Ever feel confused or intimidated by the gym slang that is thrown around? If so, this blog post is for you!
We are going to cover 10 different topics:
The differences between:
– sets vs reps
– circuit vs tabata
– mobility vs flexibility
– supinated vs pronated
– anterior vs posterior
– push vs pull
– compound vs isolation
– unilateral vs bilateral
And a basic summary of:
– range of motion
– what exactly “free weights” are
The goal of this post is for you to be able to walk away with a firm grasp of each of these terms and how you can use your new understanding to level up your own workouts.
Let’s dive in!
SETS vs REPS
The number of reps (short for repetitions) tells you how many times you do an exercise at one time, and the number of sets tells you how many times you are going to return back to that exercise.
Example: “4×10” means 4 sets of 10 reps: you are going to do 10 reps of the exercise at once, take a rest, and then repeat back through it 4 more times.
CIRCUIT vs TABATA
A circuit is usually made up of several exercises put together that you circle through. If you have squats, push-ups, and sit-ups that are all instructed 4×10 and are to be completed as a circuit, then you will do 10 squats, 10 push-ups, and 10 sit-ups and then repeat back through again 3 more times to complete 4 total sets.
Tabata training is different from circuit training in that Tabata specifically refers to the *time frame* of the circuit. If you see something written as Tabata, it means performing an exercise for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, and you can add multiple exercises to make it a circuit!
MOBILITY vs FLEXIBILITY
Flexibility refers to have far you can stretch a muscle whereas mobility refers to how well you can move through a range of motion. Flexibility is passive while mobility is active. For example, flexibility is being able to touch your toes while mobility is lifting your leg in front of your body as far as you can.
SUPINATED vs PRONATED
These terms are used to describe your grip! A supinated grip means that your palms are facing up, such as chin-ups where your hands are facing you. A prone grip means that your palms are facing down or away from you, such as in a pull-up or deadlift. Changing your grip can change the muscles used when performing a lift – a supinated grip requires more of your biceps while a pronated grip challenges your lats.
You might see people deadlift with one hand supinated and one hand pronated – this is called a mix grip and can help keep the bar from rolling out of your hands.
ANTERIOR vs POSTERIOR
Both of these words are anatomy terms – anterior refers to the front of the body, whereas posterior refers to the back of the body.
Rae Arete’s 6 month program, for instance, is posterior-dominant, which means that while it is a full body program, it emphasizes the muscles on the back of your body (glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles).
Conversely, an anterior-focused workout or program would emphasize exercises that challenge your shoulders, chest, and quads.
PUSH vs PULL
Anterior/posterior goes hand-in-hand with push/pull. Most anterior exercises involve pushing: squats, push-ups, bench press, to name a few. Posterior exercises involve pulling, such as pull-ups, deadlifts, rows, etc.
Understanding the difference between push/pull movements can be very helpful when writing up your own workouts! While you can plan your workouts for the week by body part, you can get more out of your 3-4 workouts a week if you plan by push/pull days. If, for instance, you did 2 full body push workouts and 2 full body pull workouts a week, you have created 4 full body workouts that are structured in a way that gives each part of your body time to recover in between.
COMPOUND vs ISOLATION
Compound exercises work more than one joint at once, such as a squat (hips and knees) or bench press (shoulder and elbow). Isolation exercises work only one joint at a time, such as bicep curls, lateral raises, hamstring curls, etc.
Complete your compound exercises first before your isolation exercises because your compound exercises use more muscles than isolation. Start big, end small! For example, you wouldn’t want to do tricep exercises before bench press because your triceps assist in bench press.
UNILATERAL vs BILATERAL
Bilateral means working both sides of your body while unilateral means working one side of your body.
Similar to compound vs isolation above, start with your bilateral exercises before doing your unilateral exercises! Ex: squats (bilateral) before walking lunges (unilateral), or lat pull downs (bilateral) before single arm dumbbell rows (unilateral). Also, performing single arm/leg work can assist with any strength imbalances in your body!
RANGE OF MOTION
Range of motion is referring to how far you can move in a particular exercise or movement and doing each rep through that full range. If you can sit deeper into a squat than a friend can, then we would say that you have a greater range of motion than they do.
Focus on training the full range of motion instead of limiting the movement (such as stopping your squat at 90 degrees if you can actually sit deeper than that). Benefits of going the full range of motion include greater joint stability, improved movement quality, and reduced chance of injury.
The term “free weights” generally includes anything that isn’t a machine, such as kettlebells, bands, dumbbells, barbells, etc.
Exercise machines (e.g., hamstring curl machine, knee extension machine chest press machine, etc.) help guide you through a movement while free weights make you work a little harder to focus on your form, core stability, etc.