It is common for someone who is seeking advice to be overwhelmed with information, and in many cases unfamiliar terminology is used which can make things even more confusing. I have decided to put together a resource with some basic definitions for common weight training terms.
1RM - This is an abbreviation for one-rep maximum.
Accessory Movements - These are exercises that are used to supplement a lift. Accessory movements can be compound or isolation movements and are typically variations of one of the compound lifts. An example of an accessory movement would be a box squat or a front squat.
Arnold Presses - This is a dumbell military press variation where you begin the movement with your palms facing your body and then rotate the dumbells as you press so that you finish the movement with your arms locked out overhead with palms facing away from your body.
Bench Shirt - Bench press shirts are typically made of either denim or polyester. They provide compression and support to enable a lifter to move heavier weights on the bench press; and are typically used in powerlifting competitions.
Body Composition / Re-Compositioning - Body composition refers to your bodyfat percentage. Re-compositioning is to improve bodyfat percentage without losing weight or mass.
Bodybuilding- Bodybuilding is the practice of building as much lean muscle as possible. Bodybuilders generally incorporate bulking and cutting phases in order to peak their physiques for competition.
Bosu Ball - A bosu is a half swiss ball with a flat bottom. This piece of equipment is used to create an unstable surface which forces your body to activate core stabilizes and forces you to use good technique (control) with whicheve movement you are performing while standing on the bosu.
Bradford Presses - These are a military press variation where you do not press to a full lockout but instead go from a regular front military press to a behind the neck pres (just clearing your head) and then back again). This is typically performed with very light weight and is used as a hypertrophy movement.
Briefs - Powerlifting briefs are basically the bottom portion of a squat suit. They can be used to help protect your glutes and hips while training or to assist in lifting more weight in competition.
Bulking - Bulking is the practice of gaining weight or mass. Typically individuals who are bulking will eat well over their maintenance calorie level and perform a lot of heavy compound training in an attempt to gain as much overall mass as possible.
Calorie Deficit - This is the practice of eating less than your body's required maintenance calories for an extended period. A common practice for those who are trying to lose weight.
Chucks - This is an abbreviation for chuck taylors, or converse 'all star' sneakers. A common footwear choice for powerlifters.
Complexes - This is a term for performing multiple exercises consecutively without rest. In many cases this type of training is utilized to build conditioning (GPP) or to improve body composition (increased heart rate). It can also be very effective for bodybuilding since the volume and intensity are both increased with complexes.
Compound Movement - A compound movement is an exercise that involves more than one muscle group. These movements are generally regarded as the most effective exercises for strength and mass building. An example of a compound movement is the bench press, which incorporates your pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), and triceps.
Concentric -This is the contraction of the muscle, or the challenging part of the lift. The concentric portion of the bench press is the actual pressing of the bar, and the concentric portion of a chin-up is pulling your body up to the bar.
Crossfit - Crossfit is a type of training that involves cardiovascular training, bodyweight exercises, and some compound movements including olympic lifts. These workouts are general done in a class environment in training studios and the format is to complete a given workout in as short of a time period as possible (like a race).
Cutting - Cutting refers to an attempt to lose weight or reduce bodyfat. Typically people will "cut" when they have a specific event in mind such as a vacation, wedding, or bodybuilding competition.
DE / Dynamic Effort - A dynamic effort lift is a form of training that is used to build speed and familiarity with a movement. Typically used in powerlifting for squat, bench, and deadlift. For dynamic work in many cases a trainee will utilize chains or bands to create a progressive load, which forces the trainee to be even more explosive with their lifts in order to maintain bar speed.
Deload - This is a term that is used for a period of rest or light training. Typically high intensity programs will call for a deload every few weeks to allow your body to recuperate. During a deload you generally train in the 8-12 rep range with moderate intensity, never working to failure.
Dimel Deadlifts - This is deadlift variation where you do not bring the bar all the way back down to the floor, but instead only perform the top portion of the deadlift (returning the bar to your kness, and then bringing it back up to the locked out position). This is generally done as an accessory movement and with higher rep schemes.
DOMS - This stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS is a condition where you become very sore typically the second day after weight training. It is most common to experience DOMS in your legs.
Drop Set / Giant Set - A drop set is when you perform an exercise to exhaustion and then lower the weight and continue to perform additional repetitions. This is another common principal that is utilized in bodybuilding. A giant set is a variation for advanced trainees and involves performing multiple drops; for example bench pressing 315 lbs for 5 repetitions, then 225 lbs for 7 repetitions, and then 135 lbs for 10 repetitions with no rest between any of the sets other than unloading the weights.
Eccentric - This is the lengthening of muscle or the lowering of weight. The eccentric portion of a squat is the decent, and the eccentric portion of a curl is lowering the weight back down.
Ectomorph - This body type is associated with long and thin muscles/limbs and low fat storage. Usually categorized as 'slim'.*
Endomorph - This is a body type that typically has a large bone structure, higher body fat, and can gain weight easily.*
Face Pulls - This is an exercise that is commonly used to support shoulder joint health. It is done by standing in front of a high pulley and pulling a weight directly toward your face either using a bar or rope. The motion of your elbows will mimic an upright row.
Floor Press - This is a simple movement where you perform the bench press while on the floor instead of on a bench. This limits the range of motion and allows you to overload your triceps.
GPP - Stands for General Physical Preparedness. This term is typically related to "conditioning" or an athletes' ability to perform challenging physical tasks such as sprinting or high repetition weight lifting.
GVT / German Volume Training - This is a program that is typically used for hypertrophy. The program calls for 10 sets of 10 reps performed with the same weight and only resting one minute between sets. It is a periodized program where you will train a different bodypart (compound movement) each day of the week.
Hardgainer - This is a term that some people use to describe individuals with a fast metabolism or those who have trouble gaining weight/mass.
Hercules Curls - This movement is performed by standing in the middle of the cable crossover and grasping the handles with palms facing toward your body then curling your arms in toward your head/shoulders.
Hypertrophy - This is a term that is used to define muscularity. Hypertrophy training is another way to say bodybuilding.
Isolation Movement - An isolation movement is an exercise that targets one specific muscle group and does not incorporate other muscle groups. An example of an isolation movement would be the concentration curl. This movement is an isolation movement because your elbow is fixed and therefore only your bicep can be used to move the weight.
Knee Wraps - A knee wrap is an elastic/cotton wrap that is placed around the knee to support the joint for heavy lifting. They also create a rebound effect and enable you to lift more weight on movements like squat or leg press.
Macronutrient - A macronutrient is the classification of a nutrient. The three main classifications are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Maintenance Calories - This is the amount of calories required by your body to maintain current body mass and composition. Maintenance calories can be calculated using various online resources and will generally account for your weight, activity level, and body composition.
ME / Max Effort - This term is used to define a max effort lift. A max effort lift does not always have to be only one repetition, but can be used to define training to failure. Typically ME lifts are in the 1-5 repetition range.
Mesomorph - This body type is characterized by larger bones, solid torso, low fat levels, wide shoulders with a narrow waist. Typically this would be the ideal genetics for bodybuilding.
Monolift - A monolift is a piece of equipment that is used for powerlifting and is uncommon in commercial gyms. The monolift is a large rack that has a swinging arm to support weight. When you unrack the weight a training partner can operate the lever to swing the rack out of the way, and then can swing it back into place once your set has been completed. This eliminates the need to walk out of a rack in order to perform squats.
OHP - Overhead Press.
OLY Shoes - Olympic weightlifting shoes are typically flat sole shoes with an elevated solid heel that are worn for olympic weightlifting. They generally have velcro closure and can range in price from $50-$150+. Some people wear them for squats and general gym training.
Overtraining - Overtraining is a condition where your body can no longer progress or recover from training and you begin to hit plateaus. Common overtraining symptoms include elevated resting heart rate, bad workouts, and overall fatigue.
P90X - P90X is a home workout that is heavily advertised. This workout is basically a cardiovascular program that incorporates some movements with weights.
Periodized - Periodized is a type of weight training program where you dedicate each day of training to a different bodypart. This is the most common type of routine.
Powerlifting - Powerlifting is a type of competition that tests your one rep maximum strength in the squat, bench, and deadlift. Various federations exist and there are different types of equipment that can be used to increase the amount of weight lifted and also for safety.
Preacher Curl Bar / Curl Bar - This is a bar that has a bend it in to allow for a slightly angled wrist. Typically a preacher curl bar weighs about 20 lbs and they are around 3 feet in length. A standard olympic bar is 7 feet in length and generally weighs 45 lbs.
Prehab - This term is used to describe exercises that are done to prevent injury. Prehab movements can include things like rotator cuff exercises.
Pronation - This is a rotational wrist position where your palms face toward your body with your arms relaxed, or away from your body when elbows are flexed. A pronated chin up would be palms facing away from your body, and a pronated curl would be a "reverse grip" curl.
Pyramid Set - A pyramid set is where you increase weight and decrese the number of repetitions performed and then drop down to lower weight and higher reptitions after your heaviest set. An example would be something like this: 115 lbs x 10, 135 lbs x 5, 155 lbs x 3, 135 lbs x 5, 115 lbs x 10.*
Reverse Hyper - This is a machine where your torso is stabilized and your legs can swing freely. It is commonly used as an accessory movement for powerlifting and is not a piece of equipment that is typically found in a commercial gym.
Sets / Reps - Reps refers to repetitions, or the number of lifts that you perform consecutively. Sets are the number of times that you perform that exercise. An example would be if I bench pressed X weight for 5 repetitions, then rested for two minutes and bench pressed the same weight for 5 more repetitions I will have performed two Sets of 5.
SLDL - Strait Leg Deadlift / Stiff Leg Deadlift
Sleeves - This term refers to either neoprene or cloth sleeves that are used to support joints and provide warmth or compression. Typically sleeves are used to prevent injury with heavy training or as part of the rehab for minor strains and tendonitis.
Spider Curls - This exercise is performed by laying face-down on an incline bench and performing dumbell curls. It is a great way to isolate your biceps since this position immobilizes your back/shoulders.
Squat Suit - A squat suit is typically a polyester or canvas suit that is worn to provide compression to your lower body and rebound therefore increasing the amount of weight lifted in the squat. They can also be used as a safety measure to protect your hips and other muscles while squatting.*
SS / Starting Strength - This is a program formulated by Mark Rippetoe and is designed specifically for beginners. It calls for high intensity compound movements and frequent squatting.
Straps - Wrist straps are typically made out of cotton or nylon and are worn around your wrist to increase the amount of weight that can be held by transfering some of the load to your wrists. They are most commonly utilized for back movements such as chin-ups or for deadlifting.
Super Set - A super set is when you perform two exercises back to back without resting between them. This can be done to fully exhaust a given muscle group or to increase the efficiency of your workout by decreasing time spent in the gym. It is a common practice among bodybuilders.*
Supination - This is the position of your wrist where your palm faces toward you. Supinated curls would be doing them with your palms facing away form your body in the starting position.
Swiss Ball - A swiss ball is basically a giant bouncey ball that is used for stability work. These can be a good tool for isolation training or for core work.
Tempo - The tempo is the pace that you use to move a weight. Sometimes you will see a 2/1/2 tempo. This means that you would spend two seconds on the concentrict portion of the lift, pause for one second a full contraction, and then spend two seconds on the eccentric portion of the lift.
Texas Method / Practical Programming - An intermediate program from the creator of Starting Strength (Mark Rippetoe).
Volume - The total number of sets performed in a workout, also used to describe the total number of training sessions or sets in a given program.
Weightlifting - Weightlifting is a competition where the one rep maximum is tested for the clean & jerk and the snatch. This is also referred to as Olympic Weightlifting since it is an event in the olympics.*
Westside Method - Westside is a powerlifting program that incorporates both an ME and DE day for each of the three power lifts on a weekly basis. This is one of the first programs to incorporate speed work with bands and chains, and is known for having very effective accessory movements.
I am sure that there are other terms out there that I may have missed. If anyone reads something and they see an unfamiliar term feel free to post it in this thread and I will try to clarify.
Awesome post Tom. Very well done.
Very helpful for us newbies! It takes many hours of reading to gain that info.
"The deadlift is more functional in that it’s very hard to imagine a more useful application of strength than picking heavy *h*t up off the ground" Rip
Max 3x5 Goal 3x5 by 12/31/11 *1X5
Bench (245) (275) 285x1x1 335
Dead (385)* (445) 435x1x1 505
Squat (320) (355) 355X1X1 405
Squat (195) (275) 20 Reppers!
(950) (1075) 1075 1245 Goals (Not including 20 reps)
5'10" 288Lbs 02/01/2011 Goal Weight 230 On my way back from a Break!
Great list - alphabetizing would make it more user-friendly. I had a Powerlifting Terminology thread a while back: http://www.wannabebig.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75458
A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
You are right about the alphabetizing; I was just typing them as they popped into my head.
General Tip: By pressing [Ctrl] [F] you can perform a text search on any document or webpage, this way you can move directly to the term that you are looking for.
Lots of thought and work - Thanks for the effort Tom - very informative and helpful.
Excellent list, Tom, thanks for the work.
Give chalk a chance.
49 years old
Last edited by cphafner; 10-13-2009 at 10:58 PM.
I think this is possibly the all-time best response on WBB. - Jorge Sanchez
"you're an animal eat like one damn it!" - Wikked1
"Now we're finally getting to the chicken or the egg question," I grinned. "Did I eat all that food because my size gives me more of an appetite, or did I get to be this big because I've been forcing myself to eat like this for years?"
From A Body Builder is Born
i knew you were a beast but not that kinda of a beast that eats grown men and children.. lilmase
How to Find Your Dream Job
My personal blog/website dedicated to giving answers on the age old question - how to escape the "rat race". I now play guitar for a living!
Good but I don't agree with the periodized definition. Periodized is when a training routine is designed around alternating loads and intensities in preparation to peak for a competition, etc.
Last edited by Cmanuel; 10-14-2009 at 09:43 AM.
thanx that helps a newbie like me alot
thank you now i no terms for words you guys use here
Awesome list Tom!!!
excellent post there...! but just want to clarify about the periodized definition there, periodized is a training program designed for exchange loads in preparing you for a competition.
What does 65-75% of 1RM mean exactly?
1 RM is your 1 rep max. That means that you can only do 1 rep without a spot at a given weight. I might be able to bench 300 for 1 rep, but I can't do 305 unless I've got a spotter helping me move it. So my 1 RM for benching would be 300. 65-75% of that would be 195 (65% of 300) to 225 (75% of 300). If your working sets are supposed to be in the 65-75% of your 1 RM range, then you'd be doing working sets in the range of 195-225.
Give chalk a chance.
49 years old
Thanks for sharing. This is a big help for newbies like me.
Your vocabulary helps a lot. Thank you!