Gym/Workout Terminology

The fitness industry is a multitude of exercises, equipment, sub-categories and sciences which takes some time getting your head around. The following list of terminology will hopefully make becoming a fitness professional a more simplified process…


High Intensity Interval Training is short, intense bursts of exercise mixed with brief, low intensity rest periods.


Doing ‘As Many Reps As Possible’ for a given exercise; to the point of failure.


Two exercises back-to-back with little to no rest between them (typically opposing muscle groups or antagonistic muscle pairs).


Exercise that involves more than one joint and muscle group.


Exercise that involves one joint and focusses on one muscle group.


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – the ache you feel a couple of days after doing exercise.


The negative phase of an exercise where the muscle lengthens (e.g. the downward movement of a bicep curl).


The phase of an exercise where the muscle contracts (e.g. the upwards lift of a bicep curl).


A HIIT workout consisting of eight rounds of 20 seconds high intensity exercise, with 10 seconds of rest inbetween each (totalling four minutes).

Active Recovery

Doing a light walk or stretching during rest days / also continuing low intensity exercise during rest periods.


Exercising with the use of oxygen as fuel (60 – 80% of MHR).


Exercising with the use of glucose/glycogen as fuel (80 – 100% of MHR).


Maximum Heart Rate – calculated using ‘220 – your age’.


A round of exercises in which you move from one exercise to the next with minimal rest.


A post-workout routine which brings the body back to a resting state by lowing the heart rate and calming the nervous system.


Holding a position under tension for a set amount of time, also known as a stress position (e.g. plank or wall sit).


Commonly involving jumping, breathlessness or explosive exercise with the benefit of burning high numbers of calories and gaining power.


Rate of Perceived Exertion – a communication technique for Personal Trainer’s to see how hard a person is working on a scale of 1 – 10.

Strength Training

Using resistance to train muscles with the benefit of gaining muscle mass and increasing metabolism.


Basal Metabolic Rate – the number of calories the body needs per day to keep all organs functioning normally when at rest.


Body Mass Index – a generalised method of seeing whether someone fits in the ideal weight range according to their height and weight.

Antagonistic Muscle Pairs

In an antagonistic muscle pair, one muscle contracts (agonist) as the other one lengthens (antagonist). For example, biceps and triceps are a antagonistic muscle pair.


Exercises which solely rely on utilising bodyweight, without the addition of equipment, including both strength and cardio.


Also known as the detraining principle; a loss of physical benefits from lack of exercise for prolonged periods of time.


‘Feel good’ chemicals released as a result of physical activity. Generated from the pituitary gland and central nervous system. Can relieve stress, reduce pain and positively effect mood.

V02 Max

The maximum amount of oxygen the body can utilise during exercise – a higher V02 Max is associated with better cardiovascular fitness.


A series of movements and dynamic stretches used to prepare the body for exercise by increasing heart rate and muscle temperature with the benefit of reducing the risk of injury.

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