Using terms in different ways can easily lead to a miscommunication or misinterpretation of the information. The fitness world is awash with acronyms, abbreviations and slang, which can seem like a whole new language in itself. Some individuals can go for years never really knowing what terms like aerobic, BMI or core strength actually mean because, when they first got involved in fitness it was assumed that they knew what they were and now it’s too late to ask. If this describes you, fear not.
What follows is one of the most comprehensive lists of commonly used terms in exercise and fitness. Whilst some of them are technical, almost medical descriptions, there are also explanations of common gym lingo, which can help those new to the formal exercise scene feel more comfortable and fit right in.
Adrenaline - Also called epinephrine, a hormone that stimulates body systems in response to stress and helps people perform with more energy.
Aerobic exercise - The term aerobic means “with oxygen.” Rhythmic activity that uses the large muscle groups continuously for at least 10 minutes, thus increasing the body's need for oxygen is an aerobic exercise.
Aerobic endurance - A term used to describe an individual’s ability to do prolonged exercise without feeling fatigue, i.e. their aerobic fitness capacity.
Agonist muscle - A muscle which is the prime mover in a joint movement. For example, during bicep curls, the bicep is the agonist muscle that flexes the elbow joint.
Amino acids - are the chemical units or "building blocks," that make up proteins. Proteins are essential for the growth, repair and healing of bones, muscle tissues and cells. Amino acids occur naturally in food but can also be taken in supplement form, such as tablets or powder, and are commonly used to enhance recovery post-exercise.
Anaerobic exercise - Short in duration, it is high intensity activity performed without sufficient oxygen to supply the body’s need for it at that moment.
Anaerobic Threshold - The point at which exercise intensity causes lactic acid to accumulate in the muscles faster than it can be cleared away.
Antagonist muscle - A muscle that causes movement at a joint in a direction opposite to that of the joint’s agonist (prime mover). In a biceps curl the antagonist muscle is the triceps.
Baseline activity - Baseline activities are similar to ADLs being of a light-intensity and mainly consisting of the activities of daily life. If an individual does no other activity than that classed as baseline activity, they are considered to be inactive in fitness terms.
Bone-strengthening activity - Bone-strengthening activities are designed to promote bone strength by creating an impact or tension force on the bones that promote bone growth and strength. For example, running, jumping, skipping, and lifting weights are bone-strengthening activities.
Bioelectrical impedance - A way of determining body composition that uses a small electrical current. It is based on the fact that the lean body tissue is more conductive than fat tissue due to its higher water content. The more lean tissue present in the body, the greater the conductive potential, which can be measured in Ohms using special equipment.
Body composition - The make up of the body in terms of the amount of fat versus lean muscle tissue.
Body Mass Index (BMI) - Measure of the relationship between height and weight; calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in centimetres squared. The BMI gives an indication of total body fat content. A high BMI scores usually indicating higher levels of body fat. BMI is often used as a general population measure to determine the level of health risk associated with obesity. However, in certain populations BMI can be inaccurate as a measure of body fatness, for example large and muscular, though lean, athletes may score high BMI levels, which incorrectly rates them as obese.
Beats per minute (bpm) - The number of heart beats each minute.
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) - This represents the minimum amount of energy required to keep the body functioning, including keeping the heart beating, and breathing. It is an estimate of how many calories an individual would burn if they did nothing at all for 24 hours.
Calisthenics - Exercising using one’s own body weight, which helps develop muscular tone. For example doing push-ups, squats or tricep dips.
Cardiovascular system - Also known as the circulatory system, it is an organ system consisting of the heart and blood vessels, which transports nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide and enzymes throughout the body and regulates the water levels of cells, temperature and acidity levels of body components.
Circuit training - A series of exercise stations of aerobic and strength training, with relatively brief rest intervals between each station. The number of stations may range from 6 to 10. Circuit training is an excellent way to improve mobility, strength and stamina.
Common names for muscles - the names of the major muscles are frequently abbreviated as follows: Abs - Abdominals - stomach
Delts - Deltoids - shoulders
Glutes - Gluteus Maximus - buttocks
Guns - Biceps - upper arms
Lats - Latissimus Dorsi - side of trunk
Pecs - Pectorals Major - chest
Quads - Quadriceps - thigh front
Six pack - very well defined abdominal muscles
Traps - Trapezius - top of shoulders
Concentric muscle action - Force produced while the muscle is shortening in length.
Continuous training - Involves working for a sustained period of time without rest. It improves cardio-vascular fitness. This is the most common type of sustained aerobic exercise for fitness improvement.
Cool down - Lowering of body temperature and heart rate following vigorous exercise. This is achieved by gradually slowing down the level of activity.
Cortisol - A hormone secreted by the adrenal gland that makes stored nutrients more readily available to meet energy demands. Cortisol levels are susceptible to stress, which causes them to increase. High levels can stimulate your appetite, leading to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
Core - A muscle group comprised of the abdominals, lower back, obliques, and hips. Maintaining a strong core is important for good posture and helps reduce the risk of back problems. Technogym’s Wellness Ball promotes core strength through Active Sitting.
Cross-training - involves using another sport or activity to improve your fitness for your main sport. For example using long distance running to build up endurance for tennis.
DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) - Muscle soreness or discomfort that appears 12 to 48 hours after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. It is most likely due to microscopic tears in the muscle tissue, and it usually takes a couple of days for the repair and rebuilding process to be complete. After the experience, the muscle adapts rapidly to prevent muscle damage, and thereby soreness, if the exercise is repeated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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., 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.
Overload Principle - This principle says that in order to keep making gains from an exercise program, you must find some way to make it more difficult. This is because bodies adapt to exercise. Once your body adapts to a given workload, it will not continue to adapt unless the workload is increased/made more difficult again.
Physical fitness - The ability to perform every day tasks with vigour and alertness, and to also enjoy leisure pursuits without becoming unduly fatigued. Physical fitness includes a number of components consisting of cardiovascular endurance (aerobic power), muscle strength and endurance, muscle power, flexibility, balance, speed of movement, coordination and reaction time, and body composition.
Progression - The process of increasing the intensity, duration, frequency, or amount of activity or exercise as the body adapts to ensure that it continues to make improvements as a result of the Overload Principle (see above). Technogym’s mywellness Cloud is a revolutionary new open platform that allows individuals to measure and aggregate all of the data surrounding their physical activities, both inside the gym and out, making it easy to see how to progress their workouts and keep improving their fitness.
Plyometric training - A plyometric movement is a quick and eccentric (muscle lengthening) action immediately followed by a concentric (muscle shortening) action. Performing plyometric movements builds explosive power and can increase how high you can jump or how fast you move off from a static or relatively stationary position. Jumping down from a box with an immediate explosive vertical jump is an example of plyometric exercise.
Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) - The RPE is a scale is used to measure the intensity of an individual's exercise by asking them to rate how they feel (both physically and mentally) in relation to exercise fatigue on a scale of 6-20 (original scale) or 0 -10 (modified scale). On the 0-10 scale 1 is least and 10 is most.
Repetition - The number of times an exercise is repeated within a single exercise “set.”
Resting HR - Rate at which your heart beats at rest (while sitting or being inactive). Low resting heart rates are generally a good measure of health and fitness.
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) - Number of calories expended to maintain the body during resting conditions. Also referred to as basal metabolic rate.
Recovery - The time it takes to recuperate following a period of exercise. When you perform an exercise, you’ll eventually get to the point where you need time to rest or ease up. This is referred to as your “recovery” period, and can vary from several seconds up to several minutes depending on your level of fitness and the intensity/duration of the exercise performed.
Slow twitch muscle fibres - The slow muscles are more efficient at using oxygen to generate more fuel for continuous, extended muscle contractions over a long time. They fire more slowly than fast twitch fibres and can keep going for longer before they fatigue. Therefore, slow twitch fibres are better for endurance sports like long distance running or cycling.
Specificity of Training Principle - This principle says that only the muscle or muscle group you exercise will respond to the demands placed upon it. The principle of Specificity also implies that to become better at a particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill.
Static stretching - Used to stretch the muscles while the body is at rest. To perform a static stretch the individual elongates the muscles to the point where they feel slight discomfort (not pain). They then hold that position for up to 30 seconds before releasing.
Strength training (resistance training) - A type of physical exercise specialising in the use of resistance. For example, body weight, weight machines (Unica, Kinesis) or free weights to cause skeletal muscular contractions, which builds their strength, anaerobic endurance, and size.
(Aerobic) Target heart rate (THR) - You gain the most benefits (i.e. burn fat, lose weight) when you exercise in your ''target heart rate zone”, which is dependent on the quality you want to improve. Usually this is when your exercise heart rate (pulse) is 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate. Your THR represents a pace that ensures you are training aerobically and which can reasonably be maintained.
Warm up - A term used to describe preparation for exercise activity by exercising at a low intensity (20-40% of your max heart rate), mobilising the joints and stretching. It can also mean practicing for a short time before the start of a sport activity.
Wellness - Wellness is usually defined in broad terms as a “lifestyle oriented towards well-being” that comprises both physical and psychological aspects. Technogym’s essential components of wellness are: physical activity, proper nutrition and a positive mental approach.