Nia Shanks’ K.I.S.S. Strength Training | Workouts and Programs


Hi everyone,

Hope you are all having a great weekend!  It’s a quiet one for me, that will be spent working and resting.  I did a killer Complex Workout yesterday that I will post over the next day or two … you will hate me for it!

*Swift change of subject before anyone notices there is another Killer Complex Workout coming soon*

Today, I have a treat for you. Fellow Girls Gone Strong Co-Founder and Beautiful Badass Nia Shanks (aka PBB) has written a fantastic article on Strength Training, with sample workout and programming tips below. She needs no introduction around here, as you’ll see in a minute, Nia loves to make an entrance 😉 I’ll hand over to Nia.

I’m about to rock your world.

Are you ready?

Check this out.


Yep, I just rocked your world. (Marianne loves my moonwalk, whether she admits it or not, so I couldn’t resist including it here). [NOTE FROM Marianne: HELL YEAH, I LOVE IT!]

Okay, all joking aside, let’s get into the meat ‘n taters of this article.

I’m going to share with you some simple strength training workouts you can use to compliment some of Marianne’s metabolic/conditioning routines posted here at Myomytv. However, before we get to the workouts, I’ll break things down so you understand they “why” and “how” behind the workouts.

Focus on Strength
With the following workouts, your sole focus is on getting stronger. The key to getting stronger is training with basic exercises and using heavy weight. And I don’t want you to worry about burning calories or any of that non-sense.

When it comes to the following workouts, you focus on getting stronger, and nothing else. This is the driving force behind my Beautiful Badass programs, and you’ll employ the same method here. Not only is it more enjoyable then focusing on fat loss, but it works, and it works very well.

The easiest way to accomplish the goal of “get stronger” is to increase the weight most workouts or perform more reps with the same weight. For example, if you deadlift 200 pounds for five reps the first week, you have a couple of options when week two rolls around:

1) Increase the weight five pounds (205) and perform five reps
2) Keep the weight the same (200 pounds) and perform six reps

Either way you’re improving your performance, and that’s what matters.

Keep It Simple
I thrive on simplicity when it comes to training and nutrition. Why complicate things when you can get the same, or better, results with a lot less stress?
Let me show you how to apply the K.I.S.S. principle with strength training.

The Tools
You’ll be using some of my favorite training tools – barbells, dumbbells, and your bodyweight.

That’s it. Simple, right?

The Exercises
Big, compound movements are the bread and butter of these workouts. You’ll be squatting, deadlifting, pressing, and rowing.

Gaining strength on these basic exercises will provide the most bang for your training buck.

The Rep Range
If you want to get strong, you have to lift heavy. Keep the weight in the 5-9 rep range.

Oh, and I should mention that the weight you use for the 5-9 rep range should be challenging! For instance, if you’re going to perform sets of five reps, make sure you’re not using a weight that allows you to perform eight or more reps.

You must challenge yourself with an appropriate load.

That means working hard with a heavy weight that would allow you to complete one, or two, more reps but no more. For example, if you’re performing sets of five reps, you should use a weight that allows you to perform six, but absolutely no more, than seven perfect reps.

Demonstration Video
Here is a clip from a workout I did last weekend. This is a sample total body workout that you can complete in about 30 minutes.

If you performed that same strength training workout – trap bar deadlifts, parallel bar dips, and one arm dumbbell rows – you’d work practically every muscle in your body in a very short period of time.

Simple Program Set-up
A simple, bare-bones approach to setting up a total body training day would be to include one of each of the following elements.

1) Lower body lift
2) Upper body push
3) Upper body pull

If you perform three exercises that fit into those categories, you’ll get in a great strength training workout (as shown in the above video).

To ensure your training is balanced, I prefer to break this template down even further.

Sample Training Day #1
1) Lower body lift – hip dominant (example: Romanian deadlifts)
2) Vertical press (example: barbell shoulder press)
3) Vertical pull (neutral grip chin-ups)

Sample Training Day #2
1) Lower body lift – quad dominant (example: front squat)
2) Horizontal press (example: push-ups)
3) Horizontal pull (example: one arm dumbbell row)

This way you train most of the movement planes and hit all muscle groups.

Putting It All Together
Now that you know a simple way to set up your strength training workouts, I’ll give you a sample strength training session using the above information.

Sample Workout
1) Deadlift – 3×5 (3 sets, 5 reps)
2a) Parallel Bar Dips – 3×6-8
2b) One Arm Dumbbell Row – 3×7-9

Note: that does not include warm-ups.

I recommend performing the deadlifts as straights sets. You can, however, superset them with something like single leg calf raises. This is what I do as it allows me to get in some isolation work while I rest.

After you complete all three sets of deadlifts, move on to the superset of dips and rows. Perform one set of dips, then rest as long as needed, and perform a set of rows. Repeat until you complete a total of three sets for each exercise.

Three exercises for a total of nine work sets; that’s all you’ve gotta do. While it make look easy, make sure you push yourself and use a challenging weight for your work sets.

Random Notes
• I would prefer to include more direct glute and hamstring work, but that is easily accomplished with the workouts Marianne provides in the form of hip thrusts, glute bridges, lunges, etc. As previously stated, the purpose of the sample workouts is to increase your strength on some basic compound exercises.

• Some exercises may not be appropriate for you. For example, if you have poor thoracic mobility or any existing shoulder issues, you may want to eliminate overhead pressing and substitute another horizontal push (push-ups, dumbbell presses, etc).

• “Beach work” – sometimes it’s fun to include some isolation exercises like curls, extensions, and lateral raises. If you like this kinda stuff, then feel free to do it. I like to allow no more than 10 minutes at the end of a strength training session. Take those 10 minutes to perform your “beach work”, but no more.

• Use exercise variations that work for you. For example, if you’re not comfortable squatting or have other issues, use an appropriate substitution like front squats. Don’t force square pegs in round holes.

• Train smart. I encourage you to lift heavy and challenge yourself, but always make sure you use proper form and safety precautions. When benching and squatting, a power rack with safety bars is your best friend.

Have fun Y’all!

~ Nia Shanks


The Original Beautiful Badass

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  • June 3, 2012

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