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Fitness Jargon Buster: Everything You Need To Know About Working Out

April 06 2022 6 min read

Arriving at the gym can sometimes feel like walking into a different world: from people talking about “macros” to “plyometrics” and “DOMS”, it can seem like everyone is speaking a language you don’t understand. 

At Fitness First, we understand how easy it can be to confuse your PB with your PT, so we asked some of our fitness experts to explain some of the most common terminology you’ll hear flying around the gym. 

What is fitness terminology?

Fitness terminology — or fitness jargon — encompasses a range of phrases, terms, and acronyms used within the exercise and physical health sphere. Whether you’re stepping into the gym for the first time or browsing through workouts, knowing these terms can help you on your fitness journey. 

“Familiarising yourself can help clear up instructions from fitness pros and make discussions about workouts and health goals much easier to follow,” explains Tim Andrews, Head of Fitness Product at Fitness First.

Why does understanding fitness jargon matter?

No matter what type of fitness journey you’re on, it can be extremely beneficial to know exactly what everyone is talking about. Here’s why:

1. Improved communication

  • With professionals — Being familiar with fitness terminology helps in better communication with fitness experts, such as physiotherapists, nutritionists and our Fitness First personal trainers. It enables you to easily understand their instructions, advice, or recommendations accurately.
  • Community interaction — It also aids in the interactions you’ll have with other gym goers — whether that’s in person or online — which can help with meaningful discussions, exchange of ideas, and learning from others' experiences.

2. Enhanced workouts

  • Correct execution — Knowing the proper terms for exercises can help ensure you're performing them correctly and safely, which is crucial for avoiding injuries and getting the most out of your workouts.
  • Progress tracking — It helps in understanding and tracking your progress over time by knowing what terms like reps, sets, and intervals mean.

3. Educational value

  • More informed choices — With a better grasp of fitness terminology, you can make more informed decisions regarding your workout plans, nutritional choices, and fitness goals. It also provides a foundation for further learning and exploration in the field of fitness.
  • Better resources — Whether it’s a workout video, fitness app or nutritional guide, it helps in understanding fitness-related resources better.

4. Personal empowerment

  • Confidence — Being knowledgeable empowers you to confidently navigate gym environments, fitness classes, and discussions surrounding health and fitness.
  • Motivation — Understanding your workouts on a deeper level can also provide motivation, as you’re better able to see the purpose behind different exercises and routines. 

Training techniques jargon


Rep is short for repetition. A rep is the number of times you perform an exercise. For example, one squat would be one rep.


This is the total number of repetitions performed of a particular exercise without rest. There are usually about 10-12 reps in a set.


“Supersets are two different exercises performed back to back to work the muscles for longer and target different groups – for example, biceps and triceps or hamstrings and quads”, explains Tim Andrews, Head of Fitness Product at Fitness First.

Drop sets

A technique of exercising with a large weight until you are no longer able, and then continuing with a smaller weight. For example, if your muscles are exhausted after ten bicep curls with a 12kg weight, rather than stopping, you would swap to a 10kg weight and carry on exercising. Continue downsizing the weights until you feel you need to stop. It’s a great tool for muscle gain.

Find out more about the benefits of lifting weights with our guide

Tri sets

A tri-set is three different exercises that all target the same muscle group without a break or pause between the reps.

Training methods jargon


Aerobic exercises are any physical activity that uses your body's large muscles. It typically combines rhythmic aerobic exercises with stretching and strength training, so something like freestyle dance is a great workout to take on. 

Anaerobic exercise

Anaerobic involves short, fast and high-intensity movements that don’t make your body use oxygen as it does for cardio or aerobic exercise. Essentially, anaerobic exercises push your body and lungs to rely on energy stored in your muscles.

Circuit training

This workout involves rotating through various exercises that target different parts of the body. You’ll move quickly from one exercise to another, doing a set number of exercises at each station. 

“Circuit training is a flexible and highly individualised form of exercise that you can adjust in different ways depending on your personal preferences. Our Bootcamp Classes feature circuits and are great for getting your heart pumping,” explains Tim at Fitness First. 

DMT - Dynamic Movement Training

This system of training makes use of the body’s natural movement pattern through a series of three-dimensional exercises. DMT works the entire body and improves strength and flexibility as well as cardiovascular fitness. This type of exercise can come in many forms, including cycling and HIIT, and the more dynamically you move, the better you’ll feel and perform.

HIIT - High-Intensity Interval Training

This kind of cardiovascular exercise involves alternating short bursts of intense exercise – brief, high-intensity activity such as sprinting, jumping and weightlifting – with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercises to recover.

“This is a method used for fat burning and weight loss. If you train in intense bursts over a 20-30-minute period, you can get greater results than if you run on a treadmill for 45 minutes at a steady pace”, says Tally Rye, Fitness First Personal Trainer.

“Intervals usually consist of doing an exercise to your maximum ability for around 40 seconds and then resting for 20 seconds. Of course, the timings can be changed depending on the goal for the session” 

Find out everything you need to know about HIIT with our guide

TRX - Total Resistance Exercise

TRX is a workout method using ropes and a person’s body weight to build muscle strength and power.


Also known as ‘jump training’ or ‘plyo’, plyometrics incorporates jumping or hopping into your exercise routine. Plyo activities come in a variety of intensity levels, but the fast-paced repetition of stretching and contracting muscles means the majority are high-intensity and burn fat quickly.


Callisthenics is the practice of exercising without equipment like weights or machines, instead using your own body weight to build muscle. Squats, pull-ups, press-ups and planks are all callisthenics exercises and can be done at home or outside, as well as in the gym.

‘This used to be mainly practised by gymnasts, but it’s becoming more and more popular, partly because gymnasts’ physiques are seen as their strengths” James Crew, Fitness First General Manager.

Resistance training

Also known as strength or weight training, resistance training involves physical exercises - whether that's bodyweight or lifting weights - to improve strength and endurance. It’s based on the principle that the muscles in the body will work to overcome a resistance force when required to do so.

Traditional resistance training uses dumbbells or a barbell to perform an exercise for a specific set of reps with the aim of improving strength and endurance. 

Post-workout jargon

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

This aching pain caused by a particularly intense or strenuous workout is also known as muscle fever and can sometimes kick in up to two days after exercise. Don’t worry, though; DOMS is usually just a sign that you’ve been working hard.

Macros – macronutrients

It’s important to fuel yourself appropriately for exercise, and monitoring your macros can be a great way to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs. To ‘macro’ is to track the amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats you’re eating so you can tailor your diet to suit whatever it is you’re training for.

“This enables you to see the percentage intake of each of these and how this can be manipulated to achieve the best results,” says Mitch Price, Fitness First Fitness Consultant and Personal Trainer. 

Quickfire round jargon

PB - Personal best

A personal best is a person's best performance in a given sport or activity. This could be in exercises like, running, swimming and weightlifting. 

You can track your workouts with fitness watches that will be able to easily give you updates on your progress. 

PT - Personal trainer

A personal trainer is a fitness professional who designs exercise programs and instructs exercises to help people achieve their fitness goals. 

At Fitness First, our personal trainers have the skills, knowledge and full professional training to design safe and effective individual fitness programs. 

Get started with one of our personal trainers today

GX - Group exercise classes

GX refers to group exercise activities that people can take part in and feel a sense of community. 

Book a group class today at Fitness First.

CVF - Cardiovascular fitness

CVF refers to how well your body takes in oxygen and delivers it to your muscles and organs during prolonged periods of exercise. 

BMI - Body mass index

A body mass index (BMI) is a measure that uses a person's height and mass to work out if your weight is healthy. 

Get ready to take on any workout with Fitness First

At Fitness First, we have a wide range of fitness classes, personal training sessions and more to help you reach your fitness goals. 

Book a club visit to come and experience our facilities for free. Or, for more helpful tips and advice on fitness and nutrition, check out our blog.