Fitness Glossary

Here are a couple of key terms to know when talking about fitness.

Abdominals or “abs” – The collective name for the muscles on the front of the torso, below the chest.

Aerobic – Literally, “with oxygen.” Aerobic exercise is the body’s process of producing energy with oxygen in the bloodstream. Byproducts are carbon dioxide and water (breathing and perspiration). It’s great for burning fat and strengthening your heart and lungs.

Anaerobic – Literally, “without oxygen.” In anaerobic exercise, energy is produced without oxygen, usually because the exercise intensity is such that the heart and lungs can’t get enough oxygen to the muscles. Anaerobic exercise creates a byproduct called lactate, which builds up in the muscles and causes soreness and fatigue.

Barbell – Weights attached to a long bar which requires both hands to pick up.

Body Fat – The percentage of your body mass that is not composed of lean muscle, water, bones or vital organs.

Complex Carbs – Starches, such as grains, breads, rice, pasta, vegetables and beans. They get their name from their complex, chainlike structure. During digestion, starches are typically broken down into sugars and used by the body for energy. Complex carbs offer you more sustained energy levels than simple carbs.

Cool-Down – Slowing down at the end of a workout to allow your body temperature and heart rate to decrease gradually.

Cross-Training – Mixing different activities into your regular workout routine to avoid overuse injuries and to prevent boredom. Cycling, running and swimming are 3 common activities used to cross-train different muscle groups.

Dumbbell – weights attached to a short bar that can be held in one hand. Often used in pairs.

Intervals – Workouts involving distances and target paces or times decided before you run. They typically consist of relatively short sprints followed by long periods of moderate exercise at a relaxed pace. Intervals can also be reversed.

Quadriceps or “Quads” – large muscle group that includes the four prevailing muscles on the front of the thigh. It is the strongest and leanest muscle in the body.

Repetition or “Rep” – A single movement, as in doing one squat. This is going down and then going back up. For toning, strength and endurance, do more reps at a lower weight.

Set – A number of repetitions of a movement, such as an arm curl or a squat. A set may have 8 reps, for example.

Simple carbohydrates – Sugars, such as fructose and glucose. So called because their chemical makeup consists of only 1 or 2 units as opposed to complex carbohydrates, which contain many. Simple carbs should be avoided.

Warm-up – Gentle, slow exercise at the beginning of a workout to prepare muscles, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature for the activity.