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Gym Lingo

By January 6, 2017No Comments

One of our goals at Momentum Fitness is to break down the barriers that people face with exercise. We understand that gym lingo can sometimes seem like a foreign language, but it doesn’t have to be. We want to empower you with the knowledge you need to feel confident and comfortable when talking about your fitness.

From the training talk to common gym lingo, now you can talk the talk while you walk the walk.




Short for cardiovascular exercise, this normally refers to a workout on a treadmill, elliptical, bike, rower, Jacobs ladder, etc. It’s designed primarily to work the heart and lungs.

Circuit Training:

Circuit training is a fast-paced workout in which you do one exercise for a short amount of time, then move on to another exercise. It’s kind of like a game of musical chairs where you move from one station to the next. However, it also combines a series of strength and cardio moves. This workout is typically repeated 3x through, with very little rest between sets.

Compound/Functional Movements:

AKA Complex Exercises, are exercises that involve more than one muscle group and joint, promoting stability and a high caloric burn. These exercises include squats, pullups, benchpress, deadlifts.

Drop Sets:

This is a strength training technique where you do an exercise and then reduce (drop) the weight and continue for more reps until you reach failure.


Believe it or not, failure is actually a good thing – at least when it comes to resistance training. When you repeat an exercise until you’re absolutely exhausted and your muscles just can’t lift anymore, that’s called failure.


High-Intensity Interval Training is a form of interval training that alternates short periods of intense exercise with periods of less-intense recovery.

Interval Training:

Interval training works by alternating bursts of activity and endurance levels. This typically includes different rates of speed and degrees of effort. Think: high-intensity workout with low-intensity recovery. For example, running at your max speed for 4 minutes, then walking for 1 minute.

Isolation Exercises:

In contrast from the compound/functional movement, isolation exercises focus on just one muscle group and joint at a time. For example, the bicep curl, which focuses on your bicep muscle, and your elbow is the only joint that moves.


AKA: Eccentric Contraction is when tension is increased on a muscle as it lengthens. This typically happens when a muscle opposes a stronger force, or when you slowly lower a weight under tension.


Doing sets while either adding or decreasing the amount of weight or number of reps each time.


Short for repetitions. This is how many times you do a single exercise in a row. For example, if you did 15 bicep curls, that would be 15 reps.

Resistance Training:

Any exercise that causes your muscles to contract. This type of exercise is designed to increase your body’s strength, power, and endurance, typically through weight training. You can use just about anything for resistance training, from dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, your body weight, bottles of water, bricks, etc.


This refers to the rest time between exercises. Short and sweet.


A set refers to a group of consecutive repetitions done without stopping. So, if you were doing 3 sets of bicep curls for 10 reps, you would do 10 bicep curls (which is your 1st set), rest, do 10 more bicep curls (2nd set), rest, and do the final 10 bicep curls (3rd set).


A superset is when you do two complimentary exercises in a row without stopping. Add in one more exercise, and we’ll call it a triset.


When someone helps another person with an exercise. This is to make sure that they don’t fall over, drop a weight on themselves, or injure themselves in any way.


Feeling fluent?

Of course, gym lingo can also include the types of machines and equipment that you’re using, among many other things. If you have questions about the equipment or want to become more fluent in gym lingo, book a session with one of our Coaches and they’d be happy to help guide you through!