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A Beginner’s Guide To Gym Lingo

4 MIN READ • 26th October 2021
Georgia May-Collings by Georgia May-Collings

Don't know your deadlifts from your dumbbells? No worries! The gym can be a confusing place if you're a newbie, so allow us to be your exercise encyclopaedia

Fitness beginners and gym novices are being offered an A-Z list covering the most popular industry buzzwords in a bid to help them get up to speed and train efficiently, fast. A team of diet and fitness experts behind online healthy food retailer MuscleFood have researched the most popular words and terms flitting around UK gyms in 2018 in order to compile a helpful guide for beginners.

Starting to work out in the gym can be intimidating at the best of times, but this experience is heightened when trying to immerse yourself in the world of fitness lingo too. Steve Ahern, personal trailer for MuscleFood said: “A lot of people find that, although they’re interested in learning about fitness and exercise, the prospect of walking into a gym with absolutely no prior knowledge puts them off completely. Not only have you got to get to grips with a range of exercises, movements and scary machines, you’ve also got to learn what seems like an entirely different language when everyone else is talking calisthenics, DOMS and PBs. Hopefully, this A-Z jargon buster will make this a little bit easier, so you can feel more confident when stepping through the gym doors for the first time.”

Barbell

  • These are the long metal bars which you stick weighted plates on at both ends.

Bulking

  • Bulking refers to gaining mass, particularly muscle. When bulking, an individual will consume more calories than their body burns in order for these excess calories to be used to build muscle.

Calisthenics

  • A form of bodybuilding that focuses on bodyweight instead of traditional weights – think pull-ups, push-ups, dips and crunches.

Clamps

  • Clamps, clips, or grips – they all allude to the same thing; the circle you snap or twist on to the end of barbells to prevent plates from sliding off.

Compound exercises

  • Exercises that engage multiple muscles i.e. the bench press, squat or deadlift.

CrossFit

  • CrossFit is a training philosophy that coaches people of all shapes and sizes to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness. It’s perfect for beginners to weight training and people looking for support and community.

Cutting

  • Don’t worry, there are no sharp objects involved in this. For bodybuilders, cutting simply means reducing calories in order to lose body fat.

Decline

  • Any workout you do in which the bench or equipment is placed in a manner where your upper body is in a declined position.

DOMS

  • An acronym for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, DOMS is what you get after a particularly strenuous workout or one you’re not used to going. DOMS isn’t just a result of going hard in the gym, it can arise from simply using a muscle more than you’re used to.

Dumbbell

  • These are the smaller, hand-sized bars with weights on both ends. You’ll usually find these stacked on shelves in weights ranging from 5 – 100 lbs in 5lb increments

EPOC

  • An acronym for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption – this alludes to an increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity.

Form

  • The act of performing an exercise in the right way – you always to maintain your form to perform exercises correctly and reduce the risk of injury.

Gains

  • This can either refer to an increase in muscle size or just being able to lift more weight, thought the two usually go hand in hand.

HIIT

  • Usually referred to simply as “hit”, this stands for High-Intensity Interval Training which means to exercise alternately between high-intensity period and low-intensity recovery periods. So, you might do a one-minute sprint on an exercise bike, giving it everything you’ve got, followed by one or two minutes at a normal pace – continuing this cycle for anything between 15-30 minutes.

Incline

  • Any workout you do in which the bench or equipment is placed in a manner where your upper body is in an inclined position.

Isolation exercises

  • Exercises that engage a single muscle i.e. bicep curls or calf raises.

Macros

  • Short for macronutrients i.e. protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Max

  • You might hear someone saying, “what’s your deadlift max?” – this is referring to the maximum amount of weight someone is able to lift for at least one rep of a specific exercise.

PB

  • No, this doesn’t stand for peanut butter (unfortunately) – it’s actually an acronym for “Personal Best”. If you want to know how to beat your personal best, or in other words, smash your PB, click here!

Pre-workout

  • A supplement taken before workouts to give you fiery strength and energy.

Reps

  • Short for “repetitions”, this refers to the number of times you perform an exercise within a set.

Riped

  • Used to describe someone with massive muscles and low body fat. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Sets

  • You will perform a number of reps for each set, and you will perform a number of sets for each exercise. For example, you might do three sets of ten reps for sit ups, and then three sets of fifteen reps for squats.

Spot

  • A spot is when you aid someone in their workout. You might stand behind them and watch to guarantee they complete the set. But people usually request a spot if they are lifting a heavy weight and aren’t confident they’ll be able to finish without some assistance.

Tabata

  • Tabata training is a highly effective style of interval training. Doing an exercise for 20 seconds and then ten seconds of rest for eight rounds, which totals four minutes.

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