Gym language for the newbie

person holding black and silver steel barbell photography


Sets, reps, HIIT,LISS, spotters, crossfitters . Have you heard these terms? It can be a bit daunting stepping into a gym when all these terms are suddenly thrown at you. The article below is part serious and part jest . I hope you enjoy.

I aim to summarise in this article common terms used in the gym for those starting of.

  1. Sets and reps
    • These are commonly related to lifting weights but not always.  A rep is the number of times you perform particular movement. If you were pressing a weight above your head and if you did it 10 times, you would say I did 10 reps of pressing.
    • Sets refer to the number of times you perform that exercise for the prescribed repetitions. Using the example above, if you did ten reps of pressing ,rested and did that 3 times, you would have done 3 sets of 10 reps of pressing.
  2. “Cardio”- Usually this term is bounded around gyms and refers to cardiovascular exercise. There are two main types
    • HIIT- This stands for high intensity interval training. This is where you perform intense exercise for a short period of time- for example sprinting up stairs. You then rest for a set period of time and restart again.  For example- Ten stair sprints, followed by walking down the stairs and sprinting again.
    • LISS- Low intensity steady state cardio- This is what most people would imagine as traditional cardiovascular excercise- ie:- run 5 km without stopping.
  3. Barbell, plates, collars, dumbells,kettlebells
    • A long metal bar ,usually around 20 kg in weight itself. This can be used for a variety of excercises that are outlined later. “Plates”- usually cylindrical metal or rubber in nature are placed on the ends and these are secured with collars.
    • Dumbells,Kettlebells- essentially weights that are secured together with a smaller handle and can be lifted with one arm, kettlebells have a bell with a handle .
  4. Common strength training lingo
    • Bench press- Lying on a bench, you pick the weight which is on the barbell from the rack using your arms ,bring it down to your chest and press it up. It is targeting your chest,shoulders and triceps.
    • Shoulder press- These can be done seated, standing, in front or behind your head. They can be done with a barbell or dumbell.
    • Deadlift- Lifting a loaded barbell of the floor to  whilst keeping your arms locked.
    • Squat- Using a bar placed on your shoulders with weight , squatting down and back up.
    • Lunges- placing a barbell on your back , you put one of the legs in front of you lowering your hip until both knees are bent at a 90 degree angle.
    • Pullup- Pulling your body up whilst holding onto a bar above you, palms ahead
    • Chin up- Similar motion to a pulp but with your palms facing you
  5. Gym phrases
    • Spotter- someone who assists you getting an extra rep on an any excercise  used in a sentence such as ” spot me bro”
    • “it’s all you bro”- usually a psychological ploy making the spotee feel that the spotter didn’t help as much as he probably did.
    • ” One more!” As it sounds but usually when the person doing the exercise should have stopped
  6. Different tribes in the gym
    • Crossfitters- Usually young males and females looking like their about to die, doing exercises back to back in things called ” WOD” which stands for workout of the day. Main aim is to get exhausted.
    • Powerlifters- Usually  muscular but overweight males and females who like to do the ” big 3″ , which refer to the squat, deadlift and bench press. This itself is a strength skill sport. You may see such individuals wearing belts and fancy colourful shoes. Also looking very angry before a heavy lift.
    • Bodybuilder Any age group, usually male, wearing string vests ,looking at the mirror a-lot and doing a lot of exercises in the higher rep range.

So there you have it , a few useful tidbits of information for your first gym experience.

I hope you have a great time.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s