Fitness Jargon Explained

Fitness jargon explained

SO you are following a fitness programme/plan?


It is very likely that you will come across some phases, acronyms and words that make you say …

This is referred to as Fitness Jargon

Let me help explain this jargon, in a quick and clear way. These are common words, phases and jargon you will see mentioned the world of fitness and in The Power Circle journey programmes.

If you’re in a hurry or need clarification on a specific word in your programme, click on the words below to take you directly there.


RPE stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion and it is how hard the exercise feels to you at the time. It is a subjective measure of your strength and exertion at a given time.

RPE is rated on a scale from one to ten.


The Reps in Reserve method has been developed out of the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale. It is used to measure intensity during training and is measured by how many reps you have left in the tank.


Active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. It is continuous, fluid movement throughout the exercise. Dynamic stretching is perfect for warming before exercising.


Requires you to stand, sit or lie still and hold a single position for period of time, usually between 15 – 45 seconds. Static stretching is perfect for after exercise.


A combination of two different exercises performed consecutively with no break in-between. 

There are 2 different types of superset: 1) Agonist superset: Two exercises involving the same muscle group. 2) Antagonist superset: Two exercises that involve opposite muscle groups, for example biceps and triceps. 

Furthermore, there are Pre/Post-Exhaust supersets. This is where you mix a compound and isolation movement in a superset. PRE: Is where the isolation movement happens first. POST: Is where the compound movement happens first. 


A combination of three different exercises performed consecutively, usually with little to no rest between exercises. The three exercises can either work the same body part or muscle group or work opposing muscle groups.

Giant Set

Doing four or more exercises back to back with little to no rest in between, think of them as big supersets. During these sets you can either pair exercises that are non-competing, opposing muscle groups, or you can target the same muscle group.

Pyramid Set

Manipulation of weight/load and reps for multiple sets of the same exercise. The rest periods in-between sets are set according to the rep range. 

There are 2 types of pyramid: 1) Ascending: As load increases, the reps come down. 2) Descending: As load decreases, the reps go up.

Drop Set

These start after performing normal sets first. For example: doing 3 normal sets of a lat pulldown with normal rest in-between, followed by drop sets (decreasing the load with no rest) straight after the 3rd set is finished. During drop sets, observe and avoid form failure.


A combination of multiple exercises performed with no rest periods between them. One circuit is when all of the chosen exercises have been completed. One circuit = One set. There is a short rest period in-between circuit sets.


As many reps as possible – Do as many reps until failure. Failure means form failure (working up to the point where your technique starts to break down). Avoid absolute failure, any rep performed form failure is heading to absolute failure and is not a proper rep and is more likely to cause injury.


It’s the rate/speed/pace that you move the weight or perform the exercise. This is usually measured in seconds.

It influences how hard the muscles work, and the amount of working muscle under tension, known as time under tension (TUT). This will increase the recruitment of muscle fibres, delivering more growth stimulus to the muscle cells.


Gym equipment which stands for: Dumbbell / Kettlebell.

Bodyweight Only

No added weight. It’s just you and your body, an example of a bodyweight exercise is a press-up.


Personal Best / Personal Record. This is usually someone’s 1 rep maximum lift.

Pause Squat

Hold and pause at the bottom of the squat with the correct form of a squat. Count to the required time before standing up. Ensure you count properly, try using the 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi……. Count.

Pause Bench Press

Hold and pause on your chest, with the correct form of a bench press. Count to the required time before pressing. Ensure you count properly, try using the 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi……. Count.

Pause Deadlift

It’s a standard deadlift from the floor, but instead of pulling continuously until lockout, you pause at roughly mid-shin level (or required height) for a 2-3 second count. This increases time under tension.


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles, several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. It is thought that microscopic damage to the muscle fibres is responsible for the pain felt. It is a normal to feel DOMS after working muscles harder than they’re used to. 


Isometric contractions generate force without changing the length of the muscle. This is known as a static or held position e.g. a plank.


A concentric contraction causes muscles to shorten, thereby generating force.


Eccentric contractions cause muscles to elongate in response to a greater opposing force. Usually, this means returning the weight to start position (resisting gravity in a controlled fashion).


This is an increase and growth of muscle cells. Hypertrophy refers to an increase in muscular size achieved through exercise.

Isolation Exercises

These exercises target just one muscle group. Bicep curls a great example.

Compound Exercises

These use more than one group of muscles at a time. Exercises like squats, bench press and deadlift are all examples of compound exercises.


This is a time-interval method of training, and can be applied to most exercises. It’s broken down into 20 seconds of exercise and 10 seconds of rest, which is repeated several times (specifically 8 times). 


This is known as “jump training” It focuses on using maximum force with explosive movements, meaning muscles work at almost full capacity for a very short amount of time. The goal is to increase both speed and power. Box jumps are a good example of plyo training.


High Intensity Interval Training is a technique which combines fast, intense bursts of high intensity exercise followed by short recovery periods. Workouts are performed in a shorter amount of time than regular exercise (usually between 10-30 minutes). 


To ‘plateau’ is a natural occurrence, that reduces the effectiveness of a once effective measure over a period of time. An example of the plateau effect is; when your exercise fails to be as effective as in the past. You enter into a period where there is no improvement or a decrease in performance.

I hope your head isn’t spinning too much after learning about a variety of fitness terms!

There’s a lot more out there, but now you know your DOMS and HIIT, you are ready to take on the fitness world.

Comment if you found this useful, or if you have anymore fitness terms that you want to share in the community.

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