The Most Common Fitness Terms You Need to Know
A Beginner’s Guide to Fitness Lingo
Here are the most common fitness terms you need to know in alphabetical order. This isn’t exhaustive, but if you’re a fitness newbie, this will definitely help. Bookmark this post for future reference. I will update this post from time to time.
Active recovery – What I call “workout lite.” Active recovery days are when you spend your rest day doing some low-intensity activity like light walking or gentle yoga.
Aerobic exercise – When your body uses oxygen for energy for an extended period of time. Examples of such exercises include running, biking, and swimming.
AMRAP – An acronym for “as many reps as possible.” Instead of a specific number of reps, sometimes a particular routine will instruct you to do as many reps as possible of an exercise.
Anaerobic exercise – When your body uses specific and limited energy reserves for intense activities in short intervals. Examples of such exercises include weight lifting and sprinting.
BMR – Stands for Basic Metabolic Rate. This is what people refer to whenever they say things like, “She’s lucky to have a really fast metabolism.” The term refers to the number of calories your body burns each day to live and breathe.
Burpees – Everyone’s favorite move (not!). A.k.a. squat thrusts, it’s when you do a squat, push-up, and vertical jump into a sequence of moves performed in quick succession. Need a video? Here ya go:
Circuit training – When you do exercises that are a combination of strength and cardio in quick succession based on a set time (usually between 10-45 minutes) or a set amount of work (like a specific number of rounds). You have to move from one exercise to another with minimal rest between each exercise.
Compound movements – Also known as complex exercises. These are movements that work multiple muscles thereby promoting stability and maximum burn. An example of a compound movement is a squat.
Cooldown (also spelled as cool-down) – It’s when you get your heart rate down at the end of the workout through light movements and passive stretches. Don’t skip your warm-ups and cool-downs.
Core – Your core is like a car’s chassis. If your core is strong, then your body is strong. Your core muscles allow you to do all the physical activities you enjoy. They are not simply your abs but all the muscles around your trunk and pelvis. One way to strengthen your core is to do exercises like planks (see: Planks).
Wanna be that strong? Work your core. 🙂
Crossfit – A popular fitness regimen developed by Greg Glassman. It is “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing, and more.” Crossfit aficionados are called Crossfitters.
DOMS – Stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or what you’re referring to when you say things like, “I’m feeling pain in muscles that I didn’t even know I had!!” It’s the feeling you feel after a new or particularly challenging workout. A way to deal with this soreness is foam rolling (see: Foam rolling).
Endurance – Endurance is your muscles’ ability to repeatedly exert force against resistance. Performing repetitions of an exercise is a form of muscular endurance, such as in running or swimming.
Failure – When training to failure, an exercise is repeated to exhaustion. It builds muscle strength, size, and endurance (see: above), though it should be done with caution.
Foam rolling – Writing this reminds me that I need to buy a foam roller! Foam rollers are a little piece of heaven. Foam rolling is when you use a foam roller to massage tight muscles. Smoothing out the knots of the tissues surrounding your muscles (a.k.a. fascia) helps improve your range of motion. You can foam roll anytime, but it’s recommended that you do it before a workout.
Guess which one’s the foam roller. LOL.
Glutes – Short for gluteus maximus, or your rear end/ derriere/ butt.
Hamstrings – The muscles at the back of your thighs.
HIIT – Short for high-intensity interval training, it refers to high-intensity bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods. Since your body has to work harder to take in more oxygen to allow it to return to its resting state, your body’s still burning fat post-workout, making HIIT a really effective fat burner.
Interval training – A type of training that alternates light and intense activity. Imagine a routine that incorporates jogging, running, sprinting, and walking. That’s what interval training is like. It’s a metabolism booster as well as a fat burner.
Isolation exercises – The opposite of compound movements (see: Compound movements). Isolation exercises are exercises that target just one muscle at a time. An example would be barbell shrugs which target the shoulders.
Jacked – Refers to someone who has a lot of muscle.
Juice – Someone who is on juice is on steroids.
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Lats – Short for latissimus dorsi. The widest muscle in the human body, it’s the triangular muscle at your back.
Lean muscle – The amount of muscle you have.
Macros – Short for macronutrients, which refers to proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, a.k.a. the building blocks of every diet. Individuals with specific fitness goals count macros instead of just carbs.
These are the particular macros of the meal above: 443 kcal. P14. C75. F10.
Negatives – Negative training is when the muscle lengthens during an exercise, called an eccentric contraction. When doing a bicep curl, for instance, the negative movement is when you bring the weight down. Concentric contraction, on the other hand, is what happens when you flex or shorten the muscle, or when you bring the weight back up. The negative movement is said to be an important part of muscle development.
Personal trainer – Certified professionals who help clients achieve their fitness and wellness goals through tailor-made workouts and nutrition plans.
PR – Stands for Personal Record. When someone refers to their personal record, that means they just beat their previous best race time, lifted their heaviest weight, or improved on any other previous physical activity. PR is also called PB, or personal best.
Plank – An exercise that works your core, it involves holding a press-up for a set period of time. There are many types of planks, but here’s a vid demonstrating the basic one:
Quads – The muscles in front of your thighs.
Reps – Short for repetitions, e.g., 12 reps of squats means doing squats 12 times.
Resistance – How much weight your muscle is working against to complete a movement. (see: Strength training).
Rest – A very important part of the fitness equation. Resting could either mean allowing your body to recover for the next round of exercise within a session, or allowing your body to recovery between sessions. You can rest fully during rest days, or you can practice active recovery (see: Active recovery).
Ripped – A person is ripped when he/she has very low body fat and muscle separation is visible and defined. It’s pretty similar to jacked, actually (see: Jacked).
Sets – The number of times you have to do a given number of reps. For instance, doing 3 sets of squats at 12 reps per set means doing squats for a total of 36 times.
Spinning – Spinning is a specific format of indoor cycling. It’s a low-impact cardio workout set to music and lasts between 40 to 60 minutes. Some of the cycling sessions may be interspersed with cardio intervals plus ab workouts on the floor.
Strength training – A type of training where you use resistance to work your muscles. Resistance can mean your bodyweight, dumbbells, resistance bands, et al. The older you are, the more you need to incorporate strength training in your workout regimen. It increases muscle mass and improves your metabolism.
Superset – If a set (see: Sets) is completing a full cycle of reps of one type of exercise, a superset is completing a full cycle of reps of two types of exercises. An example would be doing crunches and reverse crunches. Supersets add volume, intensity, and quickness to a workout.
Tabata – A type of HIIT. In this type of workout, you perform for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times for four minutes total. I tried this before, and it’s as killer as its definition sounds!
Warm-up – Preparatory exercises done to warm up the muscles prior to the actual workout proper. Don’t skip your warm-ups!
Weekend Warrior – Exercise enthusiasts who work on weekdays and work out seriously (think long runs and strenuous trail bike rides) on weekends.
A long weekend run can be a great way to recharge for the coming week.
WOD – Stands for Workout of the Day. It’s simply a list of exercises you have to do on a particular day. The term originated from the Crossfit community.
YBF – Barring any physical injury or medical condition, you’ll be fine. 🙂
What other fitness terms can I include in this list? See you in two weeks!
By the way, this post is for informational purposes only. If you have a medical concern, please do consult a trusted healthcare professional. Also, consider getting a personal trainer if you need help with motivation and/or creating a customized fitness plan.
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