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What's Up Magazine

A to Z of Fitness: A “Gym-Speak” Glossary

Dec 07, 2016 02:00PM ● By Becca Newell
By Becca Newell

If you’ve recently joined a gym in preparation of your annual New Year’s resolution to get in shape—side note: kudos!—there’s nothing more intimidating than the seemingly foreign language spoken by many trainers. We culled together this introductory guide to gym-speak to help lessen that fear-of-the-unknown, so you can, instead, hone your focus on fitness.

Bench Press

Lie on your back on a bench, with feet resting on the floor, and raise a barbell (or dumbbells) above the chest.

Boot Camp

A high-intensity group fitness program that leads participants through a variety of exercises.

Box Jump

Jump from the ground onto a box (or any sturdy raised surface). You should land on top of the box in the same position as you started your jump.


Also called a Squat-Thrust. Drop into a squat position before kicking your legs backwards into a plank. Almost immediately, kick feet back into the squat and jump back into the starting position.

Circuit Training

Working between a set of exercise or equipment stations—each of which works a different muscle group—with little-to-no rest in between.

Chin Up

Hang from a bar with hands slightly wider than shoulder width and fingers facing toward you. Pull yourself upwards until your chin reaches the bar. Pause slightly and return to starting position.



Stand with barbell at feet. Grasp barbell with both hands and lift until the bar reaches the hips—your knees and hips should be fully extended. Return barbell to ground. Be sure to lift with your lower back to avoid injury.

Dips (Seated)

Sit on a bench with legs bent at a 90-degree angle and hands resting on bench, positioned on either side of the legs, fingers pointing forward. Push body forward slightly, so hips are in front of the bench and lower body to the ground, bending arms at the elbows. Push yourself back to the starting position.


Stands for “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.” Muscle pain or stiffness that occurs hours or days after strenuous exercise.

Donkey Kicks

Lie on hands and knees—wrists under shoulders; knees under hips—and lift leg. Thigh should be parallel to the floor, with knee bent and foot flexed. Return to starting position and repeat with other leg.

Drop Sets

An interval training technique where you perform an exercise, for example with a barbell, until failure—meaning you can’t physically complete any more reps—and then switch to a lower weight and repeat again until failure. Typically, this is performed three times with different weights.

Interval Training

Alternating between two activities that each focus on either a different speed or amount of effort


KB Swing

Stand with feet apart (a little wider than shoulder width) and bend at the hips, keeping the back straight, chest raised, and shoulders relaxed. Pick up kettlebell from in front of feet (about 12 inches away from toes) and pull the kettlebell back between your legs. The momentum will swing the kettlebell forward, back to the starting position, and your arms should end up parallel to the floor.


Step forward with one leg and bend both knees to a 90-degree angle. The front knee should be above the front ankle; the upper body should be straight with shoulders relaxed. Press weight into heels as you return to a standing position and repeat with the other leg.



Short for Metabolic Conditioning. A variety of high-intensity exercises performed in succession to improve the cardiovascular system.


Mountain Climbers

Start in a plank position (see below) and bring your knee to your chest, without your foot touching the ground. Return your leg to its original position and repeat with the other leg.


Lie parallel to the ground, resting on your toes and forearms (elbows bent; shoulder-width distance apart). Your body should remain in a straight line, from your head to your ankles. Be sure to keep the hips from sagging and engage your core.



Formerly known as Jump Training, the term defines a series of high-intensity short movements, like hops or jumps that successively elongate and shorten the muscle.


Stands for Personal Record. Setting a new record—in terms of time, succession, or weight—in any exercise routine.


Hang from a bar with hands slightly wider than shoulder width and fingers facing away from you. Pull yourself upwards until your chin reaches the bar. Pause slightly and return to starting position.



Short for Repetitions. Refers to the number of times a particular exercise is performed.


Refers to the number of times an exercise is repeated to complete one rep.


A quick power-lifting exercise in which you pick up a barbell from the floor and raise above your head—in one fluid movement.

Spin Class

A group-based indoor cycling class where participants ride stationary bikes for an upbeat, energetic cardiovascular workout.


Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and stretch out arms, so they are parallel with the floor. Begin to bend knees, keeping the back straight and shoulders upright—for best results, your hips should sink below the knees. Return to starting position, pressing your weight into your heels as you stand upright.

Target Heart Rate

To get the most out of any aerobic routine, it’s advised to exercise within your THR—50 to 85 percent of your Maximum Heart Rate. To calculate your MHR, subtract your age from 220.


Otherwise known as Total-Body Resistance Exercise, this form of suspension training consists of an adjustable two-strap system that hangs, typically, from a mounted bar, metal fixture, or door, allowing the body to work against its own weight, along with gravity, to add extra resistance to maneuvers, like lunges and pushups.


Short for Workout of the Day. Generally used in CrossFit training.


A fitness program where participants learn choreographed dances.

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