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John Clarke - Bodybuilder & Personal Trainer

From footballer to bodybuilder

Before starting bodybuilding I was a footballer playing for clubs such as Derby County, Doncaster Rovers and Chesterfield Town and eventually non league football. While playing non-league I did a qualification in sports science and became qualified in personal training and started taking on clients as well as playing football.

After training in the gym for a year I decided to enter a bodybuilding competition, and with not much time to prepare I did a 5 week diet only eating chicken and drinking water for the whole 5 weeks!! I have to say it was the hardest and longest 5 weeks of my life and I managed to drop 2 stone and weighed at around 11 stone. The day of the show 21 competitors entered my class and most of them weighed around 15 stone plus!! I looked like an infant next to most of them. Despite all of this I loved the feeling of taking part in the show and showing off my hard work in front of all my family and friends.

A few weeks after the show I decided to enter another show which was taking place in 5 months, giving me time to plan a 12-week diet, however I knew I needed to learn more about nutrition so I began my research and spent hours upon hours learning new information about diet and how various supplements work. Five months later I entered the show in the under 80kg class half a stone heavier and with less body fat and finished 2nd.

After finishing 2nd I was hooked and was shocked at the improvements I had made in such a short space of time with just changes to my diet. Over the next few months I continued to do more research and also got guidance from top British competitor Tom Blackman who helped me with my nutrition and training. I would travel to Bristol every week to see Tom so he could look at my physique and make changes to make sure I continued to improve. Six months after my 2nd place at my previous show I decided to enter a qualifier for the British finals in the under 80kg class - this was a big step up in class for me but I was confident I could do well. I entered the show and finished 1st place.

A year later I started working with professional IFBB Pro and Top Nutristionist James Llewellyn. Since working with James my physique has really taken off and I have gone from 11.6 stone on stage to 12.7. In 2010 I entered another British Qualifier the Kent Classic again in the under 80kg class and again finished 1st.

Last year I entered another British qualifier, again in the under 80kg class, and finished 2nd place. I found making the weight very very difficult and had to lose hard earned muscle to make the weight. My plans for the next few months are to add some serious size and move up a weight class which will allow me to come in at my best and at my heaviest.

I am currently working with Nutritionist and personal trainer Nathan ‘The Wizard’ Harman during my offseason and I am visiting him on a regular basis to ensure that I am making moving in the right direction.

As well as myself competing I am currently working with a number of people preparing them for competitions and also taking on new clients for personal training and diet prep.

Competition History


UKBFF Portsmouth 2nd place under 80kg


UKBFF Dorchester 1st place under 80kg


UKBFF KENT 1st Place under 80kg


UKBFF Midlands 2nd place under 80kg

Current Off-Season Diet Plan

My current off season is going very well and I am sitting at around 94kg. Below is what I am currently eating. This is constantly reviewed depending on how I am looking.

Meal One - Fillet steak, 9 egg whites, 100g Oats with Milk

Meal Two - Chicken, rice and veg meal

Meal Three - Turkey Breast and sweet Potato

Meal Four - 6 whole eggs and 3 slices of wholemeal bread

Meal Five- Fillet Steak or x2 home made Lean Steak Burgers, Potatoes and veg

Meal Six- Fruit, Yoghurt and 1 scoop of whey protein

Meal Seven- 2 scoops of whey protein

manage weight

Example Workout

My current back session looks like this:

Straight arm cable pull downs x 4

Chin ups (to failure) x 4

Close grip underhand pull downs x 3

Under hand grip barbell rows x 3

Low pulley hammer strength pull downs FST-7 7 x 8 - 12 reps 30 sec

Seated cable rows FST-7 7 x 8 - 12 reps 30 sec

I currently train 5 times per week and ensure that I get at least 8 hours sleep per night in order to ensure I allow my body to recover from the intense weight sessions. I am currently training my back twice per week as this is my weakest body part.