Name: Shaka Smith
Weight: 165lbs lbs
How did you get into bodybuilding/fitness?
I grew up primarily playing swimming and water polo competitively. I also found time for soccer and track, as well, but it wasn’t until college that I was exposed to the weight room with the swim team. I wasn’t a fan and didn’t really understand the benefit especially since the soreness I felt hindered my performance in the water (at the time I was clueless and didn’t know how to balance weight training with swimming). Fast forward to moving to California in January 2011 – by this time I had been used to lifting weights which I turned to after college when I didn’t have sports to keep me in shape. I really wanted to do more in the fitness industry and didn’t know how to go about it until a good friend of mine who had been in the industry really encouraged me to compete and taught me how to train even more deliberately than I had in the past.
By April of that 2011 I competed in my first physique competition – I expected nothing and ended up winning my class at the NPC Orange County Classic.
I ended up doing 11 shows in 11 months – needless to say, I was addicted and haven’t looked back since!!
Where does your motivation come from?
Fitness is simply addicting. I feel better when I’m in great shape and know that I am ensuring a better future for myself, my family and future children. After competing, I also realized I was helping others with their fitness journey and that really added fuel to my fire. I have friends I have made along the way who I am so inspired by that tell me they were inspired by me to start and achieve their best. At the end of the day we all feed off each other’s motivation – surround yourself with the right people and the motivation starts to come easy!
For someone who has achieved a lot already what would you say is your proudest achievements so far?
This question is always the hardest to answer – I feel like I have barely scratched the surface.
Winning my overall awards were extremely special moments for me, but I probably have to go back to that first competition. As ready as I was to compete, that moment right before going on stage – that feeling that all your hard work for months and really years, comes down to a few minutes on stage – it was mentally challenging – part of me wanted to go running and forget the whole thing. Finding the courage to just step on stage was my proudest moment. I was no longer talking about competing or entering the game of fitness, I was finally doing it – it was a big leap for me.
How do you keep the intensity up in your workouts?
I think varying my workouts helps a lot for me. I know it doesn’t work for everyone but I don’t have a specific routine – I don’t go into the gym with a plan. A plan doesn’t work for me – I listen to my body and decide what to work once I get in the gym. Having no set plan, is what keeps up my intensity – the gym is like my playground and daily I get to choose what I’m going to have fun with.
What diet regime has worked out best for you?
I incorporate several different principles into the way I eat. For me, it was never about a particular diet but a sustainable way of eating for the rest of my life. I lean very heavily on the glycemic index and try to keep most of my food on the low to medium GI scale. However, I believe in enjoying food and if I “cheat” ( I hate this word when it comes to simply eating food you enjoy) I employ intermittent fasting. Depending on the level of cheating, I won’t eat for 10-16 hours which is why I mainly save those rare meals for night – easier to employ intermittent fasting if you’re asleep for most of it!
What workout plan has worked out best for you?
Though I have no set routines, I do employ low weight, high rep training and crossfit style workouts. A few years ago, I had a friend who was training to become a Navy SEAL and introduced me to crossfit. I was sold on the principle of functional muscle and loved training in this style. I also read a few years back that Arnold would shake up his training by employing low weights and high reps once in awhile. I tried it and found I looked better and my conditioning really went to another level. So I took the opposite approach – every few months I shake up my training by lifting heavy 2-3 weeks.
What is your supplementation like?
Daily, I drink Shakeology, a vegan meal replacement protein shake. Leading up to competition I take a non-caffeine pre-workout and beta-alanine 2-3 weeks out, and 3 days to 1 week out before a photoshoot. I currently use CNP pre-workout and CNP Beta – Alanine during these periods.
How do you deal with cravings for junk foods, salty foods and sweets?
I fill my diet with so much good and healthy food, I rarely crave the bad stuff – if you’re full it’s easier to avoid.
I never buy any unhealthy food in anything other than a single serving package – I don’t like to keep these foods in my house so when I crave them I only buy them in single servings so it’s nothing I have to contend with in the house later.
And most importantly if I really want it, I have it. I have done the deny the craving thing before and found myself daydreaming about what I forewent for days and cheating in greater fashion than I would have. At the end of the day it is important to have balance.
Do you have any advice for beginners getting into fitness?
First, surround yourself with positive people, whether its people you know in your life or people on social networks – the company you keep makes a huge difference when it comes to fitness and the last thing you need in what can be a difficult journey is the negativity of others around you.
Second, do not listen without doing your own due diligence. What works for me may not work for you – you get so much information from so many credible and responsible sources, but we are all different and despite the advice and the source you may find it has different applicability to you, so do your research and watch your body and progress. You have to be present in your journey, not just following what others tell you will work.
Do you have any idols or people you look up to for inspiration?
So many, my mom of course, who has been a singular inspiration to me, and in the industry Arnold, James Ellis who helped me start competing, and other friends who compete and clients who have inspired me with their own hard work. Its inspirational to see those around me achieve their goals and its far more profound when those goals aren’t just to compete or be in the industry but to get diabetes in check or get off cholesterol medication; that’s what inspires me most.
Do you bulk and cut or stay lean all year round?
I stay lean year round. When I do bulk, I clean bulk in a way that keeps me lean, so the gains may be slower but I remain lean throughout.
Fun Quick Questions For Our Readers
Favourite color? Black
Favourite food? Red velvet anything
Favourite TV Show? Damages (my current Netflix obsession)
Favourite movie? Ahh I have so many – we’ll go with Stand By Me
Favourite Band/Artist? Currently, Lil Wayne – he’s just fun to listen to
Do you have any pets? Nope can’t have two animals in the house lol
Thanks to Lifestyle & Strength, I really appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed!