The world of exercise is awash with buzzwords and training terminology. But you don’t need to be fluent in fitness jargon to get great results. Our handy guide separates the words you need to know from the terms where there’s really no need, so you can focus fully on your workouts.
Let’s start with the basics. These are terms you might hear used across a variety of workouts.
REPS OR PULSES
Short for ‘repetitions’, reps refer to the number of times you do a specific exercise. Pulses are similar to reps, but they’re smaller movements that drive more isolated muscle activation. Research shows a mix of full-range reps and pulses provides the diversity of activation patterns that allows you to engage all the key target muscles. This is the secret to maximizing fatigue and driving muscle change.
SETS OR SUPER SETS
A set is the total number of reps you perform in succession. You will likely perform a number of sets for each exercise. A super set is when you do two or more exercises without any rest in between. For example, in a workout like LES MILLS GRIT™, you might do six burpees followed by six lunges back-to-back.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short, intense bursts of exercise followed by periods of recovery. The basic recipe is to go as hard as you can for a short period of time, rest, and then repeat. This formula, particularly the use of the recoveries, allows you to keep reaching your maximum training zone, again and again, shocking your body each and every workout and delivering transformative results.
This stands for ‘range of motion’, and basically explains how big you make a movement. Full range of motion is when you extend the exercise to the furthest beneficial point. This means the joint moves to the extreme limit of its motion in a particular direction. The range varies depending on the individual.
EMOM stands for ‘Every Minute On the Minute’, a workout structure that is common in high-intensity interval training. The idea of an EMOM workout is to start a set of exercises every minute. If you power through the exercises fast, you can use the remainder of the 60 seconds to recover. Knowing there’s a built-in rest at the end can encourage you to push harder and increase the speed and intensity during each set.
AMRAP is short for ‘As Many Rounds (or Reps) As Possible’. Most often it involves repeating sets of different exercises in a certain time frame. For example, doing 5 clean and presses, 10 push-ups and 15 air jacks repeatedly for 8 minutes.
While Tabata is not an acronym, like AMRAP and EMOM training it is a popular form of HIIT training. Traditionally, it involves 20 seconds of all-out ‘as hard as you can possibly go’ exercise followed by 10 seconds of complete rest, although there are many adaptations of these interval lengths. You typically do eight work/rest cycles consecutively in a four-minute round. Interestingly the name comes from the Japanese physician who invented this style of training, Dr. Izumi Tabata.
Your PB is your Personal Best, a measure of your highest achievement in a specific exercise.
Short for One-rep max, 1RM is a term used to express the absolute maximum weight you can lift. It is generally so heavy you can only complete one rep, and is typically used in weight lifting circles.
Other terms you might come across…
These are exercises that target a specific muscle group in isolation. For example, bicep curls or abdominal crunches.
Also known as compound exercises, integrated exercises are exercises that engage multiple muscle groups in the one movement. Bench press, squats and deadlifts are all examples of integrated exercises. Integrated core exercises, such as hovers and planks, are also shown to be highly effective ways to fire up your core.
Macros (short for macronutrients) isn’t actually a fitness term, but it is often used in regard to exercise. Protein, carbohydrates and fats are all macronutrients, and are what your body uses as fuel. Ensuring your body gets the best mix of these macronutrients means it can perform optimally.
Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research, says that while you may find it interesting to learn explanations for these terms (and all the other gym-based jargon out there) it is certainly not essential. “Starting a new exercise routine can feel daunting enough without feeling the need to learn a new language or decipher a new dialect. You don’t need to know the jargon to get a good workout – a talented Instructor or quality trainer will be able to guide you.”