Must-know gym terms for beginners

Starting out at the gym can be daunting for some girls (and even guys), so I have put together a list of common gym “slang” to help you feel more comfortable in the gym and to get the most out of your workouts.

Reps and sets

A rep (short for ‘repetition’) is one complete movement of a particular exercise, and a set is the number of repetitions in a group.

Example: bicep curl 12×3 = do 12 bicep curls, have a quick break and repeat 2 more times.

Rest period

How long you have a break for between sets. Typically 30-90 seconds.


A set of 2 different exercises performed back-to-back with no rest period in between sets. This can be done either with 2 exercises of the same muscle group or 2 exercising of opposing muscle groups (e.g. chest/back, triceps/biceps, quads/hamstrings).


The same as a superset (above), but performing 3 different exercises, rather than 2.

Giant set

A group of 4 or more exercises performed back-to-back, normally targeting the same muscle group, with no rest between sets. When you finish 1 round of all 4 exercises, rest 60-120 seconds, then perform 2 more rounds. Giant sets are a great way of getting a high intensity workout in a short period of time.

Drop sets

Starting with a heavier weight, towards the end of a set, as you can no longer complete any more reps, lower the weight and complete a few more reps.


A method of training where you start with a lighter weight and a high number of reps, and each set you increase the weight and decrease the amount of reps.

Set 1 -20kg x 12 reps
Set 2 – 25kg x 10 reps
Set 3 – 30kg x 8 reps
Set 4 – 35kg x 6 reps


‘One Repetition Maximum’ is the maximum amount of weight that an individual can lift for a single repetition.


‘Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness’ is the pain you feel in your muscles several hours to days hours after a strenuous exercise. The pain is usually felt the most 24-48 hours after the workout.


A spotter is someone who will provide assistance with specific exercises when/if you need it. The bench press is a common exercise which usually requires a spotter.

Interval training

Alternating bursts of low and high intensity exercise. Example: sprint for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds. This popular training method helps maximize fat burning potential while increasing cardiovascular fitness.


Personal Best/Personal Record. This one is pretty self explanatory LOL. Getting a PB is the best feeling!


As Many Reps As Possible. This one explains itself really. Sometimes for the last set of a particular exercise I will do AMRAP to really feel the burn!


A split workout program involves dividing up muscle groups in to different training days.

Monday – back/biceps
Tuesday – legs/glutes
Wednesday – chest/shoulders/triceps
Thursday – rest day
Friday – back/biceps
Saturday – legs/glutes
Sunday – chest/shoulders/triceps

Splitting your routine will ensure each muscle group will have sufficient time to recover and rebuild.


Over time our bodies adapt to the stress of exercise and progress comes to a halt. This is when you need to increase the intensity.

Compound exercises

Compound exercises target multiple muscle groups. E.g. squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull ups. A training session should always start with compound exercises.

Isolation exercises

Isolation exercises target just one muscle group. E.g bicep curl, calf raises. Isolation exercises should be performed towards the end of a training session as they are less physically demanding than compound exercises.

Free weights

Free weights typically refer to barbells and dumbbells. A barbell is a long metal bar used to plate weights. A dumbbell is a short metal bar with weights at each end.




The process of eating at a calorie surplus (consuming more calories than you are burning) to purposely gain weight (mostly muscle mass).


The process of eating at a calorie defecit (burning more calories than you are consuming) to lose the extra body fat you gained from bulking, to reveal the muscle mass you gained.

Thanks for reading! I hope you learnt a thing or two.





2 thoughts on “Must-know gym terms for beginners

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