Its hard enough going to the gym as it is, but yet we manage to get our butts out of bed, put on our gym clothes and shoes, drive/walk to the gym all in a bid to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We get there and all we want to do is workout and interact with fellow gym buddies, but then even that is daunting because its like a entirely new language is being spoken.

So basically we have to unlearn the English language just to workout? I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating it feels, but alas with great determination and persistence I decoded the language! (C++ programmers ain’t got nothing on me :p). I put together a list of the most commonly used gym lingo and they’re definitions down below:

  • Reps: This comes from the work Repetition, which is one complete motion of any given exercise e.g Instructor: How many pull ups can you do? Me: I can only do 12 reps.
  • Sets: A set is a group of consecutive repetitions, so it refers to how many times you will execute the repetitions for that exercise eg. Esther was asked to do 2 sets of 12 reps before resting. 
  • Super sets: This is a technique where you perform two exercises in a row with next to no rest in between. eg. Esther hates when her workout buddy tags her on super sets because they are so tiring.
  • Drop sets: This is another technique where you perform an exercise and then drop(reduce) the weight and continue for more reps until you reach failure eg. Whenever I do drop sets, i get a little confused and have to keep track on my phone.
  • AMRAP’S: This is an abbreviation for “As Many Rounds As Possible” usually the routine will require you to do as many sets of that workout you can muster within a specific time frame e.g Sally did 15 AMRAPS in a 30 minute time frame.
  • Interval Training: It is a workout in which you alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery periods. These type of workouts are formulated to burn more calories over a short period of time eg. Esther loves the way her heart feels after Interval Training.
  • HIIT: This is an abbreviation for “High Intensity Interval Training” is a form of interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods eg. Sally told me if i want to lose weight fast I should Incorporate HIIT into my workouts.
  • One Rep Max: The one rep max(1rm) is the ultimate test of strength. It is the maximum amount of weight you can lift on a given exercise for one rep. This workout is specifically designed for body builders and weight lifters eg. The maximum amount of weights I can squat for my 1 RM is 80kg.
  • Pyramid Workout: It’s a method of strength training in which you start with a lighter weight for a higher number of repetitions and, for each set, you increase the weight and decrease the repetitions. eg Ever since Sallys trainer put her on pyramid workout, she has gotten increasingly stronger.
  • Isolation: These are exercises that are designed to target and isolate a specific muscle group for the duration of that exercise eg. My biceps burn after I do my bicep curls.
  • Progression: Progressions can include anything from increasing weight resistance, repetitions, or number of sets in a workout to decreasing rest time for cardiovascular training. Tracking progression over time in the gym and on the track is a great way to gauge improvement— and see what might need some extra work. eg. Sally might not be where she wants to be yet, but her progression shows she has come a long way.

The gym might seem like an intimidating place, but its best to just take everything in stride and do the best you can with what your give. Remember, progress not perfection 🙂 Enjoy your workout!

Illustrations by Shannon Orcutt

Peace and Love,


2 Comments on FITNESS: Fitness Lingo Explained

  1. Ivy
    March 16, 2017 at 5:40 pm (8 months ago)

    This is super helpful!!

    • bybatee@gmail.com
      March 17, 2017 at 12:26 am (8 months ago)

      I’m glad you found it helpful!


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