Exercise Terminology!

When you start using a gym, you will hear a variety of exercise terminology and it can become a little overwhelming, but here are some of the more common bits of terminology that I use with my clients when creating exercise plans or during workouts.

  • Repetition (or rep) - completing a full exercise movement (e.g. upwards phase and downward phase of a biceps curl)

  • Set - made up of a number of repetitions completed consecutively followed by a period of rest.

  • Drop set – after finishing a set, you drop the resistance down and repeat the set again instantly

  • Super set – to complete a set of 2 exercises one after the other without rest

  • Tri-Set – to complete a set of 3 exercises one after the other without rest

  • Giant Set – to complete a set of 4 or more exercises one after the other without rest

  • Fatigue (exercise) – perform reps of an exercise until you physically can’t do anymore

  • Anaerobic – exercise (fast) without oxygen

  • Aerobic – exercise (slow) with oxygen

  • Eccentric Contraction (or negatives) – this is where your muscle lengthens under tension (e.g. downward phase of a biceps curl)

  • Concentric Contraction – this is where your muscle shortens under tensions (e.g. upward phase of a biceps curl)

  • Plyometric – these are normally jumping variants of exercises. Exerting maximum force for short intervals of time.

  • HIIT – high-intensity interval training involves short periods of anaerobic exercise with minimal amounts of rest.

  • LISS – low-intensity steady state training involves long periods of aerobic exercise

  • Prone – lying on your front

  • Supine – lying on your back

  • Incline (bench) – having the bench raised so your head is elevated above your hips

  • Decline (bench) – having the bench lowered so your head is below your hips

  • Flexion – when a joint angle closes e.g. elbow on an upward phase of a biceps curl

  • Extension – when a joint angle opens e.g. elbow on a downward phase of a biceps curl

  • Abduction – a movement away from the mid-line of the body

  • Adduction – a movement towards the mid-line of the body

  • Dorsi-flexion – A movement of the ankle when you pull your toes towards your shin

  • Plantar flexion – a movement of the ankle when you point or push your toes to the floor

  • Lateral – outer side of the body or limb; also, away from mid-line of body

  • Medial – on the inner side of a limb; also, toward or at mid-line of body

  • Tapering - reducing the amount of exercise before a event or competition

  • Gait - how someone walks, runs or moves (e.g. difference in stride length)

  • Press - to push a resistance away from the body with either your legs or arms

  • Row - to pull a resistance towards the body using your arms

  • Deadlift - A compound exercise to lift a heavy resistance normally from the floor to the hips using straight arms

  • Squat - A compound exercise to work the legs by lowering the hips from a standing position and then back up

  • Quadriceps (or quads) - muscle group of 4 at the front of your thigh on your legs

  • Hamstrings (or hammys) - muscle group of 3 at the back of your thigh on your legs

  • Calves - muscle group of 2 at the back of your lower leg

  • Gluteus muscles (or glutes) - muscle group of 3 on your bum

  • Abdominals (or abs) - group of muscles on your belly

  • Latissimus dorsi (or lats) - back muscle that goes from your lower back to your armpits

  • Trapezius (or traps) - a diamond shaped muscle at the top of your back

  • Rotator cuff muscles - a group of 4 muscles that stabilise the shoulder through dynamic movement

  • Pectoral muscles (or pecs) - a group of 2 muscles that makeup your chest

There you have it, a nice mixture of terminology to get you started! There is certainly a lot more out there, but that you will just have to learn as you go along.


Hope this has helped clear some of the words or phrases you have not understood, or prepped you ready for your exercise planning or gym session!




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