Female bodybuilders are some of the hardest working members of the wider fitness community. These athletes, whether they’re a heavyweight female bodybuilder or a young female bodybuilder, push their bodies just as hard as their male counterparts.
Their gains are a triumph of discipline, ambition, military-precise training and nutrition, and with the return of Ms Olympia to the Mr Olympia Weekend, as well as the resurgence in popularity of the female bodybuilder on Instagram, outstanding female bodybuilders are sculpting stunning physiques and breaking records.
The names on this list are some of the biggest in bodybuilding, from young female bodybuilders in their 20s, to mature female bodybuilders competing well into their 50s.
But, if you’re seeking the next step in your fitness journey, or perhaps just want to emulate some of the most successful female bodybuilders, then OriGym’s formally accredited personal training courses may be exactly what you need.
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Who Are The Best Female Bodybuilders?
#1 - Andrea Shaw
Instagram - @mzprettymuscle
Andrea Shaw is an American female bodybuilder. Shaw began muscle building at 17 with the guidance and support of her mother, a nurse and former personal trainer. This ripped female bodybuilder has a BA in Exercise and Sports Science and in 2018 entered five shows, earning her pro card at the NPC Nationals.
Andrea was placed 2nd at the 2018 Nationals and 1st in the 2018 Lenda Murray Detroit Classic, marking the start of her hugely successful physique competition career.
However, at the Toronto Pro in 2019, she spoke to judge and bodybuilding legend Lenda Murray, arguably the best women bodybuilder of the last 50 years, who encouraged her to switch divisions from physique to bodybuilding.
Shaw took her advice to heart, entering the 2019 Chicago Pro as a bodybuilder. The ripped female bodybuilder came second by 1 point in just her first tournament as a bodybuilder. Andrea went on to win Ms Olympia 2020 and Ms Rising Phoenix champion (two of the most prestigious, huge female bodybuilder tournaments), making her the biggest female bodybuilder in the world at the time.
And if you’re looking for an innovative way to boost your own strength, OriGym have compiled a report of the best weighted vests to strengthen your upper body!
#2 - Melina Keltaniemi
Instagram - @melinakatarina
A young female bodybuilder at only 22 years old, Melina Keltaniemi is just beginning her career, but she’s off to a flying start!
This ripped female bodybuilder came 2nd place in the 2018 Nordic Elite Pro, 3rd place at IFBB Elite Pro Russia, and was 2018's IFBB Elite Pro World Champion. Her drive to become the most successful female bodybuilder is clear, and her mindset matches that of a champion competitor.
An intelligent challenger, Melina prefers to focus her drive into understanding her limitations and overcoming them, maximising her potential as an athlete as opposed to allowing herself to become fixated on winning alone.
Striking a balance, this young female bodybuilder takes time to rest in the offseason, allowing her mind and body to recuperate, and living a normal life as she prepares for her next IFBB Elite Pro World Championship.
Our guide to the importance of rest days and how many you need outlines the importance of resting properly, and how it can affect your workouts for the better.
#3 - Monique Jones
Instagram - @fitnique
American Monique Jones is a mature female bodybuilder ranked 7th best female bodybuilder in the IFBB Pro Women's Bodybuilding Ranking List.
Monique was a natural athlete and began training at 13 when her father got a set of weights. Monique says she began using them and felt an "instant connection with this kind of training.” Strength training using weights is an ideal way to build muscle - we’ve explored the benefits of strength training in our comprehensive report.
In 2010 Monique entered the IFBB North American Championships as a heavyweight female bodybuilder, winning first place, she was awarded her IFBB Pro card. She won first place in the North American Championships and the Wings of Strength Chicago Pro-Am Extravaganza.
Monique came 1st in women's bodybuilding in the 2018 IFBB WOS Romania Muscle Fest Pro, and 5th in 2019's Rising Phoenix World Championships.
#4 - Andrulla Blanchette
Instagram - @ms.olympia2000
Andrulla Blanchette is a UK female bodybuilder who actively competed in various bodybuilding championships from 1986 to 2002, making her one of the most decorated British female bodybuilders.
She had an illustrious career as a huge female bodybuilder, competing in various IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding) tournaments, and earning wins in both the World Games (in 1993) and the Ms Olympia competition (in 2000).
Of course, these wins aren’t this ripped female bodybuilder’s only accomplishments - she also has podiums in multiple other IFBB tournaments and competitions, with 2nd place finishes in Ms Olympia (2001), and the Ms International (2000) tournaments, and 3rd place awards in consecutive IFBB Grand Prixs.
Nowadays, this highly regarded British female bodybuilder owns her own personal training gym, dispensing advice and tips to the next generation of UK female bodybuilders.
And if you’re looking to build muscle and begin your journey as a bodybuilder, our buyers’ guide to the best weightlifting belts has options for all tastes and abilities.
#5 - Yaxeni Oriquen
Instagram - @yaxenita
Yaxeni Milagros Oriquen-Garcia Perez is a Venezuelan-American mature female bodybuilder and professional bodybuilding champion ranked as second-best in the IFBB ranking list.
In 2005 Yaxeni won the Ms Olympia title, making her one of the most successful female bodybuilders ever, as the only Venezuelan-American to win the title.
Yaxeni is the winner of five Ms International titles, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2012, and has over 20 years experience in nutrition, weight training (OriGym’s exploration of vegan weight training offers an insight into this practice), and body sculpting.
At 54 years old, mature female bodybuilder Yaxeni says she loves training and following a healthy lifestyle as it keeps her feeling young, motivated by a genuine love for her sport and a drive to inspire and motivate others to live their healthiest life.
#6 - Theresa Ivancik
Instagram - @tivancik_ifbbpro
Theresa Ivancik is a professional female bodybuilder for the IFBB Pro League and certified personal trainer ranked 6th in the world for female bodybuilding. She achieved a 6th place finish at the 2019 Rising Phoenix World Championships.
In 2019, this ripped female bodybuilder won the Lenda Murray Norfolk Pro show qualifying her for the Rising Phoenix World Championships, as well as being placed 6th Theresa won the best poser award, and an invitation to guest pose on the Olympia expo stage.
She also went on to dominate the competition in the IFBB Chicago competition, earning herself the title of “Best Poser” for her female bodybuilder posing and stances.
This ripped female bodybuilder also works with Wings of Strength, an inspiring company advocating for female bodybuilding. Ivancik said: "Wings of Strength gives us women the opportunities to be who we want to be and show the world that we are female bodybuilding!"
Sport and fitness definitely needs more female representation, and OriGym’s celebration of influential women in fitness and sport honors the most decorated female competitors.
#7 - Elisa Pecini
Instagram - @isapecini
24-year-old Brazilian Pecini (one of the most successful female bodybuilders in the bikini competition) won the 2018 MuscleContest Nacional Pro Bikini, 2018 Pittsburgh Pro Bikini, 2018 MuscleContest Brazil Pro Bikini, and the 2019 Bikini Olympia category during the 2019 Mr Olympia.
However, her journey hasn’t been an easy one.
Dropping to 81 pounds at 5’4″, Pecini battled anorexia nervosa from age 13 to 15, which led to her being hospitalised. After a month of intensive treatment, Pecini says she had a breakthrough wanting to "get back to a healthy weight in a safe, gradual way that wasn’t harmful."
She hit the gym and began developing healthy eating habits, and, after eight months of regaining her health, she said she felt empowered by her transformation. Pecini made her debut as a bodybuilder in Rio de Janeiro in 2015.
Strong and thriving, Pecini triumphed in her fight against anorexia, won her pro card at the age of 19 and shares what she has learned via her website. Pecini says: “I try to remember every day the dreams that I’ve conquered and those that I still want to achieve.”
#8 - Sarah Villegas
Instagram - @iamsarahfit
IFBB Pro, personal trainer and certified sports nutritionist Sarah Villegas won 2020's Olympia: Women’s Physique and is a three-time IFBB Pro Olympian with both silver and a gold medals.
She also earned a 2nd place finish in the 2019 Olympia Women’s Physique competition, meaning her career as one of the most successful female bodybuilders is just beginning!
The ripped female bodybuilder earned her pro status at the Universe Championships in 2017 going on to win the Chicago Pro. Sarah is the Fitness Director at AFS Premier Fitness, and an expert in nutrition and personal training supporting hundreds in accomplishing life-changing fitness transformations.
Sarah places her achievements down to discipline and hard work (qualities she encourages in her personal training clients), and this industrious huge female bodybuilder fully intends to return to the Olympia stage in 2021.
Being disciplined and setting achievable goals is a key part of any successful fitness routine, though - we’ve compiled a list of the best fitness journals to help you keep track of all your personal milestones.
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#9 - Shanique Grant
Instagram - @therealfitnessbeauty
Shanique Grant is an American IFBB professional bodybuilder and online coach. She won her pro card four months into her competitive career, she won her first Women’s Physique Olympia title at 23 years old in 2018, an accomplishment which she repeated in 2019.
A victim of teenage bullying, Shanique had deep-rooted issues with confidence and self-esteem. Partying as a coping mechanism, she was hospitalised with near kidney failure in her teen years. Turning to fitness she reinvented herself, and at 19 Shanique won first place in the East Coast Championships. Shanique went on to win first place in IFBB Pro Women Physique in the 2016 New York Pro.
Shanique began training for the Olympia competition in 2016 but was forced to withdraw as she recovered from a violent attack by three women in August 2016. Shanique suffered moderate nerve damage and torn muscle tissue, losing almost 1 litre of blood. After physical therapy, she pulled back and repeated her previous year's win for women's physique at the New York Pro in May 2017.
Shanique was placed second at the 2020 Olympia. Shanique formally announced her retirement from competitive bodybuilding on her YouTube channel in 2020.
#10 - Stefi Cohen
Instagram - @steficohen
Dr Stefi Cohen, a wildly popular female bodybuilder on Instagram, and an icon in the strength community and physical therapist, holds a multitude of world records, as well as a state gold medal in Olympic weightlifting.
Cohen currently holds the record in both squat and deadlift with a 202.5kg squat and 205kg deadlift. She’s universally recognised as arguably the biggest female bodybuilder in the world, with a substantial social media following, as well as being a podcast host and all-round fitness inspiration.
Stefi is also the co-owner of Hybrid Performance Method, a coaching company that helps their clients accomplish their athletic and aesthetic goals.
Goals are a crucial part of all our fitness journeys, but it’s important that they’re achievable - OriGym’s investigation into the idea of SMART fitness goals explores how you can make your goals realistic and manageable.
In 2020 Cohen dropped to a lower weight class to continue setting new all-time world records, weighing just 114.2 pounds after dropping 15 pounds. She capped this off with 3 brand new world records, bringing her total number of world records to an incredible 25!
#11 - Carriejune Bowlby
Instagram - @misscarriejune
A ripped female bodybuilder and American fitness model, Carriejune Anne Bowlby has been on a years-long journey from slender to strong, amassing 1.2 million Instagram followers along the way.
This female bodybuilder on Instagram is an inspiration to her followers worldwide. Carriejune began exercising at school with track and field, gymnastics and cheerleading.
She moved onto weight-lifting when she hit her first year of secondary school. Carriejune works out 6 days a week, documenting her journey on her platform which she uses to motivate others.
She follows a strict nutritional regime, too, ensuring she can maintain the physique she wants. Learning more about nutrition and what you should be eating is vital for having a good balance and maintaining your body’s metabolic rate - our pick of the best metabolism boosting foods has options for all tastebuds!
#12 - Beatriz Biscaia
Instagram - @biscaiapro
Two times youngest Bikini Olympian and two times Pro Champ Beatriz Biscaia is a Portuguese IFBB Bikini Pro competitor, winning her Pro Card at only 17 years old, an accomplishment which is unrivalled in the bodybuilding industry.
The youngest IFBB Bikini Pro ever, Beatriz has won first place in the Diamond Cup Thorn, first place in the Rui Ferreira Contest and first place in the Portugal Classic. The young female bodybuilder also achieved silver medals in the European Pro Bikini, MuscleContest Japan Pro Bikini, and the Vancouver Pro Bikini.
Beatriz trains five to six times per week, dedicating each workout to a different muscle group, switching up her routine to prevent her muscles from adapting. Her hard work and dedication ensures she can maintain her incredibly well-defined physique, and continue to compete at the highest level.
This ripped female bodybuilder is a firm believer that women can lift just as much as men, and her training regime and diet support this idea.
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#13 - Helle Trevino
Instagram - @helletrevino
Danish/American IFBB Pro Helle Trevino (born Helle Nielsen) earned her pro card at 27 in 2004. She competed in her first Olympia that same year and herniated multiple discs in her back to be told by her doctor she would never compete again.
Over the course of eight years of rehabilitation, this heavyweight female bodybuilder recovered and recuperated. A fierce and persistent competitor, she won the 2011 FIBO Pro in Germany and in 2017 won the Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championships, an achievement she went on to repeat in 2019.
Trevino wants to inspire women into bodybuilding. Competing in the industry since the 90s, the huge female bodybuilder has seen women move from wanting to be very slender to a desire to be strong and fit, and she wants to pave the way for female empowerment and gender equality.
Trevino hosts mind and training technique seminars around the world as well as offering private mental strength sessions where she teaches how to discipline and strengthen the mind.
Mental health is a key benefit of all forms of exercise - OriGym’s report on the mental health benefits of running explores the psychological boosts that cardio gives us.
#14 - Margie Martin
Instagram - @marvelousv
American professional female bodybuilder Margaret "Margie" Marvelous won first place in the Ms Rising Phoenix of 2015 and the 2016 IFBB Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championships
A former Marine Corps sergeant like her father before her, Margie had dreams of becoming a bodybuilder, inspired as a child by powerful heroines such as She-Ra: Princess of Power and Tigress from ThunderCats. And if motivation is an area where you struggle, check out our selection of the best fitness podcasts to keep you motivated.
In August 2012, Martin was named NPC's August 2012 Athlete of the Month and won 1st place in the heavyweight category at the 2013 NPC USA Championships, winning her an IFBB pro card.
At the 2015 IFBB Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championships, she won her first Ms Rising Phoenix title. She repeated this triumph at the 2016 IFBB Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championships, winning her second title in a row.
She’s since gone on to win both the Toronto and the Omaha Pro Women’s Bodybuilding tournaments in the same year, as well as earning podium finishes across multiple other competitions, making her a formidable competitor, and arguably the biggest female bodybuilder in the world.
#15 - Nataliya Kuznetsova
Instagram - @nataliya.amazonka
Heavyweight female bodybuilder Nataliya Kuznetsova has amassed nearly half a million followers on Instagram. Many sources claim the Russian athlete is the biggest female bodybuilder in the world, and with her standing at 5’7″ and over 220 pounds in the offseason, it’s easy to see why!
Nataliya holds the world arm lifting, bench press, and deadlift titles, as well as the European bench press and deadlift titles (read more on the benefits of deadlifts in our comprehensive article).
The heavyweight female bodybuilder won 1st place at the 2018 IFBB WOS Romania Muscle Fest and 2nd place at the 2019 IFBB Romania Muscle Fest Pro.
A pioneer and trailblazer for women’s bodybuilding, Kuzetsova is an inspiration for anyone, male or female, interested in fitness. Her self-discipline and determination has ensured she’s become a mainstay in almost every female bodybuilder competition.
#16 - Jessica Buettner
Instagram - @djessicabuettner
Breaking three junior powerlifting records at the 2018 World Championship, 24-year-old Jessica Buettner is a Canadian powerlifter who won the silver medal at the 2019 IPF World Championship in Helsingborg.
At 19, Jessica made her debut at the Canadian Powerlifting Union (CPU) Saskatchewan Provincials where she won first place in the Junior division with a 352.5kg/777lb total.
The young female bodybuilder has competed in sixteen events since her debut. Of the sixteen events she competed in, Jessica took home the gold for fourteen of them, which is a feat that’s yet to be matched by many other contestants.
At the CPU Nationals of March 2020, Buttner came in first by over 113kg/249lb and set three unofficial world records. Her career is just starting to take off, so this young female bodybuilder is certainly one to watch for the future!
And if you’re looking to begin your own weightlifting journey, our guide to calisthenics for beginners covers everything you need to know to get started.
#17 - Gayle Moher
Instagram - @moherg
Arguably one of the most recognisable American-British female bodybuilders, Gayle Moher has had an impressive career spanning across multiple decades and a host of tournaments in a wide variety of countries.
This UK female bodybuilder competed between 1995 and 2010, accumulating podium finishes in numerous different competitions, including the Jan Tana Classic and the Southwest USA Pro Cup.
However, this mature female bodybuilder’s biggest win came in 1999, where she finished top in the Jan Tana Classic. What makes this more impressive is that this American-British female bodybuilder had already competed 3 times in that same year!
More recently, this impressive UK female bodybuilder has opened her own gym and spa (Gayle Moher’s Face and Bodyworks), where she aims to impart her wisdom to the next generation of heavyweight female bodybuilders. If that sounds like your ideal fitness paradise, get prepared with our ultimate guide to gym etiquette!
#18 - Iris Kyle
Instagram - @iriskyle
Ranked as the best female bodybuilder in the IFBB Pro Women's Bodybuilding Ranking List (2013), American professional female bodybuilder Iris Floyd Kyle holds seventeen titles including ten overall Ms Olympia wins, the most Olympia wins of anyone, male or female, making her the most successful female bodybuilder ever.
Moving to California in the early nineties Iris was surrounded by physically fit and inspirational people and wanted to obtain a similar sculpted physique - our article on how to get a summer body has tips and tricks on achieving your dream body. Iris recalls the first time she saw a photo of Lenda Murray in a magazine and how she had been completely in awe. Kyle began her winning streak with the 1994 Long Beach Muscle Classic.
Kyle won the NPC USA Championships in 1998, Ms Olympia in 2001, Ms International in every year between 2004 and 2013, and Ms Olympia in every year between 2004 and 2014.
In July 2020, Iris announced she would be returning to compete at Ms Olympia, making her one of the most formidable mature female bodybuilders to compete against.
#19 - Cydney Gillon
Instagram - @vytamin_c
Cydney Gillon is a professional bodybuilder, three-time Figure Olympia Champion, and contestant on Survivor lasting a total of 37 days in the game.
With both her parents being competitive bodybuilders, Cydney Gillon had an early start in fitness and an appreciation for the discipline necessary for fitness. In 2012 Gillon won the NPC Nationals receiving her pro card and graduated university in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Gillon has been placed in the top ten of every pro show she has ever competed in. While that fact in itself is impressive, the ripped female bodybuilder has won her last 6 tournaments, earning a first place finish in the Olympia Figure for 2020, ‘19, and '18, as well as the Arizona Pro and Figure International competitions.
Gillon says she is inspired by her mother, a two-time breast cancer survivor, who, even though she could barely walk because of her treatment, attended every one of her daughter’s competitions.
#20 - Juliana Esteso
Instagram - @jujubafit_
This female bodybuilder on Instagram not only has a hard-earned physique, but she also has almost half a million followers! Brazilian athlete Juliana Esteso competed in the IFBB’s Wellness division when it made its debut in France in 2015.
The Wellness division judges for a developed lower body with a toned-down upper body, allowing for more body fat than other women’s categories, and Juliana's figure perfectly fits this category.
Juliana sees her mission in life as one to motivate and help others, describing fitness as a passion which should be practised with respect, devotion and joy.
Even though she rarely competes, Juliana keeps herself in competitive shape motivating and inspiring her followers. Her aim is to inspire and push others to achieve their own goals. But if you find yourself lacking motivation, OriGym’s selection of fitness & gym motivation videos is sure to help you get going!
#21 - Dana Linn Bailey
Instagram - @danalinnbailey
In 2011, American IFBB Pro fitness and figure competitor Dana Linn Bailey won Jr. USA in Charleston, SC, receiving her IFBB pro card, and in 2013 she won Joe Weider's Olympia. Dana has competed in the Fit Expo, the Flex Lewis Classic, the American Ninja Warrior, the Nationals and The Arnold Classic for Powerlifting.
This ripped female bodybuilder’s illustrious career includes numerous first place finishes in hotly contested tournaments, including Olympia (2013), Dallas Europa (2013), and Jr. USA (2011).
With her husband Rob Bailey, Dana owns 'The Warhouse' gym, a state of the art training facility for pro bodybuilders featuring top of the line equipment brands such as Rogue, Legend, Hammer Strength, and Life Fitness as well as custom made pieces. This specialist equipment is ideal for more advanced workouts - our report on the best kettlebell leg exercises has something for even the strongest fitness fanatic!
The Baileys own a clothing brand (Flag Nor Fail, catering to pros in the fitness community who may struggle to find their size), a supplement brand (Run Everything Labs, which includes pre-workout blends and thermogenic supplements), and DLB Daily, an online training program.
#22 - Deepika Chowdhury
Instagram - @deepikapune_ifbbpro
Deepika Chowdhury, a molecular biologist, is India’s first female IFBB pro and the first Indian woman to win the Overall Figure category at the 2015 NPC Steve Stone Metropolitan Championships, USA.
An inspiration, Deepika has an enthusiasm for competing, believing that optimal health and fitness goes beyond your dream body; that it is essential to care for mind, character and spirituality to nourish your fitness journey.
She believes in an honest and achievable approach to fitness. “Be honest about your goals and ideal body type. You define it yourself. The ideal body for YOU, not for the WORLD. Use wisdom, intellect and vision to know the reasons for your every action.”
She works closely with Bombshell Fitness, which sets out to prove that women bodybuilders and those who want to achieve a muscular physique can do so, regardless of gender.
#23 - Juliana Malacarne
Instagram - @julesfit10
Brazilian IFBB professional bodybuilder Juliana Malacarne is a four-time winner of Olympia's Women's Physique Showdown, winning in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Her female bodybuilder posing techniques and ideas are highly sought after, especially given her tournament pedigree.
Juliana earned her IFBB Pro Card in 2005 at the IFBB Amateur BodyFitness Championships in São Paulo. Juliana followed this by going on to win the New York Pro Championship Women's Physique category three years in a row after moving to the United States, 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2015 she came first at the IFBB Arnold Sports Festival.
Malacarne says she is “hungry” for more, and will continue to compete on international stages cementing her place among the legends of female bodybuilding. Her determination and grit has surely cemented her place as one of the future biggest female bodybuilders.
And if you’re still struggling to motivate yourself, we’d recommend checking out one of our picks of the best fitness motivation Twitter accounts for some tips and tricks for getting going!
Before You Go!
We hope our list of some of the most successful female bodybuilders has given you the inspiration to achieve your dreams, or just to start on your own fitness journey.
Whether you’re inspired by more mature female bodybuilders, or you get your motivation from heavyweight women bodybuilders, our list aims to help you set goals you can accomplish.
But if you’ve smashed past all your milestones, then your next step could be turning your passion for exercise into a career. OriGym offers REPS and CIMSPA accredited personal training courses that give you everything you need to get started as a PT.
Still unsure? Our FREE prospectus answers any questions you might have, as well as explaining exactly what we offer!
Written by Professional S & C Coaches
Download Your FREE 16 Week Weight Training Programme
Written by Professional S & C Coaches