UKBFF Champion, Clare Barks, gives insight into the key areas of her career and competition preparation, exploring what it takes to perform at the very top of the health and fitness industry.
What are you current health and fitness achievements to date?
I have always been very active and played sports throughout my school years, representing them at county level in sprinting and netball. I have also ran two marathons, one in 2011 and one in 2012. However, my love for the weights room has been with me since I was around 19 years old, so bodybuilding and competing came naturally to me. I started competing for the UKBFF in Bodyfitness/Figure in 2013 and since then have gained the title of British Champion and represented them at an International level.
My competing achievements so far are:
- 3rd Place Southcoast Championships 2013 (Open Class)
- 5th Place British Championships 2013 (Height Class)
- 1st Place Stars of Tomorrow 2013 (Height Class)
- 1st Place UK Nationals 2014 (Open Class)
- 4th Place English Grand Prix 2014 (Open Class)
- 4th Place British Championships 2014 (Height Class)
- 3rd Place UK Nationals 2015 (Open Class)
- 3rd Place Southcoast Championships 2015 (Open Class)
- Top 10 IFBB Arnold's Classic, Madrid 2015 (Height Class)
- 1st Place UKBFF British Championships 2015 (Height Class)
- Top 15 IFBB Amateur Olympia 2015 (Height Class)
- Top 15 IFBB Arnold's Classic, Barcelona 2016 (Height Class)
- 2nd Place UKBFF British Championships 2016 (Height Class)
- 4th Place IFBB Diamond Cup 2016 (Height Class)
Which of your health and fitness achievements has been your most favourite and why?
Gaining the title of UKBFF Bodyfitness British Champion has to be one of my most memorable moments and something I never expected when I first stepped on stage in my first competition 2 years earlier.
What got you inspired and into the fitness-health industry?
I’m a very competitive person and have always loved getting involved in anything that challenged my body and gave me an incentive to beat others. I’m also fascinated by how our bodies work and all things nutrition, so it was inevitable that I would end up in this industry in one way or another.
What is the most rewarding aspect of competing for you?
I love training, so that part of it is a given, but I also love the mental challenge of prep and the discipline it brings. The rewarding part is seeing what I can do with my body each year.
Can you tell us about your experience with your physique competitions and any tips for a first-time competitor?
The advice I would give to anyone wanting to compete is to make sure they have a few years of training behind them, have a good relationship with food and are doing it for themselves and not for sponsorships, likes on Instagram or because they think it’s the ‘done’ thing to do as soon as they start weight training. It’s not easy or glamorous and takes a hell of a lot of self-discipline, motivation, time, money and sacrifice. I’m not saying this to put anyone off, but it takes a certain character to be able to commit and you need to love the lifestyle in order to stick at it. I would also advise anyone to take some time learning about their body, try different training techniques, foods, try dieting by yourself before jumping straight into getting a coach and simply following instructions. This is one of the best things I did and I prepped myself for my first few competitions, which gave me a good foundation of knowledge before progressing to working with other people.
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome to get to where you are today?
Possibly being a working mum and having a partner in the military, which has meant fitting any training and time away for competitions around my family. I’ve always made it work in one way or another.
What is the number one lesson you have learned about health and fitness through your training?
That there are many different ways of doing things and no one way is the ‘right way’. This goes for training and nutrition. There are no absolutes and different things work for different people, but the fun part is finding out what works best for you.
Do you remember your first training session? How different is your training today?
I vaguely remember first entering a gym. I pretty much got stuck straight into the weights. I did, however, do the typical warm up on a cardio machine for about 30-60 mins at the beginning of a workout, which I wouldn’t do now!
Who inspires you? Why?
Many people inspire me. Not necessarily celebrities, but anyone out there kicking ass, doing what they love, helping others and not whinging along the way!
What advice would you give to our PROMiXX® followers who want to get into the best shape of their life?
Have patience. A strong, healthy body takes years to build and sculpt. It won’t come overnight. It will take perseverance, consistency, belief and hard work before you get there.
What is the most important thing guys need to remember when training?
Don’t ego lift. Yes, lift as heavy as you can for you, but with good form and making sure you are actually working the muscle you’re aiming to work. Strength will come in time, but it needs to be progressive.
What is your career highlight and why?
I have many highlights. Seeing any client of mine achieving something new is a massive part of what I love about being a personal trainer. Being able to help others reach their health and fitness goals is a real privilege to be a part of.
How do you conquer nerves on the stage either when you are competing, modelling or your television work?
I need to be on my own. I’m quite withdrawn backstage and go into a little world of my own. I deal with stress better when no one is around me.
What is your favourite body part to train and what are you favourite moves to train it?
Back has to be my favourite body part to train and deadlifts are definitely my favourite exercise.
Can you give us a sample of your weekly workout regime?
I currently do a Legs, Push, Pull, Rest workout split. Legs will be a full day of Legs and some Biceps at the beginning, Push will focus on Chest, Delts and Triceps and Pull will hit Back, Traps and Rear Delts.
What kind of music do you listen to when you are working out?
I have to feel happy when I’m training, I’m not an angry lifter, so any music that makes me feel good. This can vary massively from dance, rap, rock to power ballads!
What does your diet look like when you are trying to get lean?
Protein will always stay consistent and mainly from chicken, eggs, beef and whey. I hate any kind of fish, so that’s a no go. Then carbs will tend to be higher on a training day and usually from things like rice, potato, oats and cereals. Fats will come from oils, avocado, eggs, nut butter. Typical ‘Bro’ foods I guess! The amounts of carbs and fats will probably get reduced as I go into my cut, depending on my cardio output at the time.
What kind of cardio do you like best and why?
I used to love running, but now I like to put a good podcast on and go for an early morning walk before anyone is awake and up.
Do you take any supplements?
Staple supplements that I’ll always take are Whey Protein, Omega 3, Curcumin, Vit D3, Creatine and Multi Vits & Mins. Things like pre workouts I’ll have occasionally, but I do like a strong coffee before training!
What do you have in store for the future?
Who knows! I’d like to expand my PT business when I get more time to put into it. I can see myself always living the training and diet lifestyle that I do now, as it’s part of who I am. The competing side of it just marks points along the way and sets challenges for me to hit, although I’ll always be striving for better on stage for as long as I continue to do it. I want to be a good role model for my children and encourage them to follow their own passions in life to achieve whatever it is they want to.
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