Glossary of Bodybuilding Terms

The bodybuilding dictionary, this glossary of bodybuilding terms covers the most common words used by bodybuilders.

Accommodating Resistance: The resistance increases as the lifter's force starts to increase through full range of motion, which is what the Nautilus machines were designed to achieve. Doing bench-press or squat using chains that rest on the floor and lengthen as you lift is completed is just one example.

Aerobic Exercise: More than 15 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise that uses up oxygen below a level in the working muscle which can be replenished by the heart and lungs or cardiorespiratory system. Aerobic means with oxygen and it the only type of activity that burns body-fat, movements like swimming, cycling, rowing and jogging are aerobic movements.

Agonist: The agonist in any given movement is the muscle that is directly engaged in the contraction that is responsible for movement of the moving body part.

All-or-None: Is the common euphemism in bodybuilding describing the action of muscle fibers, if a muscle contracts it fully contracts, it is unable to partially contract.

Amino acids: Are a group 250 different amino acids that do not form proteins which are needed and used in digestion for creating sugars for example. There are 20 proteinogen amino acids commonly known as standard amino acids. These 20 are divided into the 9 essential amino acids, 6 semi-essential and the 5 non-essential amino acids.

AMUR: Is an abbreviation established by the FDA (food and drug administration) in the USA for Adult Minimum Daily Requirement of nutrients needed to sustain a healthy body.

Anabolic Drugs: Anabolic steroids are a wide range of male hormones that improve nitrogen retention directly helping increase muscle and strength. Although not legally available without a script from a doctor steroids are widely available and can be found illegally at most gyms. All anabolic steroids are manufactured in a laboratory in order to mimic the hormone activity of testosterone and other related anabolic hormones.

Anaerobic Exercise: Anaerobic exercise by definition means that the exercise is performed with a higher intensity that does not have time to access oxygen. The exercise becomes anaerobic when the oxygen needed gets used up faster than the heart and lungs can supply. The energy from doing any anaerobic movement (bodybuilding) comes from the muscle glycogen stored in the muscles.

Bodybuilding: A widely practiced sport using very specific form to perform movements with weights designed to increase strength. When done in conjunction with carefully planned nutrition leads to radical changes in shape and size of the body. Bodybuilding is a growing sport with an amateur and a professional division. Although most people who train with weights like bodybuilders never compete, they use the same principals to reshape their bodies by losing fat and gaining muscle.

Burns: Is a very specific training technique used by most bodybuilders at some point to help them push through a point of failure in order to stimulate additional muscle growth. Moving the weight only 3 or 4 inches the "burns" is achieved by doing 8 to 12 small reps at the end of a set.

Cheating: The condition where strict form is ignored in order to get a few additional reps out of a set. Examples of cheating would be forcibly swinging the upper body to help complete a standing bicep curl movement. Cheating is not generally recommended, but in the absence of a spotter and with a smaller body part like the biceps, it can sometimes let you push yourself further.

Down the Rack: Similar to up the rack, but the weight is decreased each set rather than increased.

E-Z Curl Bar: A standard or Olympic sized bar that has dual v-shaped bends in the center, to permit a variety of hand and wrist rotation positions. It can be used for bicep curls of all kinds, forearm and wrist training, and tricep presses.

Failure: When you perform a given exercise to failure, you have done as many complete reps in strict form as you can, and can no longer complete the movement. Failure is the point where the muscle group you are training is completely fatigued. This is the most critical part of bodybuilding, for it is this condition of fatigue that initiates the growth process that ultimately makes the muscle stronger, and bigger.

Forced Rep: (1) A single repetition where additional resistance is added to the movement by a spotter. For example, to add additional resistance to the bench press movement, the spotter can lean downward on the bar as the lifter is pressing the bar upward. (2) Another meaning for this term is a rep that is performed after the point of failure is reached, with spotter assistance.

Giant Set: A combined number of reps of several different but related exercise movements that are grouped together. This is an advanced and very intense method of training that can maximize muscle involvement. For example, a lifter could perform 10 reps of squats, and then immediately perform 10 reps of leg presses. This group of 20 total reps would be called a giant set.

Golden hour: Many bodybuilders and researchers alike believe that the body can maximally absorb and utilize additional protein intake most efficiently within an hour after training. Some research supports this view, other research is inconclusive.

Olympic vs. Standard: Plates can come in a variety of styles and finishes. Most commercial gyms use so-called Olympic plates that have a large-diameter center hole or bore. Most home equipment uses a smaller hole, and is called standard. You cannot mix and match Olympic and standard sized plates and bars.

Plate: In most American gyms, a plate is regarded to be a 45 pound wide-bore Olympic plate. In competition, a plate is usually 50 kilograms.

Pump: A pump is the tight and bulked-up sensation felt in a muscle group immediately after training. It is the result of the increased blood and oxygen flow to the working muscle tissue. It tends to fade within an hour after training.

Pyramid: A pyramid combines both up and down the rack schemes in a given exercise. each set of reps is performed with increasing and then decreasing weight. If you were to graph the weight, it would have a triangular or pyramid curve.

Rep: A single repetition or complete instance of an exercise movement. For example, a single rep or repetition of a bench press would encompass the full movement starting with the bar low close to the chest, then pressing upward to elbow lockout, then returning the bar downward towards the chest.

Set: A group of some number of reps. Reps are packaged into groups called sets.

Skull Crusher: A bodybuilding slang term for a flat bench tricep press movement, usually performed with a straight or E-Z curl bar. The movement gets its name from the fact that the bar, at the starting point of the movement, is right above the forehead. Any lower and it would literally rest against the skull. It is always wise to have a competent spotter handy during this exercise for safety.

Strict Form (Good Form): Means you are performing a given exercise properly, with your body in the safest and most efficient positions throughout the complete range of movement for the exercise. Strict form is an important requirement for getting the best benefits from bodybuilding workouts without excessive risk of injury. It is important to learn proper form for each bodybuilding exercise from the very beginning, and to keep learning how to maintain that form as you increase the weight you are lifting. Sloppy or bad form is dangerous and can lead to serious injury at worst, and at best merely robs your workouts of effectiveness.

The Burn: A slang term for the intense and sometimes mildly painful sensation felt in a fatigued muscle as a result of lactic acid buildup in the tissue. Lactic acid is a normal byproduct of energy expenditure by muscle tissue. In general, a burn is felt when a muscle or muscle group has been thoroughly used to exhaustion. Most bodybuilders consider this a sign that the given exercise movement they have been performing is being effective.

Tricep Bar: An Olympic bar that has a square tubular shape and welded-on ears for supporting Olympic plates. This bar is used exclusively for tricep presses and allows a much more ergonomic grip of the bar by allowing the hand and wrist to be aligned properly without stress. This is the recommended bar to use for maintaining strict form while performing tricep presses.

Up the Rack: When a sequence of sets for a given execise using dumbbells is performed with higher and higher weight each set, the lifter is said to be working up the rack, or progressively increasing the weight used.

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