Fitness Terms that Every Beginner Should Know

If you are brand new to the gym or new to exercise you have come to the right place! Hi, my name is Fitsavvy and I am here to introduce you to the fitness terms that every beginner needs to know.

Fitness can be intimidating. Before you begin, we will discuss a few general fitness terms. These terms will cover the basics and give you an idea of what you want out of your fitness journey and how your fitness journey will go about.

Being familiar with the vocabulary will give you the confidence you need to step foot in the gym. Below, I have picked out some terms that will help everyone beginning or restarting their journey.

Table of Contents

General Fitness Terms

Cardio– Exercise that elevates your heart rate over its threshold. 

Dynamic Warm-up–  A  set of exercises that you do to warm the heart, muscles, joints, tendons, and bone. The purpose of a warm-up is to loosen up your muscles before you do an activity to prevent injuries.

Check out my post here—> 7 tips to prevent injury

Stretch– To extend or elongate a body part to its farthest point while holding for a specific time.  

Heart rate– The number of times your heart rate beats per minute. Your heart rate can go up or down depending on the intensity of exercise.

Resting heart rate– This is your heart rate at rest, when you wake up in the morning is the best time to measure your resting heart-rate.

Aerobics– Exercises that strengthen the heart and lungs.

Cool-Down– A series of light stretching/exercises that you will do after you have completed your workout, allowing your heart-rate to go back to its resting state with ease.

Body Weight Resistance– Using your body as weights during a workout. For example, squats and push-ups. 

Active Recovery– A light exercise that you do the day after you have completed a strenuous or difficult workout. Light exercises include activities such as walking, yoga, hiking, or foam rolling.

Water Aerobics– A form of group training where aerobic exercises are performed in the water.

Gym Terms

Free Weights– A weight that is not attached to a machine or a device. Examples include dumbbells, barbells, kettle-bells, bar curl, etc.

Weight machines– A machine with weights attached to it that is designed to strengthen different parts of the body. For example, leg press and leg curl.

Sets –How many times you will do a set of group exercises consecutively.  

Reps– How many times you will do the single exercise at hand. 

Cardio machines– An exercise machine that focuses on cardio training. For example, treadmill and stair climber.

Doms– An acronym for delayed onset muscle soreness. This is the initial soreness that you feel the day after you work out.  

Personal training– When an individual hires a certified personal trainer to workout with. Training sessions are one on one and confidential.

Group fitness training– Training with a certified fitness trainer in a group setting. Group fitness training can range from Les Mills’ Body Bump to group cycling.

Interested in becoming a fitness instructor, click here to know the signs–> 9 signs you should become a group fitness instructor.

Leg Day- A gym phrase (slang) used when your workout is focused on the lower body specifically your legs, glute, quads, and hamstrings. Leg day is meant to be tough and challenging. You can find a lot of memes dedicated to leg day!

 Boutique fitness gym– Small gyms that specialize in specific group exercise and group training.

Types of Fitness Training, The Basics

Strength Training– Exercises that make your muscle, joints, bones, and body stronger.

Circuit Training – A form of training that combines different types of training in one workout, organized by stations. Each station will target a different muscle group and be a different exercise. Once all the stations have been completed, the individual has completed one set.

Water resistance training– Training that uses water as a resistance.

Body resistance training– Training that uses your body as resistance or weight.

HIIT-  A form of interval training. It is high intensity and high impact training. A group of exercises where each exercise lasts for a short amount of time. The goal is to do as many reps as you can per exercise. In this type of training, you will have a shorter rest time (relief time) than normal.

Interval training– A group of exercises performed at a specific amount of time repeatedly with rest time (relief-time) between. It can be high-impact training or low-impact training. For example, jogging for 30 seconds and walking for 10 seconds repetitively.

Functional training– A type of training that focuses on functional movements. Functional movements are everyday movements that are required of your body. For example, squatting, walking, and pushing.

Workout Plan Terms

Workout plan– A written exercise routine.

Tempo- How fast or how slow you are doing each workout.

Intensity– The amount of effort you are excreting while exercising.

Rest– Time off from working out. You can have rest days dedicated to resting or rest between rounds/sets of a workout.

Repeat– Do the exercise again. 

Rounds– A similar definition to sets. In group fitness, we use the word “rounds” instead of “sets” to cue changes and movements.

The Takeaway

What you just read is an introduction to the fitness world and its general terms. I encourage you to research and dive into the learning part of fitness to develop appreciation for the lifestyle before you begin.

Have a wonderful weekend,


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