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The Beginner’s Guide to Gym Words

the-beginners-guide-to-gym-chat-01.pngAre you new to the world of fitness? Gym lingo can almost feel like a totally different language if you’re a newbie! Do you keep hearing terms like ‘beast mode’, ‘gains’ and ‘HIIT’ thrown around the gym but have no idea what they mean? It can all be a little confusing!

Whether gym life is brand new to you, or you’re just trying to understand the terminology better so you can bond with your personal trainer or gym buddy, here’s your go-to guide for the fitness terms you should know before your next gym session.

The Basics

Personal trainer leading kettlebell training
Here’s a simple breakdown of the things you’re likely to hear during every gym session:
  • Repetitions (or reps) are the number of times that you perform an exercise. For example, you might do 10 reps of a chest press
  • Sets are a series of repetitions, so if you plan on doing 10 reps of the chest press 3 times in total, this would mean you’ve competed 3 sets of 10 reps
  • A tri-set means there are three different exercises performed one after the other with no rest in between
  • A drop set is a technique where you’ll perform an exercise and lift a weight until you reach failure, and then reduce (or drop) the weight to a lighter amount, and continue this method until you reach failure again until you just can’t do another rep
  • Isolation exercise – this means that only one muscle group is being involved in the movement – for example a bicep curl
  • A compound exercise means that a few muscle groups are being activated by the movement, like a squat

Names of Gym Equipment

Personal trainer using dumbbells with clientThe next time your gym buddy asks you to grab a kettle bell, you won’t have to wonder what they are talking about! Here we’ll cover the weights you’re likely to use as a newbie to the gym.
  • Dumbbell - this is a small bar with a weight at each end. They come in a variety of weights and are super versatile. You can use them individually or in pairs
  • A barbell is much like a dumbbell but the bar is longer. These come both loaded with the weights fixed at the end, or fully adjustable for you to load the weight you need
  • Used for many different types of exercises, the kettlebell is a small ball-shaped weight with a single handle. These come in a variety of weights
  • A loaded barbell isn’t your only option for weight lifting! A sandbag is (not surprisingly) a bag filled with sand to a certain weight. They often sit more comfortably on your shoulders and are a popular alternative – just make sure you don’t slam it down!

Body Parts

Woman being spotted lifting a barbellIt’s all very well knowing the names of the equipment you’ll be using, but what about the parts of the body they’re working? Here’s a description of a few of the muscle groups that your new fitness routine will be focused on.
  • Glutes - simply put, your glutes are the muscles in your buttocks
  • Your biceps are the muscles on the front part of the upper arm
  • Triceps are the muscles in the back of your upper arm
  • Your abs make up the group of muscles that are in front of your stomach
  • The quadriceps (or quads) are a group of 4 muscles on the front of your thighs
  • Hamstrings are the 3 long muscles that run down the back of your leg from your hip to just below your knee

The Different Types of Exercise

Woman doing an ab crunch with personal trainerIf you’ve Googled ‘workout routines’ to try and plan out your next workout, you’ll probably have come across some of the following exercises (check out the 5 exercise classes we’re loving right now for more inspo). What exactly are they? Let’s break them down so you know how to perform them:


Sometimes referred to as the king of all exercises, a squat is a full-body workout that strengthen your glutes, quads, hamstrings, abs and lower back muscles. From a standing position, squat down by imagining you are going to sit into a chair then return to your standing position.

Chest press

A chest press (or bench press) is an upper body strength exercise that is performed by pressing a weight upwards from a laying position. You can perform this with a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. See how many calories the average chest press session burns here!

Push up

The push up is a total body movement that is great for improving overall strength and endurance. This handy exercise can be done anywhere and the are many variations to liven things up. To perform the classic press up, lay on your front on the ground, put your hands slightly wider then shoulder width apart, keep your spine straight and use your arms to push yourself up, then lower yourself down to the ground and repeat.


A plank is a simple yet super effective bodyweight exercise; all you’ll need is a mat or towel. Planking will strengthen your core, arms, shoulders, glutes and quads, plus it helps to improve your posture too! To correctly perform this exercise, lay front down on your mat, get into a push up position then bend your arms so that you are resting on your elbows, keep your spine straight and hold for as long as you can!


The crunch (or sit-up) is a great exercise to tone your tummy! You can perform this easy yet challenging exercise by laying on your back on a mat or towel with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head or cross over your chest, and use your abs to bring yourself up to an almost sitting position then lower yourself back down with control.


A lunge is a bodyweight exercise that works your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings and core. You can make this more challenging by adding weight or jumps (or both if you really feel up to it!) Starting from a standing position, step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until your knee is bent at a 90-degree angle, use your glutes and quads on your opposite leg to push yourself back up and repeat. Don’t forget to switch legs to work both sides.


The deadlift is an excellent compound exercise that targets your whole body, builds muscle and burns fat. If they aren’t in your fitness routine already, they should be! You’ll need a barbell to perform this exercise. Standing straight with the barbell on the floor in front of you, bend from your hips (it’s important to keep your back straight here) and grip the barbell. Then, using your legs, hips, abs and glutes (not your back) lift the barbell up to standing position. Keep your head up and chest out as you lift – this will help to keep your back aligned, then lower and repeat.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

These are quick but intense training techniques that will have you burning fat and sweating buckets! HIIT is one of the best ways of losing weight and toning your body. There are many variations of these exercises and you’ll be able to chop and choose between them to keep your training interesting. Combine these exercises into an effective 30-minute workout!


Gym Slang

Woman doing a barbell lift with personal trainerNow you know which equipment and exercises you’ll utilise, get familiar with gym slang to avoid those awkward ‘what?’ moments on the gym floor:
  • ‘Gains’ simply means the progress you have made in your training, diet or physique
  • ‘Beast mode’ means you’ve given your workout 100% of your effort
  • Bulking is when someone is deliberately trying to gain weight (usually for a bodybuilding show) through a specially tailored diet to increase muscle size
  • Cutting is when someone is losing the extra fat gained during the bulking phase. It means muscles become visible by reducing your body’s fat percentage. This is accomplished through a specially adapted diet set by a specialist in nutrition
So now you’re all clued up on the everyday things your likely to hear at the gym, you can head to your next session with confidence and smash your workout!

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The Training Room | 25/07/2018 16:00:00

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