The Gym has a Language all its Own

Updated: Mar 22

I have a confession. Working out with gym rats from way back has me feverishly looking up gym slang on my phone and pretending I know what the hell they're talking about. Worse than looking like a weakling is looking like an idiot!

So, today we're going to take a look at some of the gym terms that had me speed searching Google before I got on whatever apparatus they were talking about to do an exercise I had no idea existed.

  1. AMRAP: As Many Rounds As Possible

  2. EMOM: Every Minute On The Minute

  3. Rx'd: You completed the exercise as it was prescribed. I.E., weight, motion, and reps.

  4. WOD: Workout of the Day

  5. Working Sets: Sets that are at your 100% capacity and do not count warmups.

  6. LISS: Low-Intensity Steady State (i.e., walking)

  7. Lagging: When a certain muscle group isn't growing at the same rate as other muscle groups.

  8. HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training. CrossFit is a type of HIIT, but don't tell them that.

  9. Metabolic Conditioning: Think CrossFit and HIIT.

  10. Pause Reps: Holding a rep of any exercise for 1-5 seconds at the top, middle, or bottom of the lift.

  11. Plyo (Plyometric): Mostly associated with jumping exercises from a dead start. Box jumps are one of the most recognizable plyometric exercises.

  12. PR: Personal Record

  13. Progressive Overload: Incrementally adding weight week after week to your PR to gain strength.

  14. Protein Synthesis: Body function that generates new protein to repair microtears in muscles.

  15. Superset: Pairing two exercises that focus on the same muscle group with little to no rest between sets.

  16. Train to Failure: Literally do an exercise to the point of failure or are no longer safely able to do the exercise.

  17. Hypertrophy: Literally means more nourishment. This is the fancy name for muscle growth.

  18. Giant Set: A superset from hell. You do four exercises back-to-back instead of just two.

  19. Drop Set: Perform and exercise to failure. Grab a lighter weight. Repeat until you throw up. Not really, but... do it.

  20. DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. You work out, and then you get this if you do it right.

  21. Dead Start: Starting a rep with zero momentum.

  22. Compound Movement: Lifts requiring the use of multiple muscle groups. Most Olympic lifts fall into this category.

  23. Circuit: A group of exercises performed one after another until the circuit is complete.

  24. BMI: Body Mass Index. A pretty crappy way to measure if you're gaining muscle.

  25. 1RM: One Rep Max. The weight with which you can do an exercise only once.

  26. Accessory Work: Isolation exercises to bolster a strength training program.

  27. Macros: Macronutrients refers to the number of carbs, fats, and proteins we take in each day.

  28. Bulking: Gaining muscle and strength by consuming an increased number of calories.

  29. Cutting: Eating a small calorie deficit to lose body fat and minimal muscle loss.

  30. Negatives: Purposely slowing down the portion of the exercise that elongates the muscle you're working on.


Ok, I certainly hope this keeps you from looking like a total noob in front of whoever it is that's been trying to get you in the gym for so long!

Get them gains, friend!

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