Dennis Wolf reflects on the struggle of trying to match up to Phil Heath.

What’s exciting about the current state of bodybuilding is that for the past two years we have not had a repeat champion. This makes 2020 anyone’s guess as to who will stand tall. Will Brandon win again and start a streak that will continue into the future? Will Phil Heath reclaim his thrown? This also makes for a vastly different experience for the competitors. When a top tier bodybuilder heads into the Olympia knowing someone like Phil Heath had won six times previously, it’s a large mountain to overcome both physically and mentally. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Dennis Wolf explains what it was like competing against Phil Heath in his prime.

Every bodybuilder wants to be the Olympia champion. This holds true for any stage of an athlete’s career. Even if they placed 10th at the previous Mr. Olympia, they go into the next year aiming for the big win.

That being said, it seems that it would be extra challenging to be a top tier competitor who falls second or third place to the winner year after year. It’s the whole, “so close, yet so far” scenario. When you are already one of the top bodybuilders in the world, how do you tweak your physique to become the very best?

We asked that very question to Dennis Wolf, who is now retired and can look back at his career with some hindsight and reflection. What was it like for Wolf to compete against Phil Heath all those years? What is it like to be so close but just a few points off from the Sandow trophy?

Dennis Wolf admits that it can be a frustrating process. He explains how once a competitor hits the very top 1% of the sport, it’s down to the slightest of differences that make or break a champion. But one small difference can lead to a big overall change in physique. Wolf explains that it’s the kind of differences you can’t see on camera. You can’t even see them in the audience. You have to be right up front in the first row like the judges.

This is a comment that many of the IFBB and NPC judges have stated in the past. There are nuances that only the people up front can really see. It’s these little nuances that separate the top 5 at the Olympia. It’s why a judges scoring weighs heavier than public opinion.

Dennis Wolf’s comments showcase just how incredible of a competitor athletes like Phil Heath were. Competitors like Phil and Ronnie Coleman among others were able to maintain a near pitch perfect physique year after year. Of course, all good things eventually come to an end. Slowly the perfection cracks until it’s noticeable enough to fall from grace.

Ultimately, Dennis Wolf can look back and be in awe Phil Heath’s consistent perfection. But we can assume that during Wolf’s competitive years, he was hell bent on finding a way to one up Phil. It’s a frustrating mental battle to face. It’s part of what makes these pro athletes so talented.

You can watch Dennis Wolf’s full comments on facing Phil Heath in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.