Exercise terms, slang, and acronyms

Let’s come to terms, shall we?

The terms and exercises in our training books are probably not going to be new to you, but just in case, we have decided to define some of the terminology. Personal Trainers, like Galya and me, talk using a lot in shortcuts, abbreviation and acronyms, so let’s define some of them, shall we?

This list is constantly growing, so if we put something new and crazy into a new program, we will add it to the list.

Parts is parts

Trainers and coaches are famous for their slang for muscles and body parts. The list is long, but most are self explanatory, while some of the words (or their parts) thrown around in gyms simply don’t exist (deltards, anyone?).

Glutes – The muscles of your butt. The word “glutes” is short for gluteus, as in gluteus maximus, which most have heard of, but also the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. Together, they are your glutes. When we say “squeeze your glutes,” you now know which area needs squeezing.

Lats – Short for latissimus dorsi, the ‘lats’ are the broadest muscles of the back, and responsible for the width of the upper body. In addition to their importance in pulling movements (pullups, pulldowns, rows), the lats are important for stabilizing and supporting surrounding muscles; their strength and the stable platform they provide is also important in pushing movements such as the military and bench presses.

Imaginary Body Parts –  deltards, chestorals, chesticles, laterals, bicepts, tricepts, etc. These are made up or bastardized versions of the actual parts or muscles. They are funny to say, even when they aren’t real. …especially deltards and chesticles.

Programs and workout terms

Workout – This is simply an exercise session. Some people mock ‘working out,’ and say we need to TRAIN. However, if I go to the office and say “I trained last night,” there will be mockery and confusion from the cube-ville denizens. The words ‘train’ and ‘workout’ mean the same thing in this context. A workout, however, is the collection of exercises, warmups, cooldowns, stretches etc. that you will do on a single day of this program.

Work out – To train or perform a workout, one would ‘work out.’ To quote the LMFAO song that’s in far too many workout videos, “I work out.” ‘I workout’ would not make sense.

Training – See Workout, above.

Movement – An exercise, even if it doesn’t seem like one. A stretch isn’t really an exercise, but it is a movement.

Weight – In exercise terminology, this is what usually gives you resistance. It could be a dumbbell, a barbell, a kettlebell, or your bodyweight.

Reps – the number of times you lift a weight in a row. Multiple “reps” makes up a set.

In The Mustache Workout, for instance, the reps prescribed are usually the ‘target’ number of reps. Say you are prescribed 4 sets of 6 reps in the Military Press. You can do sets 1 and 2 with 135 pounds, but when you get to set 3, you can only get 5 reps. You can choose to continue on with that weight for set number 3 and complete another 5 reps OR drop the weight a little (to 125 or 130) and hit all six reps on set number four.

Neither way is best, as you’ll see when we get to ‘progression,’ below.

Sets – a set is a number of reps in a row. Multiple sets of an exercise are usually prescribed, so, as an example, you will do something like 3 sets of 10 reps of the bench press.

Straight sets are prescribed for primary lifts for each day, where you do a set, rest 1-2 minutes, and then do the next set, repeating until all sets and reps are done. This allows you to put your all into that exercise, as you are able to fully rest between sets. The other type of set is the superset, below.

Superset – A superset, in this program, is when you pair two or more exercises, alternating back and forth until all sets of each exercise are completed.  In this program, supersets will be labeled with a letter and a number, such as C1 and C2, indicating that they are paired into a superset. A superset of three exercises would be labeled C1, C2, and C3, for instance.

For example, the program might  call for a superset of bench presses (C1 – Bench Press) and squats (C2 – Squat), each with three sets of eight reps. You would do a set of eight of the bench press, then a set of eight of the squat, eight bench, eight squats, eight bench, eight squats. Superset done!

Supersets shorten workouts, because you are resting one muscle group while you are lifting weights with the other. Yes, you don’t actually rest your body like you do with straight sets, but you rest the parts you just used.

A note on Supersets – Some gyms are so crowded that supersets are almost impossible. If this is the case, just do them as straight sets; C1 – Bench Press, rest a minute or so, Bench Press, rest a minute or so, Bench Press, switch stations for the next exercise, C2- Squat, rest a minute or so, Squat, rest a minutes or so, Squat, then move on to the next exercise or superset.

Another note on Supersets – There are a variety of ways to use supersets, and some are extremely detailed and specific, while our are pretty simple and flexible. They aren’t wrong, but neither are we.

Rest – the amount of time you’re doing nothing in between exercises. Sometimes it’s just taking enough time to switch positions between superset exercises (typically 30 seconds to a minute), and other times it’s actually waiting and resting up before repeating the same exercise.

In your primary lifts for the day, be sure to rest at least 2-3 minutes between each lift in order to reset your system and be able to lift with maximum effort. Rest and focus on the upcoming lift.

What you should not do during rest periods is walk around talking, checking emails and voice mails. Instead, stay focused on what you are doing next. Imagine yourself performing your next exercise, lifting the weight perfectly and cleanly in your mind.

In some of our programs, there is no prescribed rest between the exercises in the supersets or between supersets, since you get ‘rest’ as you switch positions and equipment. However, if  you have the time available, you are allowed to rest 30 seconds to a minute when you feel you need it OR you feel it will make you that much stronger in the next lift. Getting strong is a good goal, after all. Just be sure to focus and give it your all.

Warmup – Movements that prepare your body and nervous system for the heavier weights to come. For most bodyweight and high repetition exercises, joint mobility, general foam rolling, and a few lower rep sets get the body well prepared to lift safely.

For heavier weights, where you are lifting close to your maximum abilities OR if you are very strong, warmup sets with increasingly heavier weights will be required.

Some of our programs have specific warmups prescribed, as well.

Loading – Loading refers to the weight used for the exercise.  In general, use enough weight so that you are challenged for all of the sets and reps, but don’t peter out 4-5 reps too soon. If you are supposed to do a Military Press of 4×6 and can finish 6, 6, 6, and 5 with 135 pounds, that’s good. If, however you try for 4×6 and end up with 6, 5, 3, 3, you went too heavy and you will not progress.

Progression – Progression refers to the method(s) used to increase the weight you are able to use over a long period of time. In the end, the goal is to use more weight, triggering the muscle to get stronger and grow. In order to do that, you have to be sure that you are, in fact, getting stronger over time.

In most of our programs, we use three basic methods to progress; more weight, more reps, and more time (or distance).

More weight is pretty obvious, right? What has to happen is that over time you have to do the same exercise with a slightly heavier weight. Let’s say you are performing a Military Press for 4 sets of 6 reps. This week you can complete (with good form) all 4 sets of 6 reps with 135 pounds. Next week, you should bump up the weight by 5-10 pounds and again aim to complete all sets with all reps. At first, like in our description under ‘reps’ you probably won’t be able to complete all sets of all reps with the new weight, but eventually you will (because you are getting stronger).

More reps means that where you once could do 15 reps of an exercise, eventually you will get strong enough to do 16, 17, 18, etc. It’s the same weight lifted, but you’re getting strong enough to lift it more times. This is the typical progression for bodyweight exercises.

More time (or distance) is often used for static holds and isometric exercises, such as planks and heavy carries. It’s not always better to add weight to an overhead carry, when walking farther or holding it longer can do the job!

Remember that you don’t need huge increases in weight (or reps, time, or distance) in order to progress. Jumps that are too big mean you won’t be able to do enough work in your next training session, and eventually have to take a step back. In a perfect world, you’d add a tiny amount each time, never know it, and get stronger without being aware of it. That doesn’t work in practice, and from a motivational standpoint, is impractical. It’s cool to think about, though.

AMRAP – As Many Reps As Possible. Just like an All-You-Can-Eat restaurant, it’s not really a good ideas to max these things out. Do as many as you can WITH GOOD FORM and then stop. CTAMRAP (Close To As Many Reps As Possible) is simply too ugly to write.

ALAP – As Long As Possible. Like AMRAP, don’t kill yourself. When you’re close to failure, stop safely, especially if you have a heavy weight over your head!

If there’s something missing, please let us know!

Roland & Galina


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