Claudio Castagnoli – a.k.a. Cesaro – might not be the most gigantic WWE SmackDown wrestler but his 6 ft 5 in (196 cm) height and 232 lb (105 kg) weight is still pretty impressive, especially considering just how lean he is. As well as being lean, Cesaro is also strong as an ox: his 'feats of strength' are legendary, both inside and outside the ring. And he'll need all his strength for his upcoming bout with Seth Rollins, happening this weekend.
We sat down with him (virtually) to find out what kept him fit in his 30s and how he's planning on keeping fit in his 40s. How does Cesaro train? What are his favourite WWE moves? What supplements does he take regularly? The answer to all this might surprise someone who doesn't train regularly...
T3: You are known for your incredible “feats of strength” in the ring: what’s the secret of maintaining such an amazing physique over decades?
Claudio (a.k.a. Cesaro): Consistency (says it with a laugh). I can elaborate but for me it’s all about consistency with training, consistency with nutrition and food, consistency with sleep and making your physique a priority.
T3: Which exercise is the most difficult to perform in the ring?
C: I'd say the swing but since all my reputation is built on strength and explosiveness, I find it more challenging to be able to perform any of my moves at any time, even after longer matches and against heavy or much bigger opponents or to match the speed of smaller opponents. That’s the tricky part, that’s the challenge.
T3: Do you prepare for matches differently? Have you got a daily/weekly routine?
T3: You are 40 and in an amazing shape! How did you keep fit over the age of 30 and how are you planning on keeping fit in your 40s?
C: Again, as I said before, by making fitness a priority. Many times when we were on the road and didn’t have much time [to exercise]. [For example], if we just landed [somewhere], you have to follow a pattern: ‘land, eat, go to the gym’. You also have to make sure you eat good, quality food. Maybe you only have an hour/half an hour but you make that the most efficient hour/30 minutes. [If you want a fit body], you have to make your fitness a priority, you have to give your body the rest,respect and fuel it deserves in order to perform its best.
T3: Can you give the readers of T3 an example of your workouts? What’s your preferred way of exercising (e.g. weight training in the gym, kettlebell/functional training, bodyweight training etc.)
C: I do my warmup routine which is always the same [mentioned above], then I do a CrossFit-style high-intensity session or a little cardio to get the heart rate up. Then I do my lifting which is usually an upper body/lower body exercise, like an Olympic lift, snatch or clean/jerk, one heavy lift like squats and then a bunch of smaller exercises for strength. I finish off with another high-intensity cardio CrossFit-style [section] and finally, stretch.
T3: What’s your favourite exercise and why?
C: Oh, favourite exercises! I think it’s snatch and clean & jerk. Whichever I’m stronger at the moment (laughs). To be honest, I learned these relatively late: I started doing them when I was in my 30s. They are extremely complex exercises. I’m not really good at them but watching people who are, like people at the weightlifting championships, is just incredible. If I can just pick a favourite exercise of all time I’d probably say push up because it’s just so simple to do yet it’s so effective.
T3: Have you got a favourite type of gym equipment? What makes it the best?
C: My favourite gym equipment is the barbell because it’s incredibly versatile you can do everything with it, squats, bench press, cleans, jerks, snatch, curls, anything. To me, free weights are the way to go.
T3: How often do you work out?
C: I lift weights four times a week and I work out six times so I do just a cardio day twice then on my day off I stretch for 40-45 minutes.
T3: How important is good nutrition in your line of work? Can you give the readers of T3 an example of your daily diet?
C: Good nutrition is extremely important. I heard a great saying once: ‘you can’t out-train bad nutrition’, so to me it’s very important to eat healthy foods. This means simple foods made with good, unprocessed, simple ingredients. I’m a creature of habit so I just like simple foods! For breakfast I like eggs, cereal, pasta with chicken, I can eat that all day, just like rice. I also like pizza (laughs): don’t get me wrong, I like good food! A good balance is necessary, but even if you want to eat, let’s say, a burger, I’d rather have a really good burger from a good restaurant than a fast food burger.
T3: What supplements do you take? Can you recommend any to the readers?
C: The only supplements that I really use over the years consistently were protein powder and pre workout: that’s it! [I take] protein powder because I can’t always cook after the gym especially when we are on the road and it’s a quick and easy source of protein and pre-workout to get me ‘in the zone’ before the workout, but you can have a coffee as well. Yeah, nutrition is important but don’t think because you drink protein shake it’s going to make you super strong or super fit. Proper nutrition is more important.
T3: If you can give one piece of advice to people wanting to get fit over 30, what would it be?
Be consistent and have fun. I think a lot of people get intimidated or they don’t know where to start; just start with something you’re having fun with: go on a bike ride, go on a walk, do the exercises that you like in the gym. You will start building habits and if you build the habit, it will grow over time. You build habits in the gym and in nutrition and with stretching too. I started doing more stretching when I had my shoulder surgery, so I was probably 35 when I started stretching every day. So it’s just building that habit helped me stay healthy so building habits would be my best advice.