Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Save the Date (Part 1)

In just over three weeks from now, the greatest female muscle show on Earth will be getting under way in Scottsdale, Arizona. This will be the fourth running of the contest the ladies themselves call "our Olympia", and - of Wings of Strength's own pre-show blurb is to be believed - the first to which no "special invites" will be handed out.

The reason for no invites, as far as I can tell, is that the line-up is already "stacked". Although not 100% confirmed as a line-up, with twenty-four women already qualified from placing high at last year's RP, winning a pro show in 2018, or earning four or more qualifying points, the show promises to be the biggest, best RP to date.

So I'm getting the preview in early...


The reigning Queen of Female Bodybuilding has done her bit at WoS booths during the course of 2018, but otherwise she's been fairly low profile - and that's just the way she likes it. Helle is not the biggest fan of the likes of us - who can blame her?! - so rather than Instagram, her YouTube channel is the place to go if you want to see the kind of shape. Watch her destroy (male and female) training partners in clips with names such as Funny Chest Workout, Building Massive Legs and Monster Calves & Shoulders.

Though the champ, she probably isn't the favourite, but discount her at your peril - she's never turned up for the Rising Phoenix in less than immaculate condition, has only been out of the top two once, and deserved better than her 4th two years ago.


For the first time since the days of Claudias Profanter and Montemaggi, two Italians will strut their stuff at the world's premier female muscle show. Barbara Carita and Cristina Franzoso were the sole FBBs on show at the new-look San Marino Pro in June. Barbara earned her pro card the day before then outmuscled her veteran compatriot. Cristina, however, picked up four qualifying points for 2nd as a result, and added to the four she'd already got at the Galaxy Pro a couple of weeks earlier, she flew to the top of the points table, and has been there ever since.


Also getting her RP qualification in early was Maryse Manios, winner of that Galaxy Pro in Bari, Italy. She regally dominates... A true MASSIVE MATURE MUSCLE QUEEN! proclaimed one of her many devotees on the forums after her victory, but 5th in Toronto (out of 7) was probably a better reflection of where Maryse truly is in the grand scheme of IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilding these days. Highly unlikely that she, or either of our two Italians will make the placings, but they all deserve their place.


Another Euro muscle legend, however, is - particularly if current form (see above) is maintained - going to be in the mix for a automatic qualification for next year. Jay's 3rd in Chicago was met with consternation by her band of merry men, but they (and she) didn't have to wait long before she was handed a big (first place) sword.

To me she never looks quite as breathtaking on stage as she does off it (not the only woman I could say that of), but a week after the Chicago show, Jay was crowned at the Lenda Murray Pro in Norfolk, and most recently placed 5th in Tampa in the best line-up of 2018 so far. She was 12th in her one and only RP appearance (last year), she could well break into the top 10 this time. Loyal fans will be hoping for even more.


Over 55 as long ago as 2014, Patricia "Patty" Corbett just made it to the show on points, as did the equally long-serving (but a good ten years younger) Angela Rayburn - who of course has been to the RP before. Expect wardrobe malfunctions and a big bulge from Patty, that signature pose and a big bulge from Angela...

Tara, meanwhile, with not quite got as many years under her weight belt as Patty and Angela, spent the first couple of years of her pro career slumming it in Physique, but a decision this year to "go big" has paid off handsomely. She was immediately into the prize money as runner-up to Jay in Norfolk, and now she's now prepping for Arizona.


With no Lisa Cross this year - her 4th in Tampa wasn't enough (and wasn't right as far as I'm concerned either!) - British fans will be hoping that 2017's surprise RP package Wendy McCready can repeat the trick. Like Queen Helle, Wendy tends to keep a pretty low social media profile, but one thing we can say is that she's rather excited about going back again this year. Just under 7 weeks until the greatest female bodybuilder competition in the world! she wrote just over a month ago. My MONDAY, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday MOTIVATION!!!


Whacky hair days notwithstanding, Nicki Chartrand is, I think, one of the shrewder operators in the WoS schedule game. Consequently, she's one of the bigger success stories of the last couple of years, apparently coming from nowhere to last year's Rising Phoenix (invite) and then her first pro win (Hawaii) at the start of this season.

"Nicki! What's your secret?" is, she says, a question she gets asked a lot. Maybe I DO have a few tricks up my sleeve, she says - not that she wears sleeves much, and who can blame her? But despite promising a new website where all will be told, so far those tricks are staying put. 12th on her RP debut, she'll probably do better than expected.


Crashing back into the collective consciousness in Chicago this year, the woman formerly known as Susanna (Bet You Can't Keep Your) Hand(s Above the Table) won the Ms International Classic in Chicago under her married name of Susanna Jacobs. Who is this woman? I, and I imagine many like me wondered as we clicked on her name at the Maximum Muscle Report gallery. Oh! It's her... we sighed, swooning, before reliving what we always used to do when Susanna was in her pomp.

Susanna had nailed the conditioning like never before - good enough to place 4th the next day at the pro show - and although, yes, there's clearly been a bit of facial work, her eyes still have that same smouldering intensity when she wants to turn it on.


Jennie Roosa, qualified on points thanks to her runner's-up finish behind Nicki Chartrand in Hawaii, won't, unfortunately, be making her RP debut this year. Jennie and her fella are expecting their first child, and we wish them well. I do hope this Alina-trained phenom will be back one day, but fear that day won't be anytime soon.

Our RP preview will conclude later this week.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Tube Watch

Our irregularly regular (and happily popular) feature rounding up some of the best new(ish) clips of fine female muscle on You Tube returns for an August installment.


Featured quite heavily in the media here in the UK, the (US) TV show What Would You Do? recently broadcast an episode in response to the (apparently common) practice of "fit shaming". Actors, one male one female, abused a muscular woman as she worked out in public places, with the reactions of passers-by under scrutiny by hidden camera. The muscular woman, also an actor in the show, was identified only as "fitness trainer and competitor Jennifer" in the ABC network blurb for the show, aired on 27th July.

Part 2 you can find here.

Now I know what you are probably thinking, "Yeah, but I'd like to see what happens when they do a show with a proper FBB," but I think you'll agree it is an interesting watch. The reactions to the "bullies" are often passionate, and overall I was left with the feeling that the perception of female muscle has certainly changed for the better.

For Your Consideration

Meanwhile, in the British media, BBC Hindi did a two-minute news piece on "Muscle Woman Madhu Jha" just last week. "Bodyshaping" rather than "Bodybuilding" is what she defines her mission as, and Madhu is muscular in the same unthreatening way as "Jennifer" is, but still, as a glimpse into the life of a muscular British-Indian woman, and the transformation she has made to both her body and her sense of self through weight training, it's no less fascinating than the What Would You Do? experiment.


Last Tube Watch, we brought you just some of the many channels that are popping up with edited Instagram clips of our favourite muscle goddesses, all in the name of advertising clicks. Unsurprisingly, now we're looking we've found even more.

Pick of the (new) bunch is HW Motivation, and four plus minutes of the truly huge NPC Physique(!) competitor Courtney Mitten is the pick of their bunch by a distance.

FMS always recommends more Brazilians in your life, and HW Motivation clearly agree. After you've calmed down from Courtney, get that pulse racing again with the help of Leyvina Barros' brand of rather masculine femininity, then for the really big finish Alessandra Alvez: Workout For Massive Legs will, I'm confident, do the trick.


I don't have too many bad words to say about NPC News Online - after all if they didn't exist this blog would be a bit short on contest images to say the least. However, it did take them a while to get their 2018 NPC USA backstage edits up. Happily, they were worth waiting for, none more so than the Women's Physique Backstage Part 1.

I wasn't as bowled over by the line-up at this year's USAs as I have been in past years, but there's something so deliciously erotic about being a spy in the holy pump room.

Sadly, no sign of Part 2 as yet.

However, NPC News Online's tardiness pales in comparison to NABBA's - who only now are putting up some of the female routines from the WFF Universe last year.

Again, though, it's hard to stay angry as you watch the Figure Pros or even the Figure Juniors (Figure girls wear heels and thongs and hit poses in NABBA/WFF contests remember). And as the show was held in Brazil this year, more Brazilian thunder than even we recommend was on display, not least that of Flores Neide in the Extreme Body class, a clip that I had every intention of making my highlight of this post.

Then a few days ago, they put up Gilberia Cunha's routine...

Ai, meu Deus! (as they were probably saying throughout the auditorium and are probably still saying as they flashback to the evening they witnessed this prodigiously uninhibited display of muscular female sex appeal). How's that for your big finish?

Monday, 13 August 2018

Blakelee's Bow

We did warn you (see Pic of the Month: August). As she wrote herself: The time has finally arrived! 20 weeks of hard work will be proudly displayed on stage. The same weekend as the Tampa Pro, Blakelee Ortega was making her competitive debut.

Like Blakelee herself, we were prepared. Time was you never heard of any FBB before they stepped on stage. Times have changed. Out of her Instagram and onto the forums, Blakelee has been one of the phenomenons of the last twelve months. The Knoxville Classic isn't the kind of local show the female muscle lovin' world usually pays much attention to. Thanks to Blakelee - and Blakelee alone - this year was different.

The sky's the limit for Blakelee, reads the comment. Since right from the start of her explosion on the forums she has been tipped for greatness. It's not hard to explain her appeal - beast from the neck down, beauty from the neck up, or "hamster head and rottweiler body" as one wag put it. Pictures of her from this spring racked up views and favourites in record time, and as she counted down to her first show, as her muscles emerged in all their glory, our collective excitement reached new levels.

HD Physiques cannily shot her in the weeks before her show, and if what's said in the chat is to be believed, the spike to their subscription rate must have been considerable. Her biceps are absolutely awesome in this recent shoot, noted one HDP cheerleader. She seems so very proud of her muscles and it shows when she flexes.

Now, if I asked you if your hands were still above the keyboard...

It gets better - trust me - but first, shall we see how she did?

Winner of (due to being the only competitor in) Class "C", Blakelee didn't win the posedown for the Overall title. The pics aren't great quality either, so she doesn't even look that ripped. But having said all that, isn't she just GORGEOUS!

I've been trying to analyse in some sort of objective way just what it is about her, and while I've pretty much failed, I think it's got something to do with how long her limbs and/or torso and therefore her muscles are. Both her arms and thighs have such beautiful shapes. They're certainly big when you consider her age and therefore the amount of time she's had to develop them, but they're also beautifully formed.

Whatever. The most important thing is that Blakelee wants to do it again, right? Well, we are (genuinely) delighted to be able to report it's nothing but good news on that front - This is only the beginning, she wrote, beaming with her "C" class trophy. A new fire has been lit. So anxious to get back to work and build a bigger, better me!

And for our big finish, here is Blakelee two days before her show, showing off. Or "practising my routine" as she puts it. Inspired by Alyssa Kiessling apparently - in posing style and choice of briefs I dare say. I loved performing every second of this! Blakelee tells us. Funnily enough, I love watching every second of it.

Now, if I asked you where your hands were...

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Tampa: Motion

Some remarkable bodies doing some remarkable things is perhaps best to describe how NPC News Online's Tampa Fitness Backstage edit begins. Breathtaking stuff, but then there's a bit of a lull in the middle section - remarkable bodies not doing much more than listening to music and/or taking selfies. Then, quite unexpectedly, there they are - the FBB line-up about to take the stage. The big finish, you might say!

Hopefully, longer backstage edits of Figure, Physique and FBBing are to come, and hopefully too Maximum Muscle Report - who have footage of the evening show - will soon have all the FBBing and Physique routines up. For today, we've selected four that (at the time of writing) are already there, starting with LaDawn McDay.

LaDawn's 3rd place was the curious judging decision of the day. Nothing in her contest history suggested she would end up ahead of Kim Buck and Lisa Cross, so we were eager to see her routine for clues as to why this time was different. Kim Buck's routine is not, as yet, available, but we can compare 3rd place LaDawn with 4th place Lisa.

Lower down the placings, the most anticipated return to competition was Angela Salvagno's. It's a slightly odd experience to see her wearing something that she doesn't aggressively remove by the halfway stage, but we'll have to get used to it.

And we finish for today and this week with another come back Queen, and the champ on the night. Classy and poised as ever, Alina nevertheless came back with a little extra, something else - two things to be precise - we'll also just have to get used to.

Check out NPC News Online for more backstage edits (soon?), and Maximum Muscle Report for more of the FBB routines, as well as breathtaking Fitness performances.


Saturday, 11 August 2018

Tampa: Closer

See the sweat - damn you can even see the pores on some!

As we noted the other day (see Triggers), James Cook does take you to the parts other photographers don't reach, and in Tampa, Mr. Rivieccio went in really close during the Figure presentations. Now the idea that muscle women (and in the grand scheme of things these Figure phenoms are HUGE) "look like men", is, sadly, still prevalent, but for me at least, he's really captured the beauty of these phenomenal ladies...

Even as their Protan begins to streak!

Download and zoom in (the pics are easily hi-res enough to take it) and you'll see that even though Tiffany Laumeyer (left) really is sweating profusely, whoever did her tanning application should definitely consider doing a bit more training before their next show. You'll also see where little beads of sweat have collected into tongue-tip size pools where the flawless Danielle Rose's neck meets the top of her pecs.

The big winner in the day was Canada's Melissa Bumstead (below, left). There are so many strong candidates for "The Most Beautiful Woman in Figure" that it could be a conversation that, once started, might never end. Melissa would definitely be part of that conversation though, and her somewhat wild-eyed excitement at being front and centre in the first callout only makes her even more beautiful to my eyes.

Next to Melissa (here, not in the first callout), Maggie Watson gets a bit of a raw deal - the expression on her face at the exact moment Cook clicked could have been more flattering for sure - but again, zoom in and perhaps think about how good the sweat making her neck shine would taste. Or that on her shoulders. Or the trickle running down her pec line... Would you wait for it to trickle down onto her abs, or not?

Amber Eutsey (left, she of the unabashed bicep flex - see Monday's post, Tease), looks like she felt powerful even when she wasn't showing off "illegally", while Mexico's stunning Georgina Lona has the expression of a woman who can't quite believe what she's standing next to. Or perhaps it's what that guy in the front row is doing...

But while Cook went in close on many of the Figure Phenoms, he only stayed in close on Puerto Rican sizzler Karen Reyes. The camera really loves her, as it were.

Should Annie be worried? I doubt it. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she were controlling the whole thing from the comfort of wherever she was, ordering Cook to take more of this girl, more of that girl, and much much more of Karen. The idea that after the show Annie and James reviewed all these pics together (and naked) from the comfort of their hotel bed is perhaps the hottest one I've had all week!


Tomorrow we say goodbye to Tampa for another year.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Tampa: [Reader Request] Barbie

I have, my female muscle lovin' friend tells me a couple of weeks before the Tampa Pro, a new crush - Barbie Titus. Do you know her? Well, yes, we do. As my friend was finding out, and many have found out before him, Barbie is not a muscle woman you come across and then forget about, and the fact she's never featured on the blog before today is, according to editorial, nothing less than a crime. Do her justice now, you hear! screamed JJ as I left his office to start work on this, our first Barbie post.

No pressure then.

She first crops up around four years ago as a Figure competitor, winning an NPC Europa show (left) then placing 4th in her class at the Nationals. Even between those two shows she appears to have come a long way, and the (sort of trademark) look - that look that you don't forget - is already established. "Barbie" - must be a fair bit of pressure on women given that name, pressure to conform to it, if you see what I mean.

And in many ways this Barbie does conform - the long blond hair, the spectacular enhancements, the flawless styling and make-up, and so on. But in so many other ways, she is as far from the "ideal" of her plastic namesake as it is possible to get. Big and strong, with that slightly-squarer-than-a-woman-"should"-have jaw (so beloved of female muscle heads). She's so Barbie-like feminine and yet so masculine, it's easy to imagine how many non-heads she has confused the hell out of as they find themselves both deeply repulsed by and deeply attracted to her at the same time.

2015 was a big year for Barbie. After another unsuccessful crack at a pro card in Figure at the Jr. USAs, she decided to switch to Physique. Back at the Nationals it was a case of too soon, but she made an impression - not least in the FMS office. It would be a whole year until we saw her on stage again, but it was well worth the wait. Again she was at the Nationals, but this time she was ready, won her class and turned pro. There's not nearly enough stage shots of her from the show, but she's spectacular in every one.

Interviewed just after she'd left the stage, Barbie already knew when she'd make her pro debut. Don't be fooled by her "I’m the worst decision maker ever, I just keep training..." IG persona. Her career to date would suggest she knows exactly what she's doing.

The pro debut was at the end of August last year at the Hurricane Pro. Barbie arrived among the IFBB pro elite and was good enough - even to my untrained eye obviously superior in every way to her Nationals' winning package - for 4th in a very strong line-up. Beaten only by Olympians Heather Grace, Michaela Aycock and Melissa Pearo, she finished ahead of hardened hard pros like Maria Rita Penteado, Angela Debatin and Olga Belyakova. She promptly disappeared back into her muscle-building bunker, but the female muscle lovin' world had been notified now.

One way of gauging just how taken the collective we are with a competitor is to see how many compilations of their Instagram clips are up on YouTube. Those channels where you find those kinds of clips, they don't - surprise surprise - necessarily do it for love but rather for the advertising possibilities. Many edits of the same woman suggests she's a nice little earner for them. She can be found on numerous such channels, with Fitness Instagram leading the way with six Barbie comps at the time of writing. It's also worth bearing in mind that Fitness Instagram tends towards Bikini and "Fitness models" - more mainstream-y in their appeal, and therefore more likely to get clicks. Barbie is one of their more muscular muses, combining muscle mass and mass appeal.

She "comps" well. She doesn't post that regularly, but when she does it's pretty much always a winner. Her IG has more clips of her training than anything else, and the faces she pulls and the noises she makes should be an editor's dream. Why they insist on putting (generally) crappy soundtracks over her I am at a loss to explain.

I'm also struggling to nail exactly how old Barbie is. Two fairly grown-up children have come out of her beautiful body - this much we know. And we also know that she doesn't, or at least hasn't, competed in a Masters' class when the chance to do so has been there - at the Hurricane Pro last year, for example, which was an over 40 Masters. So, if pressed, we'd have to say Barbie must be in her late-30s. Maturing nicely.

And so to Tampa and her second appearance as a pro. Not the most photographed woman on the stage - I get the feeling she has a limited number of poses, all playing to her strengths of course (again, she knows exactly what she's doing) - either by our hero Mr Rivieccio nor by J.M. Manion for NPC News Online, but every single one is worth a little of your time. And once again, for such a relatively inexperienced competitor, Barbie over-achieved. 6th in a 35-woman line-up, and interestingly the very first Physique routine from the show put up by Maximum Muscle Report - a nod to the broader appeal she has than some of her higher-placing rivals perhaps?

It's not shot from the greatest of angles, but glutemen won't be complaining...

As far as I know my female muscle lovin' friend won't be either. Last I heard he was still on his Barbie exploration trip, and still loving every image and clip of her he was clicking on (no doubt with his left hand). It would hardly be surprising to discover there are heads all over the world doing exactly the same thing, as well as a few non-heads, confused as to why, but finding they can't help themselves nonetheless.

For James