Rhea Gayle

AGE: 24
CATEGORY: Bodyfitness

HEIGHT: 158.5 cm / 5 ft 2

CONTEST WEIGHT: Varies between 55 kg and 58 kg (121 lbs to 128 lbs)
BEST CONTEST RESULT: 2017 English Grand Prix champion; 2017 2nd at British Championships in up to 163 cm category
AMBITION: To become a successful bodyfitness athlete
SPONSOR: Black Ice Bikinis

Tell us about your diving career?

My diving career started in 2009 after being a gymnast for many years prior. During my time diving I became a four-time 1m springboard British champion, finished third at the British Championships on the 3m springboard, was junior European 1m finalist, senior European 1m finalist, competed at the World University Games and came in the top eight on the 3m springboard and also competed at the 2012 British Olympic trials and 2014 Commonwealth Games trials.

Why did you switch to bodybuilding?

I always had an interest in bodybuilding as my dad used to compete as a bodybuilder before I was born, back when the federation was known as the EFBB. I used to look through all his old pictures in magazines and play with his trophies but never thought I’d ever become part of the sport growing up. However, in January 2016 I was thrown a bit of a curve ball when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety which is why I walked away from diving. I was slowly losing myself and changing as a person, especially in training and becoming more mentally unstable, which made me miserable, stressed and genuinely very unhappy. I started training in the gym because I didn’t want to have to rely on tablets so it was a form of therapy. It felt like an escape – there was no pressure to get things perfect or worry what people were thinking about me. I started to feel good. There was something about the gym and lifting weights that made me forget everything. In March 2016 I spoke to one of my colleagues who competed in bikini fitness with the UKBFF and I felt trying to compete would maybe help to give me back some of the focus and routine that I was so used to having with diving. It meant I could train in the gym and actually work towards something without the same pressures.

Which sport is harder?

Bodybuilding, definitely! Although both sports are very different in terms of getting ready for a competition and competition day. Mentally, I found diving quite difficult at times in terms of learning new skills and getting blocks on certain skills. However, when it comes down to it bodybuilding is physically one of the hardest things I have ever done but the love I have for the sport is second to none. No skill is judged on the day of the competition, just your body. You don’t have a five-dive list to rely on. If you drop a dive in a diving competition you can always make up for it by nailing the other four. However, in bodybuilding there is nothing you can do on the day of competition to correct anything. All the hard work is done 12, 14, 16 sometimes even 20 weeks out. Bodybuilding has really been my saving grace.

Rhea on stage at last year's British Championships. Photo by Christopher Bailey.

Rhea on stage at last year's British Championships. Photo by Christopher Bailey.


Why do you prefer bodyfitness?

I absolutely love the shape, the ratios and proportions of the bodyfitness physique. I remember first seeing Candice Lewis-Carter, Latorya Watts and Cydney Gillon and admiring their figures.

What's your approach to training?

My training consists of a push-pull-legs-rest split, which is completed on rotation within a training week.

How many exercises, sets and reps do you do?

Usually I tend to do around 6-8 exercises however that includes a lot of supersets and drop sets. Typically I do two sets per exercise – the first set to failure and the second set performed as a rest-pause or drop set.

Which body parts do you least enjoy training?

I wouldn’t say there is a body part I least enjoy training as I love training everything but if it really, really. really came down to it, it would be chest.

How much weight do you add off-season?

Usually 5-6 kg.

Give us a sample daily meal plan while on diet

Meal 1

45 g whey

15 g dark chocolate

Meal 2

125 g chicken


25 g dark chocolate

Meal 3

125 g chicken

40 g raw weight rice


Meal 4 (pre-workout)

45 g whey

65 g oats

35 g jam

1/2 a Square Bar (cereal bar)

Meal 5 (post-workout)

45 g whey

3 bagel thins

2 crumpets

35 g jam

2 Squares Bar

Meal 6

125 g 10 per cent fat mince

95 g raw weight rice

1/2 a Square Bar

Most effective form of cardio?

I always find fasted cardio and HIIT sprints work well for me.