Fitness Terms Simplified

Here are a wide selection of common and not so common fitness terms explained as simply as possible.  Some you’ll maybe know, some not. And some you’ll experience as we workout together over the coming days, weeks, months and years.

A Rep

A rep is one repetition of any particular exercise. From start position – through the range of motion – returning to the start position.

A Set

A set is a collection of reps. For example you perform an exercise for 10 reps and stop, this is one set of 10 reps.


The speed at which you perform an exercise or set of reps or a circuit etc…

A Circuit

Typically a collection of different exercises performed one after the other with little or no rest between the exercises.


How much weight your muscles are working against to complete a particular move or exercise.

Timing Pattern

A period of time predetermined to perform an exercise or workout in.  Example: perform exercise 1 for 20 seconds. Or this particular workout will not go longer than a designated 15 minute time block…

Exercise Equipment

A selection of useful tools that can enhance the results and benefits of certain workouts or exercises.  Example: workout bands, TRX straps, Pull up bars, Dumbbells, Workout gloves etc…

Aerobic Exercise

Exercises that use oxygen as energy. Example: Typically we think of cardio workouts as aerobic.

Anaerobic Exercise

Exercises where oxygen cannot deliver enough energy to your muscles quickly enough, think high-intensity-interval-training. Short intervals of effort that improve power and speed.

Active Recovery

Gentle and comfortable movements that aid in recovery from a workout instead of sitting on the couch. Examples are walking or light Yoga.

Warm Up

A brief period of light activity to prepare your body for an upcoming workout to improve circulation, flexibility and muscle recruitment.

Cool Down

A period after the workout to relax your body and muscles and bring your heart rate down. Static slow stretching can be performed here or also FitStickz ‘Wrap Up’ sequences (coming soon – join us to be informed when).

Compound Exercise

Exercises that require multiple muscles/groups and/or joints to be active during the movement. Thus burning through more calories/energy (think lunges, push ups, squats etc).

Isolation Exercise

Exercises that work only one muscle group. Like a bicep curl for example.

Dynamic Warm Ups

The ideal warm up that involves mini exercise circuits using active exercises like lunges, high knees etc that raise the body temperature and prepare joints and muscles correctly for the upcoming workout.  (This is the opposite to passive stretching that is used for cool downs). Mobility and range of motion is increased with this type of warm up.

Functional Moves/Exercises

Exercises that help you in your day to day physical activity.


Essentially this is a form of exercise using explosive/jumping type moves.  You will find you get out of breath quickly but these are great and can improve strength and power output that enhances ft loss as well as improving performance in other workouts and overall health and muscular stability.


Isometric tension or isometric exercises are where a particular muscle(s) are under a constant rate of static tension. These have been shown to be among some of the best forms of ‘exercise’ to incorporate into your fitness program to increase strength and muscular stability.  But are often underused by many. You hold a particular ‘static hold’ for a predetermined period of time and will feel an intense burn in your muscle. Awesome.

Interval Training

Periods of exercises mixed with periods of predetermined rest, set up in specific ways dependent on what your goals are.  Example: 30 seconds of exercise followed by 2 minutes rest etc…


High Intensity Interval Training is a form of interval workout that keeps your heart rate elevated and requires intense, fast and tough burst of exercise followed by short rest periods.  A superb protocol for fat loss.

EPOC (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption)

A real process known commonly as the ‘Afterburn Effect’ where your body burns through greater calories after a workout as the body is working hard to take in more oxygen to return itself to a resting state.

Super Set

Usually two non competing exercises performed back-to-back. Example:  A push up followed by a pull up.

Steady State Cardio

Sometimes called long duration cardio. This is the type of cardio performed usually on stationary cycles, elyptical machines, running machines or stair climbers to name a few and consists of long periods of same paced walking, jogging or cycling.  Typically devoid of any interval to elevate your heart rate.  It is consistent cardio exercise.


This is the process by which your body converts the food you eat and what you drink into energy. Calories are mixed with oxygen during this biochemical process to create energy your body needs to function properly. Exercise can increase our metabolic rate particularly after exercise, thus burning more calories and fat.

Metabolic Rate

This is the rate at which metabolism occurs in a living organism, or the rate at which our bodies burn calories. The amount of energy needed and used to perform the multiple functions of metabolism.

Energy Balance

The amount of energy actually used by your body compared to the amount of energy your body actually needs.

Total Fat Loss

Simply the process of burning off MORE calories than you TAKE IN. (Negative energy balance).


A unit of energy. Counting calories is one way of monitoring weight loss.

Strength/Resistance Training

The use of resistance to challenge and work your muscles.  This improves strength and overall health as well as increasing fat loss due to more lean muscles that can burn through stubborn fat (increase your metabolism).

MRT (Metabolic Resistance Training)

A training method (like circuit training) where the goal is to build muscle and burn fat at the same time. But primary focus would be fat loss due to the effect of maximizing caloric expenditure and also elevating metabolic rate. This is a workout that employs (usually) multi joint exercises in a circuit with low rest periods.

Tabata Training

A very effective and popular HIIT protocol consisting of 20 seconds exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times for a duration of 4 minutes. One of the best fat burning workout layouts and one that I’ll share with you.

RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)

Every persons particular definition of how intense a workout or exercise is will vary. RPE allows a trainer or a trainee to easily define on a scale of 1-10 how intense or challenging things are:  0 would be totally relaxed and 10 would signify a person finding the intensity and effort almost too much to handle. *The RPE of being a stay home daddy was often 11 for me.

DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

This is the term given to that feeling (usually 1-2 days after exercise and common for beginners or when an new workout or exercise is attempted) where muscles are sore to the touch.  Essentially you have broken down the muscle tissue (that’s normal and ok) and the body is repairing them. The pain is from chemicals kicking in and activating pain receptors during the repair process.

Myofarcial Release (Foam Rolling)

A process where you apply gentle pressure to connective tissue and muscle (with a foam roller for example) during or after exercise.  It can act as a form of ‘mini massage’ and breaks down and loosens tight muscle tissue, help with regaining motion and promotes blood flow and recovery. Foam rolling can smooth out tight facia, which is the connective tissue around muscles that gets knotted due to over use through exercise, and over time can affect range of motion.


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