29 Fitness Terms You Need to Know

| Fitness


Sometimes all the fitness lingo can get a little confusing. There are so many different types of fitness routines, workouts and equipment that it can be exhausting trying to remember what everything means. Whether you're at a beginner or advanced fitness level, brushing up on your fitness terms can never hurt. Here is our glossary of 29 fitness terms that you need to know.

Aerobic exercise: Any rhythmic activity that increases the body's need for oxygen for at least ten minutes. "Aerobic" means "with oxygen."

Agonist: The muscle that is primarily responsible for a specific joint motion, or the muscle that is directly involved in contradiction. For example, during a bicep curl, your bicep would be the agonist.

Anaerobic exercise: Any short-lasting, high intensity activity where the demand for oxygen exceeds the oxygen supply.

BMI: Body Mass Index. The relationship between your height and your weight, found by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in centimeters squared.

BOSU ball: A staple in both home and gym fitness, this piece of equipment can be used with countless exercises and will test your core and your balance. Click here to check it out.

bosu ball

Cardiorespiratory fitness: Also called cardiovascular or aerobic fitness. This type of fitness measures your heart's ability to pump oxygen-rich blood to your muscles.

Cardiovascular system: The complex system that includes your heart and blood vessels. It transports nutrients, oxygen and enzymes throughout your body as well as regulates body temperature.

Circuit training: A fitness routine that takes you through a series of exercise stations (ranges from 4-10) separated by brief breaks. The goal is to keep your heart rate elevated near the aerobic level for the entire workout.

Cool down: The lowering of your body temperature through a gradual decrease in intensity after rigorous exercise.

Cross training: A type of fitness routine that is an individualized combination of all aerobic training methods.

Dumbbells: Dumbbells help add intensity to any basic workout and will tone your arms for the look you've been working for.


High-impact: Activities that place stress on bones and joints when your limbs actually make forceful contact with the ground or surface you're working on. Examples of high-impact activity are walking, running, step aerobics and sports like basketball and tennis.

Interval training: A fitness routine that involves repeating intervals of exercise interspersed with intervals of relatively light exercise. This type of training produces large amounts of high-intensity exercise in a short period of time.

Kettlebells: Perfect for using during exercises like squats and rows, kettlebells test your strength, balance, core and endurance. Check out some of our favorite kettlebell exercises here.

Low-impact: Activities that place low amounts of stress on your bones and joints. This type of exercise is commonly used by people who experience joint pain or by people who are overweight whose weight can actually hurt their joints. Examples of low-impact activity are swimming, cycling and using an elliptical.

Medicine ball: A medicine ball will help with your strength and resistance training, as well as tighten your core. You can use this in a solo exercise or pass it off to a partner during bestie exercises.

Moderate intensity: Activity that ranges from 40-60% of your max heart rate. You will feel a slight increase in breathing and sweating during moderate intensity activity.

Muscle fibers: Individual muscle cells that are functioning components of your muscles. Stretching, protein and strength exercises help to build your muscle fibers.

Opposing muscles: Muscles that work in opposition to the ones your training. For example, when you're doing bicep curls, your opposing muscle would be your tricep.

bicep curl

Plateau: Occurs when no additional progress (weight loss, strength, etc.) is being made. You'll need to change your activity or add hills, increase your speed or distance, etc.

Plyometrics: A type of training that involves jumping, bounding and other high-impact exercises that focus on maximum stretch reflex of your muscles. The goal of plyometrics is to teach your muscles to produce maximum force faster.

Repetition: Commonly referred to as a rep, this counts the number of times an exercise is repeated within a single exercise (or set).

Resistance band: Perfect for both gym and home use, the resistance band can be used in countless workouts like yoga, stretching and strength exercises. Click here to check out our favorite moves with a resistance band.

Row: Commonly done with dumbbells or kettlebells, rows are exercises where you row the weights up toward your body. To see how to properly perform a row, click here.

Stability ball: The stability ball will teach you balance and give your core a killer workout. Click here to see our favorite stability ball workouts.

stability ball push up

Set: A basic workout containing a certain number of times (reps) that a specific exercise is done.

Vigorous intensity: Physical activity that is higher than 60% of your max heart rate. You will experience sweating and an increased rate of breathing during vigorous intensity activity.

Yoga: Yoga combines physical, mental and spiritual fitness into one workout that tests your balance, strength and flexibility. Yoga is the perfect exercise for stress relief.

Yoga mat: Essential for yoga, a yoga mat cushions your body from the hard flooring beneath you and protects your hands and feet from slipping during difficult poses. Click here to see the 20 most stylish yoga mats.