Strongman World Championships were once a realm of the big boys – size mattered. However, Virus Sponsored athlete, Patrick ‘The Cannon’ Castelli never let that stop him. As the current World’s Strongest Man u80kg class title-holder, a 2x World Champion, Patrick is helping write history. When visiting Melbourne recently for the Arnold’s, Patrick was kind enough to sit down, and also do some heavy lifting for us.
Back in his University days, ‘The Cannon’ was into combat sports and only lifted weights to give him an advantage in his wrestling. One fateful day lifting he crossed paths with a particularly ‘massive guy’ (in his words) who, upon seeing the weights Patrick was putting away, insisted he compete in an upcoming Strongman contest. This was back in 2009, Patrick threw caution to the wind and competed, winning his division. He enjoyed the challenge so much that he has never looked back, going on to enter the highest level of the sport and competing internationally.
For the uninitiated, Strongman differs from other strength sports like Powerlifting and Weightlifting as the competition lifts vary between contests and there are more than 3 lifts, a big part of the appeal for Patrick. Contests may have anywhere from 5-9 events, usually involving variations of deadlifts, moving events, clean and press, truck pulling, carrying events, grip tests, and the famous atlas stone loads. While most events are announced in advance of comp day, the Arnold’s in Ohio add an extra mystery challenge to their Strongman event by withholding one of six events until the day prior to the show.
For spectators of the sport it is often the more spectacular, if somewhat sick and twisted, events that garner the most attention. Harness truck pulls or, for example, Army tank pulls like those at the recent Arnold’s, are a big draw-card. One of Patrick’s most spectacular stunts involved pulling a full-sized pickup truck and trailer bed loaded with a full-size car AND a Mini Cooper 30 metres. However that wasn’t the most grueling. That title goes to a Growing Yoke walk he competed in. A Growing Yoke walk is when weight is added to the Yoke the contestant carries on their shoulders. This particular event was a 20 metre carry with 45kg added at each end. At a mere 82kgs on comp day, Patrick managed to carry an incredible 1000 pounds (around 450kg) for around 8ft. How did that feel? Patrick (barely) remembers a complete stimulus overload, where he struggled to breathe and felt like his head may ‘pop off’.
So why does he do it? The rush, the crowd, the endurance, the shock and awe, it’s a lot of hard work for 60 seconds of glory. Patrick likens it to a drug and has nothing but praise for fellow competitors and the community at large.
Strongman has also afforded Patrick the honour of being the World’s Strongest Man’s first u80kg Strongman, as for a long time many considered it a sport reserved for heavier competitors. Patrick firmly believes there should be no limits to the sport, aside from the limits competitors are willing to put on themselves. Personally he’s willing to try anything, and find out if he can do it, or pay the price and try again after more training.
As the sport is not particularly lucrative, Patrick does it purely for the love. He speaks with a mad passion about the ups and downs, and how the rise back up only makes victory sweeter. He now can’t wait to raise the bar further, setting higher standards for his weight class and his sport, and admits at this point it is impossible for him to walk away.
How does he keep up with all of the demands Strongman places on his body? He constantly surrounds himself by people who are better than him and more intelligent, to push him harder, like Pro Strongman Zack McCarley and Dr. Alex Harrison of Excelerate Sport. While competitors often train alone, they are a close-knit community that shares information and resources, building a network for success. Patrick admires the fact that his fellow-Strongmen aren’t afraid to call him out and will double-check his work, as with such fierce competition the margins for error are minuscule. With a typical week of comp training clocking in around 14 hours, every 1% makes a difference.
In fact this is how Patrick was introduced to Virus, after a friend suggested our gear for recovery and to help him acclimatize between Montreal and Seattle, his homelands where he often opts to train for events, and Queensland, his adopted home. He was so impressed with the outcomes that he got in touch with us.
As he doesn’t need to diet down for his weight-class Patrick has a sensible approach to food and really only dials in the nutrition around 4 weeks leading into comp. He sticks to the basics for supplementation, opting for coffee as a pre-workout, whey protein during and after training, casein before bed and creatine whilst training. As one of his friends, Evil Genius Broderick Chavez says, it’s the stuff that’s been on the shelves 10 years that really works.
Patrick made the move to Australia for love, following his fiancé here after completing a Masters in Exercise Science, and is now keen to learn as much as he can about other sports, from other coaches, or he words it ‘learn cool stuff, get work and lift heavy things’.
‘The Cannon’s next contest will be the Static Monsters World Championships on the Gold Coast on May 20th, with his strategy remaining the same, be as technical, fast and proficient as possible and ring out every single ounce of strength.