Russ Howe PTI
Posted in: Motivation

10 Popular Fitness Quotes That Are Totally Wrong

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10 Popular Fitness Quotes That Are Totally Wrong / 10th March 2018

If fitness motivation is hard to come by, you may find yourself scrolling Instagram for a shot of motivation.

We've all done it.

We're looking for that one quote that's going to make us charge to the gym on a day where we were originally going to lie in bed covered in pancakes.

(Just me?)

From fitness chicks standing at the top of cliffs looking out onto the horizon with an hour-long motivational caption that essentially just says "Believe in yourself". Or a yoga chick in the tightest pants ever made with advice about life being short so we should "dance in the rain".. Motivational fitness quotes are everywhere.

But today I want to take you down a different route, as I look at 10 of the most popular fitness quotes that are totally wrong.

Despite the fact that they are popular sayings (I even know scores of trainers that say these), they are not good advice if you're looking to start lifting weights or get on a healthy diet and lose weight.

For every one that you've previously seen and believed to be true, thou must eat one donut.

Let's begin.

couples that workout together stay together

1. "Couples That Workout Together Stay Together"

Let me give you a bit of background on this one.

There are two types of couples who go to your local gym.

There's the men and women who train and happen to be in a relationship, and then there's those annoying couples who make their entire time in the gym about showing others they're a couple.

I can feel it building...

Yes, that's right, Russ is about to go on a rant..

It's really easy to spot "the gym couple".

In most cases he's orange and she only trains glutes.

Oh, these guys do all kinds of cute stuff! From her sitting on his lap while he bench presses, to him guiding her around the gym with his hands on her lower back, like a delicate flower who might blow away under the force of the air conditioning if he lets go, constantly sticking their tongues out as they add to an Instagram feed that resembles a soft porn shoot.

(Because if your relationship gets less than 50 likes per post, are you even in a relationship?)

annoying people at the gym

Why am I telling you this?

Well, there's been a bulls**t meme floating around the internet for a few years which claims couples that workout together stay together.

This is total nonsense!

And  "the gym couple" are the perfect example of this! It's all sunshine one day, then suddenly he's hanging out with his circle of friends and she with hers, not speaking to each other after one of them didn't like other's last post, until eventually he switches gyms and she drops a nuke on the whole relationship by posting a pic of the sea captioned "Never make someone a priority when they treat you like an option."

Game over.

Oh, the drama.

"Couples that workout together stay together" tops my list of useless fitness quotes because it's utter baloney to suggest that lifting weights makes two people compatible.

I mean, if you're a total cockwaffle outside of the gym, then you're still a total cockwaffle inside of the gym. Lifting weights together doesn't change s**t.

All you've done is put your partner in a position to throw heavy objects at you!

nothing tastes as good as skinny feels

2. "Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels"

Because what better way to get on your new diet than to bully yourself into submission with this kind of pressure?

Skinny doesn't mean fit or healthy, it means underweight.

Being put under pressure to "be skinny" causes  obsessive behavior, self-harming, eating disorders and the irrational quest to get a thigh gap.

Besides, if this quote was even halfway true we wouldn't be facing an obesity crisis.

misleading fitness quotes

3. Anything Relating To ATG Squats

Legend has it, if you're not squatting "ass to grass" you're not squatting correctly.

This dumbf**kery is straight out of the CrossFit Games (a wonderful land where "if it moves, it's a rep"), and any fitness quote pertaining to someone being super macho because they do ATG squats should be treated as complete garbage.

While there isn't anything wrong with squatting ATG, it is very, very foolish to advise everybody to do it.

Ultimately, the depth you reach on your squat are the culmination of a number of things including femur length, ankle mobility, hamstring flexibility, injury history, and more.

in terms of working the major muscle groups involved in a barbell squat, reaching a parallel angle (that's a 90 degree bend at the knee) is classed as a full rep for most people,  including Eddie Hall as he won the World's Strongest Man.

If you want to go further and your anatomy allows it, go for it.

no pain no gain

4. "No Pain, No Gain!"

In terms of fitness quotes that cause injuries, this one probably stands out the most.

The person who came up with "no pain, no gain!" clearly couldn't tell the difference between pain. And gain.

People like to throw these quotes around in a bid to sound macho, much like "pain is weakness leaving the body", but they should never be taken literally by novices who are looking to make some gains in the gym.

Feeling a muscle working and burning under the intensity of a well-structured set is great. But pain?


Hell no.

Pain is when you stand on a plug. Or when you arrive at the gym only to realize you forgot to pack your preworkout.

But if you are in pain when you lift, you are lifting wrong.

A constant "Go hard or go home!" mentality usually just puts guys on a fast-track to their local physiotherapist. And when they return, they do so with a list of joint issues as a result of overloading on weight and under-delivering on technique.

So one thing I want to do for you today is to help you break away from this crazy mentality that you need to destroy yourself every time you go to the gym to see positive results.

You don't.

Sure, your favourite social media model posts about #beastmode every day, but that's not how it works.

The transformation of your physique from where you are now to where you want to be will consist of around 10% awesome workouts (where you feel unstoppable), around 10% terrible workouts (where you feel bloated and hangry), and around 80% solid workouts where you got the job done.

But you won't see that on their social media.

clean eating is a myth

5. "Eat Clean, Get Lean"

Okay, maybe I'm being a little harsh.

I'm all for eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and lean meat!

But allow me to rephrase this one: "Eat whatever the f**k you want, just don't be a d**k."

The main thing I hate about so-called "clean eating" is how restrictive it is, banning certain food choices and ingredients without significant evidence to back up it's claims. Speak to any gym bro about losing weight and you'll often be met with generic advice like "You should only eat chicken, broccoli and brown rice. That'll get you shredded, bro."

The problem is it'll also get you scurvy, due to a lack of vitamins and minerals because of the lack of variety in your food choices.

Not to mention how difficult it is to stick to a diet like that.

Clean eating is a trend I'll be happy to see the back of, as it pushes an agenda of living on a very restricted list of foods (regardless of whether you enjoy them), using the likes on your Insta pic of your lunch as a coping method to stop you from covering your body in chocolate and licking yourself to death.

That's not a healthy lifestyle.

A diet should never be about self-punishment.

In fact, a 1998 study of 188 women found that such rigid diet strategies were associated with the symptoms of eating disorders, anxiety and weight regain, while confirming that a more flexible approach to dieting yielded far greater sustainability for long-term success. (1)

Clean eating is also too vague a term to be taken seriously.

What is deemed clean to a bodybuilder may be deemed "dirty" to somebody following a Paleo diet. Likewise, Paleo-friendly foods may be deemed unsuitable for a vegetarian. It's one of those bogus dietary terms that has no real meaning.

Worse still, the feelings of perceived failure when someone consumes a so-called "dirty" food are insane. This is never a good thing, and it can also lead people down a slippery path to obsessive behaviour with food ( orthorexia).

Thankfully, people are starting to become aware of  how dangerous and obsessive clean eating is, and this is one fitness trend that is starting to die off.

what is the best bum exercise

6. "Squats: The Difference Between Having A Butt And Having An Ass"

Squats are great for building lower body strength.

They're probably my favourite exercise for hitting multiple muscle groups at once.

But they've always had the false credit of being "the best bum exercise", or the one exercise you should do if you're want to build a good bum.

It's not true.

A 2011 ACE study from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, found quadruped hip extensions, lunges, and step ups all created greater muscle activation within the glutes versus squats. (2)

In order to build a booty you can really be proud of, you need a well-rounded program that relies on more than just one exercise.  Try my Beach Bum program for that.

worst fitness quotes

7. "Obsessed Is A Word The Lazy Use To Describe The Dedicated"


I don't like fitness quotes that are self-congratulatory or passive agressive.

Jack The Ripper was both obsessed and dedicated.

Sure, maybe they say it because they are jealous of your general awesomeness. But maybe, just maybe, it's because you genuinely never stop talking about the diet you're on.

eat less move more

8. "Eat Less, Move More"

For most people, weight loss is a tough journey that requires a lot more time and effort than this snippet suggests.

It takes a lot of willpower to lose weight and keep it off.

In some cases it can require the individual to change their whole lifestyle, depending upon their starting point.

But if you've ever hit the wall with your diet and struggled to shift those next few pounds, we all have that one annoying friend who dismisses your efforts with a shrug of the shoulders and a snarky tut "Just eat less and move more!"

Nine times out of ten, it's the same friend who waits for you to open your lunch at the office before saying "Thought you were on a diet?"

eat less move more bad advice

Nobody likes Susan. Don't be Susan.

motivational fitness quotes

9. "Sore Is The New Sexy"

Have you ever tried walking after a brutal leg workout?

It's a great time to do your best impression of a cow trying to run.

But sexy? Not so much!

Besides, what the heck does it even need to look sexy for? Stop putting pressure on yourself to look attractive while you do squats, stretches, etc.

Totally pointless. But  try this leg workout to experience the whole "running cow" thing.

Russ Howe PTI

10. "Haters Are My Motivators"

I see this one all the time, and I always encourage clients and website members to take it with a pinch of salt.

I totally get it, though.

Hearing someone write you off can be like a rocket up the hoo-haa when it comes to starting a new diet plan or going to the gym.

"That'll show 'em! I'll prove 'em wrong!"

You go, girl.

Because you will indeed show them, and prove them wrong.

I have every faith in you.

You see, my youngest brother took silly little insults from family members for years before he finally asked to come train with me in the gym. He dropped over 100lbs in there, and the people who used to put him down had started asking him for tips on how they could get started.

It's a great accomplishment.

russ howe pti diet plan

But along the way, something changed.

He stopped doing it to prove others wrong, and started focusing on making improvements for his own reasons. Because, as his confidence grew, he gave their little put-down's less value until they eventually meant nothing at all. He had become self-sufficient in the gym.

This was vital to success.

Because the anger of a nasty remark doesn't last anywhere near long enough to make a real physical transformation (unless you steal my last slice of pizza, in which case I'm taking that s**t all the way to the my grave).

How many times have you started a weight loss attempt fueled by horrible remarks only to run out of steam and find yourself back at square one after a few weeks?

Too damn many, right?!

It's the equivalent of breaking up with your partner and then spending the following month trying to impress them with how totally awesome your life is going now.

If haters truly are your motivators, and you are getting fit purely as a means to prove someone wrong, then you have given them complete control over your life. You are striving for their approval, and you will deem your efforts unworthy if they don't give you the thumbs up.

When you finally get the acceptance you once craved (which won't take as long as you think), you are presented with another problem..

You will discover that you have depleted your primary motivation source and have nothing to push you on. Because those haters are always the weakest-willed motherf**kers on the planet, and the very moment they start to see you getting some serious results in the gym they will transfer from calling you names to telling people they are your best damn friends.

Now you have nothing to motivate you to keep going.

You should never be fueled by hate or anger. You should be fueled by the prospects of your own potential once you start to see changes.

So no, haters should not be your motivators.

They can, of course, be a tool to get you going. But I encourage you to quickly shift the focus onto bettering yourself.

That's where the real success is achieved.

best motivational fitness quotes

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  1. Stewart, T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese womenAppetite. 2002 Feb;38(1):39-44.
  2. Anders, M., et al. Glutes to the max: Exclusive ACE research gets to the bottom of the most effective glute exercises. ACE FitnessMatters. 2006.