Have you run across terms that seem strange or you just aren’t sure exactly what they mean? That can happen a lot in bodybuilding and fitness because in some cases the terms are unique or even medical in nature. So to help with that problem we have compiled a bodybuilding glossary that covers things from A to Z.
Abduction – Movement an arm or leg away from the middle of body.
Adduction – Movement an arm or leg towards the middle of body.
Amino acids – Compounds that are building blocks that muscle tissue are made from.
Antioxidant – Any compound that helps to minimize tissue oxidation and help control free radicals and their negative effects.
Atrophy – A decrease in size and/or functional ability of tissue or an organ. For bodybuilding that means muscle loss.
Body Composition – The percentage of your body weight composed of fat compared to fat-free mass.
Bulking Up – Gaining weight from adding muscle and/or fat.
Calisthenics – Basic bodyweight exercises like jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups, dips.
Calories – The unit for measuring energy related to intake (food) and what your burn (from exercise).
Cheating – A way to push past muscle failure by using momentum and exaggerated body motion to get an exercise started.
Circuit Training – Setting up exercises in a continuous manner. Typically this means having 8 to 12 exercises and you move from one to the next with little or no rest in between doing each for a single set. Then you repeat the circuit.
Compound Exercise – Any exercise that requires the use of two joints. Examples would be the squat, bench press, leg press.
Compound Training – Also known as giant sets. This is where you use 3 to 4 exercises within a single set moving from one to the next without rest.
Concentric – The lifting phase of an exercise, when the muscle shortens or contracts.
Cycle – Refers to deliberate variation in the intensity and volume of workouts
Deficiency – Having less than an optimum level of something. This can occur with vitamins, minerals, or general nutrition.
Definition – The reduction of overall bodyfat that allows muscle to be clearly seen including the separation between them and striations on them.
Delts – Abbreviation for deltoids or the shoulder muscle comprised of three heads.
Density – In bodybuilding this has to do with muscle thickness and the reduction of fat within the muscle.
Drop Set – An intensity technique where you work to failure, reduce the weight and do a few more reps, then reduce the weight again and do a few more sets.
Eccentric – The lowering phase of an exercise, when the muscle lengthens.
Endurance – Ability of a muscle to produce force continually over a period of time. The greater your endurance the longer you can perform the exercise.
Essential Fatty Acids – These are fats our bodies cannot make yet we need them. Good sources of these fats are flaxseed oil and safflower oil.
Fast Twitch Muscles – Refers to muscle cells that fire quickly and are utilized in anaerobic activities like sprinting and powerlifting.
Forced Reps – An intensity technique where a training partner helps move the weight past a sticking point and keeps the exercise going for another few reps after initial failure.
Giant Sets – Series of 4-6 exercises done with little or no rest between movements and a rest interval of 3-4 minutes between giant sets.
Glucose – The simplest sugar molecule. This is a common source of fuel within the body.
Glycogen – The principal stored form of carbohydrate energy (glucose), which is reserved in muscles.
Hypertrophy – The scientific term denoting an increase in muscle mass and an improvement in relative muscular strength. This happens when you overload the muscles from work.
Intensity – The amount of effort and energy put into something, typically when considering a set.
Isolation Exercise – A single joint movement that focuses on a single muscle.
Isometric Exercise – Muscular contraction where muscle maintains a constant length and joints do not move. Typically the body is supported by a surface that does not allow movement.
Lock Out – Partial repetition of an exercise by pushing the weight through only last few inches of movement.
Metabolic Rate – The rate you convert energy stores into working energy in your body. Basically this is how fast your motor runs.
Metabolism – The use of nutrients by the body,
Negative Reps – The positive portion of a lift is where you push or pull, the negative is the lowering. A negative rep involves using an excess of weight and training partners to overload the negative movement.
One Rep Max – The heaviest weight with which a person can complete one full repetition in good form.
Overload Principal – Applying a greater load than normal to a muscle to increase its capability
Partial Reps – Performing an exercise without going through a complete range of motion.
Plyometrics – Explosive movements used to improve power and strength.
Plyo Box – A Plyo Box can be a metal stand or a wood box used for “box jumps” the wooden boxes can be tapered with one set height or constructed in a manner that allows for three different heights can be used on the same box. Metal plyo boxes are typically created in the manner of a babushka doll where there are many different sizes and the smaller sized can be stored underneath the larger ones.
Pyramid Sets – Training approach whereby you start out with high reps, say 10, and in subsequent sets you reduce the reps by 1 or 2. For example, your first set would be 10 reps, second set 8 reps, third set 6 reps, fourth set 4 reps, fifth set 2 reps. You minimize rest during pyramid training.
Range of Motion – The limit your body (muscles and joints) have during a specific exercise.
Rep – The number of times you move a weight through the range of motion of an exercise.
Rest-Pause Training – An intensity technique where after reaching failure your rack the weight, rest 10 seconds, then try additional reps. This is often repeated a few times.
Slow Twitch Muscle – Muscle cells that contract slowly, are resistant to fatigue, and are utilized in endurance activities such as long-distance running, cycling or swimming.
Superset – A superset is when one exercise is followed by another with no rest in-between.
Tri Sets – Like a superset but using three exercises.