The IFBB bodybuilder Dennis “The Menace” James resides in Heidelberg, Germany. As an accomplished athlete and as a person with a larger-than-life personality, he is well recognized. Growing up, Dennis was extremely athletic and always in shape. As soon as he became involved in bodybuilding, he decided to take part in junior competitions. His performance in a number of competitions led to him earning a pro card in 1999 and breaking into the big leagues.
The first time he competed in Mr. Olympia was in 2000 when he placed 11th. A total of 7 Mr. Olympias were held, with his best finish being a 4th in 2003, proving that he had what it takes to compete with the best. Dennis has been featured in several fitness and bodybuilding magazines and looks back on his career with pride.
In this article, we will examine the diet plan Dennis ‘The Menace’ James takes in order to build a strong physique. Furthermore, he is quite fit, so it would be interesting to see his workout routine. You can learn all about his routines and maybe decipher the secrets of how he got where he is today by staying tuned.
Dennis James Body Statistics
- Birth Year: 1966 (age 55)
- Birth Date: May 31
- Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.72 m)
- Weight: 258 lb (117 kg)
- Chest: 142 cm or 56 inches
- Biceps: 56 cm or 22 inches
- Waist: 74 cm or 29 inches
- Quads: 79 cm or 31 inches
- Calves: 43 cm or 17 inches
Dennis James Awards and Achievements
- 1993 NABBA Mr. Universe, Medium-Tall, 4th
- 1994 NABBA Mr. Universe, Medium-Tall, 2nd
- 1995 NABBA Mr. Universe, Medium-Tall, 1st
- 1996 NPC Junior USA, Light-HeavyWeight, 13th
- 1996 NABBA Universe – Pro, 2nd
- 1997 NPC Junior Nationals, Light-HeavyWeight, 6th
- 1997 NPC Nationals, HeavyWeight, 4th
- 1998 NPC USA Championships, Super-HeavyWeight, 1st, and Overall
- 1999 Night of Champions, 15th
- 2000 Arnold Classic, 4th
- 2000 Grand Prix England, 3rd
- 2000 Grand Prix Hungary, 3rd
- 2000 Ironman Pro Invitational, 7th
- 2000 Mr. Olympia, 11th
- 2000 World Pro Championships, 4th
- 2001 Arnold Classic, 3rd
- 2001 Grand Prix Australia, 2nd
- 2001 Grand Prix England, 3rd
- 2001 Grand Prix Hungary, 1st
- 2001 Mr. Olympia, 7th
- 2002 Arnold Classic, 7th
- 2002 Grand Prix England, 2nd
- 2002 Grand Prix Holland, 4th
- 2002 Mr. Olympia, 10th
- 2002 Show of Strength Pro Championship, 5th
- 2003 Mr. Olympia, 4th
- 2003 Show of Strength Pro Championship, 4th
- 2004 Mr. Olympia, 8th
- 2005 Charlotte Pro Championships, 2nd
- 2005 Mr. Olympia, 6th
- 2006 New York Pro Championships, 3rd
- 2006 Mr. Olympia, 9th
- 2006 Grand Prix Austria, 4th
- 2007 New York Pro, 2nd
- 2007 Colorado Pro Championships, 8th
- 2008 IFBB Tampa Bay Pro, 2nd
- 2008 IFBB Europa Super Show, 2nd
- 2009 IFBB Arnold Classic, 7th
- 2009 IFBB New York Pro Show, 2nd
- 2009 IFBB Tampa Pro, 1st
- 2009 Europa Super Show, 1st
- 2010 Mr. Olympia 11th
- 2012 Masters Mr. Olympia 3rd
Dennis James Workout Routine
Heavy And Simple
Dennis trains with Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay occasionally. In the Oxygen Gym in Kuwait, the group trains in an exceptionally well-designed gym and performs simple exercises that last no longer than 45 minutes.
Since they cannot train together year-round, they aim to create workouts that can be completed on their own without a spotter. Taking a cue from Dennis’ workouts, he developed the ‘Menace Time Under Tension’ approach.
For the MTUT, Dennis lifts the weight using his full range of motion for 10-20 seconds before lowering it back down. Dennis claims that this is a much safer alternative to the negatives. “You don’t want to risk an injury by lifting weights you can’t handle and then trying to let them down slowly on the negative.”
Dennis uses this MTUT technique sporadically when he trains his chest. To build a thick upper chest, he begins with a hammer strength incline press, which isolates the muscle.
In addition, the isolating feature of the machine means that he doesn’t have to engage his shoulder muscles during the lift. Twenty rep sets per set are quite common for him, and he generally lifts until he fails.
- Hammer strength incline press 2 sets (warm-up) x 20 reps then 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Dumbbell Flye 4 sets x 10 reps
- Machine Chest Press (1 warm-up) x 20 reps then 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Cable Crossover 4 sets x 10 reps
Dennis does not use the MTUT technique for the dumbbell fly. If he uses the same technique as the incline hammer strength press, there is a high probability of injury, so he performs the standard lift.
While performing this exercise, Dennis lies flat on a bench and focuses more on technique than weight. He states that the flat bench is especially useful since it allows him to hit his entire pec without stimulating his triceps.
The cable crossover is the final chest exercise in Dennis’ set. According to him, when performing the exercise, you should always “focus on crossing over each time without dropping your chest.”
Keeping the chest down in this movement can cause the shoulders to take over and the chest not actually is stimulated.
Intense Weekly Routine
- Monday – Chest, and Biceps
- Tuesday – Quads, Hamstrings, and Calves
- Wednesday – Back
- Thursday – Delts, and Triceps
- Friday – Chest, and Biceps
- Saturday – Rest Day
- Saturday – Rest Day
Monday: Chest and Biceps
- Incline barbell bench press: 2 sets for warm-up
- Incline barbell bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Bench press: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Incline flyes: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Cable crossovers: 1 set of 15 reps
- Seated dumbbell curls: 2 sets of 10 reps
- Barbell curls: 2 sets of 10 reps
- One-arm cable curls: 1 set of 12 reps each arm
- Leg extensions: 1 set for warm-up
- Leg extensions: 3 sets of 15 reps
- Leg press: 2 sets of 12 reps
- Squats: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
- Lying leg curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Good mornings: 2 sets of 10 reps
- One-legged curls: 1 set of 10 reps each leg
- Standing calf raises: 3 sets of 15 reps
- Sitting calf raises: 2 sets 15 reps
Wednesday: Rest (off)
Thursday: Back and Rear Delts
- Dumbbell pullovers: 1 set for warm-up
- Dumbbell pullovers: 2 sets of 10 reps
- Close-grip pulldowns: 2 sets of 10 reps
- Barbell rows: 2 sets of 10 reps
- Seated one arm rows: 1 set of 12 reps each arm
- Lying reverse flyes: 3 sets of 12 reps
- One arm cable reverse flyes: 2 sets of 12 reps each arm
- Shrugs: 2 sets of 10 reps
Friday: Shoulders, triceps, and abs
- Front shoulder press machine: 1 set for warm-up
- Front shoulder press machine: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Dumbbell side lateral raise: 2 sets of 10 reps
- One arm cable lateral raise: 1 set 10 reps each arm
- Cable pushdowns: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- French press: 2 sets of 10 reps
- One arm cable pushdowns: 1 set of 15 reps each arm
- Sit-ups: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
Dennis James follows a particular workout routine in his routine. During his workout routine, he also incorporates some of the tips and tricks that help him succeed every time he hits the gym. In the next section, we will discuss the tips he has for his fans!
Dennis James Workout Tips and Tricks
Dennis James knows a thing or two about getting huge. The “Menace” regularly competed for around 260 monstrous pounds (and was 295 off-season) at a height of 5’8″ during his Hall of Fame-caliber bodybuilding career, in which he accumulated 24 top-five finishes between 1999 and 2012.
From his home base in Phoenix, the retired IFBB pro is still putting his best growth strategies to work, helping other competitors prepare for shows and offering online coaching services on his site, dennis-james.com.
To build thick, dense muscle this winter, he shares his 10 favorite tips and tricks, along with a complete workout plan and diet day.
Commit to Two Rules
James describes a few factors that limit you from gaining lean mass-lack of consistency in your training efforts, reliance on unhealthy foods, even stress-but identifies two as the most common ones. “No. 1, make sure you’re eating enough, and No. 2, train heavy,” he says. “That’s where I always start off with anyone who is looking to gain size.”
Give Everybody Part Its Due
In order to hit the latter muscle group fresh and full of energy, bodybuilders often combine a couple of muscle groups into one workout, like chest and triceps, back and shoulders. “I recommend just one body part a day,” James says. If you have trouble with your legs, break them up into quadriceps and hamstrings days. That’s back, legs, shoulders, chest, and arms, each once a week.
Cycle Your Weight Load
Though James did say “train heavy,” that doesn’t mean indiscriminately. For his clients, he often uses a two-week cycle, using four- to six-rep working sets for two weeks while pushing toward failure, then eight to twelve repetitions for the following two weeks. “In those first two weeks, if you can do more than six reps in a set, you need to increase the weight,” he says. “The higher-rep weeks, I call those quality training. That’s where you’re really focused on form and squeezing the muscle hard during every lift.” Studies in Physiological Reports in August 2015 showed that men with rep ranges of 10 to 12 versus three to five saw significant gains in 1-repetition maximum bench-press strength and arm mass compared to those with rep ranges of three to five.
Load Up the Bread and Butter
In today’s weight room, there are a lot of effective exercises you can do, but there are some moves every serious bodybuilder should know. “I call these the bread-and-butter exercises, ones that should always be a part of a training program,” James says. “For me, it’s inclined barbell presses for chest, lat pulldowns and barbell rows for back, squats for legs, seated presses for shoulders, French presses for triceps, and barbell curls for bi’s.”
“Back in the day, pro bodybuilders would stick mostly with free weights, but that’s because they were the best tools we had,” James says. “Nowadays, the machines they’re making are so good you can incorporate them without feeling like you’re losing any benefits. You don’t need to avoid them to try and be ‘old school’—if you don’t take advantage of machines, you’re just being stupid.”
Watch the Clock
When you’re trying to reach a goal, it’s easy to get overzealous, but too much time spent at the gym can be counterproductive. “A great workout shouldn’t be any less than 45 minutes and no longer than an hour,” James says. When you keep your rest periods between one and two minutes long and move from exercise to exercise with purpose, that’s enough time to break down a muscle adequately and set it up for recovery and growth
Dennis’ fitness suggestions are all the tips he gives out to his family and friends, as well as to people interested in having a fitness journey with him. The next section will discuss the diet plan that has led him to the other half of the realm where people worship him for the strength he has.
Dennis James Diet Plan
The Diet plan for Dennis is simple and nutritious. Despite eating a large number of calories each day, he prioritizes healthy protein sources like lean meats and eggs.
Off-season, his diet includes a lot more carbohydrates than his competition meal plan (below.) When approaching a competition, he decreases his carb intake massively and boosts his protein intake to build muscle and lose fat.
He typically eats chicken and brown rice as part of his competition meal plan. The recipe includes healthy meat sources and carbohydrate sources, and it can be prepared quickly and easily.
Sample Meal Plan 1:
- Meal 1 – 100 grams of oats and 90 grams of whey isolate protein
- Meal 2 – 12oz chicken breasts, 300 grams of potatoes
- Meal 3 – 14oz chicken breasts, 60 grams of oats
- Meal 4 – 12oz chicken breast, 230 grams of rice
- Meal 5 – 12oz steak, 250 grams of sweet potato plus broccoli
- Meal 6 – 90 grams of whey isolate protein
When it comes to getting bigger, training is only a small piece of the battle. You must also eat a lot if you want to grow. Please review the sample daily plan below for tips on how to add muscle mass.
Sample Meal Plan 2:
- 3 whole-grain pancakes
- 2 eggs
- 1 slice fat-free cheese
- 1 slice turkey bacon
- 1 glass orange juice
- 8 oz low-fat milk (2%)
- 2 scoops of whey protein
- 1 low-fat bran muffin
- 6 oz flank steak
- 2 cups pasta, cooked with tomato sauce
- ½ can white tuna in water with 2 tbsp low-fat mayo
- 2 slices whole-wheat bread
- 1 apple
- 8 oz low-fat milk (2%)
- 7 oz chicken (1 large breast)
- 12 oz baked potato
- 1 cup peas or corn
- 1 scoop whey protein mixed with 16 oz low-fat milk (2%)
- 2 to 3 slices whole-grain bread with low-sugar jam
- Calories: 3,690
- Carbs: 412g
- Protein: 286
- Fat: 95g
Dennis follows a diet plan like that throughout the day. As his diet plan is not absolute, he keeps changing his meals here and there depending on his requirements. His macronutrients do not change though. We are also going to discuss some of his nutrition tips and tricks that he would incorporate into his diet in the next section.
Dennis James Diet Tips
Dennis discusses the diet tips he adds to his meal plans to help him to stick to them better and achieve better results. Hence, we will discuss it in detail in this section in order to understand whether it is really worth it? Check out the following for more information.
Follow a Straightforward Nutrition Plan
To prepare for his last competition, the 2012 Masters Olympia, where he finished third, James focused on eating a simple diet. “I ate a clean six meals daily, and my protein sources were always chicken, steak, egg whites, some fish, and protein powders,” he recalls. “I’d eat potatoes sometimes for carbs, but I’m a rice man. I’m also not big on vegetables, but whatever’s green I’d include asparagus, broccoli, green beans, and spinach.”
There was nothing fancy or out of the ordinary about James’ meal beside a gallon of water to wash it all down. Maintaining such a simple diet also works well for weight gain as well.
Dial Back Your Protein
“I used to eat a lot of protein, three to five grams per pound of body weight per day,” James says. “But now we know that’s not necessary. I used to eat 12 to 15 ounces of meat with each meal; now I have my clients do no more than eight ounces per meal.”
It is more than enough for you to gain muscle weight if you consume two grams of protein per pound. The protein intake of professional bodybuilders is generally higher than recommended norms, but some researchers are gradually coming to support higher intakes-for example, the International Society of Sports Nutrition published a position statement on protein consumption in 2017 that recommended up to 1.4 grams daily per pound of body weight.
Expand Your Carb Options
Rice (45g of carbs per cup) and potatoes (37g of carbs per medium potato) are commonly suggested carb sources for bodybuilders, but they’re not always the easiest to consume, especially for hard gainers who are having difficulty meeting their daily calorie requirements. James says he puts a lot of people on pasta because it is easier to swallow. At 68g of carbs per cup, it’s not good for cutting, but in the off-season it’s fine.
Reflect On Your Progress
Although you should weigh yourself regularly and keep written records of your results – at the very least, every week – the mirror is a better indicator of your progress than a scale. “A scale just tells you how heavy you are, it doesn’t tell you how much fat you’re carrying,” James says. “If you’re gaining a lot of fat, you’re doing something wrong. In my view, a bodybuilder should look like a bodybuilder in season and out of season. Even when you’re trying to put on muscle, you still want to see your abs all year long.”