I suppose, at the end of the day, used in the right context, these statements are not going to hurt anyone. I mean, they are just words after all…words can be powerful but it’s action that truly makes a difference. Right?

That being said, there are a few popular fitness phrases that I just can’t get behind. They may be said with healthy intent, I’m just not sure they elicit healthy outcomes. Admittedly, I’ve used a few of these over the years. I’m sure this list could be pages long…these are just some that come to mind right here and now:


1. “No pain, no gain” - Just wrong.

2. “Pain is weakness leaving the body” – I disagree; I believe that pain…is pain.

3. “No days off” – Definitely have used this in the past…and now I’m dealing with two chronic injuries. Coincidence?

4. “No easy days” – See #3.

5. “Unless you’re puking, keep going” – Isn’t even worthy of a comment.

6. “Core training” - Although it’s overused, I’m ok with the term…unless you follow the phrase up by performing 50 crunches.

7. “You’re tight? Just stretch” – It may help, but there’s usually a lot more to the story.

8. “Hard core training” – Just cheesy.

9. “Boot Camp”  – I use it, and as a marketing term, I get it. I just want a better alternative I suppose. That, and it’s highly overused.


10. “Deadlifts are bad for your back” – No, bad deadlifts are bad for your back, and the rest of your body.

11. “Squats are bad for your knees” – No, bad squats are bad for your knees, and the rest of your body.


12. Any absolutes…whenever I see “always“, “never“, “only“…red flags go up. We are all unique beings, so what works for one may not work for another. Personalize and individualize based on your own body and your own goals. If they talk in “definites” and it sounds too good to be true, it typically is.

So, is there a point to this piece? Really, it’s just to bring awareness to the fact that many of these are just plain incorrect. There are ways to motivate and inspire your clients and athletes with healthy, useful terms…telling them ‘no pain, no gain’ is most likely just going to bring about pain, provide them with zero gains, and leave them injured.

Again, this is a quick, short list. If you’ve got other gems, please send a comment my way and let me hear them.


About Doug Balzarini
Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC, is the owner of DB Strength, which provides fitness training, education, and resources. He is also the strength and conditioning coach for Alliance MMA where he works with UFC Champion Dominick Cruz, Bellator Champion Michael Chandler, Phil Davis, Brandon Vera, Travis Browne, Ross Pearson, Alexander Gustafsson, and more. Prior to starting his own business, Doug worked at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE).

He has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU and has obtained multiple certifications including ACE, NSCA-CSCS, MMA-CC, TFW Level 1, TRX instructor training, RIP training, EFI Gravity instructor training, LIFT Sandbag Certification, and FMS training. He has produced his 2 DVD projects on strength training for combat athletes, appeared in many fitness videos and articles, and was a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” FOX TV show in 2012.

For more information please visit www.dbstrength.com.