Brushing up on exercise terms

Do you know your reps from your sets? Take a moment to glance over our physical activity glossary to see how many terms you’re familiar with.

If you’re new to the gym, or just starting out with group exercise, you’ll likely come across a whole host of terms you’ve not heard before. Never fear, our glossary is here! 

Active recovery – low intensity exercise to keep the blood flowing and help muscles recover after you’ve completed strenuous activity. It can be during rest periods in activity like HIIT or cool down. 

Cardio – aerobic exercise which primarily uses oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise. It strengthens our major organs and is great for our heart and lungs. 

Circuits – a combination of 6 or more exercises performed for either a set number of reps or a set amount of time. One circuit will be completing all the exercises planned, and you can complete multiple circuits in one session.  

Dropsets – a technique for continuing an exercise with a lower weight once muscle failure has been achieved at a higher weight.  

Dynamic stretches – movement-based stretching where instead of holding a position you move the joint stretching the surrounding muscles.  

Endurance training – movement that increases your breathing and heart rate, like walking, jogging, swimming. It improves heart and lung function as well as overall fitness.  

Fat burning zone – You’re considered to be in the ‘fat burning zone’ when you’re working out at roughly 70-80% of your maximum heart rate.  

Flexibility – The range of movement freely of a particular joint that is pain free.  

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training – this is when you are working at your maximum for short periods, with short periods of rest in-between. 

Intensity – refers to how hard the exercises feel to you. 

Mobility – The ability to move freely.   

Moderate activity – activity that causes you to breathe heavily while still being able to hold a short conversation. You find the exercises challenging but still somewhat comfortable.   

Plyometrics – exercise involving rapid and repeated, contracting and relaxing of the muscles to increase strength.  

Progression – developing the movement, gradually increasing it to a more advanced exercise.  

Pyramid – a stepped approach to sets and reps. This could mean starting off with a light weight and increasing each set, or it could be that you add another exercise into the set i.e star jumps- rest- star jumps, mountain climbers- rest- star jump, mountain climbers, press ups.   

Regression – to return to a former exercise or less intense exercise.  

Rep – repetition – the action of completing a single movement. i.e 10 reps of bicep curls (repeating the movement of bicep curl 10 times).  

Rest – time taken between sets to rest your muscles. Can be just 10-20 seconds before working the same muscle group again.   

Rest day – a day where no intense exercise or physical activity is performed and only light intensity activities are done.  

RPE scale – rate of perceived exertion scale this is a scale of how you feel during physical activity to indicate what intensity you’re working at.  

Sets – how many reps you will complete between periods of rest. For example, if you do 2 sets of 10 bicep curl reps, you’ll complete 10 reps, rest, then another 10 reps. 

Stamina – the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.  

Static stretches – holding a position still where you feel a stretch in the muscle for a particular length of time. 

Strength training – also called resistance training, it involves the physical performance of an exercise designed to improve strength and endurance. This can include exercises using weight or your own bodyweight.  

Super sets – performing one set of an exercise, then immediately switching to another exercise and then doing another set.   

Tabata – a type of HIIT training consisting of 8 sets of 20 seconds of exercise at maximum effort followed by 10 seconds rest.  

Trisets – a sequence of 3 consecutive exercises without intervening rest.  

Vigorous – this means you’re working very hard, unable to talk, and breathing very heavily. You can’t withstand vigorous exercises for long periods of time.  

Now you’re armed with a whole host of knowledge, go forth and exercise!