Gym Lingo 101 (+9 FREE workouts followed by the **** in this article!) 12/10/15

Reps, Supersets, and Pyramids, OH MY!

“Yo, can you spot me bro?”

“Alright, let’s finish with a shoulder drop set”

“Do this metcon barbell complex”

“Ahh, that last rep just really worked my hammies..”

Mmmm WHAT? Haha. I know what many of you all may be thinking?

So my trainer just told me to do a “shoulder drop set” at the end of my workout and I just looked at her like a deer in headlights…

Seriously, many of you go into the gym day in and day out and so much gym jargon is tossed around that it may be making your head spin like crazy.

I know, I most certainly am guilty of telling my clients to go complete a complex, or a finisher, or a certain number of repetitions in a set (without having fully explained it) and it can be so darn confusing.

That is why I am here today to explain what some of the gym lingo means and hopefully it can bring some clarity to us all. I have included 9 free workouts below and please remember to be smart and safe and warmup before your workout. I don’t want you getting hurt!

{Gym Lingo 101: Definitions}

AMRAP: As many reps (repetitions or rounds) as possible! Many times you will see AMRAP listed after a particular exercise when the program simply wants you to see how many repetitions or rounds you can get in until failure. A great personal trainer, super strong and just overall bada** girl that I follow, Jen Sinkler- terms it as AS MANY REPS AS PRETTY. I like that one. ALOT.

****For example: In 20 minutes, Complete AMRAP of the following:

8 Jump Squats, 8 pushups, 8 dumbbell bent over rows, 8 mountain climbers each leg

Beast Mode or Bada**: This is when you are particularly proud of how well your co-lifter did on a particular set or exercise, maybe they got a PR (personal record) in ;).

Circuit Training: This is typically a faster paced workout consisting of one exercise after the other where the recovery period is toward the end of the circuit. You can set it up to do a certain number of repetitions in a circuit or go for time.

****For example: Complete 3-4 rounds of 8 reps for the following exercises 1) squats, 2) plank rows, 3) reverse lunges, 4) pushups rest for 30 seconds and then repeat


**** 30-45 seconds of the following exercises- medicine ball slams, bosu ball pushups, weighted step ups, battle rope. Rest for 1 min after completing all 4 exercises. Complete 2-3 rounds.

Complex: This is a series of movements or exercises that are typically performed back to back without any rest until the end. A reallll fat scorcher! I typically like to perform these workouts with a barbell, dumbbells, or a kettlebell. I also like to mix it up with the sets or rounds. So, typically it is either a set number of rounds or sets such as 4-5 sets (rounds) of 5 deadlifts, 5 bent over rows, 5 military press, 5 good mornings, OR a pyramid (ladder) where you do 2 repetitions of each exercise followed by 4, 6, 8, 10 and then go back down the pyramid. You rest at the end of each set of exercises.

Compound Exercise: Compound exercises are multi-joint exercises that are comprised of working more than one major muscle group in your body. Some examples include; squats, bench press, pullups, lunges, step ups, pushups. I tend to favor working these exercises a bit more into my clients workouts.

Concentric muscle contraction: shortening of a muscle fiber as it contracts.

Core: Not to be confused with JUST your abdominal area. This area comprises your abdominals, obliques, lower back, is very important to strengthen to prevent injury.

Dance: That thing I do from time to time with some of my clients..and I digress…haha! It doesn’t hurt to have fun while you are working out, I’m just sayin’.

DOMS: Delayed onset muscle soreness. This is that muscle soreness feeling you get about 24-48 hours post workout.

Drop set: This is when you complete an exercise at a certain weight (typically higher) for a low number of repetitions, then complete the same exercise at a medium weight for a mid range of repetitions, followed by a lighter weight of the same exercise until failure.

For example (please be safe and mindful and use the appropriate weights for your body!): shoulder drop set: 25 lbs each hand: 5-6 reps, 20 lbs each hand: 8-10 reps reps, 15 lbs each hand: 12-15 reps, 5 or 10 lbs each hand: 15-20+ reps…

Eccentric muscle contraction: Eccentric is the lengthening of a muscle fiber as it contracts. If I have ever mentioned eccentric pullups/chinups or negatives, this is when I want you to work on the eccentric part of the exercise and move SLOWLY as you lower your body from the top down to a hanging full extension. (I definitely could have been much slower in the video below)

Finisher: This typically a short quick fast paced workout designed to really get that heart rate up at the end of your workout or on its own! It can be a reallll a**kicker!

****Example: In 10 minutes complete the following: 20 seconds of battle rope, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds of medicine ball slams 10 seconds rest..repeat!

Hamstrings or “Hammies”: These are the group of 4 muscles that run behind your thigh.

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training! This is a type of interval training where you alternate short bursts of more intense anaerobic (without oxygen) type exercise with shorter amount of recovery time. This is not for everyone, and be smart and safe when thinking about adding this into your workout program!

****Example-HIIT Treadmill workout:

Warmup: 3-5 minutes at moderate pace

15 seconds (sec) hard or sprint, 10 sec recovery ( can jump feet to the sides of treadmill or lower the speed really fast)

30 sec hard, 20 sec recovery

45 sec hard, 30 sec recovery

1 min hard, 45 sec recovery

45 sec hard, 30 sec recovery

30 sec hard, 20 sec recovery

15 sec hard, 10 sec recovery

Cool down: 2-3 min at slow pace

Intensity: This is the desired pace you choose to work at for your workout. Slow intensity may be walking, light jog, restorative yoga, whereas high intensity may be a fast paced circuit workout, kickboxing or track sprints.

Metabolic Conditioning or “metcon”: For this type of conditioning you will use multi-joint bigger compound type exercises or movements. The idea is to work the these bigger muscle groups one after the other with little to no rest in order to get the heart rate up and maximize calorie burn. Typically tabata or circuit training falls under this category.

Negatives: This is when you control the speed or tempo of a repetition and slow down the lowering portion of the exercise typically to a 3-5 count.

Pyramids: These workouts are designed to help build muscle and strength and lose fat! You can do these with equipment or just your body weight. You will take a number of exercises and do the same number of repetitions for each one and then you will gradually work your way up to a desired number of repetitions and then if you are really feeling bada** work your way back down!

****Example: Do this bodyweight pyramid workout:

1,3,5,7,9,7,5,3,1 repetitions of the following: deep squats, incline pushups, reverse lunge with a knee drive, mountain climbers (each leg counts as 1 rep), jumping jacks

Quadriceps or “Quads”: This is the large muscle group that runs along the front part of your thigh.

Repetitions or “reps”: this is the number of times you complete a certain exercise. Example: Complete 10 reps of burpees then stop.

Sets: This is how many times you will repeat a certain exercise or exercises with however many repetitions are called for.

****Example: Complete 2-3 sets of the following- 10 jump squats, 10 fast surrenders  (5 leading with each leg), 10 jump lunges ( 5 each leg), 10 lateral lunge skips side to side ( 5 each leg) rest 30 seconds in between each set.  HOLY. LEG. BURN.

Superset: This involves doing two exercises back to back with no rest in between. Some supersets will have you working the same muscle group (Agonist) ie: dumbbell lateral raises followed by dumbbell shoulder press, whereas others have you work the opposite muscle group (antagonist) ie: Squats followed by hamstring curls.

Swollen or “swole”: this is someone who has developed a muscular physique or “to grow in bulk”.

Tabata: Tabata is a type of HIIT workout that typically lasts around 4 minutes. Essentially you work HARD for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and complete 8 rounds total.

****Example: Complete 8 rounds of the following with 10 seconds of rest in between each exercise. I like to use tabata timer on my iphone.

  1. star jumps
  2. side to side plank jumps
  3. jumping jacks
  4. burpees

Warmup: This should include dynamic stretches such as leg swings, frankenstein walks, hip circles, thoracic spine stretches and such, in order to prep and WARM your body up for your workout. Once you are finished with your workout, static stretching is advised. Typically you will hold the position from 30 seconds up to 2 minutes.


There you have it! 25 definitions of gym lingo that you may have been wondering and can now help your friends out when they have a question about reps or sets 😉

Now go to the gym and get swole, yo.

Nah, I’m just kidding you don’t have to..well unless you really want to 🙂


Okay. BAIII.







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