Sometimes the biggest challenge in a fitness fanatic’s life isn’t setting a new deadlift PR or even losing the bulking season weight in time for the summer. Sometimes it’s just understanding all those damn buzzwords and terms people keep throwing at you.
Activate this, burn those, feel that…what are all those people talking about? Don’t worry, you don’t need to bring a dictionary next time you go lifting, we got your back.
What Do Confusing Gym Terms Actually Mean
Commonly used in the phrases like “tighten the core” or “it’s great for your core“. Core, in this case, has nothing to do with the center of the earth or that movie from 2003. It primarily has to do with the center of your body and your lower back.
Basically, it’s a fancy term for abs. Having a strong core helps a lot with other exercises because a strong center will lend a hand when the other muscles you’re working can’t do it on their own.
2. The Burn
Ah, the dreaded burn. Don’t worry; this is the only kind of burn you will ever want to experience. A “burn” is a sensation you get when you work your muscles past your maximal amount of reps. Let’s say you can do 20 push ups without any problems, but you decide to push yourself and do five more reps.
The feeling you get in your muscles when doing those last five reps is the dreaded “burn”. Your muscles being to break down a sugar substance known as “glucose” in your body using oxygen molecules.
However, when you force your body to do those five more painful reps the body doesn’t have enough oxygen to go around so it uses a substance called “lactate” which then turns into a lactic acid which causes the burn.
It’s good because it burns fat and causes muscles to break down, which then causes the muscles to grow bigger. Which brings us to our next term…
DOMS is an acronym for “Delayed onset muscle soreness” which is that pain you experience in your muscles after a badass workout the day before. It’s caused by a buildup of that pesky lactic acid we talked about above. They can last anywhere from one day to two or even three days.
It depends on your overall fitness and how hard you went yesterday. It’s basically a workout hangover. Word of advice, if you feel pain in your muscles more than three days after your initial workout, it’s usually not a good sign. In that case, you should either consult your physician or quit doing CrossFit and start practicing a real sport.
Plateau sounds like something you would order in a fancy French restaurant as an appetizer, but its meaning is very simple actually. When someone complains that he has reached a “plateau” or that you reached your “plateau” it means your workout is stalling. You are not getting any progress in your weight lifting routine.
If your bench press went from 155lbs to 200lbs and suddenly you found yourself doing the same weight with the same amount of effort, you have plateaued.
It usually means that your muscles are not getting stimulated enough to grow. Whether it be because you lack the proper work in the food department or you’re not going hard enough at the house of iron, you need some changes.
Another acronym, this one meaning “High-Intensity Interval Training“. Wikipedia defines HIIT as:
A concept where one performs a short burst of high-intensity (or max-intensity) exercise followed by a brief low-intensity activity, repeatedly, until too exhausted to continue.
HIIT is mostly used in running based exercises. For example, you sprint for 20 seconds, then jog slowly for 5 and you repeat that either for a set time or until you’re laying on the ground in a pool of your own sweat begging for people to kill you. Whichever comes first.
Yet ANOTHER acronym, but this time it’s brought to you by the good people from the sporting cult of CrossFit. WOD means “workout of the day” and it refers to the set number of exercises and reps a Crossfitter needs to perform one after the other, either as fast as possible or for a set amount of time.
The workouts are always different and they are made up on the spot. They may or may not include bodyweight exercises, Olympic lifting, strongman exercises and compound lifts. It’s everything and anything mixed with questionable form and a high risk of injury. For more information on CrossFit refer to the video above.
The famous “I don’t wanna get bulky, I just wanna get toned” is a term often associated with female lifters afraid they will turn into Rich Piana if they start lifting heavy. There is a male variation on this and it often includes men who just want the “Brad Pitt in Fight Club” look for the summer. There is no specific way to look like a starving supermodel or Edward Norton’s split personality (yes, I just spoiled Fight Club) without lifting weights or working out.
Many female powerlifters who lift heavy still look super slim and super toned. In order to look like a Ms. Olympia winner you need a lot more food and a lot more roids. Same goes for the guys; Brad Pitt didn’t just snort coke and fought random strangers on the street to achieve his Tyler Durden physique. He lifted hard and heavy while following a high protein diet.
8. Muscle Confusion
The concept says that if you constantly work the muscle groups with different exercises, angles, and repetitions it “confuses” the muscles or “keeps the body guessing” and thusly makes you grow even more. Some people laugh at this notion others say it’s legit. Give it a shot and see for yourself.
9. Super Set
This one’s easy; it’s when you combine two exercises for two different muscle groups and do them one after the other. The first one is your regular working set with the optimal resistance of the weights, the other exercise is the one with the lowest amount of weight which you will do until you can’t lift any more. Arnold used supersets back in his glory days to become Mr. Olympia seven times over.
10. Giant Set
This one is a bit different than the supersets. You will do 2 or more exercises, but for the same muscle group. This will build some serious lactic acid in your muscles, but it will make you grow like crazy. For instance, say you are hitting triceps. The first exercise you do is bodyweight dips, then after that, you hit skull crushers until failure and then you do tricep extensions until failure.
11. Circuit Training
Circuit training is doing a set number of exercises as quickly as possible with the best form possible-kind of like reverse CrossFit. You can either do it for time (10 rounds in 10 minutes), set number of rounds or a set number of reps. It’s a great way to work out when you’re short on time.
Don’t even try to tell me that you know what this is. Everyone keeps throwing the term around but I don’t think anyone knows anything about it. So, let’s take it from the top, the name comes from a Japanese scientist called Dr. Izumi Tabata. He and his crew conducted some research over in Japan and discovered a cool workout method.
It’s very similar to HIIT, but it involves actual pauses. In Tabata you push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds. After that, you move on to the next exercise with the same method while totaling 8 sets for each exercise.
13. Compound Lifts
As we reach the end of our fitness encyclopedia, we come to another familiar term-the compound lifts. Compound lifts are the bare bone basics that build strength and size. They involve the most muscles and are essential in every workout routine. Some of the most famous workout routines are based on doing only those few compound lifts.
The exercises are; flat bench press, deadlift, barbell squat, barbell rows and overhead press variations (clean and press, clean and jerk, strict overhead… etc) If you are a total beginner that wants to pack on size and strength, this should be your bible.
Do these exercises for no more than 5 sets and no more than 5 reps each. Add weight when you feel your current weight is too light.