Fitness Glossary

Published: 14-04-2009  | Updated: 19-04-2018

This is our glossary to guide you through the minefield of the health and fitness industry.  


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Muscles that pull your legs from the midline of the body and away from one another.


Muscles that pull your legs together into the midline of the body.


AMRAP is a fitness acronym for As Many Rounds / Reps as Possible. Commonly used by CrossFit. 


[Acronym] Assisted. Commonly used shortcode for indicating that an exercise was performed assisted.


Slang term used in reference to full squatting exercises in which athletes squat low enough that they are almost sitting on the ground at the bottom of the exercise.

Also known as ATG or Ass-to-Grass.


A decrease in muscle size. 

Also see: Hypertrophy, Hyperplasia.

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[Acronym] Barbell. Equipment reference OR Bodybuilding.


[Acronym] Body Fat. See 'Body Fat Percentage'. 

Blood Pressure

The pressure of the blood in the circulatory system, often measured for medical diagnosis.

Also known and abbreviated as BP.

Body Fat Percentage

The percentage of a person's bodyweight that is body fat. This is usually the preferred metric to the Body Mass Index (BMI) but is more difficult to calculate.

Also known as Body Fat (BF) and abbreviated as BF%.


Body Mass Index (BMI) is a way of of measuring body fat based on a persons height and weight. See Fitstream's BMI Calculator to help measure yours. 

Basal Metabolic Rate / BMR

[Acronym] Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain normal body functions and changes with age, weight, height, gender, diet and exercise habits. Also see TDEE.


[Acronym] Bench Press. Exercise reference. See Bench Press exercise.

Bumper Plates

Solid rubber composition Olympic weight plates to fit the Olympic bar. Bumper plates are safer and quieter than steel, and won't destroy your floor.


[Acronym] Body Weight. Form of exercise reference. See bodyweight exercises

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The beat, rate, or measure of rhythmic motion. In a fitness context this may be used as a measure of the speed of pedalling a bike.


Body fat calipers are popular devices used to measure the amount of body fat present. 


Calisthenics is a form of exercise consisting of a simple movements that are usually performed without equipment, using bodyweight as resistance and are intended to increase body strength, endurance and flexibility, e.g. push-ups.


Capoeria is a form of martial art that combines forms of dance, acrobatics and music, that originated in Brazil. It is renowned for its quick and complex movements.


Carbohydrates are a macronutrient and offer 4 calories per gram.


[Acronym] Cable. Equipment reference. 


[Acronym] Conventional Deadlift.

See deadlift exercise


[Acronym] Circuit Training.

Circuit training

An efficient form of conditioning workout, combining aerobic exercise with strength training, moving from station to station in quick successsion.

Circuit training is effective for building strength and muscular endurance, whilst enhancing fat loss.


[Acronym] Close Grip. Commonly added to exercise notes to indicate style used.  

Complex training

Complex training is a combination of traditional strength exercise followed by a matching plyometric exercise during a workout e.g. Squats followed by box jumps or the bench press followed by a plyometric push-up.

This training technique results in improved power and rate of force development.


An exercise classification relating to maneuvers that involve two or more joints e.g. bench press, which involves both shoulder and elbow joints.

Compound lifts should form the basis of all training programmes designed to increase muscle size, because they work multiple muscle groups at once. 

See other exercise classifications: Isolation, Push, Pull


[Acronym] Central Nervous System. 

Concentric Contraction

This occurs when the muscles shorten to 'lift' the weight during each rep, for example, when the biceps shorten as you raise the dumbbell to your shoulder during a curl. 

Also see Eccentric Contraction


A core strength and conditioning program that prescribes "constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement”.

See - CrossFit Guide.

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[Acronym] Dumbbell


The study of nutrition and the effect diet has on the body.


[Acronym] Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness refers to the pain and stiffness felt in muscles that's felt after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. 

Also known as DOMS.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching are body movements that create a stretch in muscles but not by holding a static position (the opposite of static stretching for set time). 

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Eccentric Contraction

This occurs when your muscle lengthens as you lower a weight through a repetition, such as the biceps lengthening as you lower the dumbbell during a curl exercise. 

These movements should be done slowly to work the muscle as thoroughly as possible. Your muscles are stronger during eccentric contractions which is why lowering a weight slowly and under control minimizes the risk of injury and makes each rep more effective. 

Also see Concentric Contraction

Also known as Negative Contraction

Energy Density

The more calories a food has, the more energy dense that food is. Sugar is an example of a high energy density food source. 

Energy density is strongly related to satiety and overeating (1).



[Acronym] Exercise. 


[Acronym] Exercise Prescription. 

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False Grip

A method of gripping gymnastics rings (or a bar) to improve the ability to perform advanced exercises like the muscle-up. This grip makes the transition a little easier when moving from below gymnastic rings, to above the rings. 

In a false grip the base of the palms sits on top of the rings. It can be an awkward technique to learn for the beginner and usually requires practice and developments in wrist strength. 


The term Fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish and refers to a form of unstructured interval training that doesn't use an exact measure of intensity or speed, simply performing intervals whenever an athlete wishes. 


Fats are a macronutrient and offer 9 calories per gram, making them high in energy density. 


[Acronym] Fitness Industry Association. The FIA was established in 1991 as a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of the health and fitness sector in the UK. 

Five Rep Max

The maximum amount of weight that can be lifted for five repetitions without taking a break. Usually the five rep max is around 85% of a person's one rep max value (1RM).

Also known as 5RM.

Foam Roller


High-density cylindrical foam training aid used for stretching and warm-up exercises, self-massage, muscular flexibility, physiotherapy, and balance / core stabilisation training.

Foam rollers improve muscular alignment, posture and aid workout recovery times.


[Acronym] Front Squat. Exercise Reference. 


Doing the same workouts for ages without making any progress. Alternatively, program hopping and jumping from routine to routine without adequate time for progression. 

The only known cure is proper training and following a tried-and-tested program. Start by reading our beginner's guide to fitness

Functional Training / Functional Fitness

Functional strength training involves training in such a way that directly enhances the performance of movements to benefit everyday activities. 

Functional training is not driven by aesthetics or size but by performance and capability.

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Original Russian name for kettlebells. Kettlebells are weights resembling a cannonball with a handle, used to perform ballistic exercises which combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.

See - Kettlebell articles.

General Physical Preparedness (GPP)

Development of total fitness across the ten widely recognised general physical skills: Speed, agility, accuracy, balance, coordination, cardiovascular, flexibility, power, strength, stamina.


[Acronym] Glute Ham Raise. Exercise reference. 


[Acronym] Good Mornings. Exercise Reference. 

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Anger fueled by hunger. A cranky state resulting from lack of food.

Heart rate

The number of times a persons heart beats per minute. 


[Acronym] High Intensity Interval Training. Form of exercise reference. 


[Acronym] High Intensity Training. Form of exercise reference. 


An increase in muscle cell number. 

Also see: Hypertrophy, Atrophy


An increase in muscle size. 

Also see: Atrophy, Hyperplasia

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[Acronym] Incline Bench Press. Exercise reference. 


Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar level and the storage and expenditure of energy. Insulin levels are raised after consuming a meal, which contributes to the intake of nutrients for muscle growth and fat storage. 

Fat is being broken down when insulin is low between meals and during sleep. 

Certain foods have different effects on the amount that they raise insulin levels, such as simple and refined cardbohydrates which increase levels significantly. 

Interval training

A form of physical training in which athletes practice bursts of high-intesity exercises, followed by periods of low-intensity work. 

Isolation movements (Exercise Classification)

Exercises that involve only one joint but can involve multiple muscles e.g. biceps curl.

These movements are great for targeting specific muscle groups. 

See other exercise classifications: Compound, Push, Pull

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Kettlebell / Kettlebell Training


Exercising with a kettlebell, a piece of training equipment resembling a cannonball with a handle. These weights are effectively used to perform ballistic exercises which combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.

Kettlebells have been around for centuries in Eastern Europe and are now part of mainstream fitness routines across the world.

See - Kettlebell articles or kettlebell exercises, kettlebells in our store, and "Girya" (the original russian name for the kettlebell).


A technique that may be used for the pull-ups exercise in which the legs are used as a forceful initial movement to help raise the body up. 

When hanging from the bar, the legs are swung backwards to build momentum, and then swing forward while pulling the body up with the arms. Kipping pull-ups is a very powerful technique that makes pull-ups easier to achieve. 

Note: Traditional pull-ups rely soley on upper body strength with no swinging or kipping. 


Knurling is the textured area found on barbells and weight training bars to improve grip or reduce the likelihood of slippage when fitness training. Usually found as grooved crosshatches etched into the metal. 

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[Acronym] Lower Body. Body reference. 


[Acronym] Lean Body Mass. Body reference. 


Leptin is a hormone that regulates fat storage, appetite, and metabolism. 

When Leptin is low, the body interprets this as a hunger signal to eat food and leptin levels are high when you are full. 

Certain factos (such as lack of sleep (1)) are known to inhibit leptin receptors which means that people are likely to overfeed and gain weight.

References -



[Acronyn] Lat Pull Down. Exercise reference.


[Acronym] Lever. Exercise reference. 

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Strength training equipment used to strengthen grip, shoulder girdle, balance, and core body by various swining exercises and static holds. A macebell resembells a cannonball welded to a long pole.

See - Macebell equipment.


A 26.2 mile race for runners and walkers. 


Metabolism is all the chemical reactions involved in maintaining the body. Despite popular belief, resting metabolism is almost the same from person to person (1). Metabolism can be increased through exercise however, in particular, weight training, because of the energy used during the activity and subsequent repair to the muscles. 

References - 



Mixed Martial Arts - the professional sport formerly known as cage-fighting.

See - MMA Guide.


[Acronym] Military Press. Exercise reference. 

Muscular failure

During a strength training program, muscular failure is the point at which athletes can no longer perform another repetition with good form, due to fatigue. 

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[Acronym] Narrow Grip. Exercise style reference. 

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[Acronym] Overhead Press. Exercise reference. 


[Acronym] Overhead Squat. Exercise reference. 

Olympic Weightlifting

Also known as Olympic-style weightlifting or simply weightlifting, is a professional sport in which participants attempt to lift a maximum weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates.

Olympic weightlifting consists of two exercises - the clean and jerk, and the snatch.

One Rep Max

The maximum amount of weight that can be used to complete one single repetition for an exercise.

See Fitstream One Rep Max Calculator.

Also known as 1RM.


Shoe inserts designed by a Podiatrist to correct weight distribution across the foot.

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Gymnastic equipment used for bodyweight training that are similar to the parallel bars. They can be used to develop incredible strength from exercises like V-Sits, handstand presses and dips.

See - Make your own parallettes guide, or parallettes available to buy.


Parkour is an athletic activity often performed in urban areas in which practitioners aim to move quickly and fluidly through an area, by overcoming and navigating around obstacles such as walls and railings and leaping across open spaces, as in a stairwell or between buildings.


A physical training program in which workouts are arranged into several periods, each lasting around 4 weeks, each phase having a different focus. 

Personal Record

The maximum amount of weight or reps a person has performed for an exercise.

Also known and abbreviated as PR.


Russian measure used for kettlebells; 1 pood =36 lbs; 1.5 pood = 54 lbs; 2 pood = 72 lbs.


Postworkout is commonly referred to as PWO and used in the context of food or drink intake following a workout (e.g. PWO meal).

Also known and abbreviated as PWO.


A strength sport resembling Olympic Weightlifting consisting of three main exercises - the squat, the bench press and the deadlift


[Acronym] Personal Record. An individuals highest achievement for an exercise i.e. highest number of reps, amount of weight, or quickest time.


A progression is a distinct physical position or exercise that can be learned in order to reach another, more difficult goal exercise.

Typically there are a series of progressions, increasing sequentially in difficulty toward the goal. Progressions are commonly found in bodyweight / gymnastics training.

Progressive Resistance / Progressive Overload

A strength training method in which an increase in volume or intensity is applied to facilitate muscle / strength and fitness gains. 

Progressive resistance at the individual exercise level is often introduced using resistance bands or chains. For example, when using resistance bands during a bench press, more resistance is applied the further the bar is pushed away from the body at the top of the lift. 


Proteins are a macronutrient and offer 4 calories per gram. 

They are the most satiating macronutrient and are the building blocks for muscle. 

Push (Exercise Classification)

A movement away from the center of the body during an exercise, when contracting a target muscle. 

See other exercise classifications: Compound, Isolation, Pull

Pull (Exercise Classification)

A movement toward the centre of the body during an exercise, when contracting a target muscle. 

See other exercise classifications: Compound, Isolation, Push


The number of times the heart beats per minute.


[Acronym] Post Workout.  

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[Acronym] Resistance.

Range of Motion (ROM)

The extent to which a joint or joints move during each rep. 

Also known as ROM.


[Acronym] Romanian deadlift. Exercise reference. 


One complete execution of an exercise, often used in strength / weight training. 

Also known as rep.

Resistance Bands


Heavy duty latex bands, usually available in varying thicknesses / widths used for fitness training and weight training.

Resistance bands offer and increasing resistance the further they are stretched and are commonly used in Olympic weight training or ballistic running drills.

See - Resistance band guide, or resistance bands in our store.


How long you rest between finishing and set and starting the next one. If rest periods are too long you won't build up the accumulated fatigue to make sufficient progress, and when too short you'll not recover quick enough to adequately perform the next set. 


Ring Training

Training for fitness on gymnastic rings. Ring training is highly effective, hardcore, bodyweight strength training.

See - Ring Training Articles or ring exercises


[Acronym] Repetition Maximum.


[Acronym] Range of Motion. 

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Self-myofascial release (SMR)

Myo refers to muscle, and fascia to the tissue that surrounds muscle fibers. 

Self myofascial release is a relatively simple technique that is used to alleviate trigger points by putting pressure on tender areas along the muscle tissue. This helps to relax the muscle, dissapate adhesions, increase blood flow, and improve flexibility and recovery.


A set is a number of repetitions (or reps) of an exercise performed in a row.


[Acronym] Stubborn Fat Protocol. 


A defensive technique in combat sports used in response to takedown attempts. Sprawling is mastering the ability of staying on your feet.


Slacklining involves balance, movement and tricks or stunts on what is known as a slackline (flat webbing pulled tight between two anchor points).


[Acronym] Stiff Legged Deadlift / Straight Legged Deadlift. Exercise reference. 


[Acronym] Smith Machine. A type of fitness equipment. 

[Acronym] Skeletal Muscle - the type of muscle that we can see and feel. 


[Acronym] Squat. Exercise reference. See Bodyweight Squat


[Acronym] Steady State. Form of exercise. 


A variety of strength events such as atlas stones, farmer's walk, log clean and press.


Supersets are two different exercises done back to back. This allows you to work multiple muscle groups in less time. 

Suspension Training

A highly effective form of functional bodyweight training using a suspension trainer. The trainer is attached to an anchor point and you use the handles or foot straps to exercise with your bodyweight.

See - Suspension Training Articles for more information. 

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Do as many reps of the exercise as you can for twenty seconds, then rest 10 seconds. Repeat this seven more times for a total of 8 intervals, totalling 4 minutes of exercise. Your score is the least number of reps for any of the eight intervals. 


A combat and martial arts term referring to the ability to off-balance an opponent and bring them to the ground, typically with the initiator landing a top. In MMA this will commonly take the form of a double or single leg takedown attempt, similar to a rugby tackle.


Tempo is a means of describing the speed of an exercise, usually represented as a three part reference for the eccentric part of an exercise (lowering), the pause taken, and finally, the concentric part of the exercise (lifting).

An example would be 40X0 pull-up, which would equate to a 4 second count as you lower the body, no pause at the bottom and pull-up as fast as you can. 

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE, is the number of calories you need to consume each day just to maintain your present weight, at your current activity level.

The TDEE is a useful value when tracking calories and trying to understand what your level of consumption should be in order to lose weight.

Time Under Tension (TUT)

[Acronym] Time Under Tension. The duration that a muscle is engaged during a repetition. 

For example, a set of 12 repetitions at a 2010 tempo (2+0+1+0=3 seconds) equals a total time under tension of 36 seconds for the set. 

TUT is an important factor in muscle growth.

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[Acronym] Upper Body. Body reference. 

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Visceral Fat

Visceral fat (VF) is found in the abdomen and surrounding vital organs. VF is different to fat found directly beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat) and is not visible to the naked eye.

  • <9 normal range
  • 10-14 high range
  • 15+ very high

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[Acronym] Wide Grip. Hand grip style for certain exercises e.g. Wide Grip Pull-ups

[Acronym] Weight Gain. Often used in informal discussions as an abbreviation for weight gain.

Wobble Board

Also known as Balance Boards, Wobble Boards are training equipment used to develop coordination, agility and balance. Participants stand on a board that is balanced on an inflatable cushion or roller of some kind and attempt to stay upright.

See - Balance boards in store.


WOD is a common acronym used to represent Workout Of The Day. Frequently used by CrossFit circles.  

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Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.