“Biceps are like ornaments on a Christmas tree.” With a variety of talents and interests, Dennis Wolf is perhaps best known in the IFBB bodybuilding circuit for his massive outer quads and incredibly small waist. Dubbing himself as “The Big Bad Wolf,” he is now one of the top bodybuilders in the world who saw his first major victory in 2014 when he won the Arnold Classic. A year later, he competed in the 2015 Mr. Olympia where he finished in fourth place but saw his popularity skyrocket as he became a household name and a favorite among fans. So, how did he get his start as a bodybuilder and what does the future look like for the 5’11” tall, muscle-clad German?
Born in the Soviet Union city of Tokmok on October 30, 1978, Wolf and his family left the city shortly before it was dissolved and became part of Kyrgyzstan. They moved around the Asian continent for over a decade and even briefly settled in the Russian town of Topki before finally returning to their native Germany in 1992. Settling in the town of Marl, this move drastically changed Wolf’s life as the 14-year-old discovered a new hobby—martial arts—in his new hometown. With his interest in health and physical fitness piqued, he never considered a future or even a career in the sport but, soon enough, even that changed.
It was apparent to Wolf, his family, friends and fellow weightlifters at the gym that he had great genetics for bodybuilding, which led him to shift his focus from martial arts to bodybuilding full time. As he started packing on even more muscle mass and tailoring his diet to meet his training needs, he made his amateur debut in the world of competitive bodybuilding at the 1999 NRW Newcomer Championships. Competing in the heavyweight class, he finished in second place and used that momentum to train even harder for the 2000 contest, which he ended up winning.
With his first win under his belt, there was absolutely nothing standing in Wolf’s way as he spent the next four years wowing the world with his incredible physique at numerous amateur contests, most of which he won. His victories included the 2000, 2004 and 2005 IFBB NRW-Landesmeisterschaft, the 2002 Belgium Grand Prix, the 2005 IFBB 46 Deutsche Meisterschaft, the 2005 IFBB WM-Qualifkation and the 2005 IFBB World Championship.
After six years of amateur competitions, Wolf was finally ready to make his debut on the professional circuit and did exactly that at the 2006 Europa Super Show where he finished in seventh place. As an IFBB professional, victories came harder for Wolf as a professional competitor especially after his fifth-place finish at the 2006 Montreal Pro Championships and his 16th place debut at the 2006 Mr. Olympia. Determined to find success, he secured his first professional win at the 2007 Keystone Classic Contest and saw his Mr. Olympia ranking improve with a fifth-place finish the same year. Focusing solely on the Mr. Olympia for the next few years, he consistently ranked in the top 10 but wasn’t finding much success in winning the coveted title.
Enjoying additional victories at the 2011 Australian Pro and the 2012 EVLS Prague Pro, Wolf earned his biggest professional win in 2014 when he won both the Arnold Classic and the Arnold Classic Europe. While the payday for the wins were both exceptionally generous, nothing could beat the opportunity to meet the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger himself who congratulated Wolf on his impressive victory. Obviously thrilled with meeting the Austrian Oak in addition to his hard-fought wins, he wrapped up 2014 with even more success with a first-place finish at the 2014 EVLS Prague Pro and a second-place finish at the 2014 San Marino Pro.
By 2015, Wolf’s competition schedule had slowed to a crawl with fourth place finishes at only two contests the entire year—the Mr. Olympia and the EVLS Prague Pro. However, nothing signaled his retirement as he continued to hit the gym harder than ever. In fact, he even landed on the April 2016 cover of Muscular Development magazine where he shared his bodybuilding success as well as his years of hard work at the gymxx. “Genetics gave me wide shoulders and a tiny waist,” he said. “Hard work put the caps on my shoulders and the flare in my quads.”
Refusing to settle for anything less than what he refers to as “beast mode” whether he’s competing or simply getting in his daily workout, Wolf might have taken 2016 off from the Mr. Olympia but that doesn’t mean he’s given up on winning the prestigious Sandow trophy. In fact, he trained harder than ever over the last year with appearances at the 2016 Loaded Cup, the Siberian Power Show, FIBO 2016, the NPC Pittsburgh Championship and the Florida Grand Prix, among others. Along the way, he’s also lunched his personal brand in the industry with his own shop at www.dennis-wolf.de where he sells clothes and training DVDs in addition to promoting his sponsors and endorsement deals with brands like AMIX Nutrition, Gorilla Wear, Cyclone Cup and Schiek.
With plenty of time to make his mark on the industry at only 38 years old, Wolf keeps his training philosophy rooted in the belief that the pain of today is the victory of tomorrow. “My training philosophy is to train as hard as you can because other competitors are training hard too,” he says. As for his legacy, the German bodybuilder’s strength certainly works to his advantage; “We endure the pain and hit the gym again and again, and don’t care if you call us insane because who is going to remember your name if we’re all the same? Besides, a Wolf doesn’t care about the opinions of sheep.” We definitely can’t argue with that.