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Gym Jargon Explained

If you haven’t had much experience around gyms or structured training then you may find yourself scratching your head when it comes to some of the terminology used within the fitness industry. Some of it will be slang but most of it will be the correct name to explain something specific whether it’s to do with the exercise you’re doing, the structure of the workout, or the type of training you are doing.

Having a basic understanding of what some of this terminology is will make all the difference which is why we will be going over some of the most common terms and their meanings in this post.

  • Repetitions (reps): A repetition or rep is the action of 1 complete effort of an exercise. For example – I did 10 repetitions of a Squat or Bicep Curl.
  • Set/s: A set is the total amount repetitions done together. For example – I did Squats for 2 sets of 10 repetitions. This would be 10 repetitions of Squats performed for 2 rounds.
  • Load/Weight: Load or Weight is the amount of weight or resistance used during the exercise. You can load an exercise with equipment such as resistance bands which will also add load, but not a specific weight as such.
  • Volume: The volume of an exercise and workout is what trainers and coaches will use to manage your training programs. In a gym and weight lifting setting your volume is Reps x Sets x Weight = Volume. For example – Doing Squats for 2 sets of 10 repetitions with a 10kg weight = 200kg total volume
  • Superset: A superset is when you pair 2-3 exercises together and complete 1 set of each exercise at a time, very much like a mini circuit.
  • Circuit: A circuit is when you pair 4 or more exercises together and do each exercise for 1 set before starting again from the first exercise.
  • Rest: The amount of time you rest between sets, exercises or even rounds of a circuit.
  • Tempo: The tempo is how fast you do an exercise. Typically it is listed as 4 numbers such as 3120. This is a breakdown (in seconds) of how fast you complete each movement of the exercise and any pauses you need to take.
  • Compound: When an exercise uses or acts on more than 1 joint within the body. For example – A Squat involves movement at the ankle, hip, and knee making it a compound exercise.
  • Isolation: When an exercise uses or acts on only 1 joint within the body. For example – A Bicep Curl involves movement only at the elbow making it an isolated exercise for the Bicep.

Nathan Spring