Glossary of Fitness Terms

If you’re new to fitness (and even if you’re not!), here are the definitions to some common words and phrases that you’ve probably heard during a workout, with links to examples of workouts that use the protocol.  Curious about a term you don’t see here?  Leave a comment and I’ll add it as soon as possible!

Strength Training – a workout that uses body weight or free weights (hand weights), such as dumbbells, kettlebells, or medicine balls, to build strength in the muscles.  Also known as “weight training” or “body building.”  Generally speaking, this workout is slower-moving and less sweaty, but has numerous health benefits including weight loss, increased strength, increase in metabolism, increased muscle endurance and power, enhanced balance, and increased bone density.

Cardio – short for cardiovascular training, which is a fast-moving workout designed to increase your heart rate and produce sweat.  Examples of cardio exercises include running, jumping jacks or burpees.

Reps – short for repetitions.  The easiest and most common exercise protocol is to simply count the number of times (reps) you perform an exercise.

Sets – a grouping of reps, most commonly used with strength training workouts (i.e., performing an exercise for three sets of ten reps means that you would do the exercise ten times, rest briefly, do the exercise ten more times, rest again, then do the exercise again for ten more reps).

Supersets – a pair (or more) of exercises – generally strength training work – performed back to back with no rest, as though a single exercise.  For example, you might pair biceps curls and overhead presses in a superset by doing ten curls and then ten presses, rest briefly, perform another ten reps of both exercises before resting again, then do a final superset of ten reps of both exercises.

Circuit – the completion of a group of exercises, which is generally repeated two or more times during a workout.  Used commonly with strength training work, a workout might be structured with 5-10 exercises in a circuit to be performed two or three times at ten reps each.

Burnout – also known as “muscle fatigue,” “going to fatigue,” or “going to failure.”  This method is a high volume way to train for strength, by completing a high number of reps in a row, without rest, until you can no longer perform the exercise with good form.

Ladder, Progressive, or Pyramid – are different but similar methods of structuring workouts to keep your interest level high and either increase or decrease (or both!) the difficulty of the workout to its completion.  Exercises are performed for varying reps, intervals or weight, which increase or decrease (or both!) over the course of the workout.

H.I.I.T. – an acronym for High Intensity Interval Training.  HIIT workouts use a timer, and are structured in a way that alternates periods of work and periods of rest for set amounts of time. Intervals can be of any length, and exercises performed may be cardio- or strength-related.  This is a popular method of training because it’s a fast way to burn fat and calories in a short amount of time (by raising and lowering the heart rate quickly).  Generally speaking, HIIT workouts are fast-paced and high volume.

Tabata – a very specific form of HIIT.  The Tabata protocol was developed by exercise scientist Izumi Tabata, who discovered that athletes could improve their cardiovascular endurance dramatically with just four minutes of very intense exercise, where one exercise is performed at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, with ten seconds of rest, for eight intervals in a row.  In popular use, trainers often string several Tabata sets together for much longer workouts (i.e., five Tabata sets for a 20-minute workout), and may or may not require eight intervals of a single exercise in a row.

MetCon – short for Metabolic Conditioning, which refers to the increase in metabolism you get by performing both high heart rate and strength work in a single workout.  A MetCon workout combines high intensity cardio intervals with weight training performed for reps.  It is both a timer workout and rep workout, and is generally completed as a circuit.

Low Impact vs. High Impact – refers to the amount of jumping or bouncing produced during a particular exercise or workout, and is not related to or indicative of intensity (see below).  Low impact exercises are gentler on the joints, particularly the knees, whereas high impact exercises may have a jarring effect, especially when performed with incorrect form.  The impact of jumping exercises can be reduced by bracing your core and focusing on landing properly on the mid-foot.

Low Intensity vs. High Intensity – generally refers to the speed at which you are performing an exercise or workout.  For example, many strength training workouts would be considered low intensity because of the attention and control needed to do the exercises with good form, and most cardio workouts are performed for speed at high intensity.  Intensity is highly subjective and varies from person to person, based on their fitness level and other conditions.

🐝 Let's B Friends! 🐝

Subscribe now to chat about fitness mindset matters, get the scoop on new workout programs and keep up to date on the latest exercise videos!

Powered by ConvertKit