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Fitness and motivation

A 2 Minute Guide To Gym Jargon

By Laura April 07, 2016

Gyms can be a pretty intimidating place - all those machines, mirrors and people who look like they know exactly what they're doing.

Somewhere between a crunch, compound movements and calisthenics things can get a little complicated...Our aim at Move is to break down any barriers to exercise and activity so let's start with the lingo and check out our ultimate guide to gym jargon! 


The amount of times you will perform or "repeat" an exercise


The amount of cycles of those reps you'll do. For example if you did 8 squats 3 times, you'd say you did "3 sets of 8"

Drop Sets

Drop sets are a strength training technique in which you perform the exercise and progressively drop the weight with no rest in between. The aim with drop sets is to to carry on until "failure" (when your muscles can't possibly carry on!) Studies have shown that drop set training can increase muscle strength and hypertrophy (growth). 


A great hack if you want to fit more into your workout, supersets are one exercise immediately followed by another with little or no rest. 

Compound Exercises

A compound exercise is one that involves using more than one muscle group at time, usually a major muscle group and then a secondary, smaller group. Examples of compound movements are, deadlifts, squats, pull ups, bench press and shoulder press. 

Isolation Exercises

The opposite to compound exercises, isolation exercises only hit one muscle group at a time, for example bicep curls and lateral raises. A lot of the resistance machines in the gym are designed to target these muscle groups. 


Calisthenics (or body weight training) is a form of exercise that requires no equipment or weights. Examples of calisthenic movements are body weight squats, push ups and crunches to help build overall body strength.


Plyometrics is a form of jump or "explosive" training which help build power. 


Short for High Intensity Interval training, HIIT is a form of interval training in which you alternate periods of high intensity activity (such as sprinting) with recovery (walking). 


Short for Low Impact Steady State training, LISS training is any low endurance exercise performed for an extended period of time (and that keeps your heart rate at a steady level). Examples of LISS are swimming, walking and cycling. 


Short for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, DOMS are the result of the tiny tears that happen to your muscles when you undertake strenuous exercise. Don't be scared - this is what helps us progress and build new, stronger muscle. Their characterised by pain and stiffness and usually appear between 24 and 72 hours after the exercise. Check out this article for the full lowdown on DOMS. 

So there you have it - the Move guide to gym jargon! Let us know if there's any you'd like to see added in the comments below!


Written by Laura

After 3 years of excess at uni took a serious toll on my waistline and wellbeing, I found that a love for strength training, HIIT and spin classes were key to keeping me healthy and happy. I'm at the forefront of finding out and creating awesome stuff about health, fitness and happiness and when I'm not at work I love nothing more than pizza and prosecco in the sun with friends. What motivates me? Knowing that life is short...


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