Popular Fitness Jargon Explained

How many times have you been reading a fitness article or overheard people chatting in the gym and wondered what they were talking about?

To save you any embarrassment in the future, here are some popular words and phrases often used in the fitness world. Memorise them and you'll be able to join in with the pros!

Reps: Repetitions. Basically the number of times you complete a single movement of an exercise. For example, if you lift a weight ten times, you've completed ten reps. 

Sets: A set is a group of reps followed by a rest period. If you're told to do two sets of five reps, complete the exercise five times, rest, then complete the exercise five more times.

Supersets: A superset involves performing two exercises, one right after the other, without rest in between. These are effective for working opposing muscle groups. A good example would be doing bicep curls followed by tricep extensions.

Pecs/Abs/Glutes/Lats: These all refer to muscle groups in the body. The pecs are the pectoral muscles in the chest. The abs are the abdominal, or stomach muscles. The glutes are the gluteal muscles in your buttocks, and lats refer to the latissimus dorsi muscles in the back. Different exercises can target certain muscle groups to make them stronger.

Isometrics: These are exercises that involve holding a position for a period of time. Examples would be yoga poses, planks and wall sits. They are great for increasing strength and you can add weights for more resistance.

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training. A series of short, intense cardio workouts which can last anything from 4 to 30 minutes. HIIT sessions generally consist of a warm up, then several reps of high intensity exercise interspersed with periods of medium intensity exercise, followed by a cool down. It's an excellent way to maximise your workout when you're short on time and is an effective fat burner.

DOMS: This stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Also called muscle fever, it's the pain you feel the day after a particularly strenuous workout or when you begin a new exercise your body isn't used to. Some people hate DOMS while others find it satisfying (I fall into the latter category) but it's actually caused by microtrauma – very small scale muscle damage. As your muscles become more accustomed to the exercises you're doing, DOMS will occur less frequently.

Spotting/Spotter: Spotting is helping another person during a particular exercise, most commonly weight training. The spotter could be a friend or personal trainer. They usually encourage the person training to lift or train more than they could do safely alone, and intervene when needed – such as when the person training is so fatigued they fail the final lift.

Pre-workout: This is a supplement, shake or drink consumed before your workout in order to help you achieve maximum gains. They are usually high-carb and contain caffeine to keep you going through a gruelling workout. Weightlifters swear by them as they can enhance both the number of reps before fatigue, and overall power.

How many of these did you already know? Are any other fitness related words you've heard and always wanted to know what they mean?

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  1. I've heard of everything expect for DOMs. I know this happens but I didn't know there was a word for it. I learned something! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Shaun, I'm glad I've taught someone something!

  2. I know one thing I have a hard time with is reading the workout board and see 4x7 - I forget if reps or sets come first. I haven't heard of DOMS before - I learned something new here! Oh man, I feel like a gym nerd by knowing the rest of the terms XD. There's also post-workout too!!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

  3. I’m starting a fitness class at my local gym next week and I’m so glad I found this post beforehand. I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with pretty much all of these new words but thankfully will be going in more educated now! Thank you for sharing lovely,
    Zara xx

  4. Even after years of training I still come across jargon I have to Google 😂

  5. Great information here! Maybe I don't feel completely out of the game because I have heard most of them before. Even though I would never remember to use them in a conversation... 😀 Great post!

  6. Very helpful information, Nic! A few of these I had no idea what they meant, and the way you've described them is simple and to the tea. Makes for a perfect explanation for someone, like me, who doesn't travel often to the workout universe lol

  7. Oooh this is such a helpful post! I knew a few of these but a lot of the other ones I've heard on fitness routines on youtube etc and have just clicked off the video because I couldn't be bothered to look up the jargon so I'll try and remember these!
    Soph - https://sophhearts.com x

  8. This would be so helpful for any new gym goers!

  9. I didn't know of DOMS. We learn every day. Thanks for the break down.


  10. This is such a useful post. I had never heard of supersets or isometrics which is funny as I do planks in yoga most days. Thank you for teaching me something new <3 xx

    Bexa | www.hellobexa.com


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