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Fitness Words For Beginners At The Gym

Do you get confused with words like reps and sets? Are you a beginner having difficulty understanding some common fitness words that you hear at the gym?

Don’t worry because today I will give you a list of the fitness words you will most commonly hear at the gym.

Fitness words that relate to exercise


Reps is short for repetitions and indicate the number of times you need to perform a particular exercise without any break in between. For example, 5 reps of squats mean you will perform a squat 5 times.


A set is a group of repetitions for a particular exercise. So 3 sets of squats each with 5 repetitions mean that you will perform 5 repetitions of the squat, then rest for a few seconds, then perform another 5 repetitions of the squat, then rest for a few seconds, and again perform another 5 repetitions of the squat.

Compound exercise

A compound exercise is one that makes use of multiple joints and several muscle groups of the body. So, exercises like squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, barbell row are all examples of compound exercises.

For example, when you squat, you use multiple joint of your body such as the knees, hips, and several muscles like quads, hamstrings, abs, back, etc.

Isolation exercise

An isolation exercise is one that makes use of a single joint and focuses on a single muscle of the body. So, exercises like bicep curls, triceps extensions, chest flys, etc are all examples of isolation exercises.

For example, when you perform barbell bicep curls, you are using a single join that is your elbow and the exercise is targeting your bicep in particular.

Drop sets

Drop sets are a way to reach failure several times during the same set. You keep lifting the weight till you fail. Then you lower the weight and continue lifting till you fail, and keep repeating.

Pyramid sets

Pyramid sets are a way where you keep increasing the weight with the sets while lowering the number of repetitions in the sets.

Giant sets

Giant sets involve performing three different exercises back to back without getting any rest between them.

Workout split

A workout split means splitting your workouts each day based on each muscle group or body part.


When you want to perform an exercise to test your max and attempt failure, you may find it useful to get a spotter who will be there to support the weight in case you fail. Quite useful for exercises like the bench press which can get dangerous if you are trying to lift to failure without using a power rack.


Weights such as dumbbells, plates, etc. are placed on racks in the gym. Racking means putting the weights back in their proper place on the rack.

Forced reps

When you are reaching failure, you can ask your spotter to assist you with the weights so you can still lift the weights. This is known as a forced rep.


Failure is the state that you reach when you have performed an exercise for a certain number of repetitions so that your muscle is fatigued and you cannot perform another rep.

Golden five

The five compound exercises – deadlift, squat, bench press, overhead press, and pull-ups are considered as the golden five.


The phase of metabolism where simple substances like amino acids are synthesized into muscle.


The phase of metabolism where the muscle is broken down into amino acids.


The increase in muscle size by proper training and nutrition.


ATG stands for “Ass to Grass”. It is a term used for squats where you get as low as possible when performing the squat as if your ass is touching the level of the grass.


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the soreness that you get in a particular muscle a few hours or days after performing an intense exercise for that specific muscle.


Overhead Press is a compound exercise performed by lifting the barbell over your head to work out your shoulders, triceps and upper body.


Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation are the four steps used when you are dealing with a muscle injury.


Romanian Deadlift is an isolation exercise for your hamstrings.


The Range of Motion is the distance that your joint traverses when you perform a particular exercise.


When you perform a certain number of reps on a particular exercise, your muscles will fatigue and you will need to stop. Then you rest for a few seconds or minutes and start with the next set. This period of rest is known as recovery.


Tempo is the rate at which you lift the weight on a particular exercise. For example, if you lift a weight up for 3 seconds, then hold for 1 second, and lower the weight for 2 seconds, then the tempo you followed is 312.


This means the maximum amount of weight that you can lift on a particular exercise.


PR stands for Personal Achievement. It can be something of a record you hold for yourself. For example, if you could bench 180lbs but today for the first time you were able to bench 200lbs then that is your PR for the bench press.

Work in

Work in means that someone wants to share the exercise machine or equipment with you maybe by performing alternate sets in between.

Interval training

Interval training or high-intensity interval training is a form of exercise where you alternate between periods of high-intensity and low-intensity. It is a good form of cardiovascular exercise that maximizes fat burning in a short period of time and improves your metabolism.


This is the method of slowly lowering the weights to the start position. It helps to put additional stress on the muscles and increase the possibility of muscle growth.


The key to muscle growth is a progression in the gym. And this progression can come in several forms. It could be an increase in weights, or the number of reps, or the number of sets, or even lowering your rest periods.


As you perform exercises and keep progressing, your body keeps adapting to the stress that you place on it. And sometimes it becomes difficult to progress and your body hits a plateau.

Bench press

This is a compound exercise that focuses on the upper body muscles including the chest, triceps, and shoulders.


This is a compound exercise that targets the posterior chain including muscles such as hamstrings, glutes, upper and lower back, traps, etc.


This is a body weight compound exercise that can be used to target the upper body muscles such as chest, triceps, and shoulders.


The plank is a body weight exercise that can be used to strengthen the core muscles of the body.


The pull-up is a compound body weight exercise that can be used to target the back muscles such as traps, upper and lower back and lats.


Skullcrushers are an isolation exercise that targets the triceps.


Aesthetics means building your muscles and lowering your body fat specifically to be pleasing to the eye.

Bro science

Bro science is the advice that you may get from a trainer, friend or another lifter that does not have any scientific research to back it up.


Gains means that you are gaining size or strength or both as a result of an increase in muscle gains.


Well-defined arms with good muscle size and aesthetics are known as guns.


Newbie is a term used to define someone who is new to fitness and working out.


The V-taper is the shape a well-built body takes with broad and big shoulders, wide lat muscles and a lean waist. This gives the appearance of a “V” to the body and hence the name V-taper.


Vascular means having several highly visible veins on the body due to a cut in the level of body fat allowing for maximum muscle definition.


Cardio is short for cardiovascular activity and it is any exercise that focuses on increasing your heart rate. So, exercises like walking, running, jogging, swimming, etc. are all cardio exercises.


The core includes the traverse abdominis (TVA), erector spinae, obliques and your lower lats. These muscles work as stabilizers for the entire body.


Juice is a slang to mean steroids or other performance enhancing drugs that people may use to enhance muscle growth.

Lean body mass

Lean body mass is the weight of your body that comes from lean mass that includes the muscles, bones, and connective tissue.

Fitness words that relate to exercise equipment


A barbell is a bar with adjustable weighted disks attached to each end that is used for exercise and in weight lifting.


Dumbbells consist of a short bar with weights at each end that is used usually in pairs for exercise.


Cables also known as cable machines usually have a bar attached to a pulley and the other end is attached to a stack of weights.

Free weights

If it is not part of a machine or not attached to cables, then you could say those are free weights. So barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. are all free weights that you can use freely to perform exercises.


Plates are the weights that go on each end of a barbell or an adjustable dumbbell. They are available in a variety of weights such as 5lbs. 10lbs, 20lbs, etc.

Smith machine

The Smith machine named after its inventor is a machine that moves an attached barbell in a fixed vertical motion. It can be used to perform exercises like squats, bench press if you want to focus on some heavy weights.


A weight training machine or cable machine usually has a stack of rectangular weight plates that can help you control the amount of weight you lift. This is done by using a pin that you place to select the weight on the stack.

Pec deck

A pec deck is an exercise machine that primarily focuses on developing the pectoral or the chest muscles.

Power rack

A power rack is a weight training equipment that can help you perform the heavy compound movements such as squats, bench press, overhead press, etc. by providing you free movement and the safety pins in case of failure so you don’t drop the weight on yourself but on the safety pins.

Squat rack

A metal rack or cage consisting of support pillars with adjustable bars and hooks, using for supporting a barbell during heavy weightlifting exercises such as squats.

Fitness words related to diet


Cutting means going into a calorie deficit where you consume fewer calories than what your body burns so that you start losing body fat that can help show more muscle definition.


Bulking means going into a calorie surplus where you consume more calories than what your body burns so that you start gaining both muscle and fat that helps you progress in the gym which increases your muscle and strength.


I hope you now know some of the common fitness words that you might have difficulty understanding as a beginner.

This will help you gain confidence when you hear such words at the gym or want to make use of those words.

If you have any questions about these words or would like to know about some other words, please leave a comment below.

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