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17 Fitness Terms You Should Know

17 Fitness Terms You Should Know jillconyers.com #fitness @jillconyers

My life, right now, can be summed up in 3 words:

graduation + workout + study

My wonderful husband has pretty much taken over everything else and without the least bit of grumbling.

I love what I’ve been studying. It never gets boring. That may have a little to do with the fact that I love to learn and if it were up to me I would be a professional college student.

A little bit of what I’ve been studying/learning lately, fitness terms defined:

Aerobic – An activity that requires energy production with oxygen. When you’re doing aerobic exercise you’re sending oxygen, through your breath, to your muscles giving them the energy to sustain your exercise.

Aerobic Capacity – The maximum amount of oxygen a body can use in an exercise session.

Anaerobic Exercise – An activity that requires energy production without oxygen. If you’re doing anaerobic exercise, which is at your maximum level of exertion, you’re not sending enough oxygen to your muscles to sufficiently sustain the effort.

Circuit Training – A form of resistance training using high-intensity aerobics. It targets strength building and muscular endurance. An exercise “circuit” is one completion of all prescribed exercises in the program.

Cool Down – A smooth transition from exercise to a steady steady state of rest. The goal of a cool down is to reduce the heart and breathing rates, relax muscles, gradually cool the body temperature and prevent blood from pooling in the lower extremities.

Cross Training – A method of training that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness.

Fartlek Training – This is a type of training that blends continuous training with interval training. It’s a combination of aerobic and anaerobic systems because of its varying intensities and continuous work output. It differs from traditional Interval training in that is unstructured and activity and rest times can vary throughout the workout.

Glycogen – The complex carbohydrate molecule used to store carbohydrates in the liver and muscle cells. Glycogen is stored so it can be broken down into glucose for fuel when energy is needed.

Heart Rate – The rate at which the heart pumps. The average resting heart rate for an adult male is 70 beats per minute and female 75 beats per minute.

Heart Rate Max (HRmax) – The highest heart rate you can safely reach through physical exertion. A quick and easy way to estimate your HRmax is to take 220-age. Once you know your HRmax, you can calculate target heart rate and identify training zones.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – A method of training that involves a series of low to high-intensity exercise workouts interspersed with periods of rest. Interval training is popular because of its post-exercise caloric burn benefits, the relatively short amount of time it takes to complete, and its effective fat burning components.

Hitting the Wall (aka Bonking) – This is caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy.

Rest Interval – The time taken between sets to rest/recover. The length of the rest interval depends on your level of fitness and fitness goals.

Steady State Cardio – A cardio workout that is a continuous, steady effort, as opposed to an interval cardio workout where you vary your energy output. Any cardiovascular/aerobic activity sustained for an extended period of time helps increase endurance and burn calories.

Superset – Set of two exercises performed back to back without any rest time in between. The goal of supersets is to work large muscle groups in the first exercise immediately followed by an exercise that challenges the body’s stabilization muscles.

Tabata Training – A type of interval training that follows a specific format: 20 seconds of a very high intensity exercise with 10 seconds of rest where you repeat 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.

Target Heart Rate – The optimal heart rate at which an athlete should perform a particular sport activity, determined by a formula that bases training intensity zones on heart rates as percentages of max heart rate. The target heart rate zone that is most appropriate for you depends on your fitness goals and the goal of the specific workout. Target heart rates can range from 50% to 95% of Heart Rate Max.

Would you be bored studying this type of info? As an athlete or fitness enthusiast, is it important to know what these terms mean? What would you like to learn more about?

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49 Comments

  1. Wow, that first picture in this post is from my university’s gym! I just graduated from there last month (for a non-fitness-related degree), however I have spent A LOT of time in that building. Those Woodway treadmills are the greatest – and most tiring! – things ever.
    Good luck with the studying 🙂

  2. I would love to learn about all of this stuff…I actually have plans on becoming a personal trainer…looking forward to learning all of the words I hear but not sure exactly what they are. 🙂

  3. I don’t think I’ll be bored just reading about it, but if I had to study in order to be tested, I might have issues. Weirdly enough, I love to read and just organically learn new things, but actually studying is such a chore sometimes lol

  4. I think if you are an active person you should know these terms! Thanks for sharing and good luck with your studies!

  5. I recently passed my ACE Health Coach exam so I know exactly what most of those terms mean! I loved studying something I was passionate about.

  6. Hi Jill,
    I always find so many great fitness tips and inspiration at Fitness Friday. I shared a post and linked back but it is not showing up: 6 Lifestyle-Bending Outdoor Activities for A Healthier Mind and Body -http://urbannaturale.com/6-lifestyle-bending-outdoor-activities-for-a-healthier-mind-and-body/ All the best, Deborah

  7. Artney @ My Pretty Brown says:

    Thanks for sharing this! My friend takes a Tabata class and I always wanted to know what it was. Very helpful list!

  8. Great list. So many people who work out on their own do it basically blindly, not really know why or why not to do a certain exercise or workout, or just copying the personal trainers at their gym. I love learning more about fitness and also sharing the information with clients (and blog readers). I’d also add Fascial Stretch Therapy to the list. It has so many benefits and so few people have even heard of it. And I’m studying to be a therapist!

  9. Nice article! I have heard of a lot of these terms, but with some of them, I had no idea of their definition. I wouldn’t be bored studying this type of info, especially for someone wanting to do something in the fitness industry.

  10. Very comprehensive list. I wouldn’t be bored by studying this type of info, per se, but my brain is less designed for sciencey things and a lot better at literature and more abstract things.

  11. Yey for being a fitness geek :-P. When are you planning on taking the NASM exam? You’re going to kick it’s butt!

  12. I think that when one is studying what they love, nothing is boring. I know I am a geek, but I find learning new things exciting. I never get bored.

  13. Great list!
    I love that I’ve been able to learn the majority of these terms because I’ve been so active in my life, so I’ve just absorbed them. That said, it’s always great to have a reminder 🙂

  14. I also love to study and wish I could become a professional student as well! Reading all those terms brought me right back to my days of taking the ACE Personal Training exam. Wow, that was a LONG time ago 🙂

  15. This is great! Thank you for breaking it down!

  16. Not a full college program (I’m over that LOL) but taking individual courses here and there I wouldn’t mind doing. I’ve heard of all but Fartlek Training.

  17. What a great resource Jill! I think at one time or another we have all felt in the dark about one term it another. I’m sure many people are going to find this helpful!

  18. I had a basic understanding of most of the terms except the “fartlek”! I always thought it was an odd word but never fully understood the concept. Thanks for sharing and teaching us today! Your studies look like a ton of fun!

  19. Great information, Jill! It helps to know what fitness professionals are talking about if you don’t know the exact definitions of words. I’d be a professional student if I could, too. Did it for years as a grad student, and now that I’m out I miss being in it! Too bad I don’t have a million dollar scholarship to study whatever I want… 😉

  20. Ah, such a science and fitness geek here. I love learning about that stuff and if I had more time, I’d study and read all the time. I am actually tinkering with the idea of going back to school for nutrition, like Master’s degree, so there might be a ton more studying in my future. The only term I didn’t know…and have just never know, was fartlek. I’ve heard it a million times – just never took the time to look it up and see what it meant! Hah. Good luck with the studying!

  21. I’m studying too and take my NASM exam next Friday! I have been super slacking so a lot of today is going to be spent in my book and notes 🙂

  22. Great list! Don’t forget V02 Max and lactate threshold, plus all the muscle groups!! That was the hardest for me to remember. Luckily your clients, for the most part, will have no idea what you mean when you say deltoid, rhomboid, hamstring, psoas, hip flexor, etc. I just say shoulders, back, back of the leg, front of the hips, etc. 🙂

  23. Hi Jill! Yes, these are great common terms used in the fitness world. I would also throw in repetition, set, eccentric movements, concentric movements and isometric holds — as people use those terms regularly as well and often get confused (but of course, you can’t cover it all!). I found that some of the scientific parts of the PT certificate you don’t have to use as much when you get into the field, so it’s a great reminder to go back to it here and there. Especially the aerobic/anaerobic oxygen/output process! Congrats on all your hard work, lady. Keep it up!!! 🙂 And happy Friday!

  24. I personally loved studying for NASM! It was great to finally put a name to all of these phenomena and feelings that I had experienced throughout my training!

  25. thanks for sharing & no it is not boring! I have a Tabata workout scheduled this morning now we know the terms what is the benefits of the different workouts? That would be my question I guess . TGIF Jill

  26. Very cool to see all that you’re learning for your certification! I do admit I don’t know enough about the whole glycogen/energy portion of fitness, even though I’ve taken a few biology classes lol. It’s definitely important to know how the body works and how your body works!

  27. Ok thank you! I heard a podcast mention anaerobic/aerobic activity and I knew the terms but had TOTALLY forgotten what the difference is – now I know! And Fartlek training was something I wondered about too. Shows how much high school biology stuck!! :/

  28. Look at you, integrating blogging AND studying! I felt pretty “smart” that I knew majority of these terms, as someone who loves fitness, I love learning about the functionality and research behind things as well, so I would nOT be bored, come teach me any time!

  29. I’m familiar with these terms but then the trick is knowing how to incorporate that knowledge into a solid fitness program!

  30. FANTASTIC list, lady. As a fitness Professional and P.E. teacher, of course, I want everyone to know these terms.

    Also, one of my dreams is to be a professional college student. If it were up to me, I’d die with like 15 PhDs, an MD, 30 Masters, and 100 certifications in anything and everything. The best part? Student loans go bye-bye when you kick the bucket!:)

    1. That would be awesome Tiffany! I wonder what my husband would say to that plan 🙂

  31. we need to add WORK IN 🙂
    Ive said that to so many people (may I work in with you?) to blank blank stares….

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