Bodybuilding Terminology


Well-Known Member
4 Jul 2011
Accessory Muscles - The muscles that are required to perform an exercise that are not the target muscle.

Aerobic - Longer duration exercise aimed primarily at increasing fitness levels and burning calories.

Anaerobic - Shorter duration exercise aimed primarily at increasing strength levels.

Anabolic - A metabolic state where the body is building tissue. The goal of mass gain training (bulking) is, through diet and rest, to keep the body in this state as much as possible. The opposite of Catabolic.

Bulking - The phase of bodybuilding training where you are attempting to gain muscle mass.

Burn - The burning sensation sometimes felt with intense exercise. Having to do with lactic acid (a change in muscular acidity levels) as your body regenerates energy through glycolisis.

Breathing Sets - Pausing at the top of each exercise within a set to breath. Typically you take three deep breaths and then perform another rep.

Cardio - Exercise aimed at increasing the heart rate in order to improve cardiovascular performance and burn fat. Not a central part of mass gain.

Catabolic - A metabolic state where the body is breaking down tissue to fuel energy needs. The goal of mass gain training is to avoid this state as much as possible while the goal of cutting is to keep to this state as much as possible. The opposite of Anabolic.

Cheating - When failure has been reached during a set, swinging or jerking the weight (using improper form, momentum) in order to squeeze out additional reps - An advanced technique that should be used with caution. Or, a beginner who just doesn't know what he is doing.

Circuit Training - A form of weight training where you are moving quickly between exercises with the goal of a quick workout that provides anaerobic as well aerobic benefits. Not ideal for mass gain.

Compound Exercise - An exercise which requires more than one joint movement. The focus of training programs geared toward gaining mass and strength.

Concentric - The concentric part of an exercise, also referred to as the positive, is the portion where you are raising the weight (going against gravity).

Cumulative Fatigue - Doing a number of work sets where the goal is to reach muscular fatigue or failure only on the last rep of the last set.

Cutting - The phase of bodybuilding training where you are attempting to "get cut" - lose body fat in order to show defined muscle. Trying to cut and bulk at the same time is a big but common mistake.

Eccentric - The eccentric part of an exercise, also referred to as the negative, is the portion where you lower the weight (resist gravity). Research shows that it is this portion of an exercise that stimulates the most muscle and is therefore responsible for the greatest growth. Many training systems emphasize the eccentric portion of exercises for this reason.

Failure - Lifting to failure requires you to lift to complete muscle exhaustion, the point where you cannot complete another rep and fail in an effort to do so.

Fast-Twitch Fibers - The muscle fibers primarily responsible for short explosive activities. To gain significant muscle mass, you must train to affect these muscles.

Fatigue - Lifting to fatigue means you stop short of failure, lifting to the point you feel your muscles about to give out but stop a rep or so before they fail. This provides an adequate solution for those who cannot workout to failure because they train at home or do not have the services of a spotter.

Free Weights - weight training utilizing dumbbells, barbells and weight plates. Free weights are important to mass gain, as opposed to machine-based training, because they better allow the development of accessory muscles necessary to support increased muscle mass.

Genetic Potential - The muscle building potential of someone based on their unique genetic make-up.

Hardgainer - A general term referring to anyone who has trouble gaining muscle weight (just about everyone).

Hardgainer Training - A training philosophy characterized by low volume training and an emphasis on rest time.

H.I.T. (High Intensity Training) - A training philosophy that recommends low volume training, full-body routines and workouts done with maximum intensity.

Hyperplasia - The concept that muscle mass can increase when fibers split to form new fibers. Somewhat controversial if it can occur in humans. See also Hypertrophy.

Hypertrophy - Muscle growth occurring as a result of the muscle fibers increasing in size.

Intensity - A measurement of how much effort is being expended. To gain mass, it is critical to work with maximum intensity.

Isolated Exercise - An exercise requiring only one joint movement, used to isolate a specific muscle.

Juiced - One of many slang terms for steroid use.

Lift Heavy - Reference to the mantra that to build muscle you should lift heavy weights for less reps rather than lift light weights for higher reps.

Machine-Based - Exercise with the assistance of machines that follow a pre-determined path. Not ideal for mass gain as the accessory muscles are not as effectively hit.

Max - Your max is simply the maximum amount you can lift for a given number of reps. Your 1RM is the maximum you can lift for one rep. Many routines use percentages of your 1RM as a way of defining the amount of weight you should be lifting for each set. For example, a routine may suggest 3x10 at 80-90%. This routine calls for you to do 3 sets of 10 reps at 80-90% of your 1RM for that particular exercise.

Microscopic Muscle Tears - Small tears in muscle fibers occuring due to extreme stress - the goal of weight training to build muscle is to create this stress. Given adequate opportunity through nutrition and rest, the muscles will repair and rebuild themselves stronger.

Momentum - Refers to allowing the laws of physics to aid in the lifting of weights rather than lifting with a controlled tempo where the muscles must do all the work.

Muscle Confusion -The concept that in order to continue gaining muscle you must keep changing the way you approach weight training in your sets and routines in order to prevent them from adapting.

Overtraining - A progressive condition where the body incurs more muscle damage then it has the opportunity to repair and rebuild - Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).

Periodization - A training philosophy that has phases based on different levels of intensity. For example, a month of light training followed by a month of heavy training where the emphasis is placed on cumulative gains (as opposed to incremental gains from workout to workout).

Plateau - A point where progress slows or halts and it becomes seemingly impossible to make gains. Indicates a need to change your training program.

Progressive Overload - This is the concept that you must keep increasing the resistance used with each workout. If you squat 150 lbs. for ten reps one week, the next week you should increase that weight to 151 lbs. or more. This progression is proven effective for increasing muscle mass.

Pyramid Routines - Routines that use sets at different levels (different rep totals) to form a pyramid. An effective technique for mass building.

Reps - A rep, or repetition, is the completion of the full motion called for by a paticular exercise. For example, with the bench press, lowering the weight to your chest and then pushing it back up to where the arms are straight (but not locked) is one rep.

Routine - A routine is the workout you perform. Encompassing the exercises performed, order of exercises, tempo, methods used and splits used as well as additional aspects.

Sets - A set is the amount of reps you do before resting. If you were to follow a routine that called for 3 sets of ten reps of bicep curls, you would do 10 reps, rest and then repeat two more times.

Set/Rep Lingo - Sets are typically written in the following way...

Lat Pulldowns.....3x10

This routine calls for you to do 3 sets of 10 reps of lat pulldowns.

Bench Press.....1x10,7,3

The above routine calls for you to do one set of ten reps, then, after resting, a set of 7 reps and then after another rest, a final set of three reps.

The amount of weight you lift for each set is the amount of that brings you to failure or fatigue in the given number of reps. For example, for the above bench press routine, you would pick a weight that you could do for a maximum of ten reps and then adjust the weight (raise it) to the maximum weight you could complete 7 reps of and then adjust again for the final set of 3 reps. If you are a beginner, you will have to do some experimenting to find the weights that you can handle for each exercise.

Show Muscles - Those muscles that you show-off - typically referring to the biceps, chest and ab muscles.

Slow Lifting - A radical training philosophy that has you performing reps at an extremely slow rate.

Slow-Twitch Muscle Fibers - The muscle fibers primarily responsible for muscular endurance.

Spotter - A person who watches you lift and helps move the weight out of harms way when your muscles fail. A spotter (or self-spotting apparatus) is necessary when working out to failure for some exercises like the bench press.

Splits - Dividing the body's muscles into groups for the purposes of splitting up workout routines (working different muscle groups on different days).

Stabilizer Muscles - Muscles that may not actually move during exercise but provide support to the exercise - the muscles that hold you in place so you can perform the exercise. Machine-based training reduces the need for these muscles and therefore limits their development. This can negatively impact the development of major muscles as well as functional strength.

Static Contraction Training - A radical training philosophy that has you, instead of performing a complete rep, holding a weight at a specific point.

Superset - Doing two exercises back-to-back. For example, completing a squat set and then immediately doing hamstring curls.

Symmetry - Referring to the way a physique looks, how balanced the muscles are - a judging criteria in bodybuilding competition.

Routine - A routine is the workout you perform. Encompassing the exercises performed, order of exercises, tempo, methods used, splits used as well as additional aspects.

Target Muscles - The main target of a particular exercise (the bench press targets the pecs).

Tempo - Tempo is the rate of speed that you perform a rep. It is often written as Eccentric/Bottom/Concentric with a count of seconds used to judge the time. A 3/0/1 rep would be performed with a count of three seconds on the eccentric portion (lowering the weight), no count at the bottom, and then a count of one while raising the weight (concentric portion) to complete the rep.

Volume - The amount of work performed.

Volume Training - Typically referring to high volumes of work (high-volume training). Can be too much for hardgainers and potentially create overtraining.

Warm-Up Sets - In front of work sets, sets performed with lower weights to warm-up the muscles and help prevent injury.

Work Sets - The sets within a routine meant to do the actual work (as opposed to warm-up sets).



Active Member
17 Jul 2011
I posted something like this at my blog. maybe i can share it here too =)


Active Member
17 Jul 2011

Illustration by Shannon Orcutt

The Players

Bodybuilder: With bulging biceps and X-shaped frames, these larger-than-life gym bodies don’t just happen overnight. Heavy lifting and a strict diet are a few of the prerequisites— just ask Arnold. Some of the not-so-nice names we had to leave out: meatheads, guerillas, and many other terms of endearment courtesy of The Jersey Shore.

CrossFitter: In the CrossFit revolution, these super-fit (or at least super-motivated) specimens are its humble disciples. Their daily workouts, aka “WODs,†include tens to hundreds (yes,hundreds) of reps of high intensity functional movements, including pull-ups, box jumps, burpees, running, Olympic lifts, and squats. Not quite Navy Seal-fit? Weight and intensity are both scalable, depending on fitness level.

Gym Rat: Don’t bother calling the exterminator. These workout-aholics will do whatever it takes to get their daily burn. Spot them morning, noon, and night, maneuvering the floor with a cool, “I know what’s up†swag.

Mr. Varsity: If anyone’s got game, it’s this guy. Boasting “big man on campus†cockiness (errr, charm?), this all-star athlete doesn’t let a day go by without plying his trade. Expect a well-rehearsed variety show of weights, plyometrics, and track work— plus a few winks for the ladies.

Power Couple: His-n-hers workout gear may be a tip-off, but what often sets these duos apart is their matched intensity. Look out for synchronized movements or a him-then-her rotation punctuated with lots of starry-eyed high fives— or PDA (get a home gym, please!).

Powerlifter: Need a hand? These singlet-wearing bundles of might could single-handedly move your baby grand. What they might prefer to do? Math (in multiples of 45lbs), and compete in the following three moves: squat, deadlift, and bench press.

Spin Head: Maybe they sport their own cycling shoes, or at least a whole lot of
sleek, logoed spandex. What these spinning enthusiasts all seek out is that high-intensity, peddle-pounding burn.

Personal Trainer: Not only are they fit, knowledgeable, and commanding, the best among these no-fuss pros help clients achieve their fitness goals through safe and effective exercisetechniques (and can make stairs a no-go for at least 48 hrs, or until the soreness wears off). There are numerous certifying bodies for trainers, so make sure to check credentials before investing in some serious instruction.

Weekend Warrior: The mid-week grind is all that keeps these exercise enthusiasts from going full-throttle. Come Saturday, though, expect a range of intense, strenuous workouts— maybe even a 10k run or a 2-hour mountain bike ride with friends.

Yogi (or Yogini, for the ladies): It’s about more than just downward facing dog for this loose and limber set. Armed with toned, sinewy limbs, Lululemon anything, and a healthy dose of WOOOOSAH, these yoga lovers live and breathe its principles beyond the purple mats.

The Methods

Circuit Training: This A.D.D.-friendly workout combines a series of strength and cardio moves to blast maximum calories and fat. Complete the circuit? Repeat it three times through, with little to no rest between sets.

Compound/Functional Movements: Also known as multi-joint or complex exercises, these movements work multiple muscles as a functional unit, promoting stability and maximum calorie burn. Some classics include squats, bench press, and pullups.

Drop Sets: Using this grueling strength training technique, weight is reduced mid-set, and the exercise continued until exhaustion. The best way to drop it like it’s hot? Have a partner switch out the weights so there’s as little lag time in between reps as possible. Just remember, while “descending sets†can be effective for building strength, they’re extremely taxing on the body and are not recommended as a daily training method.

Failure: Sometimes failure can be a good thing— at least when it comes to resistance training. When training to failure, an exercise is repeated until exhaustion, the point when the muscles pretty much go on strike. While this is one tool for building muscular strength, size, and endurance, proceed with caution, as using this method can potentially increase the risk of injury.

Forced Reps: Almost as fun as they sound (insert grunts and groans here), these are extra repetitions at the end of a set that require the help of a spotter (think a bit beyond failure). The incentive: the potential for greater gains in muscle mass and strength.

Interval Training: By alternating bursts of light and intense activity, this popular training method helps maximize fat-burning potential while boosting metabolism and cardiovascular fitness levels. For a quick and effective workout, give one of these beginner programs a try.

Isolation Exercises: Unlike compound/functional movements, these targeted exercises hit just one muscle at a time. One quintessential bodybuilding favorite: the bicep curl.

Lifting: Also known as strength training, weight training, resistance training, and of course,pumping iron, lifting is the go-to method forincreasing muscular strength, size, tone, and endurance. Workouts can utilize dumbbells, weight machines, kettlebells, resistance tubing, body weight, or a combination of them all.

Negatives: Also called “eccentric contraction,†this is the act of lowering the weight slowly under tension to the start position. Why get negative? Performing negative reps can help stress (and therefore strengthen) muscles in a different manner than simply lifting and lowering, helping the body break through existing strength plateaus.

Progression: Consider this “Movin’ on up†for muscles. Progressions can include anything from increasing weight resistance, repetitions, or number of sets in a workout to decreasing rest time for cardiovascular training. Tracking progression over time in the gym and on the track is a great way to gauge improvement— and see what might need some extra work.

Plateau: Seeing results takes time and practice, and even then, it’s common for progress to eventually come to a halt. Since the body naturally adapts to the stresses of exercise (especially if performing the same routine daily), try varying the program and revving up the intensity to push past workout slumps.

Plyometrics: These movements (like broad jumps, vertical jumps, and even explosive skipping) are designed to increase speed and explosiveness while strengthening joints and muscles. But before bringing back the Kriss Kross, remember that safe and effective plyometrics are all aboutquality, not quantity.

Supersets: Beef up any workout with this super-charged approach in which two exercises are performed back-to-back with no (or at least minimal) rest in between. Add in a third exercise, and you’ve got a triset. The payoff: more work in a minimal amount of time.

Split: No, we’re not talking about the banana-ice cream-and-fudge variety. A split routineinvolves dividing up the muscle groups into different training days (i.e. “Monday is leg day in my 5-day splitâ€). The cherry on top: each body part will have sufficient time to recover and rebuild.

The Moves & Machinery

Bench Press: An upper body favorite, this multi-joint exercise is used to strengthen the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Since weights can get heavy, spotters are strongly advised.

Burpee: There’s nothing rude about letting out a few of these at the gym. A variation on the classic “squat thrust†(add a pushup in the down position), this full-body move is properly finished with a vertical jump.

Clean & Jerk: One of two highly-technical Olympic weightlifting events, this explosive two-stage movement begins by “cleaning†the weight from the floor to shoulders, and then “jerking†it overhead with a mighty push from the legs.

Deadlift: Anyone with a toddler has some experience with this movement. Swap in a loaded barbell, though, and form really starts to matter. For a detailed rundown from legendary strength coach Mark Rippetoe.

Dips: While most of us prefer our dips with the chips, in this version both hands will unfortunately be busy. Performed on a bench, “captain’s chair,†or assisted dip machine, this tricep, shoulder, and chest exercise is particularly effective because it hits all three muscles groups in addition to effectively engaging the core.

Military Press: Move over GI Joe (and Jane), this exercise is key for anyone looking for some serious overhead strength. From a standing position, with an overhand grip, press the barbell upward until arms are fully extended overhead (be careful not to lean too far back during the lift). Lower back down to the shoulders and repeat.

Pec Deck: A machine alternative to free weights, the pec deck is a popular choice among bodybuilders aiming to isolate and strengthen the chest muscles, or pecs (short for pectorals).

Planks: Jack Sparrow’s absolute favorite, this core-stablizing exercise keeps us on our toes (and forearms) while working the abs, lower back, and obliques.

Power Rack: Also known as a power cage or squat cage, this piece of equipment is where some seriously heavy (or simply safe) lifting takes place. Designed with safety bars to allow for a safer workout, the four-posted rack is a go-to for squats and presses, to name a few.

Pullups: The next logical step after graduating from Huggies, this impressive big kid move uses bodyweight to work the back, arms, and shoulders. “Pullups†generally refer to the movement performed with an overhand grip, while chinups are their underhanded cousin. Not quite there yet? Check the gym for an assisted pull-up machine, or try building up to the full movement with pulldowns.

Skullcrushers: Don’t worry, relatively few skulls have actually been harmed during this dynamic triceps exercise. Still, the move brings the barbell (or dumbbells) within inches of the forehead, making for an adrenaline-pumping exercise. We definitely advise a spotter for this one!

Smith Machine: No, it’s not a 16th century torture device. This safety-first piece of equipment holds a loadable bar in place on vertical poles where it can slide up and down without a hitch. Careful not to confuse it with the power rack, however, as Smith Machine’s fixed-plane barbell provides a completely different set of movements than a free weight barbell.

Snatch: Watch out, Brad Pitt. Arguably the most highly technical (read: most difficult) movement in strength sports:, the snatch involves lifting the barbell from the floor to a locked arms position overhead in a smooth, continuous motion. A combination of strength, speed, and precision are needed for this Olympic weightlifting event.

Squat Rack: Prepare for little more than popping a squat at this weight room fixture. Built to hold a fully loaded barbell, these stands serve similar purposes as power racks, though without the safety bars.

The Talk

“Can I get a spot?â€: Death by free weights would be a terrible way to go, so asking an able bodied gym-goer for a hand is always advised. That added security (and perhaps a few grunts of encouragement) might even push the body to reach its healthy, uppermost limits.

“How many sets do you have left?â€: When a machine is in use, workout busy-bodies want to know how long they’ll have to wait around for it.

“Can I work in?â€: Assuming this isn’t code for “wanna go out sometime?†these gym-goers are asking if it’s cool to grab a turn while you rest between sets.

“What are you lifting today?â€: For those following a split training routine (see entry above), the question is what muscle group is on the agenda for that day. The reply might be something like “legs,†“back,†or “chest†(as opposed to “grocery bags†and “laundry basketsâ€).

“What’s your max, bro?â€: Oh, how we love the bro talk. Don’t recall those personal bests? Pick your favorite number and tack on at least one zero to te end of it.

“Can you help me load/rack these?â€: Remember how important it was to put toys away? After loading (i.e. adding) weights, proper gym etiquette states they should always be racked or stripped (i.e. removed) and returned from whence they came.


Well-Known Member
4 Jul 2011
An established lift that can be performed with free weights or a commonly used machine. Basic exercises include squats, bench presses, military presses and leg curls.

Short, quick partial reps performed at the end of a full-rep set to take muscles beyond failure

To utilise looser form in order to perform additional reps. This technique should be used only in a limited fashion after achieving failure with full reps in good form.

A workout methodology used to boost overall conditioning. One set for a bodypart is followed immediately by one set for another bodypart until several (or all) bodyparts are stressed in the same workout.

A lift that stresses two or more bodyparts. For example, bench presses are a compound lift because they stress the chest (pectorals), shoulders (front deltoids) and upper arms (triceps).

To flex a muscle throughout a lift in order to focus perpetual pressure on it.

A period of time dedicated to a specific training strategy. For example, a bodybuilder may perform a "heavy cycle" of low-rep training for eight weeks. See also "periodisation".

(a.k.a. drop set) | Progressively lighter sets of the same exercise. For example, you may do barbell curls with 100 pounds, followed immediately by 80-pound barbell curls and then 60-pound barbell curls. In this manner, you boost intensity and pump out many more reps than you could have with only 100 pounds.

To train twice per day. Double splitting is typically done by competitors in precontest mode.

The point at which no additional full-range repetitions can be performed in the same manner. A trainer can go beyond failure by changing the parameters of the reps through such techniques as cheating, forced reps or partial reps.

To perform additional repetitions with assistance after reaching unassisted failure. Spotter(s) should help only enough to keep the weight moving.

Four or more different exercises for one bodypart performed back-to-back without resting.

Low-rep training. This term is generally applied to maximum sets of six reps or fewer, and it is relative dependent on your strength level. Six hundred pounds is not heavy to a trainer who can deadlift it 10 times, but 300 pounds is heavy to a trainer who can lift it only five times.

(a.k.a. HIT or Heavy Duty training) | An exercise philosophy that prescribes pushing most working sets to full-rep failure or beyond. HIT also calls for low-volume workouts and a low workout frequency.

To alternate high-rep sets and low-rep sets of the same exercise.

A workout's degree of difficulty, influenced primarily by effort, pace and weight resistance. Typically, the more intense a workout is, the more sets are pushed to failure or beyond.

A lift that stresses only one bodypart. For example, dumbbell flyes are an isolation exercise because they work only the chest, and leg extensions work only the quads.

To flex a muscle hard and hold it for a few seconds as part of a training strategy.

To continually alter workouts in order to discourage the muscles from becoming accustomed to a pattern of exercises, sets and reps.

Predominantly,the lowering of a weight during a repetition. When performing negative (a.k.a. eccentric) reps, you receive assistance in raising the weight and then resist gravity when slowly lowering it, thus stressing muscles only during the negative portion.

Performing a greater volume and/or intensity of work than you are capable of recovering from. Overtraining leads to stagnation, lethargy and, eventually, muscle loss.

Repetitions performed through a less-than-full range of motion. Partial reps can be done after achieving failure with full reps in order to extend a set. You can also perform partials to focus on a specific area of a lift. For example, top deadlifts apply most of the stress to your trapezius and upper back and boost your strength for full-range deadlifts.

The pausing and flexing at the midpoint of a rep to increase muscle stress.

A process of alternating cycles of weight training. For example, a bodybuilder may do four weeks of low-rep training (heavy cycle) followed by two weeks of high-rep training (light cycle).

A training impasse. You reach a plateau when you cannot increase the weight or reps for an exercise after a certain period of time. For example, if you can get six reps with 225 pounds for bent barbell rows, but over the course of four weeks or more you can't get seven reps with that poundage, you have hit a plateau for that exercise. The term can also apply to your entire programme — if you have stopped making noticeable progress for weeks or months, your efforts have plateaued and need to be analysed and altered.

Predominantly, the raising of a weight during a repetition.

To perform an isolation exercise before a compound exercise for the same bodypart. Utilising this technique, you stress the targeted muscle first and thus make the compound lift also focus more on that targeted muscle. For example, by doing flyes (an isolation lift) before bench presses (a compound lift), your pec strength is diminished before beginning bench presses, thus during that exercise the pec muscles reach failure — the whole point of bench presses — before the fresh front delts and triceps.

To place a greater training emphasis on a specific bodypart or exercise. Someone with lagging calves may prioritise them by training them first during every other workout or increasing the training frequency for that particular bodypart.

To utilise greater weights for lower reps for each subsequent set of an exercise. For example, a pyramid may consist of 12 reps with 135 pounds, 10 with 185, eight with 205 and six with 225. Pyramids can also be descending.

The principleof reducing rest intervals between sets over time. This is often done to improve conditioning for a bodybuilding competition.

To rest briefly after reaching failure in order to perform additional repetitions.

A grip contrary to the most accepted manner. For example, reverse-grip bench presses are done with an underhand grip, as opposed to the traditional overhand grip.

Sets for a bodypart done throughout a workout for another. Staggered sets are typically reserved for calves or abdominals. For example, you could perform one set of a calf exercise for every three sets of an exercise for another bodypart.

To hold your flexed muscle(s) still against resistance. For example, after reaching failure during a set of barbell curls, you can further tax your biceps by holding the weight up and steady for as long as possible.

Part of a lift that is difficult to get past in order to complete the movement. If you stall just before locking out a bench press, that is your sticking point.

Two different exercises performed back-to-back without resting between them.

Three different exercises performed back-to-back without resting between them.

The quantity of sets and reps performed in a workout.

A maximum set, as opposed to a warm-up set or the initial sets of an ascending pyramid. Some trainers count only the final one or two sets of an exercise (where they use maximum poundage) as working sets, as the preceding sets were performed in anticipation of maximum intensity in the final one(s).