Ready to get "swole?"

After a year of being cooped up inside, there are plenty of people eager to start hitting the gyms again. If you're curious about checking out the world of fitness, but don't want to come across as a total newbie, then this gym lingo guide will help demystify some of the language you'll hear while working out! 


The Essentials


It's often joked the gains (or gainz) are the whole reason people go to the gym. Short for muscle gains, this is commonly used to refer to visible increase size, although any signs of progress–both visible and invisible–can be considered gains.


The end result of getting enough "gains" is getting "shred." This term usually refers to achieving a state of high muscle mass and low body fat percentage. Think bodybuilder status. 


A term of endearment for big muscles. If you call someone swole, then you're complimenting their gains


Short for personal best. This refers to the furthest that someone can go with any particular exercise. It's often used to measure lift weights, but it can refer to plenty of other things as well. Anything that you can be proud of can count as a PB, whether that's the heaviest weight you can use for a lift, the fastest time you can run a mile, or the most reps of a single workout you can do at once. 


This is like a mini-exercise set that you do commonly do before workouts in order to warm up the ranges of motion you'll be using. Warm-ups are often done at a lower intensity than the exercises that come after them. 


This is a wide range of different exercises designed to work your cardiovascular system: your heart and lungs. The most common ones include running and cycling, but almost every form of workout is going to feature a cardio element in some capacity. 


This refers to the exercise machines in a gym. These are often designed to focus on a single muscle weight, and allow people to focus on specific movements without having to use free weights.

Types of Workout


Short for high-intensity interval training, HIIT workouts focus on cramming a lot of intense movement into a short window of time by alternating between high-output max effort movements and slower, sustained ones. 


This term refers to a wide variety of different strength workouts that center on building muscle mass. Bench presses, heavy dumbbell exercises, and weighted squats are all common forms of lifting. 


Barre is a unique form of workout that combines aspects from several other types. It's a combination of strength and balance training that pulls moves from ballet, yoga, and pilates. 


This form of exercise combines stretching with aspects of mindful meditation in order to help you better attune with your body. Don't be fooled by the gentle language in that last sentence, however–you can see some serious shred once you get into the more advanced stuff. 



This is how many repetitions of a particular exercise that you do within a single set. 


This is a group of reps that you do back-to-back–often without stopping for a break. For example, if you do four sets of 20 reps each, you're doing 80 total reps of something. 


This is a common way to abbreviate sets and reps. For example, 5x5 means sets of reps each. This rule applies to any other combinations too, so you can also have a 4x10 or a 2x30. 


An additional set with less weight (or resistance) than the previous one. For example, if you squat 60 pounds in one set, then a dropset might be 50 pounds. 


This refers to doing two sets of different exercises back-to-back without resting. For example, you might create a superset by doing lunges immediately after doing squats. 


It's exactly what it sounds like: a short break between sets. 



This is the default bar in a barbell setup. A standard bar will weigh 45 pounds without any additional weights on it.  


This can theoretically refer to any of the disc weights that are added to a barbell, but it's most commonly used to refer to a 45-pound plate. If someone says that they lift "two plates," that means that they are lifting two 45-pound plates and a 45-pound bar for a total of 135 pounds. 


This is either shorthand for kettlebells or dumbbells. It can be a bit contextual, so make sure to gesture aggressively to the one that you're referring to. 

Do you have other gym slang that's important to know? Share it in the comments after you "pump up."