SA 016: Craig Bongelli on the Differences between World Class Athletes… You’ll be Surprised What He Says

Craig Bongelli

In this episode, I interview Craig Bongelli, owner of Lil’s Gym in Toronto, Canada. He’s a personal trainer and strength coach, and he’s worked with elite performers in MMA & Strongman competitions, and he talks about what differentiates world class athletes from the average ones, what got him into the business and what made him the guy to see when it came to these elite performers.

Guest Bio:

Strongman and personal trainer Craig Bongelli started his athletic career in martial arts and boxing but was drawn to weightlifting when he was 17 years old after meeting Scotland’s Strongest Man winner Jamie Barr at a highland games in Fergus, Ontario.

“I knew I had found my calling and began training with weights immediately. Nearly five years later, strength training has become both my passion and my job.” In those five years, Craig has accomplished some remarkable feats of mass and strength that have fueled his success in strongman competitions. He’s even been invited to train at the renowned Westside Barbell in Grove City, Ohio.

But it is Craig’s passion and experience that have produced some remarkable weight-loss stories and are what make him a valuable training coach. “I bring both the passion I have developed for weight training and all of the expertise I have gained working with some of the best lifters and coaches in the world to help my clients every day!” he says.


Some Questions We Ask

What was the catalyst in his interest in strength training and conditioning?

What is it about Louie Simmons that makes him such a sought-after figure in the sport? What are the top 2-3 traits that makes him such a legend?

Louie Simmons video

When he was participating as a Strongman, he had a 360-pound ball fall on him as he was competing in one of the events.What did he learn afterwards from that adversity moment?

Does he find that the people he train lack a sense of balance? Does he see a difference in the elite performers that he trains and the people he’s trying to help lose weight or gain some mass? Does he see a difference in their sense of balance in life?

At the beginner and intermediate level, it’s the people who are more intense and more unbalanced who are successful. However at the top level, it’s the people who are more balanced who are more successful.

What is his process of goal setting

What does he see as far as differences in habits of the high performers that he work with, and the average person? What are 2-3 habits they have that the average person doesn’t have?

When he hears the word successful, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

What’s the book that’s most influenced him and why?

The Bhagavad-Gita

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If he could have dinner with one person he admires, past or present, who would it be and why?

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

What trait he looks for in the athletes that he work with

How he met Jamie Barr and Louie Simmons, and how they influenced his life

Tips that he learned from Louie, that could apply to an average gym goer or weight lifter, something potentially off the cuff but could potentially help the average person

There isn’t a secret, there isn’t any sort of magic sauce that I dump on top. It’s the basics performed perfectly and performed consistently.

If something simple is yielding positive results for you, don’t mess with it.

Bill Kazmaier’s advice to “Train less.”

Bill Kazmaier video

The importance of goal setting and process over outcome

What he has learned from mastermind events

How he applies the Pareto principle and the importance of the power of belief



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