The 25 gym lingo words you may not know

5 min read

Fitness beginners and gym novices are being offered an A-Z list covering the most popular industry buzzwords in a bid to help them get up to speed and training efficiently, fast.

Starting to work out in the gym can be intimidating at the best of times, but this experience is heightened when trying to immerse yourself in the world of fitness lingo too.

Our very own personal trainer at Muscle Food Steve Ahern says: “A lot of people find that, although they’re interested in learning about fitness and exercise, the prospect of walking into a gym with absolutely no prior knowledge puts them off completely.

“Not only have you got to get to grips with a range of exercises, movements and scary machines, you’ve also got to learn what seems like an entirely different language when everyone else is talking calisthenics, DOMS and PBs.

“Hopefully, this A-Z jargon buster will make this a little bit easier, so you can feel more confident when stepping through the gym doors for the first time.”

Other Fitness Articles:

1. Barbell

These are the long metal bars which you stick weighted plates on at both ends.

2. Bulking

Bulking refers to gaining mass, particularly muscle. When bulking, an individual will consume more calories than their body burns in order for these excess calories to be used to build muscle.

3. Calisthenics

A form of bodybuilding that focuses on bodyweight instead of traditional weights – think pull-ups, push-ups, dips and crunches.

4. Clamps

Clamps, clips, or grips – they all allude to the same thing; the circle you snap or twist on to the end of barbells to prevent plates from sliding off.

5. Compound exercises

Exercises that engage multiple muscles i.e. the bench press, squat or deadlift.

6. CrossFit

CrossFit is a training philosophy that coaches people of all shapes and sizes to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness. It’s perfect for beginners to weight training and people looking for support and community.

7. Cutting

Don’t worry, there are no sharp objects involved in this. For bodybuilders, cutting simply means reducing calories in order to lose body fat.

8. Decline

Any workout you do in which the bench or equipment is placed in a manner where your upper body is in a declined position.

9. DOMS

An acronym for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, DOMS is what you get after a particularly strenuous workout or one you’re not used to going. DOMS isn’t just a result of going hard in the gym, it can arise from simply using a muscle more than you’re used to.

10. Dumbbell

These are the smaller, hand-sized bars with weights on both ends. You’ll usually find these stacked on shelves in weights ranging from 5 – 100 lbs in 5lb increments.

11. EPOC

An acronym for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption – this alludes to an increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity.

12. Form

The act of performing an exercise in the right way – you always to maintain your form to perform exercises correctly and reduce the risk of injury.

13. Gains

This can either refer to an increase in muscle size or just being able to lift more weight, thought the two usually go hand in hand.

14. HIIT

Usually referred to simply as “hit”, this stands for High-Intensity Interval Training which means to exercise alternately between high-intensity period and low-intensity recovery periods. So, you might do a one-minute sprint on an exercise bike, giving it everything you’ve got, followed by one or two minutes at a normal pace – continuing this cycle for anything between 15-30 minutes.

15. Incline

Any workout you do in which the bench or equipment is placed in a manner where your upper body is in an inclined position.

16. Isolation exercises

Exercises that engage a single muscle i.e. bicep curls or calf raises.

17. Macros

Short for macronutrients i.e. protein, carbohydrates and fats.

18. Max

You might hear someone saying, “what’s your deadlift max?” – this is referring to the maximum amount of weight someone is able to lift for at least one rep of a specific exercise.

19. PB

No, this doesn’t stand for peanut butter (unfortunately) – it’s actually an acronym for “Personal Best”.

20. Pre-workout

A supplement taken before workouts to give you fiery strength and energy.

21. Reps

Short for “repetitions”, this refers to the number of times you perform an exercise within a set.

22. Ripped

Used to describe someone with massive muscles and low body fat. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger.

23. Sets

You will perform a number of reps for each set, and you will perform a number of sets for each exercise. For example: You might do three sets of ten reps for sit ups, and then three sets of fifteen reps for squats.

24. Spot

A spot is when you aid someone in their workout. You might stand behind them and watch to guarantee they complete the set, but people usually request a spot if they are lifting a heavy weight and aren’t confident they’ll be able to finish without some assistance.

25. Tabata

Tabata training is a highly effective style of interval training, doing an exercise for 20 seconds and then ten seconds of rest for eight rounds, which totals four minutes.


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