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The Language of the Gym

Posted Dec 13 2008 11:33pm

dictionary.jpg Entering the gym for the first time can be intimidating. Machines you’ve never seen, people who are already physically fit, and all of them talking a language you’ve never heard. Let’s take a minute and go through some terms your might hear in the gym. Learn these and you’ll be sounding like a world class body builder long before you look like one.

Set: A group of exercises. For example, you would do a set of 6 push-ups.

Rep: Each time you lift a weight and return it to the starting position, you’re completing one rep. Most sets are made up of several reps. You might hear someone say, 3 sets of 15 reps. That means you’re going to do 15 complete movements, stop briefly and do it again, stop briefly and then do 15 again. Did that make sense?

Fartlek: This one always makes my husband laugh. He finds excuses to use it in every day conversation. it’s also known as interval training. If you’re running at a nice even pace and then briefly kick up the effort and return to your original pace, you’re doing interval training or Fartleks.

Aerobic: When you’re body is consuming oxygen and converting it into energy, you’re doing aerobic exercise. This usually involves taking your heart rate to between 60% and 80% of it’s max. It’s best to engage in aerobic exercise for at least 20 - 30 minutes.

Anaerobic: This means “without oxygen”. If you’re doing weight training, you’re not really relying on the oxygen consumption to fuel your energy. That’s anaerobic. It works when you’re pushing yourself extremely hard as well. If you’re sprinting and taking your heart rate between 80% and 90% of it’s max, you’re engaging in anaerobic exercise. Basically, you’re breathing in and out so fast, your body doesn’t have time to absorb the oxygen.

Max Heart Rate: There’s a rough calculation you can do to figure out your ‘max heart rate’. It’s not the most accurate, but it will get you really close. 220 - your age. So, if you’re 30, you’re max heart rate would be 220 - 30 = 190. You can also wear a heart rate monitor and push yourself as hard as you can and record the maximum heart rate recorded. Be careful, don’t push too hard and hurt yourself.

Flexion: This is when you move your arm, leg or other body part from it’s normal position to it’s “flexed” position. For example, flexing your biceps.

Extension: Moving your body part back to it’s normal position (see Flexion above).

Working to failure: Continuing to do reps (see above) until you can’t successfully do any more.

Circuit training: Workout routines that involve little or no rest periods. This is a way of turning your weight training into an aerobic workout.

Resistance training: Normally called weight training. It’s anything that involves creating resistance in your movements. This is usually accomplished by using weights. If you’re trying to curl your arms up and put a weight in each hand, you’re providing resistance.

Rest period: This is the time between sets. If you’re rest periods are too long or too short, you’ll not have the success you are looking for.

Spotter: These are people who stand with you when lifting weights in the event you can’t complete the movement. It’s a safety precaution and one you shouldn’t take lightly if you’re called on to be a spotter. Spotters will also act as motivational coaching encouraging you to do one more rep.

That’s it for now. If there are any terms I overlooked, please leave them in the comments area and I’ll add them to this list.

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