The Female Bodybuilding division at the NPC USAs may have been a bit low on numbers this year, but there was plenty of muscle to enjoy in Physique (with over 40 competitors across 4 classes), and in the apparently ever more muscular Figure division, which including our Aspen, consisted of a whopping 90 women in 6 classes.
Today, FMS' writer-in-chief picks just 6 for your viewing pleasure.
4th, Physique Class "B"
Fourth year in a row we've seen the gorgeous Jessica at national level, but the first year we've seen her compete in the Physique division. On the back of victory in her very first Physique outing at the recent Lenda Murray Championships (the amateur contest attached to the Norfolk Pro), she had good reason to believe a change of division might mean a change of fortune and a pro card finish, but sadly once again it was not to be.
Ironically, with fewer and fewer women in the Bodybuilding division, Jessica might have been better advised to stay a Bodybuilder a while, get her pro card and then make the switch to Physique. However, she remains as positive as ever. So proud to have made the top four in tough Women's Physique class, she told her Instagram followers as she posed with her trophy. I made the decision to cross over into Physique and I must say, I'm loving the journey and I'm just getting started!
Sounds like we'll see her (and the best biceps in the NPC) at the Nationals. I decided to stay on prep, she says. My goal is to improve my conditioning and bring out more detail. I am my worst critic and I know there is always room for improvement.
2nd, Figure Class "D"
Have to admit, I been following (some would say stalking, I prefer following) Tracy and her prep for the USAs for some time, alerted to her gorgeousness, her abs and those fat veins on her biceps by some eye-catching forum posts some weeks before the show.
So her success in Vegas (runner-up in her class to only Overall winner Nicole Wolf, plus pro card) was no surprise to me. And given how much progress she has made since last year's Nationals, I won't be surprised if Tracy continues to enjoy such success in the ultra-competitive world of the IFBB pro Figure ranks in the future.
I'll be following her fortunes for sure - IFBB PRO TRACY on Instagram.
Also worth a look from the Figure division: the previously mentioned rising star and Overall winner Nicole Wolf; C class runner-up Jennifer McCarver; B class winner Mikka Heim; and the marvellously-named A class runner-up Osiris Trumpe.
2nd, Physique Class "D"
Hannah Hartman was a Figure competitor herself until quite recently, but will be glad she made the switch up after securing her pro card at her first Physique attempt.
A committed most muscular pose always goes down well with me, and always seems to indicate a woman who loves a) her muscles, and b) showing them off on stage. Hannah is no exception to the rule. In those moments, under the lights, in front of the judges, it's all worth it, she says. The USAs was an amazing experience I will never forget, nor the moment I joined the elite men and women and became an IFBB Pro.
I doubt it will be long before she appears on stage again. Let the next level begin! she wrote in the days after the USAs. With each prep and show you learn just a little bit more about yourself, and that's pretty exciting. With the tats and the blond locks, she has a bit of Delane Hart about her, don't you think? Very exciting.
5th, Physique Class "B"
"Mighty Heidi", as she is known, seems never to be less than 100% ready to take the stage, never less than 100% pumped and ripped, permanently in "warrior mode".
Even the way she has her hair tied up on stage adds to her overall physical taughtness, stretching her skin just that little bit tighter over her rock hard "warrior" muscles.
Heidi felt "blessed and honored" with her 5th place. I thought she was a little unlucky, both in terms of her placing and because she found herself in probably the most competitive Physique class of all. Definitely in the conversation for Best Abs in Show.
Winner, Physique Class "A"
Where I will stack up against these beautiful, strong women? wondered the 2016 NPC Texas State Physique champ before taking the stage at only her second ever show.
The answer was "on top". Kayleigh was the most beautiful and strong of them all, all strong and sexy sass, the class in the "A" class. First place, pro card. A weekend of excitement, fear, anxiety, and pure bliss in the end! as she put it. It's love!
Many more shots like the one above on her Instagram and love indeed it will be. A beautiful image of a beautiful woman, one forum poster noted. I lift and I swear, warns Kayleigh. Better and better... Check out her NPC News Online post-show interview and see if you can keep those hands above the table till the end.
Winner, Physique Class "B" & Overall
Another woman in a hurry is Courtney Rheams, who, as recently as May, was competing for the first time (as far as I know) at the NPC Optimum Classic. She won the Novice title (which is the main reason why I think it was her first show) and her class there before going on to compete again, this time at the NPC Europa in Dallas. Guess what? She won that too. And now, for her next trick, class and Overall titles at the USAs.
Courtney, my ill-informed and unqualified eye tells me, was a worthy winner, with probably the best-conditioned and developed physique not just in the Physique division, but in the entire show. Incredible shoulders and biceps, beautiful glutes... just yummy!
Sadly, I haven't been able to find much else apart from her contest photos - her social media seems to have lapsed, or been squirrelled away from the likes of me perhaps. I'll keep looking though, and in the meantime enjoy her interview after her victory here, and let's enjoy highlights (and they really will make you high, some of them) from her Dallas show courtesy of Best Muscle Video.