On the heels of earning an invite to the Arnold Classic, Dennis James on Wednesday informed FLEX that he would not be competing in the contest, which will be held in Colmbus, Ohio, on March 2-4.

“I just got out of surgery yesterday for a hernia operation,” James said. “I’m not allowed to train for the next four to six weeks. I had to get it done, because it got worse the last two years. It was just time to do it now.”

James becomes the second top-caliber athlete to get knocked out of the Arnold lineup because of a hernia. James confirmed that friend and former training partner Melvin Anthony did not request an invite to the Arnold for the same reason.

“We both had the same problem,” James said. James, who finished 9th at this year’s Olympia, is now pointing to the New York Pro on May 12 as his first contest of the year.

“I’ve got to redeem myself from 2006,” James said, referring to his disappointing season. “Last year I said I was going to come in as big as possible for this last Olympia, and I can honestly say I achieved that, because I was bigger than ever. But I wasn’t really happy with my condition. When I was a couple of pounds lighter it was obvious that I was sharper than I was at the Olympia.

“So my goal is to come in at a lighter weight, like I did at the 2003 Olympia, but still try to stay full. I’m just going to bring it down, because I’m big enough anyway. If I come in at around 250 it will be the difference in being better conditioned.”

Since Dennis won’t be competing at the Arnold, look for his predictions on the show in the March issue of FLEX. But he did say that, perhaps more than ever, conditioning will be the name of the game.

“It’s all a matter of who comes in shape,” James said. “I really can’t believe that everybody’s going to come in shape. Everybody just came off the Olympia. To peak again in less than six months is very hard and everybody knows that. So there’s only a few that are going to be good enough to repeat or even come in a little better and those are the guys that will make it to the top.”