Fitness/bodybuilding glossary

Overheard some gym bro’s speaking gibberish in the gym? Or not quite sure what your pt has planned for you? Don’t worry, we get just as confused as you do sometimes. Here’s all the help you’ve been looking for!

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Nautilus – Isokinetic type exercise machine, which attempts to match resistance with user’s force.

Negative Reps – One or two partners help you lift a weight up to 50% heavier than you would normally lift to finish point of movement. Then you slowly lower weight on your own.

NPC – The National Physique Committee, Inc., which administers men’s and women’s amateur bodybuilding competitions in the United States. The NPC National Champions in each weight division are annually sent abroad to compete in the IFBB World Championships.

Nutrients – Components of food that help nourish the body: that is, they provide energy or serve as “building materials.” These nutrients include carbohy-drates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, water, etc.

Nutrition – The applied science of eating to foster greater health, fitness, and muscular gains. Through correct application of nutritional practices, you can selectively add muscle mass to your physique, or totally strip away all body fat, revealing the hard-earned muscles lying beneath your skin,

Non-Locks – Performing an exercise without going through complete range of motion. For example, doing squat without coming to full lockout position of knees or pressing a barbell without locking out elbows.

Obliques – Abbreviation for external obliques, the muscles to either side of abdominals that rotate and flex the trunk.

Odd Lifts – Exercises used in competition other than snatch and clean and jerk, such as squats, bench presses, and barbell curls.

Olympian – A term reserved for use when referring only to a bodybuilder who has competed in the Mr. Olympia or Ms. Olympia competitions.

Olympic Barbell – A special type of barbell used in weightufting and powerlifting competitions, but also used by bodybuilders in heavy basic exercises such as squats, bench presses, barbell bent rows, standing barbell curls, standing barbell presses, and deadlifts. An Olympic barbell sans collars weighs 45 pounds, and each collar weighs five pounds.

Olympic Lifting – The type of weightlifting competition contested at the Olympic Games every four years, as well as at national and international competitions each year. Two lifts (the snatch and the clean and jerk) are contested in a wide variety of weight classes.

Onion Skin – Slang denoting skin with very low percentage of subcutaneous fat which helps accentuate muscularity.

Optimal nutrition – The best possible nutrition; distinct from merely adequate nutrition, which is characterized by no overt deficiency. This term describes people free from marginal deficiencies, imbalances, and toxicities, and who are not at risk for such.

Overload Principle – Applying a greater load than normal to a muscle to increase its capability

Partial Reps – Performing an exercise without going through a complete range of motion either at the beginning or end of a rep.

Peak Contraction – Exercising a muscle until it cramps by using shortened movements. Pecs – Abbreviation for pectoral muscles of the chest.

P.H.A. – Peripheral Heart Action; a system of training where you go from one exercise to another, with little or no rest, preferably alternating upper body and lower body exercises. Designed for cardiovascular training and to develop muscle mass.

Plates – The flat discs placed on the ends of barbell and dumbbell bars to increase the weight of the apparati. Although some plates are made from vinyl-covered con-crete, the best and most durable plates are manufactured from metal.

Plyometric Exercise – Where muscles are loaded suddenly and stretched, then quickly contracted to produce a movement, Athletes who must jump do these, i.e. jumping off bench to ground, quickly rebounding to another bench.

Portion – The amount of carbohydrates or protein one should eat with each meal. A portion is the size of the palm of your hand or your clenched fist.

Pose – Each individual stance that a bodybuilder does onstage in order to highlight his muscular development.

Pose Down – Bodybuilders performing their poses at the same time in a competition, trying to out pose one another.

Poundage – The amount of weight that you use in an exercise, whether that weight is on a barbell, dumbbell, or exercise machine.

Power – Strength + Speed.

Power Lifts – Three movements used in powerlifting competition: the squat, bench press and dead lift.

Power Lifting – A second form of competitive weightlift-mg (not contested in the Olympics, however) featuring three lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Power lifting is contested both nationally and internationally in a wide variety of weight classes for both men and women

Power Mindset – The state of being where you feel self-reliant, confident, and strong.

Power Training – System of weight training using low repetitions, heavy weights.

Progression – The act of gradually adding to the amount of resistance that you use in each exercise. Without consis-tent progression in your workouts, you won’t overload your muscles sufficiently to promote optimum increases in hypertrophy.

Progressive Resistance – Method of training where weight is increased as muscles gain strength and endurance, the backbone of all weight training.

Proteins – Proteins are the building blocks of muscle, enzymes, and sonic hor-mones. They are made up of amino acids and are essential for growth and repair in the body. A gram of protein contains four calories. Those from ani-mal sources contain the essential amino acids. Those from vegetable sources contain some but not all of the essential amino acids. Proteins are broken up by the body to produce amino acids.

Pump – The tight, blood-congested feeling in a muscle after it has been intensely trained. Muscle pump is caused by a rapid influx of blood into the muscles to remove fatigue toxins and replace supplies of fuel and oxygen. A good muscle pump indicates that you have optimally worked a muscle group.

Pumped – Slang meaning the muscles have been made large by increasing blood supply to them through exercise.

Pumping Iron – Phrase that has been in use since the 1950s, but recently greatly popularized. Lifting weights.

Quads – Abbreviation for quadriceps femoris muscles, muscles on top of legs, which consist of 4 parts (heads).

Quality Training – Training just before bodybuilding competition where intervals between sets are drastically reduced to enhance muscle mass and density, and low-calorie diet is followed to reduce body fat.

Repetition (rep) – The number of times you lift and lower a weight in one set of an exercise. For example, if you lift and lower a weight 10 times before set-ting the weight down, you have completed 10 “reps” in one set.

Rep Out – Repeat the same exercise over and over until you are unable to do any more.

Reps – Abbreviation for REPETITIONS.

Resistance exercise – Working out with weights or using your body to resist some other force. This includes a wide spectrum of motion, from push-ups to dumbbell curls.

Rest Interval – Pause between sets of an exercise, which allows muscles to recover partially before beginning next set.

Rest Pause Training – Training method where you press out one difficult repetition, then replace bar in stands, then after a 10-20 second rest, do another rep, etc.

Rest period – The amount of time you allow between sets and exercises

Ripped – Slang meaning extreme muscularity.

Roid – Slang for ANABOLIC STEROID.

Routine – Also called a training schedule or program, a routine is the total list of exercises, sets, and reps (and sometimes weights) used in one training session.

Saturated fats – These are 4bad” fats. They are called saturated because they contain no open spots on their carbon skeletons. These bad fats have been shown to raise cholesterol levels in the body. Sources of these fats include animal foods and hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as margarine.

Set – Group of reps (lifting and lowering a weight) of an exercise after which you take a brief rest period. For example, if you complete 10 reps, set the weight down, complete eight more reps, set the weight down again, and repeat for six more reps, you have completed three sets of the exercise.

Sleeve – The hollow metal tube fit over the bar on most exercise barbell and dumbbell sets. This sleeve makes it easier for the bar to rotate in your hands as you do an exercise. Spotters – Training partners who stand by to act as safety helpers when you perform such heavy exercises as squats and bench presses. If you get stuck under the weight or begin to lose control of it, spotters can rescue you and prevent needless injuries.

Slow-Twitch – Muscle cells that contract slowly, are resistant to fatigue and are utilized in endurance activities such as long-distance running, cycling or swimming.

Snatch – Olympic lift where weight is lifted from floor to overhead, (with arms extended) in one continuous movement (see also CLEAN AND JERK).

Spot – Assist if called upon by someone performing an exercise.

Spotter – Person who watches a partner closely to see if any help is needed during a specific exercise.

Steroids – Prescription drugs which mimic male hormones, but without most of the androgenic side effects of actual testosterone. Many bodybuilders use these dangerous drugs to help increase muscle mass and strength.

Sticking Point – A stalling out of bodybuilding progress.

Straight Sets – Groups of repetitions (SETS) interrupted by only brief pauses (30-90 seconds).

Strength – The ability of a muscle to produce maximum amount of force.

Strength Training – Using resistance weight training to build maximum muscle force.

Stretching – A type of exercise program in which you assume exaggerated postures that stretch muscles, joints, and connective tissues, hold these positions for several seconds, relax and then repeat the postures. Regular stretching exercise promotes body flexibility.

Stretch Marks – Tears (slight scars) in skin caused if muscle or fat tissue has expanded in volume faster than skin can grow.

Striations – Grooves or ridge marks seen under the skin, the ultimate degree of muscle definition.

Super Set – Alternating back and forth between two exercises until the prescribed number of sets is complete.

Supplement – This is a term used to describe a preparation such as a tablet, pill, or powder that contains nutrients. Supplements are used to help you achieve optimal nutrient intake.

Symmetry – The shape or general outline of a person’s body, as when seen in silhouette. If you have good sym-metry, you will have relatively wide shoulders, flaring lats, a small waist-hip structure, and generally small joints.

Tendon – A band or cord of strong, fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bone.

Testosterone – The male hormone primarily responsible for the maintenance of muscle mass and strength induced by heavy training. Testosterone is secondarily responsible for developing such secondary male sex characteristics as a deep voice, body hair, and male pattern baldness.

Thick Skin – Smooth skin caused by too much fatty tissue between the layers of muscle and beneath skin.


Training Effect – Increase in functional capacity of muscles as result of increased (overload) placed upon them.

Training Straps – Cotton or leather straps wrapped around wrists, then under and over a bar held by clenched hands to aid in certain lifts (rowing, chin-ups, shrugs, dead lifts, cleans, etc.) where you might lose your grip before working muscle to desired capacity-

Training to Failure – Continuing a set until it is impossible to compete another rep without assistance.

Traps – Abbreviation for trapezius muscles, the largest muscles of the back and neck that draw head backward and rotate scapula.

Trimming Down – To gain hard muscular appearance by losing body fat.

Tri Sets – Alternating back and forth between 3 exercises until prescribed number of sets is completed. Universal Law of Reciprocation- The more you help others, the more your life is enhanced.

Universal Machine – One of several types of machines where weights are on a track or rails and are lifted by levers or pulleys.

Unsaturated fat – These are ‘good’ fats. They are called unsaturated because they have one or more open spots on their carbon skeletons. This category of fats includes the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic. The main sources of these fats are fromm plant foods, such as safflower, sunflower, arid flaxseed oils.

Upper Abs – Abbreviation for abdominal muscles above navel.

Variable Resistance – Strength training equipment where the machine varies amount of weight being lifted to match strength curve for a particular exercise-usually with a cam, lever arm or hydraulic cylinder. Also referred to as “ACCOMMODATING RESISTANCE.”

Vascularity – Increase in size and number of observable veins. Highly desirable in bodybuilding.

Veining – See VASCULARITY.

Vitamins – Organic compounds that are vital to Tile, indispensable to bodily function, and needed in minute amounts. They are calorie-free essential nutrients. Many of them function as coenzymes. supporting a multitude of biological functions.

Warm-up – The 10-15-minute session of light calisthenics, aerobic exercise, and stretching taken prior to handling heavy bodybuilding training movements. A good warm-up helps to prevent injuries and actually allows you to get more out of your training than if you went into a workout totally cold.

Weight – The same as Poundage or Resistance.

Weight Class – In order for bodybuilders to compete against men of similar size, the IFBB has instituted weight classes for all amateur competition. The normal men’s weight classes are 70 kilograms (kg), 154 pounds (lbs); 80 kg, 176 lbs; 90 kg, 198 lbs; and over 90 kg. In a minority of competitions, particularly in the Far East, one additional class 65 kg, or 143 lbs is also contested.

Weightlifting – The competitive form of weight training in which each athlete attempts to lift as much as he can in well-defined exercises. Olympic lifting and power lifting are the two types of weightlifting competition.

Weight Training Belt – Thick leather belt used to support lower back. Used while doing squats, military presses, dead lifts, bent rowing, etc

Workout – A bodybuilding or weight-training session.

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