An interview with IFBB Pro Shannon Courtney

Oct 29 2015

Shannon Courtney
Age: 23 | Mother of 4 year old boy

I started getting an interest for competing in 2010 while working as a personal trainer at a Gold's Gym. At that time I was a competing in cross country and track for a local college. Because of the intense running I was doing on an injured Achilles, I was forced to rest a track season. Me being me I couldn't just rest, I needed something else in the meantime. I had always been in great shape, always had abs, and genetically held more muscle mass.

My boyfriend at the time was prepping for a show and since I had extra time, why not do it with him? I did an 8 week prep for The Fresno Classic in the figure category and placed almost last. I was too lean and held too much muscle, I looked like a lightweight bodybuilder. Everyone tried convincing me to switch to bodybuilding but I didn't want to listen. The female bodybuilders were not appealing to me, but because of my genetics and the way I loved to train, that's where my physique fit.

Before I could do another show I became pregnant with my son. Within 3 weeks of having him I was back in the gym and prepping for a show. I stepped on stage 6 months later and placed 2nd in figure but it was out of two girls. So, basically I placed last.

When the new division women's physique came out, I thought it would be the perfect division for me. I started prepping for the new category for The Governors Cup 2012. My physique was at its best it had ever been, but they had placed me 11th out of 13 because I was still 'too big'. I was told to down size or move into the bodybuilding division where I would finally get a placing I deserved. I finally made the switch and did my first bodybuilding show 5 weeks after The Governors Cup and won the overall. 

After winning I started my goal of getting my pro card at the USA's that same year. At the USA's of 2012 I placed 3rd in the lightweights, then the following year at the USA's I won my pro card. I have done one pro show, Tampa 2013 and placed 7th out of 35.

iFN- You have a very unique look because although you have a lot of muscle you have been able to maintain an overall look that most people can truly appreciate. Not just because you are such a feminine woman with muscle, but also because you have sculpted an extremely balanced physique. Our question is what do you feel was your secret to building your physique as it is? Do you feel you were extra focused on maintaining a balanced look and set up your training in a way to keep that balance or did that have more to do with a genetic disposition for great muscularity everywhere? 

SC-  When I am training I don't just go into the gym and "kill it!" or go "beast mode". I think about what improvements I need for each muscle group and how I am going to go about targeting the muscle group better. I make sure I am always hitting every angle of the muscle. While compound movements are the base of a training foundation it is not completely hitting all angles of the muscle. I incorporate a lot of isolated movements and focus on the contraction and not the weight. My goal is always to get as much blood into the muscle as possible. Now, about my legs- although I do have some pretty intense leg workouts, I have always had big quads. 

iFN-  Two part question... What is/was your favorite part about being a competitive female bodybuilder? Now how about your least favorite part?

SC- Honestly, it's all about the training for me... And food. I love to train hard and eat big. My least favorite part would be some of the creepy schmoes I have come a crossed. 

iFN- In your experience are most people very respectful to a woman with muscle or do you find some negativity? If there is anything negative what advice would you give to a woman coming up that wants to have more than the average amount of muscle on how to keep a positive outlook and not to lose her love for the sport due to naysayers?

SC- There's a lot of respectful people but also the ones who can't appreciate it because they have no knowledge of the hard work that goes into it. My advice would be that there is always someone out there who's not going to like you or appreciate your goals, those are the ones who shouldn't make any impact on you doing you. It's your life, do what makes you happy. 

iFN- It is our understanding that your focus has shifted into a new competitive arena these days. What are you doing now? Can you explain what brought you to this new venture?

SC- I have stepped away from the stage for now since female bodybuilding is no longer part of the IFBB and is a dead division. I have went back to my roots of running with a new twist of strength, Spartan Racing. This type of racing allows me to have both worlds I love, strength training and endurance.

iFN- How has your training changed since switching your focus from professional bodybuilding to Spartan Racing?

SC-  I have had to change up my training some to incorporate more endurance training on the track and on the trails. I still love to throw around some heavy weights 3 days a week and instead of focusing on one muscle group I focus on two.    

iFN- We know you are a huge proponent of iForce's COMPETE!. Why is this such an important supplement for you and is it something that you would suggest for any athlete or just specific types of athletes?

SC- COMPETE! was actually the very first product of IFN I had tried and was hooked right away. The reason why I love COMPETE! and is always a staple in my supplement regimen is because it helps me perform at my best, by keeping me mentally focused, physically feeling good (energy), and hydrated throughout the day. The amount of L- Carnitine it has is amazing. Literally a perfect product. 

iFN- Are you retired from professional bodybuilding or are you just doing other things at the moment?

SC- I won't say I'm completely retired but as of right now. I'm focusing on a new adventure and getting back to something I love doing. Depending on where my physique is at I may do a physique show in the future. 

iFN- What are your goals as an athlete for this year?

SC- My goals this year is to see how far I can improve in the Spartan Racing world. I will be racing July 18, 2015, in San Francisco at the Spartan Sprint for my second race.

As far as my physique goals, I plan to always keep improving. I am not 'downsizing' although the type of running I am doing now may alter my size some but that is not my focus.

iFN-  Thank you so much for taking the time to get us this inside look into your training life. Is there anyone you would like to thank or any words or advice or encouragement you would like to offer the iForce Nation?

SC- THANK YOU so much to iForce Nutrition for being such an amazing and trustworthy supplement company and sponsor. I would also like to thank my other two sponsors PFS Meals for all the awesome meals they provide me and Violate the Dress Code for my killer wardrobe. 


Words of encouragement and advice... Be YOU. Whatever you do in life, do it with your heart because that can't be replicated.



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