Beginner's Guide to Gym Terms & Lingo


Gym Lingo:

REP: One complete repetition of the exercise you are performing

SET: A collection of reps performed in a row

COMPOUND EXERCISE: More than one joint being involved in a movement.

ISOLATION EXERCISE: Only one joint being involved in a movement.

SUPINATE: Rotation of the arm where the palm is facing up. In case of the feet it is where the foot leans inward.

PRONATE: The opposite of Supinate. The rotation of the arm where the palm faces down. In case of the feet it is where the foot leans outward.

SUPINE: Lying on your back facing up.

PRONE: Lying on your stomach facing down.

DROP SETS: A technique to reach failure several times in one set. Completing repetitions at a heavier weight until you reach failure and immediately dropping the weight to continue your repetitions until you reach failure again, and again.   

PYRAMID SETS: Increasing the weight upwards as you decrease the repetitions downwards.  

SUPERSETS: Performing an exercise and immediately followed by another without rest in between.

GIANT SETS: Performing three exercises in a row without rest in between.

WORKOUT SPLIT: Splitting the body groups into different days in the week.

SPOTTER: Someone to assist you when performing a difficult exercise.

RACKING: “The rack” is referring to what you put your dumbbells or barbells onto. “Racking” is a common term for putting up your weight after you’re finished. It’s common courtesy in the gym to re-rack your weights once finished.

FORCED REPS: Completing a repetition with assistance (normally from a spotter) when you normally could not complete it on your own.  

UNTIL FAILURE: Performing an exercise until the muscle reaches complete fatigue and “fails” at performing any more repetitions.

CUTTING: When cutting or going on a cut the goal is to reduce your caloric intake (or go into a calorie deficit) in order to lose fat while retaining the optimal amount of muscle mass possible.

BULKING: A term for when you want to gain muscle mass and are going into a calorie surplus.

GOLDEN FIVE: The murderer’s row of compound exercise - Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press, Pull-Ups & Overhead Press. These 5 exercises (barring the unability to perform due to injury) should be a part of any Buff Dude or Grrrl’s arsenal.

ANABOLISM: The phase of metabolism in which simple substances (like amino acids) are synthesized into the complex materials of living tissue (muscle).

CATABOLISM: The opposite of Anabolism. The metabolic breakdown of complex molecules (muscle) into simpler ones.  

HYPERTROPHY: The enlargement of tissue (muscle) size. Often achieved through weight training and proper eating. The opposite of Atrophy.


ATG: Ass-to-Grass - Typically heard when performing Squats “when doing your next set make sure you go ATG!

ATP: Adenosine Triphosphate - ATP is required for the biochemical reactions involved in any muscle contraction. As the muscles work harder, more and more ATP gets consumed and must be replaced in order for the muscle to keep moving. Taking rests between sets helps restore ATP levels.

BUFF: Better Understanding of Food & Fitness - We couldn’t forget to include this one!

DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness -

OHP: Overhead Press - An excellent compound exercise for your shoulders.

OTS: Overtraining Syndrome - When the body has been working overtime without adequate days of rest, it will show symptoms of OTS which include:

  1. Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
  2. Sudden drop in performance
  3. Insomnia
  4. Headaches
  5. Decreased immunity
  6. Decrease in training capacity / intensity
  7. Moodiness and irritability
  8. Lack of motivation

RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation - Used when dealing with muscle injury.

RDL: Romanian Deadlift - A hamstring isolation exercise.

ROM: Range of Motion - Is the amount of distance your joint is able to go through when performing an exercise.


Hudson White
Hudson White


One half of the Buff Dudes, Hudson is responsible for the directing/editing of all YouTube videos in addition to handling website design & social media.