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Bodybuilding Dictionary

Are you new to bodybuilding, or just confused about bodybuilding jargon? I've compiled a list of words and their meanings. This list is far from complete and I'll be updating this page often.

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Aerobic means with oxygen. For fat to be burned, oxygen must be used. For oxygen to be used, the activity must be sustained for a prolonged period.

Amino Acids

Building blocks of protein.


Process of building or repairing muscle tissue.


Weightlifting is an intermittent activity, not aerobic, it's anaerobic or sugar burning.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

The rate at which the body burns calories while awake but at rest (usually measured in calories per day).

Body Mass Index (BMI)

A measurement of approximating body composition for use in large-scale medical studies and for health reports to refer to in the popular press. This particular measure is calculated by dividing your mass in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. While such simplistic measures are useful for large statistical samples of the general population, their value is highly limited for individuals, particularly athletes who can be very healthy and have low body fat percentages despite having a higher-than-recommended BMI.


To gain size and mass, preferably (but not always) mostly or entirely muscle and other lean tissue.

Carbohydrate, fast digesting

The fast-digesting kind: breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, baked goods, and candy raise blood sugar quickly. This signals your body to stop burning (and start storing) fat, and forces it to use the excess sugar for energy instead.

Carbohydrate, slow digesting

Slow-digesting carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, keep blood-sugar levels normal, which allows your body to continue to burn fat.

Catabolic, catabolism

The process of breaking down muscle tissue.

Cheat Rep

A repetition performed by deviating from strict form.

Circuit Training

A sequence of exercises performed one after the other with little rest in between.

Compound exercises

An exercise that targets a more than muscle or muscle group simultaneously; usually the movement involves flexing or extending at least two joints.

CNS (Central Nervous System)

That part of the nervous system that consists of the brain and spinal cord. Your nervous system controls and regulates muscle contractions.

Concentric movement

Done as the muscle contracts; "concentric strength" is the weight that can be lifted working against gravity.


Your body's core, the area around your trunk and pelvis, is where your center of gravity is located. Your core is where all movement in your body originates.


Catabolic stress hormone.


To lose body fat, preferably with as little loss of muscle and other lean tissues as possible.

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Drop sets

Drop sets are performed by following a set with another set with less weight, and usually less reps. This is done for the last two sets of an exercise.

Eccentric movement

Done as the muscle extends or relaxes; "eccentric strength" is the weight that can be lowered under control.


Ectomorphs are the lean, skinny types. They are usually very thin and bony, with fast metabolisms and extremely low body fat.


Rounded body type with small shoulders. Endomorphs are the "fat retainers." Characterized by roundness, excess body fat and large joints ("big bones"), endomorphs often have great difficulty in losing body fat.

EFA (Essential Fatty Acids)

Unsaturated fatty acids which cannot be synthesized by the body and are used as the starting point for the biosynthesis of necessary metabolic and hormonal chemicals.


When you can no longer perform a repetition with good form.

Forced reps

A forced rep is a repetition performed with assistance from a spotter after a lifter has reached the point of failure with a given weight.

Full body routines

Hitting all major muscle groups in one workout usually completed three times a week.

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German Volume Training (GVT)

A training technique in which ten sets of ten reps are performed for each exercise. The same weight is used for each set and rest periods between sets are kept to a minimum.

Gycemic Index (GI)

Glycemic Index is a rating system for carbohydrates that deals with how quickly the sugar enters the blood stream and the extent of the insulin response following that entry.


Muscle glycogen is the primary and preferred fuel for high intensity weight training.

Hard Gainer

A lifter who has trouble gaining muscle weight, which usually means they are under eating.


High Intensity Training


Muscle growth (hypertrophy) is found in the 8-12 rep range.


Pushing hormone that promotes the uptake of nutrients.

Isolation exercises

An exercise that targets a single muscle or muscle group; usually the movement involves flexing or extending only one joint.


Not involving contraction or extension; isometric exercises are done by tightening the muscles without moving any part of the body, such as by pushing against a brick wall instead of lifting a weight.

Ketogenic diet

A diet involving the restriction of carbohydrates to the point of inducing ketosis (buildup of significant levels of ketones in the bloodstream). Usually this requires keeping carbohydrate consumption below 20 grams per day.

Lean Body Mass (LBM)

Total body mass minus fat mass; this includes muscle, bone, organs, water, etc.,--everything but fat.

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A nutrient (such as protein, carbohydrate, or fat) used in large quantities to provide energy for life and/or raw materials for synthesizing or repairing tissue.

Meal Replacement Powder (MRP)

Instant milkshakes with added protein. Some have added fats and sugars which you may or may not want.


Mesomorphs are the "genetically gifted." They are lean, muscular and naturally athletic. Mesomorphs lose fat and gain muscle with ease.


Relating to metabolism, the whole range of biochemical processes that occur within us.


A nutrient (such as a vitamin or mineral) needed in small quantities for the normal functioning of the body.

Muscle Confusion

Constantly varying exercises, weights, sets, and reps to break through plateaus and continue to make muscle gains.

Natural bodybuilder

Bodybuilding without the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids and human growth hormone.

Negative reps

One or two partners help you lift a weight up to 50% heavier than you would normally lift to finish point of movement. Then you slowly lower weight on your own.

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Olympic bar and plates

Olympic plates have 2" holes--actually 2-1/8" typically, to give them room to slip onto a 2" diameter bar.

One rep max (1RM)

The greatest amount of weight that can be handled by a lifter for a single repetition in good form. Find out your 1RM here.

Overload principle

The Overload Principle simply means that in order to improve in your exercise regimen, you must slowly increase the difficulty of the program as you become comfortable on any one level.


Training beyond the body's ability to repair it. This can be caused by training the same body parts too frequently so that the body does not have time to recover before the next workout; workouts that are consistently harder than the body is able to recover from fully; or impairment of the body's normal recovery ability due to nutritional deficiencies, illness, or stress.


Dividing training routine into segments of different intensities. Many athletes divide their training season into different types of workouts to focus on certain aspects of their sport. One period might focus on endurance, another on strength, another on speed and another on recovery. Regular exercisers can also use this technique to change their workouts and focus ever few weeks.

Positive Reps

The concentric (positive) phase of any lift.


To perform one or more sets of an isolation movement prior to the performance of a compound movement, such as leg extensions before squats.

Post workout

The time after your workout, and the time for probably the most important meal of the day.

Pre workout

The time before your workout begins. Try to eat at least an hour before exercising.

Pronated Grip

Palms facing away from you.


Blood engorged muscles


This is when you increase your poundage while decreasing the reps.

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A single complete performance of a movement, normally including both the concentric (working against resistance) and eccentric (allowing the weight to move in the direction it would if you let go) phases, so that at the end of one rep, the weight and lifter are back in the position they were in prior to the rep.

Rest/Pause Technique

You begin by reaching failure on an exercise. Once you have accomplished this, you will rest a few seconds and then continue the set until you reach failure again.

Reverse Grip

Palms are facing in opposite directions; one toward you, one away from you.


A sequence of one or more complete performances of a movement, or rep done as a unit with minimal or no pause in between. When you pick up a barbell, curl it ten times, and then put it down, that is one set of ten reps.


To get ripped, to have extremely low body fat with superior muscle separation. Also known as sliced, cut, and cross-striated.

Six Pack

Defined abdominal muscles, so called because six bulges are visible (three per side) through the skin. The level of body fat necessary to see all six varies between individuals and the lower ones usually require the lowest body fat levels to bring them out (so, if you have a little too much abdominal fat left, you might have a "four pack" with just the upper four showing.

Split body part routines

Exercising two or more different muscle groups on one workout day and two or more different muscle groups on another workout day.

Stabilizer Muscles

Muscles that assist in the performance of an exercise by steadying the joint or limb being moved, but not increasing the force being applied.

Standard bar and Plates

A weight plate designed to be mounted on a one-inch diameter bar. Usually round with a central hole of about 1-1/8", they are commonly available in 1-1/4, 2-1/2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 pound sizes. Many olympic plates have "standard" written on them, but it's the size of the hole that matters.

Strip Sets

Having one or more spotters remove weights from the bar during a set so that the lifter can continue with a lighter weight after having reached failure.

Static contraction

This occurs at the fully contracted point just after the positive portion or rising of the weight has occurred.

Super sets

A superset is two exercises performed back to back with minimal rest between exercises to increase workout intensity.

Super Slow

Super Slow is an exercise protocol whereby the weight is lifted in approximately 10 seconds and lowered in five seconds (or sometimes 10 seconds). It can be used with any kind of resistance equipment. Usually used in HIT training.

Supinated Grip

Palms are facing towards you.

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The primary natural androgenic and anabolic steroid hormone found in the body.


A tri-set is when you do three exercises for the same muscle group without a pause.


Number of repetitions done in a training regimen; training is high-volume if many repetitions are done, whether in many individual sets, circuit training, or just spending all day pumping away at the weights.

Warm up sets

Warm up sets should do nothing more than to introduce blood into the muscle you plan on working.

Working sets

Working sets are the actual muscle building sets. This is where you increase the weight.

Source: Bodybuilding Dictionary

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