Dennis Wolf makes his point. YouTube

Dennis Wolf opened up about a wide variety of topics to Flex Lewis on Lewis’ Straight Outta the Lair podcast, released today. They have a lot in common. Wolf and Lewis are both European immigrants, now American citizens, and both are bodybuilding legends, now retired and living in suburban Las Vegas. They even have their own Vegas gyms: Lewis has the Dragon’s Lair, open to the public, and Wolf has his own outdoor home gym, the Wolf’s Den. The pair shared bodybuilding memories, fishing tales, talk of force-feeding themselves, visitors from other dimensions, and much more. The section on the mental turmoil caused by shedding their former bodies was especially deep and hopefully helpful to others.

Dennis Wolf now
Wolf working out in the Wolf’s Den, Nov. 21, 2022. / Instagram

Here are some highlights.


“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, 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, ‘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 [163 lbs.]….And then, after one year, I gained like 15 or 20 kilos. So I was over 90 [kilos; 198 lbs.] after one year.”


“The biggest I was was 2009, I think, 143 kilos [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.”

Dennis Wolf bodybuilder
Dennis Wolf in much bigger times. / Instagram


“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 put me under the MRI, and they saw, okay, that C3, C4, C5, and C6 [vertebra were injured]. The most damage was between C3 and C4.”

Prior to the injury, Wolf had finished fourth in the 2015 Mr. Olympia. Then, after three years off stages, he came back in 2018.

“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.”

When Wolf won his previous Arnold Classic in 2014, it was the highlight of his career. But in 2018, severely downsized, he finished a humbling 12th (out of 13) in that same Arnold Classic and then 10th (out of 14) in the Australian Arnold Classic, the lowlights of his career. He knew he was done.


“It was very, very difficult time, not during my comeback but after. After that, I was destroyed. I was down. I wasn’t thinking straight. I was confused. I was mad. I was pissed. I was 37-38 [when he injured his back], that’s prime time as a bodybuilder. Yeah, that was pretty bad.”

Dennis Wolf
Wolf talks mental health on Flex’s podcast. / YouTube

Flex: “How did you get through that?”

“My wife, my daughter, conversations. Having good time, good thoughts. Spending a lot of time just being together and focus maybe on new things that might come next. I was thinking if one door closes another gets opened. That chapter of my life was the worst, I would say. It took me at least two years where I said like: I don’t care anymore that I can’t look like that anymore. I don’t care anymore that my career is over. I don’t care anymore that I don’t feel great in my own skin. Even going to the restroom you look in the mirror and like [yuck expression]. Everything, little by little, was crushing me in my mind. And after two years, left, right, up and down, all of that stuff, I finally kind of let it go. And after that it was all good. That’s why I like the way I look right now, so I don’t care.”

Flex: “You look fantastic. People are striving to look like you, what you currently look like. As bodybuilders, we’re kind of in our own heads. I’ve dealt with it, not as much as you’ve been through. We’ve lived in our own gorilla suits for two decades, training since you were a young teenager, and aiming to be that magazine. You get there and look at yourself and you’re still not that magazine. But to others you are that magazine. So when all of sudden [the muscle is] falling off of you, whether it’s through injury, or, like me, I decided I was done, you’re known for that [previous body], and people look at you differently, they judge you different. And sometimes mainly I think this is now the case because I can look at myself from a different perspective, it’s a lot in your head; you’re overthinking a lot of this shit.”

“It’s all of it in your head. Sometimes you need just to let it go sometimes, maybe for a day or two, just so you feel better, not to think about it all the time….I understand how it is. It’s a very difficult time. But as soon as you get over it, everything gets better. There’s so many directions you can go, but of course you connect everything to bodybuilding because that’s the job you did, or the life you lived, for the last 20 years, so that’s why it’s so difficult.”

Dennis Wolf
Dennis Wolf and Flex Lewis podcasting in Flex’s office at the Dragon’s Lair. / YouTube


Wolf even talked about his going on an Ancient Aliens tour of Latin American pyramids and what he thinks today about extraterrestrial visitors.

For that and much more, check out the Straight Outta the Lair podcast with Dennis Wolf:

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