Gym Slang Fitness Slang

Unlocking Gym Lingo & Gym Slang: The Guide to Fitness Terms

Unlocking Gym Lingo & Gym Slang: The Guide to Fitness Terms

If you are just getting started in our fitness journey together, the fitness terms and gym lingo can feel a bit overwhelming. Even for those women that have been around the gym for ages, understanding specific fitness vocabulary and expanding your gym slang IQ is going to help! As we being our online fitness coaching together, I want to be sure that the fitness lingo and gym terms in your plans make sense. That is going to be crucial to making the most of your workouts and achieving your fitness goals. In this comprehensive guide, I will explain most all terminology I use in your custom plans. Ok! Let’s dive deep into the world of fitness terms, from strength training to high-intensity interval training, and everything in between.

Gym Lingo Fitness Terms

Gym Lingo and Fitness Slang

As we begin our training together, I want to be sure you are familiar with some of the most common terms you will see in your custom training program that I create for you. While you will not see all of these in each strength program, it is important that you understand each term and know how to include these when the time comes. Here are some of the most common gym lingo that I want to be sure you know as we dive in.

Fitness Term & Gym Acronyms Table of Contents

Active Recovery

Active recovery is a comprehensive fitness term encompassing movement intended to facilitate recuperation on a day designated for rest. Active recovery in exercise refers to a low-intensity physical activity or movement performed during rest periods between more intense workouts or training sessions. It is designed to promote blood circulation, reduce muscle stiffness, and assist in the recovery process without placing excessive stress on the body, helping to facilitate faster recuperation and preparation for subsequent workouts.

As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP)

AMRAP, which stands for “as many rounds as possible,” is a popular fitness acronym and gym slang term that describes a workout format or exercise routine. In an AMRAP workout, the goal is to complete as many rounds or cycles of a specific set of exercises within a predetermined time frame. This format is often used in high-intensity training sessions, such as CrossFit, circuit training, or boot camp-style workouts.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of energy or calories that an individual’s body requires to maintain essential functions while at rest, such as breathing, maintaining body temperature, and circulating blood. BMR is often expressed as the number of calories burned per day without any additional physical activity. It serves as a fundamental component in calculating daily calorie needs and plays a significant role in weight management, as it forms the baseline for determining calorie intake necessary to maintain, lose, or gain weight.

Body Composition (Body Comp)

Body composition pertains to the ratio of body fat to lean mass that an individual possesses. Body composition is a fundamental concept in the realm of fitness and health, representing a comprehensive assessment of the substances that make up the human body. More than just scale weight, body comp measures one’s overall fat to muscle makeup and provides a more insightful understanding of an individual’s physical fitness. At its core, body composition is a reflection of the proportions of body fat and lean mass that constitute an individual’s body.

Body Fat

Managing body fat is crucial for overall health and fitness. One crucial component of body composition is body fat. Body fat refers to the adipose tissue stored in various parts of the body, such as under the skin (subcutaneous fat) and around vital organs (visceral fat). While a certain amount of body fat is necessary for insulation, energy storage, and overall health, excessive body fat can lead to various health issues, including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic disorders.

Body Fat Percentage (BFP)

Body fat percentage measures the amount of fat in your body compared to your total weight. Body fat percentage is a key metric used to assess an individual’s body composition, providing valuable insights into their overall health and fitness. It quantifies the proportion of fat mass relative to total body weight, offering a more nuanced understanding of one’s physical makeup beyond the conventional measure of body weight alone.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a widely used metric in fitness and health to assess a person’s body weight relative to their height. Calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters, BMI provides a simple numerical measure to categorize individuals into different weight status categories, such as underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese. While BMI is a quick and easy screening tool, it is not a direct measure of body fatness or fitness. It does not distinguish between weight from fat and weight from muscle, potentially misclassifying muscular individuals as overweight or obese. Additionally, BMI does not account for the distribution of fat throughout the body, which is an important factor in assessing health risks. Therefore, while BMI can be a useful initial indicator of potential health risks associated with weight, it should be considered alongside other measurements and factors for a more comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s fitness and health.

Concentric Phase

The concentric phase of an exercise is the segment in which muscles contract, generating force to lift or move a weight, and causing a reduction in joint angles. It is the phase responsible for the positive or upward motion of an exercise, essential for building strength and muscle.

Compound Exercises

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that engage multiple muscle groups and require the coordination of various muscle groups and joints to perform. These exercises typically involve movements across two or more major joints, such as the hips, knees, and shoulders, allowing for a comprehensive workout that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Compound exercises are highly effective for building overall strength, promoting functional fitness, and maximizing time efficiency in workouts, making them a cornerstone of many strength training and fitness routines.

Controlled Articular Rotations (C.A.R.S.)

Controlled Articular Rotations (C.A.R.S.) involve performing precise and deliberate movements at a joint’s full range of motion to improve joint mobility, flexibility, and overall joint health. These exercises are designed to reduce stiffness, enhance joint lubrication, and maintain or regain optimal joint function, making them valuable for injury prevention and improved physical performance. Incorporating C.A.R.S. into a regular fitness routine can help individuals maintain the longevity and functionality of their joints.

Dynamic Stretching

The fitness term, dynamic stretching, refers to a form of stretching that involves controlled and active movements through a full range of motion, typically performed before a workout or physical activity. Unlike static stretching, where a stretch is held in a stationary position, dynamic stretching involves dynamic, rhythmic movements that help warm up muscles, increase blood flow, and improve joint flexibility, making it an effective method for preparing the body for exercise and enhancing overall athletic performance.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Oh boy… this is one you may have felt, but were not sure what the fitness lingo was for it! Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) characterizes the discomfort experienced a day or two following a workout.

Drop Sets

Drop sets, a popular fitness technique, involve performing a series of consecutive repetitions of an exercise with decreasing resistance or weight without significant rest between sets. This method is designed to challenge muscles to fatigue by progressively lowering the load, ultimately promoting muscle hypertrophy and strength gains.

Deload Week

A deload week in fitness is a planned period of reduced intensity and volume in one’s training program, typically scheduled after several weeks of intense workouts. It serves as a recovery phase, allowing the body to rest, repair, and prevent overtraining while still maintaining a level of physical activity to prevent detraining effects.

Gym Slang Fitness Slang

Eccentric Phase

The fitness term, eccentric phase, refers to the segment of a resistance exercise where muscles lengthen under tension as they control the lowering or elongating phase of a movement. This phase is essential for muscle development and strength as it helps build muscle fiber tension, enhances muscle control, and can lead to muscle hypertrophy.

Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM)

EMOM is a fitness abbreviation that stands for “Every Minute On the Minute,” a workout format where you perform a specific exercise or set of exercises at the start of each minute, aiming to complete them within that minute before moving on to the next round.

Free Weights

Free weights are equipment like dumbbells and barbells that aren’t attached to a machine. They require more stabilization and engage more muscle groups than machines.


In the context of exercise reps, “failure” refers to the point at which an individual can no longer complete additional repetitions of an exercise with proper form and technique, despite giving maximal effort. It is the point of muscular exhaustion where the targeted muscles are unable to generate enough force to continue the exercise, often leading to temporary muscle fatigue and a decrease in performance. Training to failure is a common approach in some workout routines, particularly in strength and hypertrophy training, as it is believed to help maximize muscle recruitment and stimulate muscle growth. However, it should be used with caution to avoid overtraining and the risk of injury.

High-Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T)

HIIT is the fitness acronym for High-Intensity Interval Training. This is a fitness training method characterized by short bursts of intense exercise alternated with brief periods of rest or lower-intensity activity. It typically involves performing exercises at or near maximum effort during the high-intensity intervals, followed by shorter recovery periods. HIIT workouts are known for their efficiency in burning calories, improving cardiovascular fitness, and promoting fat loss in a shorter amount of time compared to traditional steady-state cardio workouts.


Hypertrophy refers to the process of muscle growth and enlargement, typically resulting from resistance training and increased muscle fiber size. It occurs as a response to training-induced stress on muscles, leading to an increase in muscle volume and improved strength.

Isolation Exercise

An isolation exercise is a type of strength-training movement that targets a specific muscle group, isolating it from surrounding muscles as much as possible. Unlike compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups and joints, isolation exercises are designed to place the primary focus on a single muscle for concentrated muscle development and refinement.

Lean Mass

In contrast to body fat, the gym slang, lean mass, encompasses all non-fat components of the body, which include muscles, bones, organs, connective tissue, and fluids. Lean mass plays a pivotal role in physical function, strength, and overall metabolic health. Building and preserving lean mass is often a primary goal for women that want to get a tight and defined FitBody.

Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio (L.I.S.S.)

LISS is the fitness abbreviation for Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio. LISS is a form of aerobic exercise characterized by performing physical activity at a consistent, low-to-moderate intensity for an extended duration, typically for 30 minutes or longer. It involves activities like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming at a pace that can be sustained comfortably, primarily targeting fat utilization for energy and promoting cardiovascular endurance.

Max Heart Rate (MHR)

MHR, or Max Heart Rate, refers to the highest number of heartbeats per minute that an individual’s heart can achieve during intense physical exertion and serves as a key factor in determining exercise intensity and heart rate training zones.

Mind-Muscle Connection

The term “Mind-Muscle Connection” in fitness refers to the conscious, focused activation of specific muscles during exercise. This concept emphasizes the mental focus on the muscle being worked, aiming to enhance the effectiveness of the exercise by increasing muscle engagement and control. When women specifically concentrate on the muscle they are targeting, they can potentially reduce the involvement of secondary muscles, leading to more efficient and isolated muscle development. For example, during a bicep curl, focusing intently on the bicep muscle and its movement can lead to more significant muscle contractions and growth. This mental focus not only improves the quality of the workout but also helps in establishing better control and awareness of one’s body during exercise, potentially reducing the risk of injury and ensuring a balanced development of muscle groups.

Muscle Growth

When you engage in strength training, your muscles adapt and grow in response to the stress placed on them. This is known as muscle growth, and it’s a key component of achieving a toned and fit physique. Through our training together, we will probably be working to add lean, sexy muscle and to see growth. But don’t worry. I am not talking about masculine bulk. The kind of muscle growth we are going to do is aimed at creating a metabolic fire in your system and giving you the shape and fit definition you are after.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is a term used in the field of physiology and fitness to describe the energy expenditure associated with all the physical activities individuals engage in throughout the day, aside from structured exercise routines. NEAT encompasses a wide range of daily movements and activities, such as walking, standing, fidgeting, gardening, household chores, and even the energy expended while talking or gesturing. Essentially, NEAT quantifies the calories burned from the multitude of activities we perform outside of our dedicated workouts.

Plyometrics (Plyos)

Plyometrics encompass forceful, high-impact movements, such as jumping and bounding, used to enhance power and speed. Plyometrics, often referred to as “plyos,” constitute a specialized and dynamic category of exercises designed to improve explosive power, speed, agility, and overall athletic performance. They involve rapid and forceful muscular contractions, typically in a short period, and rely on the concept of the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) to enhance muscular output.

Personal Record (PR)

Your personal record represents the highest amount of weight or the best performance you’ve achieved for a specific exercise. Tracking your PRs can be motivating and help you set new goals.

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is a fundamental concept in strength training and fitness that involves systematically and incrementally challenging your body during workouts. The principle dictates that in order to make continuous improvements in muscle strength, endurance, and overall fitness, you must gradually increase the demands placed on your body. This can be achieved by lifting heavier weights, performing more repetitions or sets, increasing workout frequency, or manipulating other variables such as exercise tempo or intensity, all of which compel the body to adapt, grow stronger, and progress in its fitness journey.

Pause Reps

Pause reps, the fitness term for a technique commonly used in strength training, entail intentionally pausing or holding a specific point in a repetition, typically in the most challenging phase of an exercise. This deliberate pause, often at the point of peak contraction or stretch, is designed to increase time under tension for the muscles involved, enhancing muscle engagement, control, and ultimately contributing to muscle growth and strength development.

Positive Failure

The term “positive failure” in the context of exercise reps refers to the point during a set of resistance training exercises when a person is no longer able to perform a repetition of the exercise with proper form and control, despite giving their maximum effort. In other words, it’s the point where you cannot complete another repetition in a controlled and proper manner.

Fitness Term Gym Lingo Guide for Women

Reps in Reserve

Reps in reserve, a key fitness concept in strength training, represent the estimated number of additional repetitions an individual could perform with proper form and technique after completing a set of an exercise, without reaching muscle failure. It serves as a valuable tool for gauging the level of effort and intensity during workouts, helping individuals manage their training load and make informed decisions about when to increase or decrease resistance in order to achieve their fitness goals.

Rest Period

Rest periods is a workout term refer to the intervals of time you allocate between sets or exercises to recover before the next bout of physical activity. The duration of these rest periods is a critical variable that can significantly impact the intensity, performance, and overall effectiveness of your training session, with shorter rest periods typically promoting higher intensity and metabolic stress, while longer rest periods allow for greater recovery and strength output.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

RPE, which stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion, is a subjective measurement tool in fitness and exercise. It assigns a numerical value on a scale of 1 to 10 to reflect an individual’s perception of how difficult an exercise or physical activity feels. This self-assessment allows individuals to adjust their training intensity, ensuring that workouts align with their goals, whether it’s pushing for maximum effort (higher RPE) during high-intensity training or dialing back for recovery and lower stress (lower RPE) during lighter

Static Stretching

Static stretching is a form of flexibility exercise that entails maintaining a specific stretch position for a set period without bouncing or moving, which helps improve muscle length and joint mobility. It is commonly used in warm-up or cool-down routines to enhance flexibility and reduce the risk of injury during physical activities.

Sets and Reps

“Sets” and “reps” refer to the fundamental components of an exercise routine. A “set” is a group of consecutive repetitions of a particular exercise, while “reps” (short for repetitions) indicate the number of times you perform that specific exercise within each set. These two variables, sets and reps, are crucial for customizing workout intensity, volume, and training goals, allowing individuals to tailor their exercise programs to meet their specific fitness objectives.

Strength Training

At the foundation of our fitness journeys is strength training. Also referred to as weight lifting, strength training involves lifting weights or performing resistance exercises to build muscle, improve bone density, skyrocket metabolism, and increase strength. It’s not just for bodybuilders; it’s for anyone looking to improve their overall fitness. In fact, strength training is one of the most critical part of what I do in my online fitness coaching program for women.


Supersets are a popular training technique in strength and muscle-building workouts. They involve performing two different exercises one after the other, typically targeting opposing muscle groups or related muscle groups, with minimal to no rest in between. This approach can help maximize training efficiency by saving time and increasing workout intensity, as it keeps the muscles engaged and fatigued for a longer duration compared to traditional sets with rest intervals. Supersets are often used to work on muscular balance, endurance, and overall conditioning, making them a valuable addition to various training routines.


Tabata is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) method that has gained popularity for its efficiency in improving cardiovascular fitness and increasing calorie burn. During a Tabata workout, participants perform exercises at maximum effort for 20 seconds, followed by a brief 10-second rest period, and this cycle is repeated for a predetermined number of rounds.


Tempo signifies the speed at which an exercise is executed, with options to modify the movement by slowing down, speeding up, or incorporating an isometric hold.

Warm-Up Sets

Warm-up sets are executed prior to the main working sets to allow the body to acclimate to more challenging weights.

What is Gym Slang or Gym Lingo?

In addition to formal gym terms, there’s a world of gym slang that experienced exercisers often use. For example, a “gym rat” is someone who spends a lot of time at the gym, and “DOMS” stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, the sore feeling you experience a day or two after a tough workout. Familiarizing yourself with gym slang can help you feel like part of the fitness community.

Confused by all the gym slang and fitness terms? I break down the gym lingo from reps & sets to AMRAP & DOMS. Get ready to speak the language of fitness!

Navigating the world of fitness terms and gym lingo can be a bit intimidating at first, but with time and practice, you’ll become fluent in the language of fitness. Whether you’re interested in strength training, HIIT, or simply want to know what your fellow gym-goers are talking about, this guide has provided you with a solid foundation to get started.

Remember that consistency and dedication are key to achieving your fitness goals. So, hit the gym, make personal records, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure about a particular term or exercise. With the right knowledge and determination, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, stronger you.

And for more in-depth information on any of the terms mentioned in this article, be sure to explore our linked articles for a deeper dive into the fascinating world of fitness.

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