1Life Blog

The Gym Jargon Buster

Posted by Paul Rayner on 28-Dec-2018 16:04:00
Paul Rayner


Do you know your functional training from your forced reps? Your drop sets from your DOMs? With new exercise methods and workout crazes popping up all the time, it can be hard to keep up with it all – especially if you’re a newbie to the gym! In this jargon-busting blog, we’ve pulled together some of the key terms you might hear in the gym and we decode the abbreviations, making sense of the buzz words, opening you up to a whole new world of fitness!  


Circuit Training – A training method which involves moving quickly from one “station” to another and performing a set number of exercises – each working different muscle groups. Circuit Training is commonly used to improve strength, mobility and aerobic endurance. A very popular workout technique used at fitness boot camps and gym classes.

DMT – Dynamic Movement Training is a relatively new phenomenon, fusing together strength and cardio training. DMT is proven to demand more energy from the exerciser and improve muscle activation. Ultimately, this means greater gains in less time.

Functional training Think of these as exercises that relate to everyday life – ones that help us with tasks such as lifting, bending and stretching. These exercises are performed using only your body weight for resistance.

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the training method of the moment and remains a top global fitness trend for 2019! HIIT combines quick, intense bursts of high intensity exercise with short recovery periods. HIIT workouts are shorter than regular exercises (usually between 20-30 minutes) and are a super effective way of maximising your fat burn in a reduced amount of time. HIIT is what helped Joe Wicks rise to fame (who doesn’t have a Lean in 15 book?!)

Plyometrics – Plyometrics, often shortened to “plyo” or “jump training,” focuses on explosive movements using maximum force, which results in muscles working at almost full capacity for a very short amount of time. The aim of this training method is to build both power and speed. A good example of “plyo” training is doing box jumps. 

Tabata – Like HIIT, this is a time-interval training method and can be practiced with virtually any exercise. Tabata consists of 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, which is repeated eight times. Great for maximising your calorie burn when you’re low on time, so you can’t use this as an excuse!


Reps – Short for repetitions, “reps” refers to the number of times you perform an exercise without resting. For example, one lunge = one rep, two lunges = 2 reps.

Sets – A set is a group of reps performed without rest. So, it could be completing two sets of leg curls with each set made up of 10 reps.

Back-off Sets – When you reach your final set, reduce the weight by 40% and do as many reps as you can before you reach your limit and can’t bear to lift another thing! This will guarantee maximum muscle fatigue and burn more calories.

Cluster Sets – Choose a pair of exercises that work opposing muscle groups, for example chest and the back. Then, select a weight you can lift 10 to 12 times and perform five reps of each exercise back to back, i.e. chest, back, chest, back etc. Do this without a rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Because you’re removing the rest, but keeping the reps and time under tension, you’ll be teaching your muscles to deal with lactate and achieve good training results.

Drop Sets – This common strength training method involves switching to a lighter weight midway through a set when your muscles become fatigued, rather than coming to a complete stop.

Pyramid Sets – When performing a pyramid set, you start out light and step up the weight on successive sets. As you add weight, the number of reps decreases. For example, you might do sets of 12, 10, 8 and 6 reps. To help you visualise this, think of the largest number of reps being the base of the pyramid – where you start. Each smaller set of reps after that is a step up the pyramid. By the time you finish, you’ll be at the top!

Superset – Executing two different exercises in back-to-back sets without taking a break.

Forced Reps – Performed at the end of a set, these are reps which require the assistance of a “spotter” – a workout buddy who will be standing close by to lend a hand if you start to struggle! Essentially, forced reps are when your muscles have just about had enough, but you’re pushing hard for some extra gains (we’ll come on to this in a minute).

learning the lingo

Cardio – Short for Cardiovascular Exercise, it means any activity that gets your heart to about 50 – 75% of your maximum heart rate. Popular “cardio” exercises include running, cycling and swimming.

Form – This simply means performing an exercise correctly (using the right “form”). As the old saying goes, quality over quantity. There’s no point doing 30 dead lifts if your form is all over the place! You’re not going to be working your muscles appropriately, you won’t feel the benefit and you could even end up injuring yourself! Nowadays, there are tonnes of good videos online showing you how to use the correct form when doing specific exercises. 

Gains or even gainz! – Ever heard someone boasting about their gains? Basically, it means how well they’ve done with their training. Often, it’s used in reference to gaining muscle, but your gains could be achieving a new running PB (see below) or losing body fat. Really, it’s just another word for goals or progress.

GX/GEX – Group Exercise – another of the top trends for 2019!

PB – Personal Best – what will you aim for this year?

PT – Nice and easy… Personal Trainer.

WOD – Workout of the Day – what will yours be?


BMI – Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement to see if you’re a healthy weight for your height. All you need to do to work yours out is divide your weight in kg by your height in metres, then divide the answer by your height again. A healthy BMI is said to be between 18.5 and 24.9. Although it’s viewed as a reliable calculation by most, not everyone’s a BMI fan, as it doesn’t take into consideration muscle mass, bone density and overall body composition (often referred to as body comp – to throw a final piece of jargon your way!)

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the pain you feel in your muscles several hours to days after strenuous exercise. Some people love the feeling, as it lets them know they’ve been through a tough workout. And as they say, “no pain, no gain!”

If there are words we’ve missed that you’d like to learn, let us know, and we’ll provide you with simple-to-understand definitions please contact us.