30 Fitness Terms That Everyone Should Know

30 Fitness Terms That Everyone Should Know


HIIT? Macros? VO2 MAX?? You’re probably wondering what these even are. With the fitness industry booming the past few years, you may start hearing terminology that makes you feel lost with the times. Not to worry! I’m here to help. From the easy stuff like sets and reps, to slightly more complex items like EPOC and DOMS, were turning you into a fitness guru by the end of this article. Here are 30 fitness terms that everyone should know to become the ultimate fitness guru!

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Creator Theo Economos

Aerobic Exercise

“In presence of oxygen”, aerobic exercise is exercise that utilizes oxygen as its main source of fuel. This is usually categorized by low to moderate level of intensity that can be sustained for an extended period of time. Examples generally pertain to cardiovascular conditioning, while anaerobic is focused more on either resistance training or fast and high intense bursts. While benefits are immense for both aerobic and anaerobic, aerobic focuses more on your heart and cardio-respiratory system.

Anaerobic Exercise

“Without oxygen”, anaerobic exercise utilizes stored energy, mainly glucose, as its main source of fuel. Anaerobic exercise is the inverse of aerobic; it focuses on high intensity bouts or resistance training. Energy is needed immediately. Examples include weight training, HIIT, sprint conditioning and plyometrics.


Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR, is the total energy intake your body needs to sustain life while at rest. In other words, the amount of calories you need to function if you were to sit and do nothing all day.


Body Mass Index or BMI, is a measurement on body fat simply by the ratio between a person’s mass and height. Not recommended to be used as a reliable measurement or a motivator; does not taken into account multiple factors.

Body Fat Percentage (BF%)

Portion of body mass that is not Lean Body Mass. Derived from the total mass of fat, divided by total body mass, multiplied by 100.


200lb man with 30lbs of Fat Mass; 30/200 = .15 * 100 = 15% Body Fat

Here are the recommended Body Fat Percentages by sex:


Ideal BF % for Men; credits Healthline, Sara Lindberg


Ideal BF % for Women; credits Healthline, Sara Lindberg


Cardiovascular conditioning or ‘cardio’, is any exercise that technically works your heart and utilizes the aerobic pathway for energy (known as the Oxidative system).


A cyclical style form of training where there are intervals of respective cycles of certain exercises that are done in rapid succession, with short rests in between.


  • Kettlebell Swings x20
  • Ice Skaters x20 each side
  • Burpees x10
  • DB Rows x10
  • Plank-to-Pushup x10

Repeat 5 times.

Compound Exercise

An exercise that employs more than a single muscle group to perform the given action.

For example:

  • A Squat works almost all lower torso musculature, including quads, posterior chain, and calves, as well as core muscles.
  • A Deadlift similarly, works almost all lower torso musculature, with greater emphasis on your spinal muscles, traps, and even arms.


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, is when your worked musculature begin to feel sore, tender and stiff after 24-72 hours of usage. This number varies per individual but its completely normal to lag on soreness until 2-3 days later. During this time, your muscles are undergoing healing, or muscle synthesis, where repair and growth is happening.


Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC, is the increased rate of oxygen intake after physically demanding activity. It is an elevation of metabolism and it’s our body’s way of “cooling down”. Generally, engaging in resistance training produces a more renowned and extended EPOC level than aerobic exercise does. Aerobic Training EPOC can range from 30 minutes – <2 hours, while resistance training EPOC can extend out to ~ 24 hours.


The level of range of motion that a joint or group of joints can safely achieve. Flexibility is most commonly built by a mix of proper stretching and muscle development.


Form is the proper technique to performing any given body movement or exercise safely, but more importantly, correctly. Correctly, in this case, means utilizing the correct biomechanics and joint and muscle groups for the respective movement. This prevents cheating through using improper muscles and minimizes risk of injury.


High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, is a type of fitness programming that employs a series of circuits, both anaerobic and aerobic, of exercises, that are performed in intervals, all the while trying to keep the heart rate elevated to an above average threshold. It involves short bursts of all out movement, followed with short rest periods.

An example could be:

  • 30 seconds Burpees
  • 30 seconds Rest

Repeat 5 times.

This is considered one of the most effective methods of shredding body fat as it keeps the heart elevated consistently.

Isolation Exercise

An exercise that focuses on targeting one muscle group and one joint motion. ‘Focuses’ is used because it is physically impossible to strictly utilize only a single muscle for almost any movement. For example, in a dumbbell curl, while the focus is on our biceps brachii, the forearm and rotator cuff work in tandem as well to stabilize and assist.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is an organic chemical that is produced in our body when muscles start breaking down carbohydrates for energy when oxygen is low or inaccessible. This is what sparks up muscle fatigue and soreness.

Lean Body Mass

LBM or Fat Free Mass, is all mass in the body negating out body fat. This includes, lean muscle mass, bone, water, skin and organs.


Macronutrients, or macros, are the primary sources of nutritional fuel for the human body. These are divided into 3 categories: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

  • Carbohydrates: 4kcal per gram
  • Fats: 9kcal per gram
  • Proteins: 4kcal per gram

Maximum Heart Rate

Suggested maximum heart rate an individual can reach up to during physical activity. There are generally 2 methods of calculating this.

  • 220 – Age
    • This method has historically been inaccurate so instead, utilize the one below
  • 220 – ((Age)*(0.7))


The overarching definition of metabolism is the chemical processes that the body performs to sustain health and overall life by converting nutrition into usable energy. For fitness focus though, it is how effectively an individual can utilize energy and burn calories.

Metabolism is conveyed through multiple ways such as BMR and TDEE. Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is the total caloric energy intake your body needs to sustain life completely at rest. While this is a good number to know, it really is useless. Instead, one should focus on their Target Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE. TDEE is the total caloric energy your body needs that takes into account your daily activities.


While Flexibility is how far your muscles can stretch and move passively, Mobility is the ability to actively control our body through a range of motion before being restricted. Flexibility is usually assisted either by yourself, another person, or through a tool; mobility is not. You may test flexibility by laying on the floor and having someone passively push your leg back towards your chest to test hamstring flexibility. Mobility on the other hand would be how deep you could effectively and safely go through a squat while keeping your full foot on the floor and not arching your back.

Mobility utilizes Flexibility as an attribute, but it also consists of body awareness and strength.


A stage of your physical regiment where noticeable gains or progress are stunted and flatlined. This can be overcome by multiple methods including promoting an increase in exercise intensity or altering your workout routine.

Range of Motion

Measurement of movement by a joint or specific body part. This is impacted by muscle health, flexibility, mobility, and even proprioception. The greater levels you have of these attributes, the greater ROM you usually have.


Rate of Perceived Exhaustion, or RPE, is a tool trainers usually employ to measure how hard one should be working for a specific exercise (intensity). It is usually on a scale of 0 – 20, with 0 being no effort whatsoever, to 20 being about to pass out.


The number of times you perform a specific exercise at a given time, within a set. For example, “Body Squats – 3×15 ” would imply 3 sets of 15 reps for this exercise. You’d perform 15 repetitions before you take a rest; that is one set completion.

Resistance Training

Type of exercise that utilizes any form of resistance – bodyweight, dumbbell, barbell, cable – to initiate a muscle contraction, which ultimately leads to building muscular strength and endurance, as well as other benefits.


The number of cycle of repetitions. “Body Squats 3×15 ” implies 3 sets of 15 repetitions.


Stretching refers to the physical activity where muscles are purposely elongated. This is utilized to help keep muscles strong, healthy and flexible. It is also an imperative attribute of building mobility. Stretching comes in 7 forms but the 2 most prominent and utilized are as follows:

  1. Static Stretching: Active or passive stretching thats focused on lengthening a muscle group and holding for 30-60 seconds (or more). Best utilized after workouts, or on non training days.
  2. Dynamic Stretching: Active stretching that utilizes the targeted muscles in movement patterns that are about to be performed. e.g. Plyo Walk-outs or Walking Lunges.

VO2 Max

The maximum amount of oxygen a person’s body can utilize during intense physical activity. This measurement is a good indicator of how well someone’s cardiovascular fitness is; the higher the better.

V – Volume; O2 – Oxygen; VO2 Max is measured in milliliters of oxygen, per minute, per kilogram of bodyweight (ml/kg/min).

DexaFit has a great article on VO2 Max and how to measure it accurately.


The pre-ritual to any workout that focuses on warming up the internal temperature of the body, as well as prepping the targeted muscles for activity. A warm up is crucial to muscle and overall body health and minimizes risk of muscle injury.


A mind and body practice, developed in Ancient India, that focuses on physical exercise, positive thinking, relaxation and meditation to developing harmony. In the fitness world, yoga is usually taught in group settings and while all the above is still attributed, intense holistic stretching and meditative movements are emphasized.

I hope you enjoyed and were able to learn something new today! Please drop a like, comment and share so others can see as well! Thank you!

While you’re here, check out my other article on the Top Reasons to Hire a Trainer.

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