If the gym is a strange and foreign place to you, you’re sure to find the people that have been frequenting it for a long time even stranger. You might even notice them using a language that you don’t know: gym vernacular.
To help you navigate and communicate this strange new world, here are a few slang terms that you might encounter on your next visit.
Short for “personal best”, this may refer to the highest amounts of repetitions someone has ever attained or to the maximum amount of weight someone is able to lift. PB is also sometimes used interchangeably with the term “max”.
Short for “repetitions”, reps refer to the amount of times a particular exercise is performed within a set.
Each exercise is comprised of a number of sets, which are in turn made up of a number of reps. For example, you might do three sets of squats, each made up of 10 reps. This means you would do 30 squats in total.
This is the amount of time you break between each set of exercises. Typically, people take a rest of between one minute and three minutes between sets, but the amount of time varies.
Any type of exercise or machines that do not involve weight training, and push the heart rate up, including swimming, biking and running, using stationary bicycles, ellipticals, treadmills and the pool.
• Free weights
Any lifting equipment that is not attached to a machine. Free weights consist of barbells, dumbbells, EZ bars and plates.
Barbells are the long steel bars used in weight training. Plates (round weights) are stacked on each end of the barbell and then lifted.
These are smaller weights that vary in mass and can be picked up in each hand.
• EZ bar
The EZ bar is a short barbell with two humps in it for a more comfortable grip.
• Bench press
Sometimes just referred to as “bench”, this is an exercise where a person lies on their back on a bench and lifts barbells or other weights.
When a person aids someone else with their workout, either to make sure that they complete the set, or to help them complete a set (if they are lifting particularly heavy weights, for instance). The person helping is called the spotter, and it is proper gym etiquette to spot when someone asks you to do so.
Form refers to the proper way to perform an exercise. Good physical form helps you to avoid injuries and get the maximum gain out of your exercise.
Could refer to an increase in muscle size or in the amount of weight you are able to lift.
• Isolation exercises
Exercises that engage only one muscle, for example bicep curls.
• Compound exercises
Exercises that engage a number of muscles, for example squats.
Someone who is new to the gym. Prepare to hear this one… a lot.