Bodybuilding Competition Prep: Chiara Gribble WFF UK Open, NABBA Northwest & NABBA British Finals Athletic Class

The following article is a exclusive


  • Name: Chiara Gribble
  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’2”
  • Off season weight: 130-135lbs
  • Stage weight: 111lbs
  • Instagram: @chiara.g82

Recent competitions and placing:

  • April 30th 2016 – WFF UK Open – 1st Place Athletic class and Ladies Overall winner
  • May 21st 2016 – NABBA Northwest – 1st Place Athletic class – Britain Finals invitation
  • May 28th 2016 – NABBA Britain Finals – 4th Place Athletic class

When will you next be competing?

I will be competing again in April/May 2017, Athletic class in both NABBA Northwest and WFF UK Open. I will also be hoping to qualify again for the NABBA Brits, and as they are introducing the Athletic class to NABBA Universe from 2017, will be aiming for a Universe invite too.

How did you get started with bodybuilding?

  • I’d been to a watch a few competitions and it did interest me, but I was studying at the time alongside working, so once studies had finished, I started training with the goal of competing.
  • I had also suffered from long term health issues when younger and once I was back to full health, wanted to make the most if it as I won’t ever take my health for granted.
  • I have also always suffered from confidence issues, and bodybuilding has helped me deal with this in certain ways.

Who has your goal physique?

I do admire Dana Linn Bailey, to me she has the perfect physique.

Were you athletic growing up?

No, not at all, I hated PE at school, and wasn’t interested in sports. I wasn’t unfit, but didn’t have any sports hobbies, apart from dancing at a young age.

Have other areas of your life changed or maybe suffered since you started competing?

On a personal level, as I consume myself so much in prep, life gets put on hold for months and as a result, I did find my past long term relationship did suffer during each prep. On the other side, I have found myself more confident, and have met some great friends through competing and had some amazing experiences.

What motivates you?

How I’ve changed over the years since I’ve been training motivates me, and it keeps pushing me to keep improving. I also look at the top girls in the competitions I want to do well in, and they motivate and inspire me, I sort of model myself on them, and be one of them if that makes sense.

What kind of routine do you run?

My training changes usually about every 2-3 months, during prep and off season, but it’s always a 5-6 day split. Usually 2-3 leg/glute sessions per week, delts twice a week, then usually everything else is trained once per week. Weight/rep/sets usually change slightly, high reps to low reps, FST 7, things do vary, but I enjoy this.

This is my current off season split:

  • Session 1 – Legs
  • Session 2 – Chest, delts & bi’s
  • Session 3 – Back
  • Session 4 – Shoulders & Tri’s
  • Session 5 – Glutes & Hams
  • Session 6 – Upper

Cardio off season is usually 3-5 sessions per week, either steady state or HIIT, cross trainer/rower/power walking.

During prep, the training is usually as above, with changes and splits etc, although cardio increases gradually to two sessions every day. Also, extra training sessions added in, so maybe 2 days per week, its two training sessions per day, with only 1 rest day.

What is your approach when it comes to dieting?

During prep, I have used a few approaches, including carb cycling and this year, tried low carbs/high fats for the first time which worked well for me. Off season, again have used higher fats/lower carbs and vice versa.

Do you use any supplements?

  • Whey Protein – Isolate during prep
  • BCAA’s
  • Glutamine
  • Vitamin C
  • Multivitamin
  • Evening Primrose

Not all of above are used through full prep/off season, but these have been included in the past 12 months.

What is your long term goal in bodybuilding?

My long term goal is to place top 6 at NABBA Universe, and also compete abroad. I qualified for the WFF Universe in Florida this year, and ultimately, would love to do a competition in the USA, so hoping in the next few years, I will step on stage in the USA. I would also like to compete in Europe too, so again, that’s another goal within the next few years.

2016 Prep Overview


Competed last in 2013, and was the worst year I’ve had to date, very unhappy with prep and how I looked on stage. Took time out as it knocked my confidence, plus I’d got to a point where I hated and resented prep and knew that I needed a break.


Took about 2 years out, in that time I still trained but did relax with diet and just enjoyed a social life, holidays etc.

September 2015 – After deciding I wanted to compete again in 2016, I started working with a new coach (Liam Keigher). I had dieted slightly for a holiday so weight was approximately 119lbs.


I started to work on a bulk from October 2015 through to January 25th 2016, gaining approximately 12lbs. I had of lot of work to do as the last 12 months hadn’t been the most consistent with holidays, time off training etc but was prepared to give it 110%.

26th Jan 2016 – Start of 18 Week Prep

Starting weight: 129lbs

Goal: NABBA Northwest 21st May – Toned class


5 Day Split

  • Glutes & Delts
  • Back & Arms
  • Quads & Hams
  • Chest/Delts/Arms
  • Glutes/Hams/Quads

Cardio: 20 minutes, 5 times a week fasted, rower or cross trainer

Diet as follows:

  • Meal 1 – Eggs, eggs whites, bacon medallions, Spinach and mushrooms
  • Meal 2 – Whey, 1 table spoon peanut butter
  • Meal 3 – Chicken, basmati rice, Green veg
  • Meal 4 – Pre workout, BCAA, black coffee or pre workout, rice cakes, 1/2 sachet sugar free jelly
  • Meal 5 –  BCAA, whey, glutamine, rice cakes
  • Meal 6 – Chicken / pork / steak steamed veg, 1/2 Sugar free jelly
  • 1 rice cake at any time of day when needed
  • 5-6 litres water, probiotics, Vitamin C, CLA, multivitamin

This was my basic diet through prep, but was tweaked throughout, little changes made when needed.


So, 2.5 years since my last attempt and failed prep, I was really fired up for this prep. New coach, new approach, and my best friend had decided to compete too so we were prepping along side each other and were going to do the same shows.

Eased into prep routine well and I liked being in a strict routine again, but it felt quite an easy start, and after two weeks wasn’t really see as much of a change as I wanted, so spoke to my coach, who tweaked my diet and increased cardio. Things started improving then and weight was dropping slowly but surely.

I was also conscious of my weaker areas, delts and leg/glutes so with this in mind, extra shoulder work was put in from the start, 4 x 20 last raises super set with 4 x 20 press ups before each upper session. This carried on all the way through prep and it worked a treat, at the end of prep, delts looked great.

Four weeks into prep, training changed again to a different program, 2 lower days, 2 upper days and 1 full body session. Cardio was increased to every day, fasted and evening, rest day included longer cardio sessions.

Five weeks into prep and I went on a posing class and got good feedback, however, was told that I would be more suited to the NABBA Athletic class, rather than toned. I did think that I didn’t hold enough muscle to hold my own in that class, so contacted the NABBA NW rep, who said the same as the posing PT, I should aim for Athletic class. Panic set in and I wondered if I could come on a lot leaner which was needed for the athletic class, in the time left but after a chat with my coach, we decided that I would aim for athletic.

So, with the new class in mind and knowing that I had to come in a lot leaner, cardio increased, diet was tweaked again, and things moved up a gear, but the changes really were noticeable week on week now.

Again, being conscious of weaker areas, a leg/glute circuit was added in every morning after cardio, 10 exercises including SLDL’s, lunges, squats, Romanian reads, etc, no rest at all. I’ve also kept this in off season as it does seem to be helping.

Now about 8 weeks into prep, weight approx. 117lbs, so dropped about 12lbs.


I was really starting to feel it at this point. Cardio was increased little by little each week, a combination of LISS in the evening, rower again to help delts and new fasted cardio introduced, 43 minutes of HIIT & MISS on the cross trainer, brutal but it really helped bring legs on.

Fat burners were added at this point as follows:

  • 12.5mg Yohimbine HCL
  • 200mg Caffiene
  • 25mcg T3
  • 40mcg Clenbuterol

This carried on for the rest of prep, just upping Clen up to a maximum of 100mcg. I also added potassium at this point as I always use this when using Clen to help with cramps.

By now I was religiously doing posing and routine practice every day, spending at least 1-2 hours every day off I had, then a run through at least once a day every day.


6 weeks out now and with fat burners being used for a few weeks now, changes were quite noticeable.

So 12 weeks into prep, 5 weeks out and I was suffering, so tired, grumpy, fed up, hungry but things were coming together and I was quite happy with how things were going so decided to do a warm up show on 30th April, WFF UK Open. I was dying to get back on stage and thought it a good idea to just give me a bit of confidence for the NABBA North West show.

Things were still going well, still dropping on the scales, looking better each week, diet constantly being tweaked slightly, very little carbs now, evening cardio up to an hour every evening and training changed as follows:

  • Glutes/hams
  • Delts/arms
  • Quads/chest
  • Back/arms
  • Glutes/hams
  • Full body
  • A full body circuit 3 times per week, then another consisting of 5 exercises, twice a week.

With all of the above kicking in, I was like a zombie, but progressing well. At this point though, I started using holidays at work and having at least 1 to 2 days off per week which helped.

WFF UK Open – 30th April

Weight now at approx 114lbs. My main focus was still the NABBA show, so it was decided as this was a warm up, not to deplete or change much so everything stayed the same apart from a carb up Friday evening/Saturday. I did manipulate water as follows:

Monday through to Wednesday, approx 8 litres, every day, then started dropping Thurs and Fri,  and only sipping on Saturday.

Vitamin C, dandelion root and Xpel were used from Monday onwards, increasing daily,  then a glass of red wine Friday night. Show day came and I think for the first time ever, although really nervous, I was actually pretty relaxed and although feeling flat, I was pretty happy with how I looked. I had an amazing day, winning my class (5girls in my class) then winning the ladies overall, couldn’t believe it, was stunned and absolutely over the moon. I qualified for the WFF Universe in Florida, but with time and money constraints, wouldn’t be able to go, but was still ecstatic with the result and invite.

Feedback from the show and judges was great, conditioning was great, posing, stage presence, everything was good, but looked a bit depleted which I knew, so knew a decent carb up for the next show was needed.

At this point, I think I’d only had a couple of clean high carb days and 3 cheat meals through prep, not going mad, only pasta and chocolate but had an epic cheat after this comp. McDonalds which I’d been craving for weeks, chocolate, cake, went a bit OTT but then actually woke up the next day looking better! And felt a bit better for a few days from it.

So, now 3 weeks out, and feedback taken on board, we kept everything as is, no need for drastic changes and I was still dropping and tightening up, so things stayed the same.

Suffering loads by now though, I was sore, worn out, didn’t want to talk to anyone, starving, I even ached lying in bed, it was uncomfortable to sit, I wanted to cry a lot but was still on a high from the WFF show and knew it was nearly the end, literally couldn’t wait now, and Even though things were tough, I was loving it too. I’d never been this lean or looked as good, so it was well worth the suffering.

1 week out

So water manipulation was the same as before. I started depleting from Monday, then started adding carbs in from Thursday evening,  rice cakes, rice and white potato. Training and cardio stopped on Wednesday, then it was time to chill. Mind games were unreal by this point, constantly doubting myself and as I’d done well at the WFF comp, felt extra pressure to look better, but coach kept me calm. Ultimately, I’d done everything I possibly could, given it 120% and knew that if things didn’t go to plan, it wasn’t because I didn’t try.

NABBA North West – 21st May

Weight now 111lbs. Up early to have hair, make up and second coat  of tan done. I’d had a spray tan done for every comp, one coat the night before then one coat on show day, was stress free and looked wicked. I felt I looked a lot tighter now, carbs had been increased this time so felt Fuller, overall, was happy with how I looked. I had rice cakes with jam through the day, then Haribo before going on stage.

Show day went smoothly, had an amazing day and although only 3 in my class, I came first with an invite to the Brits, absolutely over the moon, again! Afterwards I actually saw the judging scorecard and got marked as 1st by all judges. So, one week out from the Brits, and after feedback from the judges, we did exactly the same again, water, depletion, training, cardio. Feedback though was again, I could afford more carbs so this time, carbs were introduced Thursday morning. Again, rice, rice cakes and white potato. We did at one point discuss having Burger and chips before getting on stage, but this being my biggest show to date, I didn’t want anything to go wrong so as a trial, thought after I’d been judged in the afternoon, I’d try it before the evening show as it wouldn’t matter by then.

NABBA British Finals – 28th May

Show day, biggest competition to date and I was bricking it! After speaking with a few judges and other people, I thought there might be a chance of placing top 6, which was unbelievable. My dream was to compete at the Brits, so now knowing there was a chance of placing, I was so excited. Again, hair, make up, tan all done,  all same protocol as the week before for carbs, water etc, the water protocol especially worked well for me, got great feedback on that.

My best mate who’d done the Northwest and placed second, also qualified for the Brits so we had an amazing day, meeting up with people, meeting new people, just a great day, start to finish. By the time I got on stage, I felt I looked OK, was paranoid of smoothing over by having more carbs this time but did look Fuller still so all OK. Got second call out and honestly I was gutted, knew I hadn’t got top 6 but the standard was very high, 15 girls in total, most in fantastic shape and condition, but then again I was just happy to be on that stage really with the best in the country.

So as the results were in the evening, I went for Burger and chips, they were awesome, even more so after 18 weeks of prep. Now it worked 50/50, stomach and abs smoothed over, but delts, arms, quads all looked great, a lot Fuller. I did take on fluid during the day too though so maybe this had a part in abs smoothing over.


Just before the evening show I’d bumped into a judge from the WFF show who’d helped me over the last few weeks, she explained call outs had been done differently and I did well on stage, so maybe all wasn’t lost! Anyway, back on stage and I got called out for the top 6, amazed, stunned and overwhelmed! I placed 4th, such a huge achievement for me, was so happy. I got feedback from the Brits and basically, got good feedback again for conditioning, everything really, the only thing was I need more size, so with this taken on board and working with Liam in the off season, I’ve been working hard since May, and aim to do the same comps next year, hopefully with a bit more size. Glutes, delts and width are key areas which I need to and have been working on.




Going forward, next year, prepping again with Liam, I hope to get a top 3 spot at the Brits and a NABBA  Universe invite. Again, going off feedback, one of the judges said this is what I should be aiming for and see it as a realistic goal if I work as hard as I did through this prep. Overall, it was a tough prep, mentally and physically, I put my life on hold for 18 weeks, had personal things going on too, and at times it was a struggle but never did I want to give up. And even though it was brutal, I loved it too, and the feeling at the end of it, and with what I achieved, made every minute of it worth it.

Mind games played a part throughout. Deep down I think I knew I was looking better than I had ever done before, yet I was so critical of myself too, I sometimes couldn’t see what others could. One minute I think I looked great, literally ten minutes later I’d look in the mirror and rip myself apart! But this kept me pushing, striving to be better and better. All in all, it’s the harshest prep I’ve endured but the most successful and best season I’ve had.

Want to read more in-depth competition prep write-ups? Check out Phil Staplehurst‘s journal for the NABBA South East or Liam Coffey‘s journal for the UKBFF Midlands Championships.

3 Responses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s