Fitness and workout terms you should know

This post is sponsored by Premier Protein. Thank you for supporting A Lady Goes West sponsors, and I hope you learn something new. 

Okay, let’s talk about fitness terminology. While it’s not as difficult as say, medical terminology, when you’re new to the game, it’s easy to get confused. If you want to be an educated fitness person or gym-goer, here are some common terms you should be mostly familiar with (and oh by the way, there’s a giveaway for Premier Protein at the end of this post too) …

Fitness and workout terms you should know by A Lady Goes West

Fitness and workout terms you should know

  • LISS (steady state cardio) LISS stands for low-intensity steady state cardio, and basically it means that you move at a moderate pace for a longer amount of time. For instance, a 45-minute ride on the stationery bike at an easy pace or a very light jog outdoors for 30 minutes would work as LISS. LISS definitely has its place in the fitness world and in your workout routine. It’s easy to do, it can be low impact, and it is also a good time to get your muscles moving and heart-rate up and flush out any toxins from a seriously tough HIIT or weight-lifting workout. One day of week of LISS is a good goal, combined with other tougher workouts.
  • HIIT Speaking of HIIT, HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, and it’s basically what it sounds like. You do very short bouts of SUPER tough work, then you rest. You go back and forth between intervals of work and rest, for a short amount of time. HIIT sessions can be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, but should never be more than 30 minutes, because they are so intense. In HIIT workouts, you should work to the point of failure, before taking a full rest break to recover. You don’t want to do HIIT more than three times a week, otherwise, it can overly tax your system.
  • Active recovery — Active recovery means that you are doing something to flush out your muscles, stretching them or bringing your stressed body back to normal. You can choose to do a very leisure bike ride or a gentle yoga class as active recovery. Basically, it’s not a full rest day on the couch, because you are still moving, even though the focus is on resting and feeling better through easy movement.
  • Reps The number of repetitions or single movements of an exercise that you do, totaling up to the final number. If a workout plan calls for 10 reps/repetitions of bicep curls, then you would do 10 total bicep curls. Easy as pie.
  • Circuit A circuit is when you have anywhere from 3 to 8 or so moves in a progression, one after the other. These moves would all be slightly different and usually work slightly different muscles, so you can move through them all before taking a rest and doing it all again. Circuit training is a great way to keep your heart-rate up, because you don’t rest between moving from one exercise to the next. It maximizes your working time to help you burn more calories.
  • Drop-set A drop-set is a weightlifting method, in which you lift a heavy weight for a certain amount of reps and sets, and then, when you feel like you’ve reached fatigue, you put down the heavy weight and pick up a much lighter weight and continue doing reps until total fatigue and failure. Doing drop-sets at the end of a weight-lifting session is known to help you get stronger, because you push past your normal fatigue.
  • Hypertrophy This confusing terms means one thing: growing your muscles. You may hear people say that they are doing hypertrophy training, because they want to increase the size and aesthetics of their upper-body muscles for a fitness competition or for a summer vacation. Typically, hypertrophy training requires you to do about 8 to 12 repetitions of a slightly lighter weight than plain strength training, in which you lift heavier weights for less reps. The focus is on gaining size in muscles.
  • Macros (macronutrients) Macronutrients are the basics of nutrition in food and there are three of them: fat, protein and carbohydrates. Every single body needs all three macronutrients in order to survive, and depending on your fitness goals, you may want to eat a higher percentage of one macronutrient than the other. When someone counts their macros, it’s often called IIFYM (or the “if it fits your macros” thought process), and it means they merely look at how any carbs or protein or fat is in food, and they eat to fill a certain ratio a day. Getting the right macros is essential when you have a very specific body or fitness goal. But for me, I don’t do it. It can get a little obsessive and time-consuming to track every morsel you put into your body.
  • Pre-workouts Typically a “pre-workout” is a powder or beverage that someone drinks just before they begin exercise in order to get a boost. A lot of mixers and powders have caffeine and other stimulants that give you a pick-me-up to push past a plateau. While a lot of people swear by pre-workouts, I DO not like them. I’ve never taken them, and I’m all about the natural high. Also, I remember someone going totally crazy when they took too much pre-workout when I worked as a trainer, and it was terrible. Proceed with caution with these.
  • Dynamic warm-up If you take away anything from this post, I hope it’s this one. A dynamic warm-up is a moving warm-up that you do before your workout. Typically, you start to do gentle movements in the same position or direction that you will be moving for exercise. For instance, if you are going to do a weightlifting workout for legs, you would want to do bodyweight lunges and bodyweight squats as your dynamic warm-up. Other good options include big arm circles, high kick and knee grabs, because it gets your joints loose and ready to move. And by the way, nobody does “static” or still stretching before workouts any more … it’s all about dynamic movement. Here’s a dynamic warm-up you can follow.
  • Functional move — Functional moves are so beneficial, and we should all be doing them regularly in our workouts. A functional move is an exercise pattern that will help you in your daily life with motions that you normally do. For instance, a deadrow is a move that sort’ve mimics real life pulling something into your body — something we all need to be able to handle. A deadlift is a move that helps you to bend over to the ground and pick something up — clearly useful for everyone. A pull-up is a move that helps you to life your body up — you get the picture. An example of an exercise move that’s NOT functional is a shoulder-shrug — that move helps with aesthetics, but isn’t something you need all the time to lead a healthy and strong life. When it doubt, work functionally. 
  • Compound move — A compound move is sometimes functional, and it means that you are working more than one muscle and joint. The opposite of a compound move, is an isolated move, which only works one muscle or one small set of muscles. A bicep curl is isolated. A squat is compound. In order to get more bang for your workout buck, doing compound moves is ideal. 
  • Plyometrics — Plyometrics training is a tough form of training in which you do a lot of jumping and exerting of power. For instance, burpees, power push-ups and tuck jumps are plyometrics, and they require you to move fast and use your bodyweight to exert as much power as possible. Much like HIIT, you don’t want to do plyometrics training more than say three times a week, as it is very taxing on the joints.
  • RPE — RPE or rate of perceived exertion is an important exercise benchmark. Oftentimes, a trainer will ask how you feel on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being totally exhausted, done and fatigued. You don’t want to work out at the high end of the RPE scale for too long. But you also don’t want to always stay in the very low range of RPE, because then you will never get stronger or fitter.
  • Work in This term in the gym “work in” means that you ask someone who is using some of the same equipment as you if you can pop in and knock out your set while they rest. Sometimes people sit on a piece of equipment as they rest between sets, and this is a major gym no-no. It’s rude. You should let others “work in” around you so everyone can get their workout done in an efficient manner. 

And clearly there are more terms to discuss, but I think this is a good start. Let me know in the comments if you have others I should add!

Enter the Premier Protein giveaway

Thanks to the folks at Premier Protein for sponsoring this post. And because Premier Protein is all about offering people convenient protein-based products, like protein powder, ready-to-drink shakes and bars, I thought it would be great to give you guys a chance to win a sample package from the brand.

Fitness terms and Premier Protein by A Lady Goes West

You can eat a bar before your workout, so you can try out functional and compound moves and maybe even work on your hypertrophy. But be sure to check the macro profile of the bars before you eat them. (Are you picking up what I’m throwing down with these terms?)

One lucky winner will get a sampling of 10 protein bars and 5 protein shakes of varying flavors. I have a huge stash of both of these at home, and Dave is quickly burning through it faster than me. His favorite bar flavor? Peanut butter crunch of course! 

Premier Protein giveaway by A Lady Goes West

Speaking of Premier Protein, did you see these amazingly delicious no-bake protein bars I made a few weeks ago with Premier Protein as the base? If not, check them out!

In order to enter, just leave a comment on this post. Any comment will do. You can leave multiple comments for more entries. I will select a winner next Monday, April 3. You have to live in the U.S. to win. If you want some guidance, you can leave a comment for each of these things … (and to leave a comment, click on the headline of this post, then scroll all the way down past the post, and enter your name and email. Your email will not be made public, but only used if you win, and I need to reach out.)

  1. You like A Lady Goes West on Facebook.
  2. You like Premier Protein on Facebook.
  3. You follow A Lady Goes West on Instagram.
  4. You follow Premier Protein on Instagram.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Premier Protein. I received complimentary product, as well as compensation. But all of the words and opinions, OF COURSE, are my own. Thanks!

Questions of the day

What’s a fitness/workout term that you always get confused about?

What other terms should I add to this list?

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  1. Love your thoughts on terms to know – especially because they’re great reminders for what we should be trying to incorporate into our own workout regimens, as well. (Of course with some exceptions.)

    Especially LISS and Active Recovery. I know a TON of people at my gym that think I’m crazy for incorporating a LISS day into my usual weekly workouts – they’re floored to see me walking on the treadmill for an extended period of time! But it definitely has it’s place, and I am a fan. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing!
    XO, Jessica

    P.S. You know I follow you on Insta, too!

    1. Hi Jess! I totally plan to write more about LISS soon, because I think it gets a BAD rap, because it shouldn’t be your ONLY type of cardio … but like I said, it has its place. Glad you agree! Hope you have an awesome day! πŸ™‚

  2. I would say I’m up to date on the “standard” gym terms like those above, but I do think I get a little out of comfort zone in different studio type classes. So many of these places all have their own unique terms for things (ie. like in PureBarre the term “tuck”)… I always feel a little lost if it’s something I don’t go to very often.

    1. I feel ya! Some barre studios have a lot of terms – like “seat” for your butt and such. I guess it sounds classy hehehe. But as far as tucking, it’s not the greatest position for your spine — so I prefer a barre class without the tuck. πŸ™‚ Thanks for saying hi, Amanda!

  3. I’ve been dying to try the Bananas & Cream shake! Love the chocolate & the strawberry ones. Great informative post, thank you!!!!

  4. I love the thought behind this blog post! Over the past few months I have moved away from cardio workouts to strength-training/weight-lifting workouts, so terms like compound movements and hypertrophy are helpful to know.

    1. Hi Reid! Good! It’s always important to be informed about what you are doing, and knowing the terms helps. Nice work on getting a good strength training and weight-lifting workout routine going!

  5. I never knew what LISS stood for – thank you! So based on my Garmin’s HR monitor, I’m not burning nearly as many calories as I thought while taking walks with my 3 year old (in the stroller) and I’m typically in level 1 or 2 for heart rate zones. I’m assuming that would be considered LISS- so then doing a harder, more intense workout after that (sometimes not for a few hours later) would be beneficial, correct? There are some days where I can only fit in a 30-45 minute walk, but then other days we walk in the morning and I can do something more intense in the late afternoon or evening.

    1. Hi Jen! Yes — you won’t always burn a ton during LISS, but it has its benefits. And pushing a stroller on a walk would count as LISS for sure. You can do tougher workouts later in the day when you have time — maybe some HIIT a couple times a week and some strength stuff too.

  6. HIIT workouts are my absolute favorite & I feel like you can accomplish so much in such a short time. 3 times/week is probably my max too because they leave me pretty exhausted! πŸ™‚

    1. Totally! No need to do HIIT more than three times a week. And it’s SO beneficial in a short amount of time. But of course, it’s HARD heehhe! Keep up the good work, Megan! πŸ™‚

  7. I had no idea what LISS was, so this was a great and interesting read! Glad you are back to posting more!

  8. Oh I actually know almost all of these! I don’t do them myself, but anytime I ready someones crossfit workout I get really confused, I know WOD, but that’s about it. I think it’s because I don’t understand the numbers and am unfamiliar with some of the exercises.

    1. Hi Patricia! Oh yes, the Crossfitters definitely have their own terms. WOD — workout of the day! But the numbers, I can’t help you there hahah!

  9. That peanut butter flavor sounds amazing – maybe it will trick me into thinking it’s a Reese’s peanut butter egg??

    1. Hi Agness!! Thank you!! Glad you enjoyed this one! πŸ™‚ There are so many fitness terms out there, I think I learn a new one every single day!

  10. Hi Ashley,
    Nice information you provide. Though i was aware of every term but “RPE” was new for me. Thanks for your information πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Ashley. As long I have lived in a gym I thought I would know all these terms. Glad I wasn’t taking an exam. Premier Protein is my favorite. Shakes have good flavor. This was such an informative blog. Thanks for educating us.

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