Fitness Jargon 101


There are so many buzzwords thrown around in the health and fitness arena that it can make a simple thing like exercise seem needlessly complex and intimidating.

All you want is to feel more fit and healthy, but you keep hearing confusing things like “you need to incorporate functional movement” and “if you want to get stronger, you have to use resistance.” Chances are, you already understand the meaning behind these things, you just need to learn a few definitions to make it all click.

So, here’s a list of commonly used (and misunderstood) terms to help you more comfortably navigate your fitness journey.

Compound Movement: Compound movements are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time. A push-up is a great example because it engages many muscles in your core and upper body including your biceps, triceps, abdominals, and chest.

Functional Movement: These are compound movements based on moves you naturally perform throughout the day. For example, squats are functional movements that strengthen and balance your leg and butt muscles, thus making getting up and sitting down in your everyday life safer and easier.

Movement Pattern: A movement pattern is like a blueprint that your brain references every time you need to complete a given movement. For example, instead of starting from scratch when you tie your shoe, your brain says, “I remember this, let me call on the right muscles so we don’t fall.”

Primary Movement: Also known as primal or foundational movements. These are the basic movement patterns we develop as a baby that go on to orchestrate all of our physical activity. We develop each pattern one at a time as we progress from crawling to upright and walking. Some examples include squatting, pushing, and pulling.

Isolation Exercises: Pretty much the opposite of compound movements, isolation exercises target one muscle group at a time versus a system of different muscles. A bicep curl is an example of an isolation exercise because it primarily engages only one muscle - your bicep.

Resistance Training: Also known as strength training, resistance training defines any exercise that is using resistance to build strength. Resistance can come in the form of your bodyweight against gravity, dumbbells, elastic bands, and weight machines. Essentially, any force that makes the move harder to perform is considered resistance.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This type of training involves short, alternating bursts of light and intense activity to maximize results in a shorter period of time. Sprinting for 30 seconds then walking for one minute and repeating this ten times is a good example. Some studies suggest this type of training will promote faster results than steady state cardio (i.e. jogging at the same speed continuously).

Bodyweight Exercise: This is an easy one to remember because it simply means using nothing more than the weight of your body to exercise. Push-ups, planks, lunges, and squats without weights are all examples of bodyweight exercises.

Suspension Training: A form of resistance training, suspension training employs a system of straps and handles (and elastic bands, in the case of Primal 7 LINK) that enable you to use the weight of your body against gravity to perform exercises at varying progressions and intensities.

Progressions: Purposefully making a workout more difficult in order to increase strength or endurance is considered a progression. For instance, when you’re using the Primal 7 you might start exercising with the full support of the band, but as you get stronger you can gradually decrease the amount of support you’re using, which is a progression.

Reps and sets: Reps (or repetitions), are the number of times you repeat an exercise within a set. If you’re doing ten bicep curls, you’re doing ten reps. And a set is a complete round of repetitions. If you decide to do ten bicep curls three times, then you’re doing three sets of ten reps.  

Plateau: Your body is highly adaptable, which means that eventually it gets used to the workouts you put it through, making them feel easier and become less effective over time. When this happens, it’s called a plateau. Regularly changing your workout routine and performing steady progressions are great ways to kick plateaus in the butt and keep challenging yourself.

Plyometrics: These are explosive movements designed to increase your speed and strengthen your joints and muscles. Examples include vertical jumps, box jumps (literally jumping onto a box), and The Superman (LINK).

Circuit Training: This type of training involves doing a series of different exercises in a short amount of time to build strength and perform cardio simultaneously. Doing squats for 30 seconds then going right to bicep curls for 20 seconds then hitting jumping jacks for one minute and repeating, is an example of a short circuit workout.

This covers a lot of the basics but is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you have more you’d like to add, please let us know! Now take your newfound knowledge and go get your workout on.

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