The 5 Best Quotes Ever Uttered by Strength & Conditioning Professionals

In the past year I’ve done a lot more speaking than I’m used to, and quite often I steal other coaches’ quotes. Though I’m always sure to reference the quote’s originator, I’ve realized that the audience is always grateful whenever I relay these gems along. Below are the five quotes I steal most frequently:

5. Nick Tumminello

The only thing I claim to be an expert about is my clients. I know their bodies better than anyone

I love this quote by Nick. As a personal trainer or strength coach, you get to know your clients’ and athletes’ bodies and brains incredibly well. You know what exercises they love and don’t love, which exercises they’re great at and which exercises they’re not-so-great at, what gets them motivated, what methods and programs they prefer, what limitations they have in terms of form, how hard to push them, when to back off, when to scrap the program and ad-lib, what music to play, and how to keep them excited about training week in and week out.

4. Charlie Weingroff

Everything’s connected, and everything matters

Charlie nailed it here, and the longer you train, the more you realize it. Serial distortion patterns can wreak havoc throughout the body. The ankle can affect the shoulder and the t-spine can affect the knees. Everything’s connected. Moreover, everything matters. Whether it’s foot pressure patterns during the squat, neck position in the deadlift, or pelvic posture during the push up, it’s all important.

3. Gray Cook

Don’t put fitness on top of dysfunction

If only every personal trainer around the world understood Gray’s quote. That beginner client probably isn’t ready to put a barbell on his back and squat. Bodyweight mastery precedes barbell loading. Sure you can load the client up and have them quarter squat with decent weight. Sure you can place a heavy barbell on the ground and have clients round back the weight up in a deadlift. But guess what? You’d just be putting fitness on top of dysfunction. In other words, you’ll be getting them better at sucking. They’ll get stronger without improving their fundamental movement patterns and eventually something’s gotta give; whether it’s the knees, the low back, or some other joint or body structure. When squat and hip hinge patterns look good, then and only then should you opt for external loading.

2. Michael Boyle

If it doesn’t look athletic, it’s probably not athletic

This is probably my favorite quote of all time. In fact, I say it so often it should belong to me, not Mike. That hunched-over x-band walk isn’t cutting it, nor is the spastic pull-up or knee-valgus jump-squat landing. Learn to look athletic in your movements and you can’t go wrong.

1. Christian Thibaudeau

I have too much respect for every single successful coach or athlete to dismiss any technique, program or system just because it doesn’t sit well with my own personal likings and beliefs

I saved this for last because I think it’s the most honorable quote I’ve ever read by a fitness professional, and I commend Christian for saying it. We all have our biases. As trainers, coaches, and lifters, we have our favorite methods, systems, and exercises. But so does the next coach. If you haven’t learned anything about maximum strength from Louie Simmons then you’re a fool. If you haven’t paid attention to Mike Boyle’s success with single leg training then I pity you. At the risk of sounding conceited, if you totally ignore my glute training methods then I think you’re unwise. We can all learn from each other as long as we’re humble and open-minded.

So there you have it! These are the 5 best quotes ever uttered by strength & conditioning professionals. If you’re a speaker, throw some of these quotes into your slides and the audience will appreciate it…trust me!


  • Great great quotes. When I first heard Gray say that maybe 5 years ago a light bulb switched on in my head

  • Kelli Michelle says:

    Awesome Bret

  • Daniel says:

    I recall seeing this on Christian’s website a few years back and it just cemented my own practices. Great choice BC, real talk.

  • Fritz says:

    I would’ve expected Dan John to be on such list. 😀

  • “In other words, you’ll be getting them better at sucking.”

    Bret`s best quote. haha

  • Stacey says:

    I freakin’ LOVE this. But I think it’s weird I’ve never heard of THREE of these FIVE trainers. Homework… Thanks.

  • Andy... says:

    “I have too much respect for every single successful coach or athlete to dismiss any technique, program or system just because it doesn’t sit well with my own personal likings and beliefs”.
    – Christian Thibaudeau –


  • Trish says:

    Oh geez Brett…you ARE NOT conceited. YOU are the GLUTE guy!

  • Joaquin says:

    Next can we get the 5 funniest quotes uttered by S&C professionals. We’re a very cerebral group and as a result there are some hilarious coaches out there, I know you have some gems.

  • Will says:

    “Don’t put fitness on top of dysfunction” by Gray Cook, brilliant! Now, as S&C coaches, its a matter of being patience and avoid progressions without foundations. I mean, sadly many times is not the client or the athlete who wants to go to the next level by increasing the load but the trainer/coach! So, aiming better loads never should overtake the importance of mastering the movement pattern. Therefore, as trainers/coaches we just can do the best with what we got, by reading our trainees safely and sensibly in order to make the right diagnosis and prescribe the right exercises. The strength of a person should be measured for his/her capacity to move correctly. Once a movement has been mastered, it would be the right moment to add loading. Thanks, Brett, awesome article. I really appreciate the way you share your knowledge and your sources. Cheers

  • marc says:


  • Jeff says:

    Woah, that last quote from Christian Thibaudeau was eye opening. Thanks for sharing that, I really needed to hear it.

  • Jim Davis says:

    All of that is nicely said. I get so tired of trainers who prate that their method is the only “right” one. I’ve faced that myself, as someone recovering from back surgery. I still have neuropathy and numbness in my feat, and lingering issues with glute activation, free squatting doesn’t work for me; I don’t have the balance. Yet, more than one trainer has told me that’s the ONLY way to build leg mass.

  • This is great! I went on a small rant last week on Facebook and someone posted Christian’s quote in the comment thread. This was my rant – “Still confused as to why people in the Fitness Industry battle over what type of workouts they do. Really? Who gives a sh$t! Who cares if you train to be a Bodybuilder or Powerlifter or if you train in a Boot Camp program or you do CrossFit! Does it really matter? Some want more muscle, some want raw strength, while others want increased endurance and some want to simply look better and feel better. The facts are you’re taking care of your body. If you’re a Fitness Professional, Strength Coach or Gym owner then you owe it to your clients to constantly evolve your training program and system. Hell if we put it this way – then apparently I’m everything! Just SHUT UP and TRAIN!” Thanks for sharing these Bret!

  • Bulent says:

    I love everything you write, but I think you missed some of the heavy weights of the industry and some truly inspirational quotes here. Still…you are awesome.

  • Adrian diems says:

    Dear Mr. Contreras, congratulations and kudos for a job-well-done, collecting meaningful thoughts from experienced strength trainers about learning from others is an excellent advice, I agree with you that Christian’s Thibaudeau quote reflects wisdom,
    prudence, and knowledge accumulated throughout many years as a coach and as a real human being. To conclude, Bret, it will be more sophisticated to use the plural gluteus instead of the glute man, it will be better to say ” The glutei man” Adrian

  • Rich says:

    Great quotes. The last two are closely related. If it looks safe and athletic, keep doing it and don’t worry about what others say.

    The problem is safe and athletic seems to be open for interpretation.

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