Lots of fitness jargon gets thrown around at the gym, and it can be intimidating or uncomfortable if you aren’t familiar with the basics. Fitness lingo can sound complicated, but just a short list of words will cover most of what you’ll encounter. Here are some basic terms you might hear at the gym or see written in a workout:
"Rep" is short for repetition, and it refers to one complete movement of a given exercise. For example, one pull-up is one repetition.
A group of repetitions. For example, 2 sets of 10 pushups (written as “2×10”) would entail doing 10 pushups, resting for a short period of time, then doing 10 more pushups.
A sequence of exercises that is done with little or no rest in between sets. For a typical weightlifting circuit, perform one set of each exercise without resting, then rest 2-3 minutes before repeating the sequence.
Also known as 1RM (1-rep max), “max” usually refers to the maximum amount of weight you can successfully lift with a particular exercise.
To provide assistance to another lifter as they perform an exercise. This is often necessary if someone is lifting very heavy weights and may not be able to complete the set without help.
“Cardio” is short for cardiovascular, and it generally refers exercises aimed at elevating your heart rate. This includes running, biking, rowing, and many other forms of exercise.
A large metal bar designed to have weights attached to both ends. Standard barbells weigh 20kgs, but smaller versions are not uncommon.
Weights that are meant to slide onto the ends of barbells to provide more resistance. They are flat and usually circular.
Also known as a barbell collar, this small device is placed on the end of a barbell to keep the plates from sliding off. Barbell collars are often spring-loaded pieces of bent metal that you squeeze to loosen and slide on the end of the bar. Make sure you always have it secured.
Consists of two weights separated by a short handle that allows you to grip the weight with one hand. Dumbbells can range anywhere from 1 kg to over 50kg, and they are extremely versatile.
The kettlebell is a cast iron or weighted ball with a handle attached to the top (resembling a cannonball with a handle). Unlike dumbbells, a kettlebell's center of mass is extended beyond the hand,the unique shape of a kettlebellcreates an unstable force that can challenge muscles unlike other tools.
Exercise machines where the user lifts weight by pulling on handles attached to cables. Most cable machines allow you to adjust the height of the cable and the type of handle that’s attached to the end.