Fitness 101 Basic Exercise and Fitness Terms

Today wraps up the official Fitness 101 series. I would like to think I bring you good information every week, but hopefully this series has filled in some of the basics for all the beginners out there.

Fitness 101 Basic Exercise and Fitness Terms

I wanted to end the series with some basic terms and definitions. There is a lot of jargon that gets thrown around in the fitness world and many of us, me included, forget that we are not born knowing these terms.  I wanted to give you a list of common terms so you can be a little more confident in the gym or with your trainer.  This is by no means a complete list of everything you need to know, but I find that these terms are used very frequently.  It should give you a good start to in building your fitness vocabulary.

  • Rep: Short for repetition, a rep equals performing an exercise one time. Example, if I have completed the full motion of a bicep curl 10 times, than I have completed 10 reps.
  • Set: A set is all of your continuous reps of an exercise. Using the above example, I did 1 set of bicep curls that consisted of 10 reps.
  • Super set: Doing a set of one exercise back to back with another exercise. To keep my example going, I could superset a bench dip with the bicep curl by immediately starting the bench dips after my last bicep curl, without resting in between. A tri set is the same concept but with 3 exercises instead of 2.
  • Concentric phase:  Force is produced to overcome the weight and the muscle shortens. This would be the lifting portion of the bicep curl.
  • Eccentric phase: Force resists the movement as the muscle lengthens. This would be the lowering phase of the bicep curl.
  • Circuit training:  A workout routine that involves performing sets of several difference exercises with little or no rest in between.
  • HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training): A form of cardio training that involves cycles of high intensity bursts and low to moderate intensity recovery. The ratio is usually 2:1. For example, a HIIT routine on a stationary bike might be a 5 minute warm up followed by 7-8 cycles of 30 second sprints and 60 second moderate intensity cycling and then a cool down period.
  • Steady state cardio: Some form of cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, cycling, etc) where you keep a steady pace and rate of exertion for the bulk of the workout.
  • Warm up: Period of metabolic adjustment from rest to exercise. You do not want to go from resting to sprinting, you need to transition. You might walk on the treadmill at 3.0-3.5 miles per hour for about 5-10 minutes before running or sprinting.
  • Cool down: Period of metabolic adjustments from exercise to rest. The opposite process from what was described above. When running you do not want to just stop and sit down, you need to transition. After running, you might walk at a moderate to brisk pace for 5-10 minutes.

As I said, this is not meant to be a complete list of all the terms you will ever need. As you progress you will start using more advanced techniques and will add more terms to your fitness vocabulary. Think of this, as the name says, as your 101 Vocab list. Learn these first to build your solid foundation. I also welcome your questions. If you have a question about these terms, or anything about health and fitness, send me an email or post to our Forums page.