Who says bodybuilding is only for men? And who says women who do bodybuilding aren’t attractive?
Bodybuilding is a sport often associated with men and while there are actually women who do bodybuilding, they are stereotyped as masculine and hence unattractive. But since women began bodybuilding, there are those who proved that a woman can be attractive and sexy, even with all those bulging muscles. For starters, Just ask Van Damme.
Here are the Top 10 most attractive female bodybuilders of All-Time:
Gladys Portugues was born as Gladys Portugues van Varenberg on September 30, 1957. As a student at Marymount Manhattan College, Portugues was inspired to pursue bodybuilding when she watched Rachel McLish win Ms. Olympia title on television. After leaving college, she went on to become a professional bodybuilder and fitness model. She would later follow McLish on Ms. Olympia, finishing in the Top 10 twice.
Known as the Tigress, Gladys Portugues was one of the most prominent women in fitness and bodybuilding in the 1980’s. She appeared in the cover of bodybuilding magazines such as ‘Strength Training for Beauty,’ ‘Flex,’ ‘Muscle & Fitness,’ and ‘Muscle Training.’ Likewise, she also graced the covers of beauty and fashion magazines. In 1987, she married a famous action star, Jean Claude Van Damme. The couple divorced in 1992 but remarried in 1999. In 2015, she filed for divorce a second time but canceled the filing after a week.
Jennifer Elaine Broomfield was born on September 5, 1983, in Massachusetts. Her father ran a coil-winding machinery company while her mother worked part-time for her dad while being also a full-time mommy to her and her three brothers and two sisters. Being in a big family, Jennifer had plenty of siblings to play and compete with.
Jennifer suffered major depression during her teens and it was at this point when she turned her focus to her body. According to her, she began to “beat her body like an animal” in the gym, and in no time, her body started to change. Not only did she beat depression, but she also sculpted her body well enough to compete. She said the first time she stepped on stage for a competition, she felt a rush and that was the moment she knew bodybuilding was for her.
Jennifer Rish was born in Southern California in 1981. Her passion for fitness began at home as her parents were healthy eaters and exercised regularly in their own small home gym. At the age of four, Jennifer started taking gymnastics and dance classes. As she grew older, she was into kickboxing and weight training. Between the two though, it was weight training that fascinated her more. She would eventually leave kickboxing and pursue weight training.
Rish placed 4th in her first competition, the 2008 NPC Border States Classic X-X-I-X Bodybuilding, Figure and Fitness Championships. That same year, she placed 7th in the 2008 NPC California State Bodybuilding and Figure championships. Aside from competing in bodybuilding at fitness events, Jennifer is also a fitness model and a registered nurse by profession.
Sarah Backman was more known for her time with the WWE and for being an arm wrestler but she used bodybuilding to achieve her looks and her frame. Born on December 8, 1991, in Stockholm, Sweden, Backman began arm wrestling at an early age. She would end up as one of the most decorated female arm wrestlers ever. Sarah was an 11-time winner of the Swedish Arm Wrestling Championship, eight-time European Arm Wrestling Champion and eight-time World Arm Wrestling Champion.
She also competed in Sweden’s version of MGM Television’s Gladiator series. Backman portrayed “Spirit” in the show called Gladiatorerna in the Swedish TV4. From 2013-2014, Sarah Backman pursued her ambition to be a professional wrestler and signed with WWE’s developmental territory NXT with the ring name “Shara”. After asking for her release from the WWE, she married WWE star Bo Dallas or Taylor Rotunda in real life. As of the present, Sarah Backman works as a real estate broker.
Born on July 31, 1982, and raised in Ystad, Southern Sweden, Pauline Nordin suffered from an eating disorder and body image issues at the age of 12. Afraid to gain weight, she began working out and at the age of 17, she chanced upon a fitness magazine featuring female bodybuilders. That’s when she realized she wanted to be a fitness athlete. She trained for three years before joining the competition and came out of her first contest as Teenage National Champion for three straight years before moving up to the Senior Division where she was runner-up twice.
Nordin placed 7th in the 2006 Europa Super Show IFBB. That same year, she finished 8th in the California Pro Figure, 9th in the Pittsburgh Pro Figure and 10th in the San Francisco Pro Figure. The following year, Nordin placed 8th in the Colorado Pro/Am Classic Bodybuilding and Figure Contest. She is currently a fitness model, personal trainer, and entrepreneur.
Wendy Lindquist began as a gymnast and dance but blossomed into a world-class bodybuilder and fitness model. She also competes in strength athletics and is a competitor in Strongwoman events. Born on May 16, 1979, in British Columbia, Wendy began training in bodybuilding in 2001. Her first taste of competition was regional meets and made her first national-level appearance in 2003.
Listing down her accolades would fill an entire article so we’ll just list down here the latest awards. Wendy was 13th in the CPA Powerlifting Nationals 63kg Open Unequipped. She was also 7th placer in that same competition in 2017. In 2016, she won 5th place in the North American Pole Dance Championships in the Doubles Division. Wendy also appeared in the 2016 movie “Those Arms Though”. Aside from active competition, Wendy is currently a fitness coach and personal trainer in British Columbia.
One of the most successful female bodybuilding competitors of all-time, Corinna “Cory” Everson won Ms. Olympia six years in a row from 1984-1989. She is the only competitor never to have lost a contest at Ms. Olympia. Everson was part of the inaugural batch inducted IFBB Hall of Fame in 1999. She is also the first woman to be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2007 Arnold Classic.
Born on January 4, 1958, in Racine, Wisconsin, Everson attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she was a standout in badminton, gymnastics, and track & field. After her graduation, she began to train seriously as a bodybuilder and she trained along with future husband Jeff Everson at Ernie’s Gym on Sherman Avenue in Madison. Cory and Jeff were married in 1982 and the couple would later adopt a Russian child. Cory is active with Nightlight Christian Adoptions, an organization that helps orphans from Russia and Belarus find foster families in the United States.
Nikki Fuller was born on January 23, 1968, in Dayton, Ohio. She and her family moved Gresham, Oregon when she was 10 years old. While attending Gresham High School, Nikki competed in track and field and would later help the school’s team win the water polo state championship prior to her graduation. After graduation, she realized she was uniquely strong so she decided to focus on bodybuilding.
Fuller made her debut at the 1988 Novice Oregon and won the contest. After her triumph at the 1990 National Physique Committee Nationals in 1990, she turned pro. Her professional career included 9th and 13th place in Ms. Olympia in 1992 and 1993 respectively. She also placed 7th, 6th, and 10th in the Ms. International competitions in 1991, 1995 and 1997. After bodybuilding, she landed roles in TV shows like Nikki and Ally McBeal. She also competed in professional wrestling for WOW (Women of Wrestling) under the name “Athena”.
Fitness has always been Oksana Grishina’s life. Oksana earned a degree as a specialist in Physical Training and Sports. While in college, she organized her own baller called “Antares” and worked as a choreographer for children at the Tchaikovsky School of Music and Art in Kaliningrad. While working as a fitness and aerobics instructor in Kaliningrad, fellow trainers advised her to try bodybuilding because Oksana has a good physique. She obliged and in no time rose quickly in the competitive fitness ranks in Russia.
Born on March 25, 1978, in Kaliningrad, Russia, Oksana was first into gymnastics as a child and a teen before transitioning to fitness and bodybuilding. She was awarded the “Best non-Olympic Sportswoman of the Year” in 2005 and 2006. The following year, she finally earned her spot at Ms. Olympia and finished in 7th place. Grishina is the second ever Russian to earn an IFBB Fitness Pro card. She has since lived in the United States to work as a personal trainer, fitness consultant, and fitness model.
One of the leading fitness models today, Erica Cordie grew up in Sturgis, North Dakota. She was into snow ski but after she blew up her right knee at the age of 17, she turned to bodybuilding to help her rehabilitate. She moved to Denver, Colorado in 2000 and after three years of training, she first competed and won 1st place in the Mile High Heavyweight Natural Bodybuilding show. She would not last long though in active competition as she did not like extreme dieting and felt unhealthy.
Erica is now one of the top fitness models around. She is also a fitness expert and calendar girl. She also owns a doughnut shop and froyo shop. When she’s not working out or exercising, Erica loves to cosplay and her favorite is the superhero Wonder Woman. She also enjoys going to the bars to arm wrestle with the boys and she usually gets her way with them.