The language of exercise and fitness – understanding commonly used fitness terms - Part 2

The language that has grown up around exercise and fitness can seem quite daunting to anyone unfamiliar with these commonly used terms. Today many technical terms used to describe how the body responds to exercise are found in every day speech; not to mention the seemingly endless acronyms from ADLs to THRs.


In all walks of life knowledge is power and when it comes to living a wellness lifestyle, a good understanding of the commonly used terms empowers you to take charge of your health and fitness.


Technogym has put together one of the most comprehensive lists of commonly used terms in exercise and fitness. The first part of this three-part list (which is being serialised over three months) was published last month and covered terms beginning with letters A-D. This month, in Part 2, the list goes from E-M. If you missed the first instalment you can access it by clicking here.


A-Z of Commonly Used fitness terms - Part 2 E-M



Electrolytes - Salts (ions) found in bodily fluids. During exercise, your body loses electrolytes (sodium, potassium) when you sweat. These electrolytes need to be replaced to keep concentrations constant in the body.

Endorphins - Hormones that are manufactured in the body and contribute to natural feelings of well-being due to their opiate-like qualities. During exercise more of these are produced.

EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) - Your body needs more oxygen after a workout in order to restore the oxygen stores in the blood and tissues, and to meet the still elevated heart rate’s oxygen requirements. EPOC is the reason your breathing rate remains heavy for a few minutes after finishing a workout.

Exercise metabolic rate (EMR) - The energy expended during exercise.

Extension - Bending a joint causing the bones forming the joint to move farther apart or straighten.


Failure - When used in an exercise environment, failure refers to the point of physical exhaustion, and is most commonly associated with weight training sets designed to build muscle.

Fast twitch muscle fibres - Fast twitch fibres contract quickly and provide strength and speed, though they also fatigue more quickly.

Fat-free mass - The combined mass of the body of everything that is not fat (e.g., muscle, bone, skin and organs).

Fixed resistance - Strength training exercises that provide a constant amount of resistance throughout the full range of motion. Examples include free weights and resistance bands or weight machines. (Kinesis)

Flexibility - refers to the range of movement in a joint or of joints, the length of the muscles that cross the joints and the amount of movement possible. Stretching can improve the flexibility in some joints.

Flexion - Bending a joint causing the bones forming the joint to be brought closer together.



Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) - The difference between the resting heart rate (your pulse if you are perfectly still) and maximum heart rate.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) - One of the five major groups of lipoproteins. HDLs are the bloods “clean-up crew”, removing harmful cholesterol by transporting it to the liver where it is reprocessed. HDLs also keep the walls of blood vessels healthy.

High impact - Activities involving leaving the ground and landing with impact, placing more stress on the bones and joints. Typically, high impact activities are things like running, step aerobics, basketball, squash or tennis. However it is possible to modify many exercises to make them high or low impact.

Hypertrophy - In fitness this usually refers to muscle growth. Hypertrophy occurs due to an increase in the size (girth) of the muscle’s component parts.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) - is a form of training incorporating intense periods of anaerobic work with short recovery segments at a lower intensity. According to the ACSM "HIIT workouts provide similar fitness benefits as continuous endurance workouts, but in shorter periods of time. This is because HIIT workouts tend to burn more calories than traditional workouts, especially after the workout". Technogym’s equipment like MyRun makes it easy for users to set their ideal interval training schedule. Interval duration and numbers of sessions can be set at a press of a button.



Interval training - also known as HIIT (see above).

Isokinetic exercise - Isokinetic exercises are where variable resistance is applied to a limb in constant motion. While performing isokinetic exercises, the individual contracts a muscle while quickly move the limb. Equipment such as stationary bikes -- for which you can establish a number of revolutions per minute -- and resistance bands can allow performance of isokinetic exercises, although specialised equipment is necessary in many cases. Isokinetic exercise is mainly for physiotherapy.

Isometric exercise - Any activity in which the muscles are contracted but no joint movement is involved. For example, contracting your buttocks, as in butt clenches.

Isotonic exercise - Where muscle contractions occur with joint movement causing them to change in length as they lift and lower resistance. For example, bicep curls, push-ups, crunches, etc.



Karvonen formula - A method used to calculate target heart rate, which factors resting heart rate into the equation, and is a good indicator of an individual’s state of fitness. The formula is: Target Heart Rate = ((max HR − resting HR) × %Intensity) + resting HR, where HR = heart rate.

Ketosis - Metabolic process that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose for energy. Stored fats are broken down, resulting in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body.



Lifestyle activities - Includes physical actions you perform as part of daily living. Lifestyle activity is generally not planned and occurs as a consequence of working, traveling, raising children, etc. - just plain living! Some lifestyle activities are more strenuous than others and can contribute to sizeable energy expenditure. Examples include taking the stairs instead of using the elevator, walking to do errands instead of driving, getting off a bus one stop early, or parking farther away than usual to walk to a destination.

Lactic acid - This used to be considered a waste substance that builds up in the muscles during aerobic activity that lead to muscle fatigue and soreness. However, experts now believe that lactic acid acts as a "fuel" to help people continue high-intensity (anaerobic) exercise even when oxygen consumption is low.

Lactic threshold - Also known as the anaerobic threshold (see above).

Lean mass - Total weight of everything in the body besides fat, i.e., your muscle, bone, and all other body organs.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) - LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible.

Low impact - Activities that place less stress on the bones and joints. Not to be confused with easy or ineffective, low-impact exercise is a great option for challenging the whole body – without all the stress. Consequently, low impact activities are better for people with joint pain or overweight individuals whose weight can hurt their joints. Examples include: swimming and cycling.



Maximum heart rate - The highest number of heart beats per minute (bpm) when exercising at an individual’s maximum intensity. The easiest and best-known method to calculate your maximum heart rate (HRmax) is to use the formula: HRmax = 220 - Age. MYRUN TECHNOGYM® is compatible with all the Bluetooth Smart chest belts allowing individuals to effortlessly monitor their heart rate during workouts.

Max VO 2 - V02 Max represents the maximum amount of oxygen that can be removed from circulating blood and used by the working tissues during a specified period. The higher this number, the greater the cardiovascular fitness and the ability to work at increased levels of intensity.

Metabolic Equivalents (MET)s - is a physiological measure expressing the energy it takes to complete physical activities. It is frequently used as a measure of intensity on cardiovascular machines (treadmills e.g., Technogym’s Run Now or Jog Now, stationary bikes e.g., Group Cycle, etc.). Some types of physical activities are assigned MET values, with the higher the number meaning the more intense the activity.

Moderate intensity - Activities that range from 40-60% of max heart rate. Individuals doing activity at this intensity can easily carry on a conversation, referred to as the “talk test”. Recline, Technogym’s recumbent exercise bike, with outstanding comfort and ergonomics, is an ideal solution for individuals who prefer moderate cardio exercise to maintain and improve their fitness levels.

Muscular endurance - is the ability to move your body or an object repeatedly without getting tired. For most activities, you use both muscular strength (see below) and endurance.

Muscular strength - refers to the amount of force a muscle can produce and is usually measured by the maximum amount of force a muscle can produce in a single effort (maximal effort). An individual’s ability to improve muscle strength depends on gender, age, and inherited physical attributes.


Next month, the third and final part in this series will conclude with commonly used terms health and fitness terms starting with the letters O-Z.