Politically Incorrect Fat Loss – How to Finally Lose Fat

picBeing kind and sugar-coating things doesn’t always get the point across when talking strength training, nutrition, and definitely fat loss.

So today, I’m going to be politically incorrect, because the other way isn’t getting through to some people.

It’s time for tough love.

You’ve been warned.

“I’m just not losing fat that I think I should. I’m really determined to get rid of this flab on my stomach,” she said while grabbing and pinching her waist.

“I’ve been going to the gym four times per week for over a month now. Shouldn’t I have noticed something?” she continued as I popped the top off my last PumpkinHead Ale from Shipyard Brewery.

She asked, “Nia, what am I doing wrong?” as I took my first sip.

I almost forgot how delicious that seasonal beer was. Glad I found it hidden in the fridge. My mind quickly wandered back to the previous summer when I was in Portland, Maine and visited Shipyard. They were in the process of bottling up the PumpkinHead seasonal ale when I stopped by for a tour and taste test.

“Are you even listening?” she said sharply.

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Beautiful Badass Workout Finishers (Guest Post)

clock-in-fire.dreamstimeHowdy, y’all! I posted a guest article from my friend, Mike Whitfield — The Ultimate Workout Grand Finale — a while back. Apparently y’all really enjoyed his workout finishers, so I asked him to share some more. This time, they are specifically “Beautiful Badass Workout Finishers”. Sweet. 

Enjoy!

Hey, I’m Mike Whitfield and I used to be a whole lotta’ man (that’s the politically correct way of saying I used to be really, really large).

This is a big year for me, and it will be big for you, too. Ten years ago, I decided to shed some weight as I was about 300 pounds. I jumped on the New Year bandwagon, but set some long term goals to keep me going.

My goal was to hit 50 pounds by the time I went on vacation 6 months later.

I nailed it by hitting 75 in just 6 months. Since then, I’ve dropped another 30 pounds and have been able to keep it off. Yes, that’s 105 pounds. And this is the 10th year I’ve lived a healthier lifestyle.

Now if you’re like me, you probably have tried to change your body by hitting the “cardio” pretty hard and failed miserably… at least I did. (Nia — this is a common mistake many trainees make when their goal is fat loss; they rely too heavily on cardio).

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Women CAN’T Do Pull-ups (Guest Post)

IMG_0419 (640x480)Howdy, everyone! I’m excited to bring you a terrific guest post by fellow Beautiful Badass Shawna Kaminski.

Here’s an awesome fact about Shawna – she can do more pull-ups than most men I know. And she’s almost 50. Shawna’s a serious badass!

Got your attention didn’t I?

It’s true. According to the New York Times and a study from the University of Daytona, women CAN’T do pull ups. Researchers came up with all kinds of reasons for the fact that in this particular study, exercise physiologists were unsuccessful in getting their subjects to achieve an unassisted pull up. Clearly if these ‘experts’ couldn’t get this group of 17 women to do at least ONE pull up, it’s fair to assume that NO WOMAN should be able to do a pull up ever. Right?

Go ahead, sit back down on the couch girls. The experts have spoken.

Oh dear, I need to go find my pull up bar and knock out a few sets. Even though I’d be the least likely candidate to be able to do multiple sets of multiple reps of pull ups…

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Muscle Sculpting Workout Tips Part 2

jillpic3
That’s my friend, Jill Coleman, of JillFitPhysiques.com

If you missed Muscle Sculpting Workout Tips Part 1, be sure to read that for the first five muscle sculpting tips.

Today we’ll cover five more muscle sculpting tips you can apply to your workouts to start adding sexy muscle in all the right places.

High(er) Frequency

When the goal is building muscle, most trainees turn to a 4-6 day per week bodybuilding split where each body part has it’s own day and is trained once a week. For example, many splits have an entire workout dedicated to a single muscle group. A generic layout with five workout days could be like this:

  • Day 1 – Chest
  • Day 2 – Back
  • Day 3 – Shoulders
  • Day 4 – Arms
  • Day 5 – Legs

With this example, each body part is trained only once per week but typically with several exercises for each body part. For instance, barbell bench press, dumbbell incline bench press, and dumbbell flyes for chest day.

There are several reasons I prefer, and recommend, total body or upper/lower splits when the goal is building muscle. First, you can cut down your workout days to 3-4 per week; this is much more practical for most trainees. Second, I prefer to train a muscle more frequently instead of blasting it in a single session so it receives a stimulus more often.

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Muscle Sculpting Workout Tips Part 1

jillc
That’s Jill Coleman of JillFitPhysiques.com

Muscle sculpting.

Muscle building.

I prefer the term “muscle sculpting”  since the objective, as the definition implies, is to “change the shape or contour of” the body; and it’s fitting because the human body is truly a work of art. Plus, I’m not gonna lie, it just sounds a lot better. Call it whatever you prefer, but this article contains workout tips for women who want to add sexy muscle in all the right places.

What are the “right places”? Generally (at least for my female clients) that means focusing on the shoulders, lats, thighs, and glutes. Not only do building up these muscles make for a nice strong, athletic looking physique, but they also make the waist line look smaller. It’s a little “illusion” trick. Think about it; if you add muscle to your shoulders, glutes, and thighs, and your waist stays the same, it will automatically look smaller. This is a win-win.

Let’s get into Part 1 of Muscle Sculpting Tips for Women Who Want to Sculpt Sexy Muscle and discuss the first five tips you can use to start sculpting some muscle.

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The Reason You May Not be Getting Results & What to do about It

“If you want to lose body fat, you have to eat this way and you have to workout this way.”

“If you want to build muscle, you have to eat this way and you have to train this way.”

The fitness and nutrition world is an interesting place. The latest and greatest fad surfaces on a frequent basis with high promises of allowing you to “finally lose the weight”, or “build muscle”, or whatever desire you have when it comes to your body composition.

Many methods (fad, or not) can be portrayed in a way that people think they absolutely have to follow that nutrition method, or training program, if they want results. Oftentimes this leads people to apply a certain method that may not be appropriate for them because other people are experiencing great results.

You don’t have to do what’s popular or what other experts swear by if that method doesn’t fit your lifestyle and personality.

Here’s my primary rule when it comes to working out and nutrition – the approach you use shouldn’t put too much stress on you, nor should it require you to revolve your life around it. Now, there may be a time when you want to get strict and accomplish a goal, but these should be for predetermined periods of time; it should not go on for months and years.

When it comes to strength training and nutrition, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all-approach that will work for everyone.

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High Intensity Low Volume & Low Intensity High Volume Strength Training. When & How to Use Both for Great Results

hihvtI really like high intensity low volume training when you push every set brutally hard but you only do a few sets (sometimes only one) for each exercise.

I also like lower intensity and higher volume training when you keep several reps “in the tank” and perform many more sets for each exercise.

Both types have their pros and cons, and each can be incorporated into a training program to achieve your performance and physique goals, albeit not simultaneously. In fact, I use both methods in the Muscle Sculpting Program and believe that’s one of the reasons it’s so effective.

You must know that you can’t incorporate both at the same time without risking injury and quick burn-out. Let’s quickly discuss what High Intensity Low Volume and Low Intensity High Volume training is along with the pros and cons of each method.

High Intensity Low Volume Training 

What It Is

“High intensity low volume training” has various definitions. For some it may mean doing a single rest/pause set on many exercises. To another it could mean a single all out set to failure a la the Mike Mentzer and Author Jones method of high intensity training (HIT). And still to others it could mean doing Reverse Pyramid Training or just two all out sets per exercise.

Either way, it usually means keeping the total volume per muscle group very low and pushing sets to, or extremely close to, muscle failure.

For example, let’s say you’re going to do a rest/pause set of chin-ups. You’ll perform a set to failure (I define failure as stopping the set when another rep with perfect form isn’t possible), rest about 30 seconds, do another set to failure, rest 30 seconds, and do a third and final set to failure. That’s the only set you do for that exercise with this method of high intensity low volume training.

You could also do one all out set to failure (as defined above), take some weight off the bar and do the same thing for a second set.

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5 Training Techniques to Shake Up Your Workouts – Part 2

workoutboringLast week was Part 1 of 5 Training Techniques to Shake Up Your Workouts. We covered two – Rest/Pause training and Ladders – out of the first five in that article.

Let’s get to the last three methods you can use for a change of pace, to get off the boredom-train, or to break through a plateau.

Total Reps Based on Speed 

I’m not sure if there’s a more formal title for this method, but I first read about this training technique from Chad Waterbury used in his book Huge in a Hurry (obviously the target audience is men, but women can use the same workouts with success and not get “huge”. Overall, excellent book).

To employ this method, establish a total rep target based on your goal. For instance, let’s say your goal is hypertrophy, so a good total rep target would be 40 reps. You would start with your 10 rep maximum and achieve 40 total reps. Instead of doing the typical 4×10, you would stop every set when your rep speed slows down, and you take as many sets as needed to achieve 40 total reps. There’s no grinding out reps with this method, and this is a great change of pace for people who push every set to the limit. Whenever your rep speed slows down, you’re done with that set.

Here’s an example assuming 135 pounds is your 10 rep max on squats.

Squat — 135 pounds (10 rep max), target of 40 total reps

  • Set #1 — 9 reps
  • Set #2 — 9 reps
  • Set #3 — 8 reps
  • Set #4 — 7 reps
  • Set #5 — 7 reps

In this case, it took you 5 total sets to get 40 reps. Remember, you stop each set when your speed on the last rep is noticeably slower.

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5 Training Techniques to Shake Up Your Workouts – Part 1

Untitled 0 00 51-17By “shake up” your workouts I’m in no way referring to the infamous “Shake Weight”, so don’t even think about it. That’s not a valid exercise or training technique, no matter how you do it.

Anyway . . .

love the basic barbell and bodyweight exercises and their variations.

These basic exercises have been staples of my workouts for months:

  • Squats TO a box (pictured above)
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Push-ups
  • Handstand push-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Inverted rows

I primarily workout at home since I have a barbell set, power-rack, a couple kettlebells, and Jungle Gym. It’s all I need to accomplish my training and physique goals.

And because I’m limited with the exercises I perform, I have to use various training techniques to shake things up from time to time, and to keep making progress. And also to keep boredom from creeping in.

Before I share the training techniques I use in my own training, I must state that I’m not claiming to have created anything new; all of the methods I’m going to discuss are techniques I’ve learned elsewhere. I’ll do my best to credit each individual who I learned the method from with the respective training methods.

Give these techniques a shot if you’re getting bored with your current workouts or you want to bust through a plateau.

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The Ultimate Workout Grand Finale (Guest Post)

finaleToday is a guest post courtesy of my friend, Mike Whitfield, of WorkoutFinishers.com. He is the ultimate jedi-master of  “finishers”, and I’ve been playing with many of them lately in my own training since I’m all about keep things simple, short, but very effective. Also, he’s lost 105 pounds! How awesome is that? And finally, he  has as special offer exclusive to the readers of NiaShanks.com, but you’ll have to wait until the end of the article to see what it is. Anyway, I’ll hand things over to Mike now. Enjoy!


It’s hard to believe that in just a few short months, I’ll be approaching my ten-year anniversary of dropping 105 pounds.

Now before I continue, I want to be clear that my before picture was indeed NOT stretched in photoshop (I had somebody ask me that one time).

Shamefully, it’s just me after a typical day of soda and an iced honeybun for breakfast, a super-sized lunch and a frozen pizza along with ice cream for dinner. I’m guessing I consumed around 5,000 – 10,000 calories a day. I still remember my grandfather coming up to me one time and asking, “Mike, do you know Jenny Craig?”, and I replied with, “A little bit”. He then responded with, “You ought to get to know her”.

Well played Paw-Paw… very well played.

Anyway, that is behind me. I’ve moved on and dropped 105 pounds and have kept it off  (that’s the key). I LOVE working out, but I don’t live in the gym either. No one needs to obsess about working out and losing fat. Enjoy the journey… that was by far the biggest key to my success. (Nia — I agree 100%. If you’re not enjoying the journey, then you must change things up now).

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