Become a fitness linguist before even stepping in the gym
Have you ever walked into the gym and overheard people throwing words around, talking about their PR's or had a trainer say something technical and you just had no clue what on earth the words they were saying meant? You're not alone! In the world of fitness, language is a key indicator to what what you're going to do and/or experience. Here is a list of common fitness terms that you will hear and what they mean, some are straight forward and others may not be but I'll cover as many as I can and most of these are common ones I've come across in my sessions.
Body & Diet Related Terms
Body Weight: This is in reference to any exercise where you will use nothing more than... well simply put, the weight of your own body.
BMI: Body Mass Index, a form of measurement used to gauge an individuals health and potential risk, based upon their weight, height and age, a good indicator of health but not very accurate.
BFP: Body Fat Percentage, the percentage of an individuals mass that is fat.
BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate, the minimum amount of calories required for an individual to survive and perform daily functions.
Cardio-vascular performance: How well the heart and lungs can provide the body with oxygen and get rid of toxins like CO2.
Aerobic: Performance that requires the use and exchange of oxygen.
Anaerobic: Performance that does not require the use and exchange of oxygen, but instead uses other forms of stored energy like ATP.
ATP: Adenosine triphosphate, a stored energy chemical that allows for explosive movements throughout the body down to a cellular level, mainly in fast twitch muscle where it would take too long for oxygen exchange to be effective.
Lactic Acid: A byproduct of the anaerobic process which has a misconception of being responsible for muscle soreness according to Professor Michael Gleeson, an exercise biochemist at Loughborough University in the U.K.
Calories: The unit of measuring energy usage and consumption.
Macros: The large nutrients in food, protein, carbohydrates and lipids (fats).
Supplements: Sources of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and performance enhancers (not necessarily steroids) that are not obtained from food sources. e.g. protein powder, BCAAs & pre-workout.
BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids, essential amino acids (broken down protein which is easier for the body to absorb) used to boost muscle growth.
Exercise Related Terms
RPE: Rate of perceived exertion, a form of measurement that relies on visual indicators such as rate of breathing, sweating, ability to speak and facial expressions in order to gauge a persons level of performance and discomfort during an exercise.
Rep (Repetition): The term used for one count of movement from start to finish.
Rep Count: The time for the rise, hold and fall of a movement
e.g. 2-0-2; 2 seconds of working against gravity, 0 seconds holding against gravity and 2 seconds of working with gravity.
Set: A group of reps performed consecutively, normally to a certain number (a set number) of reps.
Rest Between Sets: The allocated time you're allowed to rest between sets.
Routine: How your workouts are structured throughout your week or month.
RM or Repetition Max: The maximum weight or resistance one can move at 100% power in a single rep.
PR or Personal Record: The highest recorded weight, speed, distance or other form of exercise specific measurement that one has ever personally performed.
Plate: A type of weight that fits on barbells. Generally a quick way of referring to the heaviest weighted plates (45lbs/20.5kg) e.g. I had 4 plates on = I had 4 x 45lbs plates on or 180lbs.
Resistance: Any exercise that requires work against an opposing force.
Time under tension: The amount of time the muscles are required to work, normally in relation to resistance training.
Cardio: Any exercise that focuses on increasing the heart rate above what is normal in order to increase cardio-vascular performance and general efficiency.
Endurance: An individuals capability to sustain movement or work for an extended period of time.
Interval: A set amount of time to perform an exercise or rest.
HI-IT: High intensity interval training, a form of cardio that pushes you really hard and really fast for a set number of short work intervals with minimal rest.
Hypertrophy: The scientific name for building muscle.
DOMS: Delayed onset of muscle soreness, the pain/discomfort felt 24 to 48 hours after a workout.
Compound: Refers to exercises that focus on multiple muscle groups.
Isolated: Refers to exercises that focus on specific or individual muscle groups.
Slang Related Terms
Tone/Toning/Cutting: A term used to refer to fat burning in order to increase muscle definition.
Ripped/Shredded/Toned/Cut: Having high muscle definition.
Swoll/Buff/Jacked: Referring to an individual having large/great muscular mass.
Gains: Putting on muscle.
I've covered quite a few terms here and hopefully not too many to overwhelm you. There are a lot more terms that one may come across in the gym but these should cover a majority of the ones you will most often hear. If you do stumble upon a term that you are unfamiliar with, chances are there's a good explanation online that you could find, these will just increase your on the ball knowledge and help you feel more confident when speaking about workouts with friends or your trainer.