journey in training and nutrition?

Nia: Don’t be afraid to do what works for YOU, no matter what’s popular at the time. What works for your best friend may not work for you when it comes to working out and nutrition.

Other than that, keep things as simple as possible, first and foremost. Stick to the basics and master them, and strip things down to the simplest guidelines, especially with nutrition.

DDT: Love the sticking to the basics mindset. We will leave you with this question. What does Nia like to do for fun?

Nia: My favorite recreational activity is ski-boarding. I love being outdoors in the cold, crisp air with snow falling all around me as I blast down a mountain. There’s nothing better.

DDT: Where can our readers go if they want to start following you and reading more of your work?

Nia: They can check me out at my website HERE

They can also join in the fun on the Lift Like a Girl Facebook page HERE

DDT: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, we really appreciate it!


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