10 Workout Terms For Beginners

These fitness terms will help you get the most out of your next workout.

Maybe you need a pick-me-up for that resolution made at the New Year; or maybe better weather has you feeling like getting outside for a little fresh air and exercise. Whatever the motivation, sometimes working out can feel intimidating; from the equipment to the workout gear, it can be hard to know where to start or what to do. Here’s one way to help you feel a little more comfortable with a workout routine: get to know the lingo. Going to the gym or just working on a more healthy, active lifestyle comes with its own set of terminology, and understanding that vocabulary can help you be more successful.

10 Workout Terms For Beginners

1. Active Recovery: is different from a rest day – when you don’t work out at all, another important part of maintaining healthy fitness. AR is done the day after a hard workout. It means getting on a spin bike, taking a short swim, an easy run, any moderate form of cross training to help your muscles recover.

2. Boot Camp is a class for strength training. And don’t let the name intimidate you – there are boot camps for every level of ability and interest. In this workout, you rotate to different stations of activity for a short period of time, say 1 minute each. Complete the exercise at each station (designed to strengthen core, improve balance, and develop overall strength) and then move on to the next. This is both a cardio and a strength training workout.

3. Burpees are not what you do after eating a big meal or drinking too much soda. Burpees are a part of what the fitness world calls plyometrics – box jumps, squat jumps, scissor lunges – that increase heart rate and but really help to build power. The movements are quick and explosive, but also help to build strength. A burpee is a combination of a vertical jump, a plank, and a push up, all wrapped into a complete movement. Try completing 3 sets of 10 burpees, and you’ll begin to understand why these are both awful and amazing at the same time.

4. DOMS are what’s called delayed onset muscle soreness, or better known as that sore feeling 2 days after a hard workout. The body releases a chemical to help repair torn muscle fibers during a workout, making them stronger. That soreness you feel is actually building muscle! Be sure to hydrate well during this period for optimal recovery.

5. Failure. Yes, sometimes it’s OK to fail! Failure in the fitness world is when an exercise is repeated to the point of exhaustion. This actually helps to build muscle and improve endurance, but should be done with caution, as it can lead to injury.

6. HIIT. Don’t let the name fool you; you’re not getting punched during this workout (although it might feel like it!). HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. And it means exactly what it says: short bursts of intense activity over a 20-40 minute workout. These are great for building strength and for burning calories. A HIIT class is a great way to “get your burn on”.

7. Obliques are the muscles on the side of the abdomen. Building up this muscle group is good for posture and general core strength.

8. Reps (or repetitions) refer to a single movement repeated over the course of a set.

9. Set. A set describes a certain number of repetitions in one unit, so one might do 10 reps to complete one set.

10. Tabata is generally found in high intensity interval workouts, tabata is 20 seconds of intense work with 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated 8 times over 4 minutes, and then continued over the course of a longer (say 20-40 minute) total workout. The name “tabata” comes from the Japanese physician who devised this theory of 20/10, Dr. Izumi Tabata.

We’ve only scratched the surface with this list of 10 fitness terms, but we hope it helps you better understand workout options and general gym lingo. Now go out there and get your burn on!