Health and Fitness Basics

Individuals who are new to the fitness world should become familiar with commonly used fitness terms or things can become pretty confusing when speaking to personal trainers or other fitness professionals.

These terms are even used in fitness magazines and by instructors in DVD workouts. By studying the following list, you can become more familiar with these terms and help your fitness journey to become easier. 

1. Aerobic: Any exercise that is utilized to help improve the body’s cardiovascular system. A good example of an aerobic exercise is running on a treadmill.

2. Anaerobic: An exercise designed to trigger the release of lactic acid in the muscles. Bodybuilders utilize these types of exercises in order to gain mass. 

3. Metabolism: A term that is used to describe the chemical reactions responsible for maintaining the living state of the organism. The amount of energy your body requires in order to maintain all of its functions. 

4. Basal metabolic rate: A basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy your body must expend in order to maintain all of its functions while the body is at rest. The BMR is often referred to as just ‘metabolism’.

5. Body composition: Body composition is the actual percentage of fat, muscle, water and bone in the human body. Because lean muscle tissue takes up much less space than bulky fat, your weight, combined with your body composition, is used to determine if you are within a healthy body weight range.

6. Cardiorespiratory: Cardiorespiratory references any action that affects both the lungs and heart; specifically, the ability of the respiratory and circulatory systems to provide oxygen to muscles during physical activity. 

7. Cardio Endurance: This is the most important aspect of physical fitness. Cardio endurance is a measurement to determine the strength of the heart and its ability to sustain the body throughout various physical activities. Cardio endurance is often referred to as ‘stamina’.

8. Cardiovascular: Cardiovascular refers to any part of the circulatory system, mainly the heart, and its ability to transport blood efficiently through the body. Cardiovascular exercises help to build the endurance of the heart muscle.

9. Fat-free mass: This is the measurement of your entire body mass, minus the fat. It includes skin, tendons, bones, muscle and organs. Having high levels of fat-free mass generally means you are in good physical condition. However, fat is pertinent for the body to function correctly, and an extremely high fat-free mass reading may indicate a health problem.

10. Frequency: In the physical fitness world, frequency means how often you perform a workout or exercise.

11. Glycogen: This is a stored form of a sugar called glucose. When the body produces excessive amounts of glucose that cannot be used immediately for energy, it is stored in the liver. This substance is now called glycogen. When blood sugar levels begin to fall, the liver will release the stored glycogen to bring the levels back up to a normal reading.

12. Heart rate: A heart rate refers to the amount of time your heart beats in 1 minute.
A normal resting heart rate for a healthy adult ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute. Generally, a lower resting heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. 

13. Interval Training: Interval training is a method of exercise that combines short bursts of high intensity cardiovascular exercises with medial periods of lower intensity ones. The purpose of interval training is to burn the highest amount of calories in the shortest amount of time and build cardiovascular endurance.

14. Isotonic: Isotonic is a term used to describe an exercise where the muscle has to work against a static (set) resistance through the entire range of motion. A good example of this is bicep curls or chest presses.

15. Lactate: Blood lactation occurs when oxygen delivery to the muscle tissue is insufficient to sustain its metabolic demand, usually because of vigorous exercise. This can lead to a condition known as lactic acidosis, which can cause vomiting, anxiety and irregular heart rate.

16. Lactate Threshold: Although there is a large argument in the fitness community as to the true definition of lactate threshold, it is generally thought that this means the precise point during exercise where lactic acid begins to accumulate in the blood stream.

17. Lactic acid: Lactic acid is a byproduct of broken-down glucose. It was often thought that lactic acid is a waste product. However, scientists have proven that it is beneficial in providing the body with energy during exercise.

18. Maximal Oxygen Uptake (VO2max): V02 Max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen you use during exercise, and is usually measured while running on the treadmill. It is generally used to measure the level of physical fitness and runners.

19. Maximum heart rate: This is the highest heart rate an individual can obtain through exercise without causing detrimental effects to the heart. 

20.  Oxygen Consumption: Oxygen consumption is related closely to VO2 Max, and refers to the amount of oxygen your body utilizes per minute during exercise.
21. Repetitions (reps): How many times an exercise is performed. For example, when performing bicep curls, raising and then lowering the weight equals 1 rep.

22. Resistance training: Resistance training is also known as strength training, and depends on the contraction of muscles when using an item such as a hand weight in order to build strength.

23. Sets: A round of reps. For example, performing the recommended amount of reps for an exercise is called a set. If the recommended amount of bicep curls is 12 reps, and you perform those 12 reps, you have completed a set. If you performed 12 reps, rested for 30 seconds, and then performed another 12 reps, you have just completed a set.

24. Tempo: Just like in music, tempo refers to a rhythm. In the fitness world, it refers to the rhythm at which you lower and raise a weight.

25. Resting heart rate: Your resting heart rate is the rate at which your heart beats when the body is at rest, and has not performed any physical activity for at least 5 minutes.

26. Resting metabolic rate: Resting metabolic rate refers to the amount of calories and energy your body utilizes to maintain all of its vital functions while the body is at rest. Those with a low resting metabolic rate are often said to have a slow metabolism.

27. Training Volume: Training volume refers to the amount of reps and sets you can perform during a workout session. If your training volume is low and you are not experiencing weight loss or muscle gains, you may need to increase your training to perform more reps, sets or increase your weights. 

28. Body mass index: Your body mass index (BMI) takes your overall weight and height into account to determine the percentage of muscle to fat on your body.

29. HIIT: An abbreviation for high intensity interval training, HIIT refers to short bursts of intense cardiovascular exercise paired with short periods of lower intensity exercise. 

30. Repetition: This is the same as ‘reps’. It is the number of times you perform a specific move, such as chest presses. Pressing the weight up and then lowering the weight back down equals 1 repetition. 

31. Load: Load refers to the amount of weight or muscle stimulus required in order to achieve gains. For example, once your muscles adapt to a certain amount of weight utilized during a workout, you must increase the weight being used to stimulate muscle growth. 

32. Rest period: The amount of time you rest between exercises or workout days.

33. Sequence: A sequence is the order in which you perform exercises. For example, a chest training sequence would include chest presses, pec flyes and push-ups.  

34. Anabolic: Anabolic refers to an increase in muscle mass. For example, anabolic steroids help to increase muscle mass. 

35. Catabolic: A catabolic process refers to the breaking down of a large substance into a smaller one, such as when the body must expend energy in order to break down food into usable components.

36. Static Stretching: A static stretch is performed when the muscles are at rest. For example, standing straight and then bending over to touch your toes in order to stretch the back of your legs. 

37. Dynamic stretching: This is the opposite of static stretching, meaning that you are moving while stretching. For example, standing straight and then raising each leg out in front of you, one at a time.

38. Functional Exercises: Exercises designed to help the body perform everyday activities on a higher level. These exercises work to develop balance and strength, reducing the risk of injury.

39. Fat Loss: The term used to describe the process of burning more calories through exercise than you consume in order to reduce body weight.

40. CrossFit WOD: This term actually stands for CrossFit workout of the day. It refers to a daily workout utilized by cross-fitters.

41. Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance occurs when the body produces insulin, but cannot utilize it as needed. If left untreated, insulin resistance can lead to type II diabetes.

42. Insulin sensitivity: This refers to how sensitive your body is to insulin. If your insulin sensitivity is poor, your body will have difficulty digesting carbohydrates properly.

43. Strength: Strength refers to the ability of your body to perform load-bearing exercise, or ability to move an object.

44. EPOC: EPOC stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, and refers to the increased intake of oxygen after a strenuous workout to help rebuild the body’s oxygen level used during exercise. 

45. Fasting: Depriving your body of a particular food for a pre-determined period. Many people refrain from consuming any solid foods and drink only fruit juices during a fast.

46. Metabolic Typing Diet: This diet is based on the theory that everyone has a specific metabolism that can fall into one of three categories. The types of food you crave, such as salty or sweet, determine your metabolic type. 

47. Complex Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates are carbohydrates that provide the body with sustained energy, such as those that come from whole grains. These carbohydrates are nutrient dense and provide the body with important vitamins and minerals.

48. Simple Carbohydrates: Simple carbohydrates refer foods such as refined white sugar, white bread and cake. They have little to no nutritional value, and often provide you with a burst of energy followed by an intense sensation of tiredness a few hours afterward. 

49. Stability: This is often referred to as core stability, and refers to the actual strength of your stomach and back muscles in order to keep your body in an upright position during various exercises. 

50. Intermittent Fasting: Unlike a true fast, which can last for days, weeks or even months, intermittent fasting usually refers to consuming your standard diet several days per week, followed by 1 to 2 days of consuming nothing but fruit juices or another substance of choice in an attempt to reduce overall calorie consumption.

51. Organic Foods: Foods that have been grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

Sources: Harvard University, American Council on Exercise, University of Pennsylvania, American Heart Association

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