penny barnshaw garage fitness girl

The A-Z of Fitness Terminology


Do you know your alphabet when it comes to fitness terminology? I’m sure there are many fitness terms you are already very familiar with, but it’s likely there are some that you’re not quite sure about. I’m going to help with that! 

Below is my A-Z of fitness terminology. I didn’t quite make it all the way to Z… If I missed anything, let me know. 

Let’s start! 


AMRAP is an acronym for the phrase “as many rounds as possible.” AMRAP workouts involve doing as many rounds and repetitions of an exercise as possible during a set amount of time, without resting (or with very limited resting). You can check out my latest AMRAP workout on my channel

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is cardiovascular exercise, or cardio, that gets your heart pumping. During aerobic exercise, your blood pumps quickly throughout your body and your lungs take in more oxygen. The word aerobic means “with oxygen,” meaning that your breathing determines the amount of oxygen that gets to your muscles.

Anaerobic Exercise

While aerobic means “with oxygen,” anaerobic means “without oxygen.” Anaerobic exercise involves short, fast, high-intensity exercises that won’t make your body use oxygen like it does for cardio (or aerobic) activities. Instead, anaerobic activities break down glucose that’s already in your muscles for a form of energy. Both aerobic and anaerobic are important for your fitness. 

Burnout Set

Burnout sets are done to finish off a muscle group specific workout, using exercises with light weights or bodyweight until you reach failure (burnout). An example would be at the end of a glute workout doing a set of banded glute bridges to failure.


A circuit consists of a consecutive series of timed exercises performed one after the other, with varying amounts of rest between each exercise.

Compound Exercises

Compound exercises are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. For example, a squat is a compound exercise that works the quadriceps, glutes, and calves.

Compound Set

Compound Sets are quite different to compound exercises. With compound sets, successive exercises are performed without rest for the same muscle group. For example bench press followed by push-ups. 


Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a sore, aching, painful feeling in the muscles after unfamiliar and or extra intense exercise. DOMS is thought to be due to temporary muscle damage and inflammation, but mild DOMS is very normal. DOMS peaks between 24-72 hours after a challenging workout. 

Drop Set

A drop set is an advanced resistance training technique in which you focus on completing a set until failure, or the inability to do another repetition. Then, you lighten the load by 10–30%, and repeat, with little to no rest in between sets. Check out my drop set workout on my channel, and let me know how you go! 

Dynamic Stretch

Dynamic stretches are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion, they aren’t held for any length of time. They can be functional and mimic the movement of the activity or sport you’re about to perform, for example, a swimmer may circle their arms before getting into the water. Dynamic stretches are great to help warm up your body before exercising.


EMOM stands for ‘every minute on the minute’. It is a form of interval training, where the challenge is to complete a predetermined number of repetitions of a particular exercise within 60 seconds. Then, you use whatever time is left in that minute to rest before moving on to the next exercise.

Giant Set

Giant sets are doing 4 or more exercises back to back with no break. During these sets you can either pair exercises that are non competing i.e. they use opposing muscle groups, or you can target the same muscle. If you’re game, try the killer giant sets workout on my channel. 


HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is a training technique that alternates between intense anaerobic exercise with short periods of rest. HIIT training is known for providing significant health improvements in the smallest amount of time. Runners have used interval training for decades, alternating between sprints and jogging to improve their endurance. Importantly, your metabolic rate is higher for longer after HIIT than it is after steady-state cardio, which increases the benefits. It is great for your cardiovascular health and can also lead to some muscle gain, and having more muscle helps us burn more fat. Check out my latest HIIT workout to burn some serious calories. 


Hypertrophy is an increase and growth of muscle cells, achieved through exercise. When you work out, whether you want to tone or improve muscle definition, lifting weights is the most common way to increase hypertrophy. 

Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises are the opposite of compound exercises. Rather than working multiple muscle groups at the same time, we’re isolating a specific muscle. Isolation exercises can be beneficial when we want to correct imbalances, or in physical therapy to strengthen certain muscles or rehabilitate them after injury.

Low Impact

Low impact workouts require you to leave at least one foot on the ground. This means your neighbours will be happy thanks to less jumping around, and if you have knee or joint issues, you’ll be happier, too! I have heaps of low impact workouts on my channel, but here’s the latest

Metcon (Metabolic Conditioning)

Metabolic conditioning is a workout strategy to maximise calorie burn both during and after your workout. To achieve this result, you give a maximum physical effort through a series of compound exercises (i.e. using more than one muscle group at a time) for a short, intense period. Try my latest metabolic conditioning workout for intense fat burning. 

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your strength training routine. This challenges your body and allows your musculoskeletal system to get stronger. Progressive overload is important if you want to build strength! 


A ‘rep’ is short for a repetition. When doing a resistance exercise, such as a biceps curl with a barbell, each time you lift your weight up and bring it back down is counted as one rep.


A set is a group of repetitions. As mentioned above, a repetition is a single time you perform the exercise. 

Static Stretch

Static stretches are very different to the dynamic stretches I mentioned above. Static stretches are those where you stand, sit or lie still and hold a single position for a period of time to stretch the muscle, usually for around 30 seconds (but it can be longer or shorter). 

Steady State Cardio

Steady state cardio is simply a cardio workout that is a continuous, steady effort, as opposed to an interval cardio workout where you vary your energy output. Any cardiovascular/aerobic activity that is sustained for an extended time at a fixed intensity qualifies as steady state cardio training. Steady state cardio is good for endurance. 


A superset is when you do two exercises back-to-back for opposing muscle groups, without rest. For example, if you did a set of barbell curls for biceps and immediately followed it with a set of cable pushdowns for triceps, that would be one superset. I’ve got a number of superset workouts on my channel for you to try, including this barbell superset workout. 


Tabata is a form of HIIT where workouts are broken down into clearly defined intervals – typically, 20 seconds of a push-it-to-the-limit exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Check out my 45 minute Tabata Circuit for Fat Loss


Tri-sets are doing 3 exercises back to back with no break, as opposed to giant sets which are doing 4 or more exercises back to back with no break. During these sets you can either pair exercises that are non competing, in other words opposing muscle groups, or you can target the same muscle. If you’re up for a challenge, try my Total Body Tri Sets Torture workout. 

That’s it for now, I hope you learned something new from that list!

If you’d like to workout with me, keep an eye on my YouTube channel so you can check out the new workouts I upload each week. You can also sign up to my newsletter to receive my free monthly workout calendars. 

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