Some of the most popular fitness quotes are pure BS.

11 Popular Fitness Quotes That Are Dead Wrong!

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

9 min read

Ah, fitness quotes… you gotta love ’em!

While some of them will motivate the bejesus out of you (like Apollo Creed yelling “There is no tomorrow!”), others just leave you scratching your damn head.

Today I want to focus on the latter, with 11 popular fitness quotes that are dead wrong.

Table of Contents

"No pain, no gain!"

The person who came up with this clearly couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

Pain is what you feel when you stand on an upturned plug, and if your workouts are giving you anything even remotely similar to that, then something is wrong.

Gain is created by gradually increasing the difficulty of your workouts over time (a.k.a. progressive overload). There will be moments when it burns, and you feel like you want to quit (or at least punch the guy who told you that working out was good for you), but it’ll never feel like actual pain.

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

This is wrong on so many levels.

Pizza, anyone?

Let’s face it, if this quote was true then we wouldn’t be in the midst of an obesity crisis.

Further still, quotes like this can be a gateway to an eating disorder because they encourage an unhealthy relationship with food. Make no mistake, a successful body transformation needs to be based around taking charge of your health and learning about nutrition, not starving yourself. (1, 2)

"Couples who train together stay together"


Trust me, if your partner is a raging fucknuckle at home, they’ll still be one at the gym. The only difference is you can drop dumbbells on them.

Have you ever watched a gym couple implode?

Fuck me, it’s spectacular.

So an orange guy meets a girl who only trains glutes, and they start doing lots of cute stuff, like gazing into each others eyes while strolling on the treadmill (which is really uncomfortable if you’re on the one in the middle), and he leads her around the gym floor with his hand on her lower back like a delicate flower which might blow away if the air conditioning gets turned up too high.

Until one day, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g changes.

I don’t know what caused it, but all hell has broken loose in Orangeville.

Now the guy is training exclusively with his male friends, and the girl is hitting cardio with her female pals. The next few months (yep) are a repetitive pattern of trading scornful looks through the cable stations, until one of them finds a new gym crush, so the other one cancels their gym membership and drops a nuke on the relationship by posting a photo of the sea with a caption like “Don’t make someone a priority if they treat you like an option.”

You have been warned.

"Fall down seven times, get up eight!"

Do you even math, bro?

If you fall down seven times you can only get up seven times. This is the type of quote which is shared by annoying social media influencers when they aren’t posting 400-word captions about motivation on a picture of their butt.

While we’re talking complete nonsense, I’ve heard that if you sneeze and break wind at the same time your body takes a screenshot.

"What's your excuse?"

Using your own success to belittle others is an atomic thundercunt move.

“I’ve got four kids and I’ve lost 40 lbs, so what’s your excuse?!”

Give me a fucking break, Susan.

In my 20+ years working as a personal trainer I saw countless examples of fat shaming, from random people in the gym, to the families of clients, and also from colleagues. Trust me on this one: fat shaming does not work as a motivational tool, it just makes people feel like crap.

Researchers at the Canadian Obesity Summit in 2019 explained that 60% of people experience fat shaming and/or body shaming at some point in their adult life, and that it triggers a similar emotional response to anxiety, depression, and stress. In some cases it can lead to the person developing an eating disorder, and often times the victim of the shaming begins to internalize the issue (e.g the more they are told they are fat/ugly/lazy/useless, the more they begin to believe it and start putting themselves down). (4)

So don’t fucking do it.

"A woman in the gym is sexier than a girl at the club."

This one creeps me out more than any other quote on this list.

Trust me, bruh, in both situations she just wants you to fuck off and let her do her thing.

"If a third grader can't pronounce it you probably shouldn't eat it"

Can we please stop basing our dietary choices on the pronunciation skills of an 8 year old?

We live in an era where so-called “experts” love to create fear about food by insisting that every-fucking-thing is bad for you, and one of the easiest ways for them to do this is to use the chemical names for what you eat. For example, while writing this article I’ve swallowed a methylxanthine alkaloid 1,3,7-trimethylpurine-2,6-dione capsule and drank two glasses of dehydrogen monoxide.

Am I going to blow up like that henchman from Big Trouble In Little China?

No, because that’s caffeine and water.

So here’s the thing…

The motherfuckers who say things like this are ultimately trying to convince you that “big pharma” is working alongside “big food” to fill you with “big toxins” so you end up in a “big hospital” (okay that one didn’t need speech marks), and their solution is always the same – they happen to sell a bunch of over-priced fucking supplements which can solve the problem. (5)

(While totally ignoring the fact that all supplements are processed, and that everything is a chemical.)

"Eat less move more"

Ah, you’ve discovered the secret to success my friend.

And while you’re at it, be sure to poor less rich more, and also to drown less swim more.

I understand that people who say this mean well, but over-simplifying the weight loss process rarely has the desired effect, because it doesn’t really help the person who has (in most cases) been struggling with weight loss their entire life. If anything, it makes them feel more useless.

Breaking the cycle of obesity requires a lot of determination, and the people who achieve success deserve praise, because it’s fucking difficult. So when somebody is finding it challenging to defeat the bad habits of a lifetime, shortening everything down into a soundbite just makes you sound like an inconsiderate nuclear bellend.

"Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!"

Is it, though?

I mean, Jack The Ripper was both obsessed and dedicated, but he was still wrong.

Yeah, some people probably are jealous of the progress you have made in the gym, and the fact that you look awesome in your clothes now, so they will mask their own unhappiness by labelling you as ‘obsessed’ or calling you a ‘fitness freak’. But we also can’t rule out the fact that they’re saying it because you never shut the fuck up about Herbalife, Jillian.

"Unless you puke, faint, or die... keep going"

I guarantee this quote is written across the t-shirt of that guy who dry scoops his pre workout while listening to the 300 soundtrack.

It’s also a fast-track to your local physio room.

Don’t get me wrong; I love a good Rocky training montage, but exercise is not about killing yourself every single workout.

Consistency is the key to success, so it’s perfectly normal to have good days and bad days. You’ll have a sprinkling of sessions throughout the year where you feel bloated and hangry, and also some where you feel like an absolute unit, but the majority of your workouts will just feel like normal days. It’s fine.

"Haters are my motivators!"

Few things can light a fire under your ass than a quest to prove somebody wrong.

However, this is not a good strategy in the long-term.

I recently wrote about this topic here in an article which explains the different motivational drivers which are usually involved in a successful body transformation. In a nutshell, most people see better results when we replace external motivation (e.g. people telling you that you can’t do it) with intrinsic motivation (e.g. learning how to set your own goals, and training for your own reasons). (3)

So using the hateful words of an annoying family member to light the fire can be a useful way to get started, but it’s not good for you in the long-term.

I’ve brought in AML co-founder Joe Donnelly to add some context to this one:

Joe Donnelly


  1. Smith C. F., et al. Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite (1999).
  2. Leibel R. L., et al. Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition . Am J Clin Nutr (1992).
  3. Teixeira, P. J., et al. Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: A systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act (2012).
  4. Vogel L. Fat shaming is making people sicker and heavier. CMAJ (2019).
  5. Blachford A., et al. The Voice Of Young Science brings you; the detox dossier. (2009).

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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

One response to “11 Popular Fitness Quotes That Are Dead Wrong!”

  1. Simone avatar

    Another golden article Russ. So happy I discovered your website, if only I did years ago!

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