German bodybuilding sensation Dennis Wolf left behind a storied career competing over 12 years as a pro. In a Straight Outta the Lair podcast with Flex Lewis, Dennis Wolf discussed his upbringing in the Soviet Union, competing as a pro, and what’s next in retirement.
While building a reputation in the Men’s Open division, Dennis Wolf proved himself against elite talents such as Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman, and Phil Heath. Even though he never won a Mr. Olympia title, fans and bodybuilders alike hold him in high regard for his balance of size and conditioning.
En route to building a stacked résumé, Wolf earned the biggest win of his career in 2014 at the Arnold Classic. With plenty of memorable posing appearances fueling his legacy, Wolf was also a consistent top-five Olympia finisher. In retirement, he remains dedicated to staying fit and healthy, which means downsizing from his former 300-pound self.
The last time fans saw Dennis Wolf he shared a taxing chest workout. The gym has still been a constant destination for the bodybuilding veteran despite stepping away from competitions. This time, he took a break from pumping iron to speak with retired seven-time 212 Olympia champ, Flex Lewis.
Dennis Wolf Speaks on Soviet Union Upbringing, Starting in the Gym, and Getting Massive in 2009 for Olympia
Dennis Wolf shared that he moved several times while growing up. Eventually, he relocated from Russia to Germany before pursuing fitness.
“So people understand, the Soviet Union was like Russia today, so everybody could travel you know to all the republics right, so there were socialistic republics like Kyrgyzstan, the SSR, Ukrainian SSR, Belarus SSR, Kazakh SSR, all that you know, which became independent in 1991. I was born in ’78. I enjoyed the life until Mikhail Gorbachev came into power and he started that prehistoric stuff. So, that’s when you start feeling that everything is going to shit,” said Dennis Wolf.
Initially, Wolf exercised alone and absorbed advice from trainers at his local gym. Within the first year of training, Wolf said he gained approximately 44 pounds.
“In the beginning, I did everything by myself in the gym. I didn’t even listen to the trainers. It’s stupid, but that was me you know. After two or three months, then, after, I started feeling like, ‘Okay, what I’m doing, I feel it for two days, I’m sore and all this stuff.’ Then, I started listening to trainers say okay, ‘You need to do bench press or incline press, something like that,’ before that, I would probably do flyes and sitting on the machines you know, stuff like that.”
“I started training… I would weigh 74 kilos. I don’t know what that is in pounds. 150, I don’t know. Something like that, I just guessed. And then, after one year, I gained like 15 or 20 kilos. So I was over 90 [kilos] after one year.”
Wolf said he weighed the heaviest of his life in 2009 at 315 pounds. However, he added that carrying the excessive weight became difficult. As a result, his appetite plummeted and he no longer wanted to move around.
“The biggest Dennis Wolf was 2009 I think – 143 kilos, I think it’s 310, 312 pounds [315 pounds]. That was no fun. It was a lot of pressure, I didn’t feel great. Of course, there are other issues which come with forcing yourself to eat, being that big, this is like getting the first meal in.”
“It even started to look unhealthy. It’s not just my feeling back then. When I was so heavy, I felt like oh man, I didn’t want to eat, I don’t want to move, all that. It’s so heavy and the first meal was the worst part of the day.”
To achieve his mass monster physique, Dennis Wolf said he consumed five to six meals per day. Most of his servings consisted of high protein and as much carbohydrates as possible.
“I would say six meals a day. That was the basic. In the off-season, I would cut it to five. Sometimes, you know, you make some changes depending on what’s going on, how you feel you. If I would cut to five a day, the meals would be bigger.”
“The other four or five meals were like 300-350 grams of chicken or other meat with as much as possible on carbs. I would eat my meal like 150 grams of rice, I would make sure I have 100 grams or 150 grams of carbs each meal”
Wolf Relives Back Injury Caused by Barbell Rows & Making Comeback After Surgery
After injuring his back performing barbell rows, doctors told Wolf he sustained damage to several vertebrae in his back.
“I was doing rows, barbell rows. Somehow, one side wasn’t connecting anymore, so it’s kind of like, if you row, one side will go right and straight, and the other side will kind of – twist. So, what the hell is that? I went to a doctor they didn’t know what, they put me under the MRI, and they saw, ‘okay, that C3, C4, C5, and C6, the most damage was between C3 and C4.”
Looking back on his return in 2018, Wolf accepted that it would probably be his last show.
“I decided to make a comeback and I felt like, now I’m ready to go. Also, that will be sitting in my head, ‘Is that the right decision? If yes, this could be your last show.’ Because I didn’t know how my prep would go. Will I finish my prep? Will I bring the same package as always or worse and how much worse… I didn’t think I would be better than before. I knew it.”
In a Cutler Cast appearance, Jay Cutler and Dennis Wolf took a closer look at the rise of bodybuilding deaths as of late. Wolf refused to speculate as to why bodybuilders are passing away. He mentioned that athletes in other sports like soccer die often as well.
Even after pushing the limits, Dennis Wolf maintains an impressive physique today. His track record at the highest level of bodybuilding is a testament to his willpower.