Gym Lingo: What You Need To Know

This article is primarily intended for the novice fitness enthusiast. For many such beginners, there is a natural nervousness when you walk into the gym for the first time. After all, most of the people in the gym are probably going to be in better shape than you. Either way, it’s a new environment, and that can be kind of intimidating on its own.

Unless you plan to avoid all social interaction at the gym (which would be difficult), it’s a good idea to learn some basic fitness/bodybuilding terminology so that you can converse with more experienced people. No one wants to take the time to hold your hand and teach you every single term, so you need to take the initiative and learn a few things for yourself. This article is intended to help you do just that.

Glossary Of Terms:

Active Recovery:
Active recovery is a method that involves using light exercise as a rest period instead of taking a full rest. For instance, if you are doing intense calisthenics, you might want to maintain a light jog during your rest period. The idea is to keep your body in an active state for as long as possible.

Compound Exercises:
A compound exercise is one that involves using more than one muscle group. Most common exercises are compound exercises to one extent or another.

Cross-training is something that everyone should do. In essence, cross-training is just “training in more than one way.” For instance, if your preferred method is running on a treadmill, you would not exclude yourself from other training methods. Repetitive motion over time will certainly increase your risk of injury, so always use more than one method.

Drop Set:
This is a bodybuilding term which is quite popular. When you are doing a drop set, you start with a lot of weight and reduce the weight slightly for each set. For instance, you might start with 100 pounds (50 on each side) of a barbell. After the first set, you would remove some weight from each side and then immediately do the next set. The time that it takes to drop the weight is your rest period.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training):
This is a training method that burns fat and builds muscle by using short bursts of intense exercise, followed by very short rest periods. This method is most often used by hardcore people that are trying for maximum results. HIIT is the opposite of LISS.

LISS (Low-Intensity Steady-State):
This is the opposite of HIIT training. This method involves long periods of low-intensity exercise. A stationary bike would be a good example of this type of training.

Plyometrics are a little bit like HIIT, but more specific. Plyometric exercises involve short bursts of explosive motion, with the goal of exerting maximum intensity for improvement of both speed and strength. A good example of this type of training would be a set of short, high jumps.

Pyramid Sets:
Pyramid sets are groups of sets that are non-consistent. There are two ways to do pyramid sets: Going up the pyramid and going down the pyramid. Going up the pyramid means that your first set should be as easy as possible, getting harder and harder with each set. There are many ways to modify the difficulty of a particular exercise. For instance, you could add more weight to a bar or add more time to a run. Basically, you start easy and make every set a little bit harder. Going down the pyramid is the opposite. You start with a very difficult set and work your way down to an easy set at the end.

“Rep” is short for “repetition.” It just represents one movement. For instance, if you are doing a bench press, each lift would be one rep. If you are using a pull-up bar, each chin raise would be a rep. Reps are also sometimes called cycles.

Repeat To Failure:
If you are instructed to “repeat to failure,” this means that you are to do the exercise until you cannot do so anymore. When they say “failure,” they mean total failure of the body to do another rep.

As the name implies, this is a set of reps. To put it simply, a set is the number of reps that you do before stopping.

This might also be described as a combined set. A superset is two sets that are done back-to-back without any rest period. Each set should be a different exercise. Otherwise, you are just doing a particularly long set. For instance, you might do ten push-ups followed by ten reps on a pull-up bar.

Unilateral Exercises: This means “focusing on one limb at a time.” When exercising your limbs, it is essential to work both of them evenly. Otherwise, you end up looking freakish and lopsided. However, if you already have an imbalance, unilateral training can be used to correct the problem.


There are many ways in which this knowledge can be helpful. Here is a short list of benefits:

  • When you overhear conversations, you may be able to learn useful things.
  • If someone gives you advice, you can save them some explanation. Once again, no one wants to hold your hand, so don’t force them to do so.
  • If you want to study and read up on fitness and bodybuilding, you will definitely need to learn some basic terminology if you expect to actually derive any benefit from your research.
  • Helps you to fit in better with the gym crowd, which should do a lot to ease your anxiety.
  • Helps you to keep from looking as new as you are.

We hope that you will study this list and gain all these helpful benefits so that your gym experience can be as pleasant and helpful as possible. If you have found this article to be helpful, please follow us on Facebook to receive more of our work.

The post Gym Lingo: What You Need To Know appeared first on Gaspari Nutrition.

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