Competitive bodybuilding, especially at the pro level, is so difficult that very few have the physical genetics and the psychological makeup to create successful careers. And once those who have found success step away from the sport, returning at the same level or better is incredibly difficult. Even Arnold, when he returned to the Olympia after several years in retirement, did not do so without criticism. Several other top male pro bodybuilders have retired and then been unsuccessful when trying to make a comeback.

On the other hand, you have athletes like Lenda Murray, who first retired after the 1997 Olympia with six Ms. Olympia titles under her belt. She returned to the sport in 2002 and won two more.

Juliette Bergmann, who is a small competitor at 5’3″, stopped competing after finishing 15th in the World Pro in 1989 — until the IFBB created a lightweight class, which allowed her to be more competitive. She returned to the Olympia stage in 2001 and won the lightweight and overall titles in the 2001 Olympia, besting the legendary Iris Kyle to clinch the overall win. She won the lightweight Ms. Olympia title two more times, then retired in 2003.

Another really impressive comeback is Helle Trevino, 2019 Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Champion. I first met and photographed Helle in 2003 when she was competing under her maiden name of Nielsen and won the Jan Tana classic. She managed a 5th place at the Olympia in 2003, but that was the high point of this phase of her competition career.

Helle stopped competing for a few years, then returned as Helle Trevino to compete for Wings of Strength and won the 2015 Chicago Pro. Helle always had a lot of shapely mass, but at this point, her definition and refinement were much enhanced. By the time she won the 2019 Rising Phoenix, she had become a total, complete package — a work of art, and without a doubt a deserving world champion.

There have been so few in the history of the sport who have taken a break from competition and come back better than ever that Helle’s achievement should be applauded. Coming off her victory in Phoenix in 2019, she has her sights set on the Ms. Olympia in 2020 — and is clearly the one to beat in Las Vegas this year.

Contest history

  • 1998 Danish Championships – 1st (HW and Overall)
  • 1998 Scandinavian Championships – 1st (HW and Overall)
  • 1999 World Amateur Championships – 10st (HW)
  • 2003 IFBB Jan Tana Classic – 1st (HW and Overall)
  • 2003 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 5th (HW)
  • 2011 IFBB FIBO Power Pro Germany – 1st
  • 2011 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 14th
  • 2012 IFBB Europa Battle of Champions Hartford – 9th
  • 2012 IFBB Wings of Strength Chicago Pro-Am Extravaganza – 2nd
  • 2012 IFBB Ms. Olympia –12th
  • 2013 IFBB PBW Tampa Pro – 5th
  • 2014 IFBB Omaha Pro – 7th
  • 2015 IFBB Wings of Strength Chicago Pro – 1st
  • 2015 Rising Phoenix World Championships – 2nd
  • 2016 Rising Phoenix World Championships – 4th
  • 2017 Rising Phoenix World Championships – 1st
  • 2018 Rising Phoenix World Championships – 5th
  • 2019 Tampa Pro – 1st
  • 2019 Rising Phoenix World Championships – 1st
Bodybuilder Helle Trevino Gets Her Wings

Helle Trevino Doesn't Care About the Haters

The two-time Rising Phoenix world champ discussed her philosophy during a Q&A.

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Professional bodybuilders lined up for the Mr. Olympia Weekend 2020 Event at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas


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