Sunday, 28 May 2017

Never Better: Aleesha - Las Vegas 2014

ALEESHA YOUNG
Heavyweight & Overall Winner, 2014 NPC USA Championships

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As a contest, the 2014 NPC USAs was somewhat lacking in the drama department, which is not to say the Heavyweight class was short of fine female muscle. There was Theresa Ivancik - not at her peak, but good enough for 3rd. Mary Cain, who was to win the Overall title the following year, was also in the line-up, as was the sexy Jessica Harmon. Fine physiques indeed. The Lightweight and Middleweight classes only had four competitors between them and did not have the quality on show elsewhere, but Laura Richards, now doing well as a Physique pro, won a competitive Light-heavyweight class that included the beautiful Susanna Hand and naughty Brandi Mae Akers. But both the Heavyweights and the class winners in the Overall posedown must have known they were all battling for 2nd when they saw Aleesha.

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Aleesha: 2008, 2009, and (enhanced) 2011

It was her first time on a stage for three years, and despite having risen to national level with ease, she really had no pedigree to speak of. A barely credible 15th in the Heavyweight class in 2008 at the NPC Nationals, she fared slightly better at the 2009 NPC USAs - 7th (out of 11 Heavyweights). Two years' later she returned to the USAs, her pecs adorned with new, mighty enhancements, and placed 8th out of 10.

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But in those three years since then her massive muscles (and possibly those mighty enhancements as well) had propelled her to peak occupation of the female muscle brethren's collective consciousness. No surname necessary, Aleesha was melting screens all over the world. It wasn't just what Aleesha looked like, but what she did with all that incredible muscle that brought her so much love. Her skills have made her probably the most giffed female bodybuilder ever - her jaw-dropping pec bounce in particular. And she arrived in Las Vegas in July 2014 with a new blond look, and evidence from her preparations suggested that she was ready to rule.

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The contest was over as soon as she walked onto the stage. They could have given the trophies to her than and spared the rest of the field the indignity of having to stand comparison with her. At least the other Heavyweights were big, in their own way. The class winners' posedown for Overall, however, was so ridiculous it was comical.

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My imagination or have the others edged away from Aleesha?

At this show nobody else is even in her league, noted one forum member. Not only is she f***ing huge, she is ripped. Her muscle shapes are incomparable, and her rear bicep and back poses indescribable. She got it all together this year! Indeed she had. Two and a half hours of cardio seven days a week throughout her contest prep had resulted in her most conditioned look yet. She'd never been as ripped before or (and this is why I chose this particular show and not one of her two subsequent pro outings for her best ever) she's never quite achieved the same level of conditioning since.

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There was no drama to the contest, but the sight of Aleeha that day must have had a fairly dramatic effect on the audience I imagine. Dave Palumbo - never one who hides his appreciation of massively muscular women very well - spent the entirety of his post-show interview with Aleesha sucking the drool back into his mouth and getting her to flex her various indescribable bits to camera. Steve Wennerstrom, FBB sage, and unlike Palumbo never one to get carried away, got very carried away. Bodybuilding crowds come to these big events to be entertained, he wrote. They thirst for a mind-blowing look in the building of a physique that few can accomplish. Aleesha Young, on this night, was something magical in the world of physical culture.

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In a little under two weeks there is the distinct possibility that the crowd at the Omaha Pro will get their minds blown and witness something magical. Aleesha - uniquely among the women whose personal bests we have featured this week - is about to compete again. And recent evidence suggests she may well be ready to rule.

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Stay bang up-to-date with her prep on Instagram.

Enjoy!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Never Better: Katka Kyptova - Madrid 2011

KATKA KYPTOVA
2nd, 2011 Arnold Amateur Europe

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She's only 33 now, then she'd just turned 28. Katka had been lifting for at least three years and had come a long way from the very pretty and pretty slender girl she had once been. By 2010 she had hulked her way firmly into our collective consciousness. But it was in the 2010/2011 off-season that she really blossomed, dying her blond locks black, and so becoming the uber-muscle goddess who travelled with the Czech team to Madrid and the first Arnold Classic event to be held outside the USA.



I think I'm in the best shape I've ever been, she told Ronnie.cz shortly before she got on the plane to Spain. My preparation's gone much better than ever before.

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Before the contest, her blog whetted the appetite with progress pics and training clips from her preparation, I wrote of the build-up to the show back in 2011 - the very early days of this blog. I vividly remember watching her training chest, a couple of months before the show - the first time I'd seen Katka Dark. She'd been dieting for just a week, and looked so damn good I became utterly convinced that she simply couldn't lose.



For the first time on FMS, and by no means for the last (although I have got a bit better over the years I reckon), I was wrong. Not by much - Katka bested the best of Britain, Brazil and Germany; Lisa Cross, Simone Oliveira, and Nina Loebert, respectively - but somehow just lost out to Russia's Elena Shportun and her dancing abs trick.

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It was one of those decisions that sets the forums ablaze with much gnashing of teeth and many many exclamation marks. I weighed in on FMS, managing to come to terms with the result, I thought, because a) I'd been reading up on Buddhism, and b) I was right-clicking like a maniac on pretty much every pic of Katka posing on that stage that I could find (and back in 2011, download speeds were not what they are now). The fact was I was too busy drooling over Katka's muscles to maintain my indignation.

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Suddenly I was the teenage boy in his bedroom with his copy of Muscle & Fitness unable to take his eyes off Anja Langer and her beautiful muscular body. Katka thrilled me like the very first time. I just couldn't stop looking at her. Her pecs, her abs, her legs, her arms... a beauty and yet she was just so big and hard, her muscles were so full and defined. Tanned, thrilling. Sexy but beyond sexy. MUSCLE SEXY.

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Two images in particular mesmerised me. She's on the floor, leg bicep flexed. Everywhere you look - her legendary calves, the muscle around her knee(!), the definition all over her legs and her glutes - I can barely breathe now, how bad must I have been when I first saw this image?! But she hasn't finished with me yet. My eyes move up her body to her shoulders, her arms - so powerful. I'm gasping for air.
And then, finally, you see that half smile, and those deep, intense eyes...

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And the second? Even better!

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There were rumours even then that she had decided to quit Bodybuilding (more gnashing of teeth from the brethren), but in fact she returned to Madrid the following year and competed in Bodybuilding again. She finished runner-up again, this time to Jacqueline Fuchs, and then she became the Physique competitor she is today.

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Katka at the 2016 Tampa Pro

In her dark-haired phase it's hardly surprising some of the racier female muscle paysites had come calling, and - as FMS noted in 2011 - Katka went through a phase of feeling less than shy about exposing that muscle sexy chest of hers in all its pectacular glory, leaving my Katka Dark folder (yes, I have a special folder for that dark-haired period) busting at the seams, and all of us with many many unforgettable images.

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The fact that she's no longer one of the big big girls (and has a fair bit of ink) has led to many a female muscle head crossing her off their love list, but I have to admit I'm still a big big fan, and I don't ever think I'll lose my soft hard spot for Mladá Boleslav's finest.

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Follow Katka on Instagram.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Never Better: Gillian Kovack - Toronto 2012

GILLIAN KOVACK
4th, 2012 Toronto Pro

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Gillian was one of FMS' Women of the Year in 2012 on the back of her performance in Toronto (and her blond to brunette transformation, and a Female Muscle Clips preview where all she does is walk!). So, despite her having had some (all too rare but) very strong showings since then, most notably her two 4th places in 2015, when we think of Gillian's best, we can't get beyond her smouldering 2012 pro debut.

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And, believe it or not, I'm pretty sure Margie Martin would agree. One and a half years ago, wrote Gillian in 2016, one of the 2014 Toronto Pro athletes approached me near the SkyDome to introduce herself and tell me that she had one of my pictures from 2012 in the album she keeps to help motivate her to perform at HER best! She was, of course, Margie, and some time later on her own Instagram, Margie showed us that picture. It was Gillian's back, on stage in Toronto two years before they met.

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I doubt, however, me and Margie were the only ones squirrelling images of Gillian's beef away in our special albums. That year, Lisa Giesbrecht took the title, Kim Buck was 2nd, and Britain's own Wendy McCready a career best 3rd. All great, all looked fantastic on the day, but I've looked back at the pictures and the video available from the show (all in the name of proper research you understand), and honestly I couldn't understand then and I still can't understand now why Gillian didn't win.



She's big. A big girl, noted George Farah on the MD play-by-play during prejudging. She's thick, he noted during her routine. Anyone else get the impression the man had lost a little of his usual eloquence while watching Gillian? Can't blame him if that is the case. That's certainly how she generally affects me, and he's looking at her in the flesh!

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For me (and probably Margie too), Gillian was magnificent here. Magnificent width on her shoulders and that back. Big, beefy quads and glutes, and thick, thick hamstrings. She hasn't got the smallest waist but with her shoulders and legs she doesn't need one. She's magnificent (did I say that already?) And those deep, dark, smouldering eyes...

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We really like Gillian, said FMS back in 2012. We really like her a lot. And we've continued to do so since then, even when she hasn't been at her best (and gone back to being blond). She's got that thing, whatever it is. Her struggles - financial, mental - eloquently (if only briefly) documented by Gillian on her blog - have only made us admire her more. She spoke back in 2016 of wanting to focus more on the coaching side of things, of wanting to continue her education, and refusing to become just another "Instagram fitness bimbo". She updated the blog once. Then it went quiet. Gillian, so often so good, doesn't seem to be about to return to competition.

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I think that is a real shame. And Margie would probably agree.

Watch FMC's Gillian walking preview here.