This Strength Athlete Crushes Workouts and Inspires With One Arm

We can’t always choose the cards life deals us. Nor can we change events that happen in our lives that change us forever, but we can choose how we live our lives after. Victor Hugo Castro Assaf is the definition of loving the life you’ve been given.

His favorite saying says it all, “Levanta la Cabeza Y Sigue,” or “Keep your head up and keep moving forward.”

Victor has had a different life the last five years, much different than he’d ever imagined growing up. He went through an event that changed everything around him in an instant. In his scenario, most people would quit and stop doing what they love, but Victor continues to prove that passion trumps any obstacle life throws you.

He routinely inspires those around him with his work ethic, and continues to make an impact on other’s lives. This is…Victor Hugo Castro Assaf.

Jake: To give a background for those who don’t know you, what’s your full name, age, and occupation?

Victor: My name is Victor Hugo Castro Assaf, I’m 27 years old, from Ecuador, and I’m currently a CrossFit® coach while running my personal business.

Jake: What is your personal business?

Victor: It’s my personal brand VHCA, it’s a t-shirt brand. The brand talks about my accident and how I’ve worked to overcome everything from that moment. I also give motivational speeches around my country.

Jake: That’s cool. So what originally got you into fitness?

Victor: Ever since I was little I loved nature and climbing trees or jumping from one place to another. I’ve also always been involved with sports including surfing, skateboarding, running, swimming, and others. When I turned 14-15, I got into mixed martial arts for three years.

At that time, my big brother was talking about/doing CrossFit, but I didn’t want to try it. I was kind of scared, I finally went to do a CrossFit workout with him and since that day I haven’t stopped (laughs). I fell in love with CrossFit when I realized how dynamic the sport was. I love the multiple workouts, exercises, and Olympic lifting, those are my things!

Jake: What’s the story that comes with your right arm? How did that happen?

Victor: It happened 4 years ago after I finished a competition called “The Strongman Challenge” ran by Kallpa CrossFit. I came in 2nd overall that meet and then…

September 22, 2012 the date that would change my life forever.

When the competition was finished, I got on my motorcycle and drove home. I loved driving fast so that was a problem. Here’s how the story happened…

That day I was going for a long vacation at the beach. I was going home after The Stongman Challenge and there was a bit of traffic because it was a holiday. I was riding my bike because I didn’t feel like dealing with traffic.

I got up to 80mph when I realized that something was going wrong. My body wanted to lean to the left, but the bike began pulling me to the right towards the steel guardrail. I drove over 3 damaged bridge unions, which caused the bike to move abruptly. The fourth and last union was the most damaged, so much that it lifted the rear wheel off the ground.

A photo posted by victerie (@victerie) on

Once it made contact with the pavement the bike began swerving. I went with the swerves to prevent being launched off the bike and down the bridge. My body then made impact with a light pole crushing my brachial plexus and fracturing my jaw in 3 different places.

Jake: Wow. How has that event changed the way you look at fitness and training?

Victor: It changed my life completely and how I look at life. I don’t consider the accident a bad thing, it was completely the opposite! What happened that day made me see things  more clearly and with a different perspective.

I became a different person and try to do what I didn’t do as much of before, which is be a human with values, and to respect my family/friends/job and all the people in it. The event made me a much more positive and respectful person. For me happiness is helping others. I get messages and emails from all over the world, which is motivation for me. It’s knowing that with one arm I can reach a lot more people than I did with two, plus I hug a lot more now too.

Jake: Do people ever doubt your abilities? Is there an occasion you can think of that you’ve truly proved someone wrong or even proved yourself wrong by accomplishing something?

Victor: To be honest, no one does. In Ecuador people know me and what I can do. They know if I can’t do something, I will definitely try to do it. This past weekend was my first time in Miami at Wodapoolaza and people were blown away with what I was doing!

A photo posted by victerie (@victerie) on

Jake: I bet! Do you have any pieces of motivation for others? What gets you up in the morning to keep striving for your best self?

Victor: My wake up mentality is, ¨Levanta la Cabeza Y Sigue,” which translates to, keep your head up and keep moving forward. What drives me is the desire for success and showing others that there’s a chance if you really try and want something. Work effen’ hard everyday, there’s no other option.

Jake: I like that. What’s your favorite lift to perform? Why?

Victor: (Laughs) Well I love the snatch because in so many ways it’s hard to do. I manage to do it with only one arm, which has made me faster than I ever was with two! I also love the squat clean because that’s my strongest lift (chuckles); the clean and jerk also! Basically…lifting is my thing.

A video posted by victerie (@victerie) on

Jake: You’re a strength athlete through and through. If you could give one piece of advice to strength athletes, what would that be?

Victor: Take control of your life and think about the choices you make. Never stop believing in yourself, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. YOU and ONLY YOU can challenge yourself to be better every day no matter what happens.

Oh…and…

Always hug the ones you love and let them know you love them!

If you don’t follow Victor, I highly recommend doing so. He’s got a great heart and truly believes in the good in others. His heart, passion, and drive are not only inspiring, but reminders of things we can all work on ourselves.

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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.