Anatomy of a Workout: Beginner Edition

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You guys know what today is–Work it out Wednesday! Whoop-Whoop!

Last week we talked about how to get started on a fitness program.  Today I want to delve a little deeper into some terms you may encounter as you begin your fitness journey so that you can be successful and have as little frustration as possible!

Let’s get started!

Warm-Up:

This part of your workout is essential! Warming up properly will help to prevent injuries and gets your blood moving, which will help get your muscles nice and warm (hence the term “warm-up”).  Exercising with cold muscles can cause more tears, strains, and sprains.

If you are following a program, like one outlined on bodybuilding.com, chances are that it will give you an exercise or a group of exercises for your warm-up.  If you are creating your own fitness program, then make sure that you include a good warm-up at the beginning of each planned workout.

Some ideas for warm-ups are: jumping rope (my husband likes this one), walking (on treadmill or around the block), jumping jacks, body weight squats, arm circles, torso rotations, or butt kickers.  I would advise you to combine a lower body exercise with an upper body one.  For instance, complete arm circles and then some butt kickers. My favorite way to warm-up is to rebound, or jump on the trampoline, for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Sets:

Believe it or not, there are a lot of numbers involved in fitness, which can be confusing at times.  For instance you might see something like, “complete 3 sets of 5 squats” and think, “What?!”

When I first started lifting weights, I often became confused about the difference between “sets” and “reps.” Sets is the first number you see (in my example the 3) and it means that you will complete the full exercise three times.  Which brings us to…

Reps:

Reps, or repetitions, are just that–a repetition of how many times you are going to perform the exercise.  I realize that it sounds awfully familiar to sets, so here’s an example.  Say that your exercise program wants you to do 3 sets of 5 squats.  This would mean that in each set you will be performing 5 squats and then either taking a rest or moving on to another exercise, before returning to your second set of squats.  Make sense?

Circuit:

Circuit training can be done in a group setting (kind of like Curves) or by yourself.  A circuit means that you are completing a series of exercises before repeating them.  For example, you might do 5 squats, then 5 push-ups, then 5 shoulder presses and so on, before returning back to the squat.

Circuits are an excellent start to exercise especially towards weight-loss goals, as they incorporate cardiovascular training since you aren’t resting in between exercises but rather jumping right in to a different exercise!

Cardio:

Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, refers to any type of activity that increases your heart rate.  This includes walking, running, jumping, etc.  It is important to incorporate both resistance training and cardio activity into your workouts in order to have a proper balance as well as build cardiovascular endurance to help prevent heart disease and other heart related issues. Cardio is also an excellent way to burn some calories!

Resistance Training:

Resistance training can also be known as weight training.  Basically, all it means is that you are providing some type of resistance (band, weight, kettlebell) against your muscle in order to provide tension.  This tension helps to tear down muscle fibers, which then repair themselves, thus building muscle.

These are by no means all of the fitness terms that you will encounter, but if you are a beginner they will help you to stay on your path to your goals.  Stay tuned for an upcoming post on more “intermediate” terms.

If you discover any more health and fitness terms and are unsure of their meaning, feel free to drop them in the comments and I will include them in my next post!

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6 Comments

  1. Amanda

    August 31, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I always got confused between sets and reps. If I asked someone at the gym they would look at me like I had 3 heads. I hated it. Thank you for this!

    1. Jessica from Fit Train

      August 31, 2017 at 11:57 am

      It’s definitely VERY easy to get the two mixed up!

  2. Cherryl Ehlenburg

    August 31, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I have been struggling in this area, and these are very helpful tips!

    1. Jessica from Fit Train

      August 31, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Of course, I’m so glad I could help!

  3. Sarah Kranz

    September 3, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Great advice, I think it is always important to let people know how crucial a warm-up and cool-down are!

    1. Jessica from Fit Train

      September 5, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      I couldn’t agree more–two things that are often left out but that are SO important to your exercise routine!

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